The Differences Between Boxers & Pit Bulls

Pit bulls and boxers both have short, shiny coats and ears that can be either cropped to stand up or left to hang down. To the untrained eye, these stocky, mid-sized dogs could be mistaken for one another. The name "pit bull" is used loosely to describe any number of breed of dog and mixes of those breeds. Boxers are recognized by the AKC, but pit bulls, under that name, are not. The closest breed the AKC has to the pit bull is the American Staffordshire Terrier. There are other differences among the pit bull breeds and the boxer on closer study.

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Don't let the disguise fool you--this dog is a boxer.

Build

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Pitbulls ears can be floppy or cropped. The AKC no longer requires ear cropping in order to show Boxers.

Examine the shape of boxers and pit bulls and you will find that boxers are a bit sleeker while pit bulls are more stocky. Both are muscular. Boxers' tails are docked; pit bulls have long, sleek tails. Both boxers and pit bulls can either have their ears cropped, which raises them, or they may be left natural and floppy.

Personality

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Boxers are great guard dogs.

Expect any boxer or pit bull to be very friendly. They love people and aim to please. Boxers have lots of energy and are happy dogs that want lots of play, especially with children. Pit bulls have the undeserved reputation of being aggressive dogs but this is true only when they are raised to be aggressive towards other animals. They are rarely aggressive towards people. Pit bulls and boxers both are great family dogs. Owners must be prepared to give them plenty of exercise as both breeds have lots of energy. Most boxers make good guard dogs. They are smart, agile and protective of their families. Pit bulls, on the other hand, are so loving that they might ask a burglar to pet them instead of protecting the home.

Size and Longevity

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The bull terrier, seen here, is one of the mixes used to create the pit bull.

Boxers and pit bulls are similar in size. Boxers tend to be about 22 to 25 inches tall. Pit bulls run a little smaller at 18 to 22 inches. Boxers commonly weigh between 55 to 70 pounds. Pit bulls have a wide range of weights varying from a light 25 pounds up to 110 pounds, with about 55 pounds being the most common. Boxers can live from 11 to 14 years. Pit bulls usually live about 12 years.

Health

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Hip dysplasia is possible in both breeds.

Take a prospective companion animal to a veterinarian before making a final decision. It is good to know what you will be getting into before making a commitment. Boxers can fall prey to a number of ailments, including heart and thyroid difficulties, cancer, hip dysplasia, arthritis and, in white boxers, deafness. They also drool and can have extreme flatulence, depending on what they eat. Pit bulls are a healthy breed but they can get hip dysplasia, allergies to grass, cataracts and heart disease.

Lifestyle

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The pit bull was once America's family dog, thanks to Spanky and our Gang. Their reputations have changed since then.

Take your boxer or pit bull out for walks, runs and play often. Boxers and pit bulls are energetic breeds. They can live in closed quarters, such as apartments, but expect both to need much exercise and play. The pit bull will need even more activity than a boxer, though both will require a significant amount. Neither of them like cold weather, perhaps due to their short coats. A fenced yard, lots of walks and a doggy-jacket for colder weather are important for both breeds.

A Word About Pit Bulls

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Pit bulls make great family pets. They are loyal, friendly and intelligent.

The term "pit bull" encompasses a variety of breeds including the bull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier, or "Am Staff," or any number of mixes among Rottweilers, boxers, bulldogs and other terriers. There is a trend to legislatively remove pit bulls from communities, called Breed Specific Legislation, or BLS, because some people have misused and abused the breed, turning this once friendly and happy breed into one that is dangerous and misunderstood. If BLS is happening in your community, contact the Humane Society of the United States for information on how you can help.