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Dogs, Misc pets

When Your Pet Doesn’t Fit its Breed Profile

The Paw Print

Essential Pet Blog

fawn and white boxer puppy sitting in grass

One of the biggest decisions my husband and I made together during the first year of our marriage was what type of dog to get. Our personalities are very different, but the list of what we were looking for in a dog was easy to settle on. He needed to be athletic and adaptable to our active lifestyles, warm-hearted and fun-loving, short-haired and low-maintenance on the grooming side of things, and good with the kids we envisioned having in the future. We wanted a dog that would want to be with us, whether we were road-tripping across the state to visit family, going for a run around our neighborhood, or just bumming on the couch at home. We didn’t mind a little drool or having to put in some serious training to curb any mischievous or destructive puppy behavior; we knew that we weren’t looking for just a dog, but another family member and we were willing to put in the time to help this pup assimilate into our lives.

At this point, I want to mention that we have a special place in our hearts for mixed-breed dogs. I grew up on a farm and we always had at least one mixed-breed dog at all times. A couple of them were adopted, and we ended up taking in a few strays who wandered onto our property and decided to make us their family after we were unable to locate their owners. But being young, newlywed, first-time pet-owners, we thought it might be a good idea to opt for a purebred puppy so we would have a good idea of what the dog’s temperament would be as we settled into pet parenthood. We wanted to be sure we were well-equipped to handle the dog’s exercise, training, and play needs.

About the boxer

It didn’t take us long to settle on a breed that checked all our major boxes: the funny, boisterous boxer. For anyone unfamiliar with the boxer breed, they are known for their clownish personalities, strong loyalty to their pack, and high guarding instinct. They are intelligent, high-energy, and mischievous- in the most loving way. At times, many boxer owners report the sense that their boxer might be more human than dog, as boxers are known for their strong personalities and expressive faces. They prefer to be with their families at all times and don’t enjoy much time alone. Boxers require fair, consistent training at an early age to curb any destructive behaviors and their athletic nature demands plenty of exercise. A bored boxer is, most typically, a destructive boxer!

Fawn and white boxer dog with black collar staring out window with red rubber bone

Dexter Mayhem (a middle name he quickly earned within the first few months in our home) stole the hearts of just about anyone who saw him strutting through the lawn of our home or riding in the backseat of our vehicle, and he quickly made friends at our vet’s office where he was declared to be a healthy and growing boxer.

It didn’t take long for us to figure out that although Dex was technically a boxer, his preferences and quirks just didn’t align completely with the breed- in fact, there are times when he doesn’t seem like a dog at all!

When your boxer doesn’t act like a boxer

He can be boisterous and funny for brief periods (he especially likes to put on a show right as guests arrive), but he seems to be an introvert at heart- after he’s been with people, he needs to retire to his bed in our bedroom or his favorite spot on the couch, and he prefers to be left alone until his “battery” is recharged.

fawn and white boxer laying on teddy bear

Boxers are known for their high energy and exercise needs, but Dexter is pretty uninterested in burning energy. He likes to spend most of his days asleep (especially in his senior years), and only enjoys his walks for the first 10-15 minutes. If he had his way, the only form of exercise he would get would be the walk from his couch to his food and water bowls. We’ve tried including him in our walks and runs from his late puppy/teenage years, but even as a young pup, he would begin to protest about 15 minutes into our route, laying on the sidewalk and forcing us to carry him the rest of the way. His favorite form of exercise today is chasing the kids around our yard for 5 minutes, and then finding a shady place to observe. We make it a priority to get him moving every day, but we’ve accepted that he just doesn’t enjoy working out as much as we do.

fawn and white boxer laying on beige carpet

Many boxers love to cuddle and be affectionate, many even holding on to their “lap dog” title well into adulthood, but Dex doesn’t have much interest in that lovey-dovey stuff. In fact, if you sit next to him on “his” couch or on the floor, it’s likely that he will get up and move somewhere to be alone. We try not to take it personally, but how is a person supposed to react when their loyal companion dismisses them?! Every once in a while, he will come up to us when we’re least expecting it and nudge us with his nose, as if requesting to be pet. After a few minutes of loving, he’s ready to retire to solitude again. He is only interested in affection if it’s on his own terms.

The one area that Dex does align 100% with his boxer counterparts (and arguably the most important area to us) is his attitude toward our family. Growing up with 3 two-legged siblings can be loud and difficult, but Dex brings so much patience and grace to any encounter he has with our kids. He is protective and playful, and he seems to have a sense for how much “play” each kid can handle.

fawn and white boxer laying on floor with tongue out

Even when they don’t line up with our expectations, our pets become family

Dexter is far from what we thought he would be, but still the perfect compliment to our family. I think research is important when you’re considering a specific breed, but if Dex has taught us anything, it’s that the love of a pet may not come in the form you anticipated, but it is still a gift. Although we sometimes question if he’s might actually be a cat, we wouldn’t trade him for anything. His unique personality makes him so much more than a dog- it makes him a family member.

About the Author: Jessie Eby works with 21st Century Animal HealthCare and has been a proud boxer owner for 9 years. When she isn’t perched behind a laptop clutching a coffee mug, she’s coming up with creative new ways to coax Dexter off of his favorite spot on the couch and bribing him to cuddle with her by making homemade dog treats and always offering an array of durable toys.

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