Although very different from the original Bullenbeiszer dogs first used to start the breed, the modern German and American Boxer has a set breed standard that has not changed significantly since the original standards set in the early 1900s. Each Boxer that is being used within any Kennel Club or Boxer Club or Association type of show event must meet the breed standards in order to win or to compete in the ring. Dogs that have deviations from the breed standard can either be faulted, which results in a lowering of the dog's score and placement in the competition, or they can be disqualified. A dog that is disqualified is removed from the competition.
The American Kennel Club uses the following breed standards for all its events. Below is a general presentation of the breed standard, however the full and complete set of standards can be found on most Boxer sites as well as the American Kennel Club website.
For show purposes the temperament of the Boxer is important, just as the physical appearance of the dog is also a key factor. The Boxer, in the ring, should be alert and calm, stoic and open to people approaching and touching the dog, without shyness, timidity or any signs of aggression. The dog needs to also appear to be dignified and regal, so any sign of puppyish or highly playful behavior in the show ring is considered a serious fault. Movement or gait should be elegant and controlled with good length of stride and parallel placement of the feet during all gaits.
One of the most important physical features of the Boxer is the head. If the head is not within the breed standards it is really unnecessary for the judges to look any further. It is essential that the head be proportionate to the body and that all other components of the head are also in balance. Males should look decidedly masculine both in the face and the body, and females should have a much more feminine appearance.
The head is balanced in thirds, with the length of the muzzle to be 1/3rd the length of the head from the occiput, the back of the head, to the tip of the nose, and 2/3rds the width of the skull. This proportion is essential in all show competitions. Although there are some wrinkles on the forehead and from the stop down the sides of the muzzle, there should be no deep wrinkles or excessive loose skin on the head. The eyes are dark brown in color and set moderately forward and to the side. They should not be protruding or deep set and should be clear, alert and intelligent in expression. The nose should be broad and black and the jaw will be undershot but not excessively so. The muzzle should not be dished or concave or it should not slant downwards. It should not taper significantly from the base of the jaw to the muzzle, giving a very square appearance when viewed from any angle.
The ears of the Boxer can be cropped long and tapering and held fully alert when the dog is standing and attending to something. The ears can also be left long and natural, in which case they are flat to the head and forward to the cheeks, moderately long, thin in leather and have a noticeable forward crease when the dog is alert and focused. The ears are positioned high on the slightly arched but not fully rounded skull. The cheeks should be flat and not protruding and the occiput or back of the skull should not be pronounced.
The neck is strong and arched and will blend smoothly into the chest and withers. There should be no excessive skin on the neck with no noticeable wrinkling or ruff. The neck is round in shape, flowing into the moderately deep and wide chest. The brisket or lower part of the chest is very defined and reaches down to the elbows. The ribs are well-sprung but flat, with the body not to be rounded or barrel shaped. The front legs are very muscular and strong, straight without any turning in or out at the elbows or feet. The feet are compact and round, with noticeable arched toes and a great sense of strength and stability.
The topline or the back is slightly tapered from the withers to the hips when the dog is standing, but flattens out when the dog is in motion. The body is moderately long but very strong in appearance, never delicate or slight but also not cobby or highly bulky. The abdomen is slightly cut up and the dog should have graceful, flowing and curving lines when viewed from any angle. The loins are short and muscular and the croup is flat and broad with a slight slope. Females should have a wider pelvis than males, but the whole appearance should be of balance and grace.
The hindquarters should parallel the front legs and each other, very well muscled and let down, giving a poised for immediate action presentation. The tail is set and carried high and is always docked in show dogs. Natural tails result in serious penalty or faults.
The coat is shiny, flat and short, never fluffy or sitting out from the body. Boxers in the American Kennel Club can be classed as fawn or brindle with several variations within these two color categories. Fawn is any shade of brown from a light tan to mahogany, without any black lines through the coat. Brindle is black striped markings over the fawn coloration, which can be light to very dark, almost giving the dog a more black than brown appearance. White markings are possible on the chest, feet or other parts of the body. Any white markings that do not exceed more than 1/3rd of the total coat are acceptable. The face may have the traditional black mask of the Boxer or it can have white with the black mask. In the American Kennel Club a white Boxer, which is defined as any dog having more than 1/3rd of the coat a white color, regardless of the location of the white, cannot compete. Any other color is also a disqualification from the show ring.