Part I: Earliest Ancestors
John Wagner's Book, The Boxer, first published in 1939, contains one of the most detailed histories of development of this breed. Therefore, much of the Boxer history that is developed here comes from his book.
The history of the Boxer as a unique breed begins late in the last century in the area of Munich, Germany. The Germans did not begin to breed dogs seriously and scientifically until that time, although various types of dogs had existed in Germany -- as in England and the Continent -- from time immemorial. According to Denlinger, "As far back as the time of the ancient Assyrians, more than 2000 B.C., a strain of dogs with powerful build, heavy head and great courage was bred and used in war. Centuries later the name of Molossian was given to dogs of this type, named from the city of Molossis in Epirus, in what is today Albania." These dogs spread across the continent and became the ancestors to the German Bullenbeisser. In England, selective breeding produced a taller, stronger dog than the original Molossis and this formed the foundation of the modern Mastiff. Later, the English crossed their Mastiff with fast running hounds to produce the Englische Dogge, or Great Dane, the German national dog. However, the Germans continued to use the Bullenbeisser as a hunting dog.
Boxer Ancestors of the Middle Ages to the Late 1700's
According to Wagner:
". . .a smaller Bullenbeisser of the purest stock was bred from the larger one by natural selection, due to the spreading popularity of the animal fights from England to the mainland and thence to Germany . . . Through comparison of Spanish and French authors of the 12th to 14th centuries with authentic English and German sources we find that the so-called "Dogge" title was used as a collectivism for all strongly built, short-haired chase dogs with large heads, powerfully developed muzzles and triangle-like, stubbed and drooping upper lip, strong bodies and teeth and that the Doggen forms of all European countries from the middle ages up to the present day are limited to three types which have in the course of time developed into national breeds. They are:
- The heavy Bullenbeisser (Mastiff).
- The large hound evolved by crossing the Bullenbeisser with the old type Wolf or Deerhound (The Great Dane).
- The small Bullenbeisser which represents a smaller form of the heavy Bullenbeisser through natural selection (The Boxer and the English Bulldog)."
(Bullenbeisser head types)
Wagner quotes John E. L. Riedinger of Augsburg (1698-1767):
"The main portion of most old time German hunting packs were made up of coarse haired, big dogs with bush tails and wolfish heads called 'Rüden'. They were supplied to the courts by the peasants in immense numbers and suffered great losses at every hunt, therefore no particular pains were taken to breed them. The Doggen and Bullenbeisser, however, knew instinctively how to tackle the game from behind and hold it in a way that kept them from serious injury yet gave the hunters time to reach the kill therefore they were more valuable to the hunt and were accordingly highly prized and painstakingly bred." (Wagner, 1950, p. 27)
It is generally accepted that a smaller Bullenbeisser bred in Brabant, an area in Northeast Belgium, is a direct ancestor of today's Boxer. To add historical perspective to current practice Wagner quotes Hans Friedrich v. Flemming of Leipzig (1719), who writes of the Brabanter Bullenbeisser: "Their ears are clipped while they are still young and also the tail...." (Wagner, 1950, p. 22)
Bullenbeissers from about 1800 to 1900
The noble estates on which the Bullenbeisser were bred were broken up in Germany during and after the Napoleonic wars and the dogs which had heretofore formed the hunting packs of the nobility, hunting wild boar and small bear, became the butcher's and cattle dealer's dog. It might be considered a reduction in stature of the dog, but it kept him from becoming extinct. By 1800 after the dispersion of the hunting Bullenbeisser mentioned above, the small Bullenbeisser was found as a family and guard dog where "his remarkable intelligence and tractability endeared him to so large a group of individuals that he carried on when so many breeds completely disappeared." (Wagner, 1950, pp. 32-33)
During the time that a smaller Bullenbeisser was being bred for the wild game hunts, the English Bulldog was being bred in England as early as 1632 for the same purpose. That English Bulldog did not have the extreme characteristics of today's English Bulldog--he was much more like the Brabanter Bullenbeisser in body type, but often was either white, or did have white markings.
"The literature and paintings previous to 1830 indicate that all Bullenbeisser up to that time were fawn or brindle with black masks. There is never any mention of white. About this time there came a great influx of English dogs to Germany including the English Bulldog. His entry into the country quickly followed by numerous crosses with the Bullenbeisser resulted in an eventual similarity of type that made it very difficult to distinguish where any degree of Bulldog blood was present except that white color began to appear in the Boxers. This is easily understood if we bear in mind that the English Bulldog of that time was very like the Boxer, more of a small mastiff than anything else. Still there were certain peculiarities introduced that for years caused lack of of uniformity in type, shape and color in the Boxer. But lasting characteristics were not impregnated although it took years of selective breeding to eliminate some undesirable traits and to this day minor discrepancies appear at rare intervals." (Wagner, 1950, p. 34)
The Modern Boxer in Germany
The following lines of descent concentrate on those Boxers who were the primary ancestors of American Boxers. There are many other noted sires and dams which were not included in order to avoid confusion.
A Boxer club had been formed in Munich in 1895, and the founders drew up the first Boxer Standard as a guide for their future breeding. Much of this first standard still remains in the Boxer standards of today. As any good dog club should, they held a dog show as soon as possible. A picture of the Boxers in that show still survives. The modern Boxer began in the late-nineteenth century in Germany with Alt's Flora, a brindle bitch imported from France by George Alt of Munich. Flora was bred to a local Boxer whose name was never recorded. A fawn and white male from this litter, Lechner's Box, was then bred back to his mother who produced Alt's Flora II and Alt's Schecken. Schecken, when paired in 1895 with a white bulldog called "Dr Toneissen's Tom" in the records, became the dam of the first Boxer registered in the first stud book in 1904, Mühlbauer's Flocki.
Schecken's sister Flora II was bred back to her father, Box, which produced Maier's Lord, the first noted Boxer sire. Maier's Lord was mated to Maier's Flora (parentage unknown) to produce Piccolo v. Angertor, the sire of Meta v. d. Passage.
In 1898, a repeat breeding of Schecken and "Dr. Toneissen's Tom" produced Ch. Blanka v. Angertor. Ch. Blanka v. Angertor was the mother of Meta v. d. Passage.
If you can sort all of that out, you deserve an award. But the point is that there was a high degree of inbreeding during the early stages of the breed's development. Setting the genetic characteristics for a new breed cannot be done in any other way.
It is worth quoting Wagner here: "Meta v. d. Passage played the most important role of the five original ancestors. Our great line of sires all trace directly back to this female. She was a substantially built, low to the ground, brindle and white parti-color, lacking in underjaw and exceedingly lippy. As a producing bitch few in any breed can match her record. She consistently whelped puppies of marvelous type and rare quality. Those of her offspring sired by Flock St. Salvator and Wotan dominate all present-day pedigrees. Combined with Wotan and Mirzl children, they made the Boxer." (Wagner, 1950, p. 47)
Flock St. Salvator, of whom no picture exists, was one of the sires of puppies from Meta. He is not out of the line of Flora/Box but rather a different one. According to Gordon (p. 16) his breeding with Meta produced Hugo v. Pfalzgau.
Hugo v. Pfalzgau was the great-grandfather of Rolf v. Vogelsberg, the foundation sire of the great German Vom Dom line and thus a foundation sire of nearly all American Boxer lines.
Friederun and Philip Stockmann and the Vom Dom Boxers
The names Stockmann and Vom Dom are the most important ones in the history of American Boxers. Friederun Stockmann
Six) was a young woman from Riga, in the Baltic region of Germany. In the beginning pages of her book, My Life With Boxers, she gives us her belief that she was destined to spend her life with dogs--she was born in 1891 under the Sirius, the Dog Star. At the age of 18, she says, she was led by the Dog Star to Munich where she began her art studies at the Academy in Munich. It was in Munich that Friederun met and was owned by her first Boxer, Pluto. And, oh yes, she met and married Pluto's owner, Philip Stockmann.
Frau Stockmann was not on the Boxer scene at the very beginnings of the breed, but she was a major force in the breed very soon thereafter. Frau Stockmann must have been around five when the first Boxer show was held in Munich in 1895. She showed her first Boxer, Laska, a bitch in about 1910.
As was said previously, Rolf v. Vogelsberg was one of the major Boxer sires. Because Frau Stockmann does not give specific dates early in her book, we have to do some figuring to determine when she must have purchased Rolf v. Vogelsberg. According to Denlinger (p. 35), Rolf began his show career at the age of two in 1910. Frau Stockmann says that she bought him at three years of age. She must have bought him in 1911 when she was about 20 or 21 and married to Philip Stockmann. Her first homebred champion and Rolf's son was Dampf vom Dom, whelped September 28, 1912.
Rolf v. Vogelsberg earned the German title of Sieger five times, the last time at the age of eleven after four years of service with Philip Stockmann on the front lines in World War I. He was the only Boxer of the ten that Stockmann took with him to return alive.
Rolf's descendants from 1910 to 1925 were some of the major sires of the German lines. In direct line of descent from Rolf they were: Ch. Rolf Walhall, Ch. Moritz v. Goldrain, Ch. Casar v. Deutenkofen, Ch. Buko v. Biederstein, to Ivein v. Dom.
Ivein v. Dom, whelped in January, 1925, represented Frau Stockmann's renaissance in the breeding of Boxers after World War I. Ivein's dam was Zwibel, granddaughter of Rolf v. Vogelsberg and his sire was Buko v. Biederstein a great-great-grandson of Rolf. Iwein never earned a German championship, but Frau Stockmann says that her sixth sense told her to keep Ivein and to breed him. He became the sire of the great German sire, Sigurd v. Dom.
During the five years that he remained in Germany, Sigurd attained a rank as a show dog and sire equal to the great Rolf v. Vogelsberg. At the age of five he was then sold to America to become a part of the Barmere Kennels in Van Nuys, CA. Of him Wagner said: "To Sigurd, more than to any other individual dog we owe the tremendous advance in consistent perfected balance of power and elegance." (Wagner, 1950, p. 97)
It was one of the twists of fate that two of the greatest dogs that the vom Dom kennels produced were sold to America. Sigurd's grandson, Ch. Lustig v. Dom was also sold to America and became Ch. Lustig v. Dom of Tulgey Woods. Lustig was sold only because a great price was offered for him at a time when the Stockmann family fortunes had reached a nadir. Ironically, though Frau Stockmann never saw him again, the year after Lustig left Germany her husband Philip was invited to judge the show at Westminster and Lustig was there.
With the importation of the three grandsons of Sigurd, Utz v. Dom, Dorian v. Marienhof, and Lustig v. Dom, the United States had the three greatest Boxers that German breeding had been able to produce and the focus of American Boxers shifts from Germany to America.
Again Wagner states: "The two dogs, ICh. Dorian v. Marienhof, the brindle, and Int. Ch. Lustig v. Dom, the fawn, are both in America. They represent the perfected ideal of nearly fifty years of careful breeding of Boxerdom's most aristocratic and finest families. No finer or better-bred Boxers have ever lived. They have both demonstrated their ability to reproduce quality similar to their own." Wagner, 1950, p.99)
To close the section on Frau Stockmann and the Vom Dom kennels there is the following quotation from her book, My Life With Boxers, which may help us understand her nearly lifelong devotion to our breed: "The Boxer, however, is a gentleman amongst dogs with short coats. He not only wants the best food, he wants to be handled in a civilized manner too. He can easily be upset by his master and this is called being leader-sensitive. He cannot stand a hard hand or injustice. It is true that he is pig-headed and every one has a personality of its own. His real job is to be a house and family dog and to be a friend to the children." (Stockmann, My Life With Boxers, p. 116)
Boxers in America: The Four Horsemen of Boxerdom
Milo Denlinger in his book, The Complete Boxer, calls Sigurd, Dorian, Utz, and Lustig, the "Four Horsemen of American Boxerdom" (p. 110). Even though they were German Boxers they must also be recounted in the American history because, in many ways, they were the foundation of American Boxers. Sigurd was the grandsire of the other three Horsemen.
Sigurd was whelped in July, 1929, by the Stockmanns, was sold to Charles Ludwig and then to Barmere Kennels in 1934 when he was five years old. Ten of his German sons and daughters were imported and became American champions and left champion get of their own. Fifty-five of Sigurd's get made their American championships or left champion progeny. He won Best of Breed at Westminster in 1935. He died on March 3, 1942.
Lustig and Utz were full brothers though there was a three year difference in their ages. Their sire was Zorn v. Dom out of Esta v.d. Wurm, making them double Sigurd grandsons.
ICh. Lustig sired forty-one American-bred and imported dogs who became American champions. He also produced twenty-five American bred and imported producers. One of Lustig's famous litters was the "B" litter of Lilac Hedge Kennels. In this litter, produced by Lustig out of a Dorian daughter, were three females and four males, all of whom finished their American championships. Lustig died on June 14, 1945.
Ch. Utz v. Dom, Lustig's full brother, was whelped April 18, 1936. He was imported by the famous Mazelaine Kennels, owned by John Wagner, in 1939. By the end of 1947 he had sired thirty-five champions and sixteen non-champion producers. Like Lustig, Utz had a famous litter, the "N" litter out of Ch. Nocturne of Mazelaine, a Dorian daughter. Utz won the Working Group at Westminster foreshadowing his famous son, Warlord of Mazelaine. He died in 1945, two months before Lustig.
ICh. Dorian v. Marienhof is the last of the Great Four. He was whelped in April 1933 from a full brother to the father of Lustig and Utz, Int. Ch. Xerxes v. Dom from the daughter of another excellent German import, Ch. Check v. Hunnenstein. Dorian won the Working Group at Westminster in 1937 just one year after he was imported. Some of Dorian's famous get were Chs. Symphony and Serenade of Mazelaine and Ch. Duke Cronian who became the foundation stud of the Sirrah Crest Kennels and the ancestor of Bang Away of Sirrah Crest.
By Judy Voran