Aine (Kellaney Boxers): Please introduce yourself!

Monique Hodgkinson (Tanyati Boxers): Hiya my name is Monique Hodgkinson!
(Tanyati Boxers ) I have been involved in the Boxer breed since I got my first Boxer in 1996. An exceptional working dog, “Rommel” was hugely instrumental in getting me hooked on the breed. I imported 2 Witherford Boxers from Shropshire in the UK in 1999, which I made up as breed champions - Sire of Merit Ch Witherford Iced Mango BT and Ch Witherford Gilty Coral. Iced Mango produced my most successful brood bitch to date, Ch Tanyati Gotta Feeling AD, who became a Dam of Merit. A further Witherford import in 2004, Sire of Merit Ch Witherford Censored (imp UK), further strengthened my breeding base and introduced some Italian bloodlines into my breeding program. He has produced 6 breed champions from just 3 litters.

My latest import from the UK, Ch Poklenberg’s Broadway, further consolidated the Italian influence through Magnum Di Massumatico on her father’s side, and Teck Del Colle Dell’Infinito on her mother’s side. As of January 2009 I have bred 28 litters and have produced 14 breed champions, 2 Grand Champions, multiple Best of Breed winners, multiple Best in Show winners, and several other Tanyati Boxers are well on their way to becoming breed champions.

Due to my belief that we need to work towards a ‘universal Boxer’ I bred one of my bitches from European and English lines to a male from American and Australian lines and produced my current top show dog,
Tanyati Xhilaration, a multiple Best Puppy in Show (All Breeds and Specialty), Best in Show (Specialty), and multiple Best of Breed winner, all at championship show level, under South African, English, Irish, Canadian, American, Australian, New Zealand, Argentinean, and Norwegian judges.

I became a Boxer Specialist Judge in 2000, permitted to award Challenge Certificates at Championship Shows and I am also qualified to judge conformation at Breed Surveys. I am currently on the Kennel Union of Southern Africa’s (KUSA) judge’s scheme and I am qualified to judge the Working Group at Open Show level. I have given 2 seminars on the Illustrated Boxer Standard for the KUSA judge’s scheme, one in Cape Town and one in Gauteng.

Aine (Kellaney Boxers): What are the main differences, in your opinion, between the American, European and English Boxers?

Monique Hodgkinson (Tanyati Boxers): It is important for me to mention at the beginning of this answer, that really top quality specimens from each of the 3 different ‘styles’ of Boxer are really quite similar. Sure, there are differences, but if one is open-minded enough to look at each different style without bias then their similarities become apparent. I see the American Boxer on one side of the spectrum, the European Boxer on the other side of the spectrum and the English Boxer fitting somewhere between the 2. For the majority of the Boxer population, it is a sad but true fact that the Boxers in America and Europe are becoming more and more dissimilar to each other as the years pass.

There should only be one Boxer, and the more the 2 ends of the scale develop away from each other the further away from having one breed we will get. I have heard talk of people wanting to actually divide the Boxer into 2 separate breeds, and in my opinion this would be one of the worst things that could happen. A very important thing to realise is that form follows function. On the whole, Boxers in Europe are bred for quite different reasons to the Boxers in America. The function of the Boxer on the 2 sides is different, and as such, his form or structure is appropriately different. The show scene in Europe is vastly different to the show scene in America.

I am not knocking either type of show, but American shows are all about pizzazz, showmanship, professional handling, eye-catching displays of movement, while the European shows are far more businesslike and practical, with no great pomp and ceremony, the Boxers set up against each other, with the handlers just holding the lead for the most part, with the dog’s attention on the person in the crowd with the ball, toy, squeaky creature or whatever he needs to get the dog focused. It is this fundamental difference that I believe has led to the great chasm between the styles.

So,having said all of that, what do I see as the differences between the 3 styles? Please note that I am generalising here… There will obviously be Boxers of all 3 styles that are not what I describe.

Starting with the European Boxer, you have a much heavier, more substantial Boxer, generally with a rather short nose bridge, plenty of chin, very high forehead, pigmented third eyelids, prominent forechest, well angulated forequarter, a topline that slopes excessively, and very often weak hindquarters accompanied by narrow, hyper-extended hock joints and cow hocks. Loose skin under the neck is often a factor and coats or ‘jackets’ are often not tight-fitting.

The American Boxer is way more elegant, often lacking in substance, with a longer nose bridge, less prominent (and often lacking) chin, muzzle lacking in width and depth, often unpigmented third eyelids, a very elegant, clean neck, very often lacking in forequarter angulation and missing the prominent forechest, rather tall on the leg, a gently sloping topline with no breaks or dips, somewhat lacking in rear angulation, with generally strong hock joints and no cow hocks. The jacket is tight fitting and smooth with short hair.

The English Boxer has more elegance than the European Boxer and more substance than the American Boxer. Nose bridge is generally correct according to the standard, muzzles showing correct chin – not too prominent nor lacking. Skulls are very often too wet, with excessive wrinkle and thick skin. Upper arms are often too short, with forechest lacking, although I have noticed a vast improvement in shoulders in recent years. Toplines slope gently but sometimes tend to be swaybacked. Rears are often over-angulated (long in lower thigh) but hock joints are strong and no cow hocks. Jacket varies, but generally not as tight fitting and short as the American or as thick as the European. The English Boxer is far less ‘extreme’ than the American or European Boxer.

Aine (Kellaney Boxers): We will try and go trough all the points, which we have serious problems getting away from standard. First let us start in the heads. What are the main faults you come across in boxer heads according to the requirements of the standard?

Monique Hodgkinson (Tanyati Boxers):

In UK. Boxers
Skulls are not as chiselled as they should be, often with too much wrinkle and thick folds. Many heads are too heavy for the body, which is often due to these thick folds and wrinkles.

In American Boxers
Very often the exact reverse of the English Boxer – not enough folds or wrinkles, with heads tending to look like they have been ironed. Eyes are often too round. Foreheads tend to be a bit flat and nose bridge too long and downfaced. Chin lacking, causing muzzles to be too shallow. Lack of padding often leading to lack of width of muzzle.

In Euro boxers
A lot of European Boxers have over-typical heads – muzzles too short, no longer of the correct 1:2 proportion required of the standard (if measured as the Standard dictates), foreheads too high and prominent, stops too pronounced.

Aine (Kellaney Boxers): Do you see sense in trying to bring the different types closer to each other and which style could give which positive effect to the product?

Monique Hodgkinson (Tanyati Boxers): Absolutely! The Boxer should be one breed. If one could successfully combine the substance, head type, forequarter and temperament of the best European Boxer, the elegance, topline and jacket of the best American Boxer, with the unexaggerated balance and gorgeous feet of the best English Boxer you’d have something in my opinion that is close to what the Standard calls for.

Would it suit the standard at the end? Without a doubt. But doing this would require the breeders to realise that they may not have the best Boxer in the world, and for them to be open minded enough to look for the good in a style different to their own.