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HISTORY Both the Boxer and the Lab were initially bred to be working dogs, but their roles were very different. The Boxer came from an offshoot of the German Bullenbeisser, used to hunt wild boar, baiting bulls, and protecting its owner. These activities were long out of style by the early 1900s, and the Boxer we know today was the result of downsizing the fierce temperament and size of the Bullenbeisser. They are still excellent protection dogs today and often found working in police and military organizations. The Lab was originally, and still currently, used to retrieve waterfowl for hunters and has changed little in the last 200 years other than to be refined. In the early 1800s, the breed was very similar to, and often confused with, the Newfoundland dog, St Johns, and Lesser Newfoundland. They were primarily developed in the Labrador region of modern-day Canada but were quickly accepted by British hunters.  APPEARANCE Both breeds are lean and athletic and considered on the large side of medium breeds weighing around 55 to 80 pounds. That's about where the appearance similarities end.  The Boxer has a boxy head and snout and moderate joules that lead to drooling and slobber. Their coats are thin and sleek, showing off their powerful muscles, so they may need an extra layer of protection in colder climates. Their coats can be several colors, but they are generally a brown base with dark muzzles and ear tips and may have a spot of white. The Lab is equally at home in the water as it is on land thanks to its thick double coat and water repellant outer coat. They come in four solid colors ranging from yellow, chocolate, fox red, and black. They shed quite a bit thanks to the dense undercoat, but don't drool like the Boxer. Their tails are also never docked, unlike the Boxer as well, and they are always in motion. TEMPERAMENT Both are lovely family dogs though their temperments and motivations are very different. The Boxer bonds closely with its family and is a fierce protector. The breed is brilliant in its roles with police and military organizations and excels in protection competitions. In the home, they are incredibly playful and even clownish in their antics. The Lab similarly bonds closely with its family and has a strong desire to always look to their leader. They are one of the most friendly breeds in the world, even with strangers. They aren't ideal guard dogs, but some make decent watchdogs depending on their unique personality. TRAINABILITY/INTELLIGENCE This brings us right into the trainability and intelligence of each breed. The Boxer is highly intelligent and motivated to rise to a high level of obedience and complexity. Their personalities are surprisingly soft, meaning harsh or inconsistent corrections can hurt their feelings. Their playful nature can make them both extremely easy or extremely difficult to train, so they are best for experienced owners.  Labs are consistently ranked as one of the smartest breeds globally, and they are effortless to train. They are one of the most common breeds used in scent work like search and rescue, drug and bomb detection, and even service dogs for people with disabilities like seizures. ENERGY Both the Boxer and the Lab are very high energy and will need a couple of solid exercise hours a day that works both their body and brain. Either breed would love to go on long walks, hikes, or runs with you every day. Neither breed is well suited to inactive homes or homes where they are left to entertain themselves for most of the day. OVERALL HEALTH So how long will the Boxer be in your home? Their average life span is 10 to 12 years, but they are prone to several health conditions that could affect this. Skin and digestive irritations are common in the breed as a result of allergies.  The Lab has a similar lifespan of 10 to 12 years and is prone to obesity once they reach maturity. Both breeds are unfortunately subject to various cancers and blood disorders, and hip and elbow dysplasia. SOCIAL NEEDS Boxers are well suited to their roles as protection dogs and family guardians because they bond so closely with their family. It's vital to socialize them well and often because of their natural instinct to protect, so they don't become fearful or nervous around other people, leading to a terrible situation. Both the Boxer and the Lab bond closely with the person who works with them most, but they love the whole family.  Where the Boxer is protective or wary, the Lab has a happy-go-lucky attitude that extends to family and strangers alike. They still need to be socialized, but they are naturally very friendly and rarely suspicious of strangers.  CHILD FRIENDLY Boxers are good with children but should be supervised because of their high energy and potential for reactiveness. They may be protective of their kids when friends or other adults are in the home but are generally very gentle and loving. As I mentioned a moment ago, Labs are very friendly, and they are surprisingly gentle with children despite their high energy levels. They do well with friends and other children in the home but keep a closer eye on their family. SMALL ANIMALS Like their behavior around children, Boxers do well with small animals when throughly socialized from an early age. They tend to be a bit more prone to chasing small animals outside the home. Labs are generally more curious and gentle with small animals they don’t know due to their retrieving nature. They were, and are still bred, to gently bring game back to their human partners, so they have a low prey drive. OTHER DOGS With other dogs, especially strange dogs, Boxers will be slightly wary, which could quickly turn to aggression if they don’t see you as their calm, consistent leader. The importance of socialization cannot be stressed enough with a guarding breed like the Boxer. Labs are much more friendly with other dogs and warm up to them quickly. They are not overly territorial or possessive, but it’s still best to socialize them early to prevent fearful behavior that may result in aggression in rare cases. As you can see, both of these breeds are incredibly popular for similar reasons. In particular, the Boxer will do best in a very active home with a family that can dedicate plenty of time to play and exercise.

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