Firstly, let’s take a look at the breed’s histories.
The English Bulldog descended from ancient mastiff-type dogs and was developed entirely in England. The very first mention of this breed was in 1500 where the dogs were used in bull baiting which was where the dogs would grab onto a bull’s nose and roughly shake it which was though to tenderise the bull’s meat. The early Bulldogs were much taller and heavier than the Bulldogs that we have today – they were bred specifically for the bull baiting sport, with wide mouths, powerful jaws and a very high tolerance for pain. After several years of controversy surrounding the sport, in 1835, bull baiting was outlawed in England and because, at the time, Bulldogs were not seen as companions, they were worried about the consequences for the breed. However, many people admired the Bulldog’s incredible strength and persistence, so decided to save the breed through breeding them to have a sweet and gentle temperament instead of the tenacious and aggressive character they were first bred to have. Breeders selected the dogs that had a more relaxed temperament for breeding and were able to turn the once aggressive breed into a gentle and affectionate breed.
The Boxer is thought the be a descendent of the breed the German Bullenbeisser that was believed to have descended from Mastiffs and the Bulldog. The Bullenbeisser was used as a hunting dog, hunting bear, wild boar and deer. It was their job to catch and hold the prey until hunters arrived – overtime they became highly used by farmers and butchers to guard and drive cattle. The Boxer was developed in the 19th century from the breeding of one brindle coloured Bullenbeisser with a local dog of an unknown origin which resulted in a fawn and white coloured puppy named Lechner’s Box – this pup is believed to be the start of the Boxer line. The breed became known in and across Europe in the late 1890s with the first Boxers being imported to the USA in 1903. The dogs served in the military during the first and second World Wars as messenger dogs, carrying loads and acting as guard dogs. They became increasingly popular after soldiers brought them home as their mascots and through those dogs came the companion that we know today.
Now the size of the two breeds is pretty different. Male Boxers generally stand between 22.5 and 25 inches at the shoulder and weigh around 70 pounds. Female Boxers are slightly smaller at 21 to 23.5 inches at the shoulder and weighing, on average, around 60 pounds. An adult male English Bulldog weighs around 50 pounds and adult females weigh about 40 pounds with show dogs occasionally being around 10 pounds heavier than the average. Both male and female English Bulldogs stand at around 12 to 15 inches at the shoulder which is much shorter than the Boxer by about 10 inches. Bulldogs have a short, straight and smooth coat which is generally very glossy in texture. They have heavy wrinkles covering their head and two loose folds on the throat known as a dewlap. English Bulldogs can be quite a variety of colours including red brindle, all other brindles, solid white, solid red, fawn, fallow and piebald which is large patches of two or more colours. Boxers have a very short coat with tight skin in comparison to the Bulldog. They can come in two colours which are fawn or brindle with or without white markings. The white markings will generally be found on their belly or feet and shouldn’t cover more than a third of their coat. Boxers that do not have the markings are known as plain Boxers. Boxers have a black mask on their face which may sometimes have a white stripe or a blaze on the muzzle and between their eyes.
As with all dog breeds, it is important to be aware of any certain health conditions that the breed you are interested in can be more prone to. Boxers can be prone to quite a few different health conditions including cancer (specifically skin cancer), heart defects, hip dysplasia, thyroid conditions, eye diseases, mange, skin problems, bloat, allergies and deafness. English Bulldogs are also prone to particular conditions due to breeding, especially that of eye problems including cherry eye, dry eye and entropion, plus a syndrome found in dogs with short heads and narrowed nostrils where the airways are obstructed. They can also suffer from head shakes, mange, hip dysplasia, tail problems and other bone and joint conditions.
English Bulldogs are sociable dogs with a sweet and loving nature. They have a courageous character and can make an incredible watchdog. They can be quite stubborn due to their persistent nature which can make training difficult, but with patience and consistency they can be wonderful family companions. They are friendly dogs that tend to get along well with everyone and are especially great with kids as they love to play and to have the company of their family. Boxers are incredible dogs that are extremely alert and watchful, always aware of what is going on around them. They love their family and adore playtime, they are especially good with children being both playful and patient in nature. They can be quite wary of strangers but respond very well to those that are kind to them. They are loyal protectors of their family and home and if they feel that that is being threatened then they will make it known and guard. With plenty of socialisation, both the English Bulldog and the Boxer can make wonderful, well-rounded and balanced family companions that love to play and be in your company.