Aine (Kellaney Boxers): What do you think is the main reason for losing type in head?

Monique Hodgkinson (Tanyati Boxers): Consistently using ‘fashionable’ dogs that no longer have correct heads. People seem to think, if short is good, even shorter is better. If high is good, even higher is better. If a head is not correct, let’s say it is bordering on a Dane-type, some people think that using a Boxer with an over-typical head will correct the problem. It won’t. What will happen is some of the puppies will have a Dane-type head, and the others will have an over-typical head! You don’t fix one problem by introducing the opposite problem in the hope that the one will cancel out the other so that the average between the 2 extremes is produced.

Another reason for losing type is the human eye! We are very adaptable creatures, and our eye easily gets used to seeing something, especially if we see lots of it. Going on the “if short is good, then shorter is better” attitude, dogs are rewarded for being ‘more’ than the Standard asks for. People look at what is winning, assume it is the best specimen and therefore the closest to the Standard of all the animals being exhibited, and therefore what we should be breeding.

So those top winning dogs are used extensively, and pass on their “more is better” characteristics to the next generation, and the next, and soon all the dogs being exhibited are “more” than the Standard asked for. By now our eye is used to this ‘new’ look and when faced with something that is actually closer to the Standard we no longer see it as ‘enough’ and reject it.

Aine (Kellaney Boxers): What is your advice to get closer to the standard in heads?

Monique Hodgkinson (Tanyati Boxers: First and foremost, really understand what the correct head is, and be open minded enough, and brave enough, to admit that what your eye likes may not be correct! Forget what is winning, (which may very well be a dog with an excellent head, but that’s not my point) and really look at the heads. Understand the Standard. Then, as I mentioned above, use a correct head, not a ‘fashionable’ head! There should be no exaggerations in the Boxer.

Find a dog (or bitch) with a chiselled skull, distinct but not prominently pushed-in stop, correct proportion of muzzle to skull, measured on the correct reference points, correct proportion of tip of nose to upper lip compared with lower lip to chin, correct forehead/rise of skull etc. Look for balance. Then select the puppy/ies in the litter for your next generation that are as close to the correct parent as possible.