general appearance of our breed is emphasized
by its very e x p r e s s i v e head and its
compact, clean-cut body, together with its
self-assured presence. Its movement is powerful
To come near to achieving the balance between
the all-important " strength " and
" nobility " called for in the Breed
Standard, certain fundamental measurements
must be laid down regarding the construction
of the body. The length of the body should
equal in height from the ground to the top
of the withers and the depth of chest should
be half of the height of the dog measured
at the withers. Within this square frame,
the clearly defined angulation of the fore-
and hindquarters should balance, evenly, requirements
which allow a movement free of any impression
It is in the movement of the dog that one
can assess the prerequisites for the effective
functioning of the body best of all. Forward
propulsion really means a sort of dropping
down but a fully controlled dropping down
whereby the neck and the forequarters lift
up the body and serve to control the movement.
The hindquarters, on the other hand, have
the job of giving the required mechanical
impulse or drive to the movement. The momentum
is transmitted along the back to the front
end and taken on by the forequarters with
as much elasticity as possible.
To produce a really effective movement, most
of the work is done by the shoulder and upper
arm angulation and croup. If correctly positioned,
the should blade and croup are longer than
one where the angulation is steep or the croup
flat. Because of its greater length, a tendency
for long and broad muscles is made possible.
The long muscles produce movement and the
broad ones strength. Furthermore, a greater
lift is achieved which, in turn, results in
a resilient stride and smooth movement across
the ground. Seen in profile, one can recognize
if the movement is balanced or not. If so,
the hind feet land on the spot where the forepaws
lifted up a fraction of a second earlier.
The more even and still the movement of the
withers, the more effortless the dog. The
head is held forward.
As the entire front is attached to the body
by the muscles alone and not the bones, it
must fit neatly in the complete picture and
be as balanced as possible. So that an even
tension can be achieved, the shoulder blade
and upper arm should be the same length and
form as large an angle to each other as possible.
Ninety degrees would be desireable, the full
extended angle of the shoulder joint being
lO5 degrees. The firmer the neck and the clearner
the whole front, the more effective the movement.
When the shoulders are close to the rib cage,
the elbows stay sufficiently tight to the
body. A Boxer which is out at elbow or one
that is wide in front never displays sufficient
speed or endurance. One would think that the
wider and deeper the front, the better it
would be but, too wide a sideways expansion
is undesirable on account of shifting the
balance. For this reason a well-sprung rib-cage
is necessary to give the heat and lungs plenty
of room, compared to the too flat rib cage
and barrel chest, which are hindrance and
are, therefore, undesirable.
Deviations of the prescribed positioning and
length of individual bones result in faulty
musculation and weak ligaments.
In a steep forehand, the shoulder and upper
arm are shortened, the neck and stride lack
elasticity and reach of forelegs is shortened.
The musculation will be over-stretched and,
as a result, develop too strongly. Also the
muscles which lie behind the shoulder blade
and upper arm will become bulgy and powerful
and push the upper part of the shoulder blade
away from the rib cage and the elbow out.
A wasteful expenditure of strength !
The whole front no longer stands sufficiently
under the body but has moved forward, the
chest now hanging between the shoulder blades.
The upper and lower outline is not as flowing
and vibrant as one with better forehand angulation.
An upright shoulder is often accompanied by
a lack of depth in chest. This, when coupled
with over-angulated hindquarters, leads to
a rangier body lacking the desired depth and
compactness. To make up for the difference
of length of stride between the front and
rear end, the dog lifts it head and in particular
its front legs up high in order to accommodate
the extra long stride of the over-angulatd
hindquarters. Such high-stepping action may
look spectacular but is ineffective.
What the long, slanting position of the shoulder
blade is to the forehand, so is the pelvis
to the hindquarters. The longer and wider
the pelvis, the better the developement of
strong musculature in the hindquarters; it
will lay the foundation for a wide, muscular
upper thigh. A strong lower thigh of proper
length and a deep-set, strong hock with a
short hind metatarsus create the biggest leverage
and, as a result of this, strength and endurance
as well. In a standing position the knee should
reach so far forward that it would meet a
vertical line drawn from the hip protuberance
to the floor. Construction of this kind attains
the very highest stability
If the body is short to the point of being
exaggerated, one often has a far too heavy
front combined with a weak, narrow hindquarter.
The length of individual bones does not match
that of the forehand. The hind legs serve
more or less apropos for the body only and,
therefore, lack drive. Most of the work is
done by the forehand. The body and movement
is no longer balanced.
The sequence of steps of a dog that is straight
at both ends may be even but the movement
lacks elasticity. It leads to a weak, swinging
type of action, in which the paws hardly lift
up off the ground and the impact is scarcely
cushioned. The lack of angulation becomes
clear seen in profile, when the dog runs pounding
the ground heavily with the withers deep down
and the croup pushing up high, as it stretches
the hindquarters and in so doing wasting its
To maximize the transfer of energy from the
hindquarters to the forehand a broad, strong
back and loin is required. A correct positioning
of the pelvis is also a necessary prerequisite
for this. Strength coupled with agility can,
however, only be achieved in the spine through
a certain degree of flexibility; therefore,
loins which are slightly arcched are of an
advantage. A long back and, even more so,
a back that dips behind the withers, favours
the sideways movement of the body; one talks
of back compensation, which prevents an even,
forward movement. The opposite, the roach
back, is a sign of debility and due to faulty
and weak development of the hindquarters.
All three of these back faults influence the
movement detrimentally and the ability of
the dog considerably.
In order to ensure that our Boxers continue
in good, sound functional health, we must
take care that the individual demands of the
Standard are achieved through an as ideal
harmonization of them as possible. They not
only give our Boxer the body typical of the
breed but also the true movement.
Published in The Little
Blue Book - Boxer 2OO2
and in The Boxer Bulletin Annual 2OO3