Karin Rezewski

The typical body and movement of the Boxer
copyright © Karin Rezewski
translation: Mrs. Barbara Murray, England

The 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 and smooth.

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 of effort.

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 energy completely.

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

to start
© Karin Rezewski 2005, created by Dunja