There are several breeds of dog commonly referred to as pit bulls, or bully breeds, because of their body types, but it is important to note that the American Kennel Club does not recognize any dog called a "pit bull." The only breed with "pit bull" in its name is the American pit bull terrier, which is recognized by the United Kennel Club. The American Staffordshire terrier, the closest thing the AKC recognizes, and the American pit bull terrier once shared the same bloodline, but have since diverged. Bullboxers are an attempt to breed one of the already strong pit bull breeds with the equally strong, energetic and intelligent boxer.
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A Bit of History
In the 19th century, European breeders began experimenting with mixing bulldogs and terriers, hoping to create a dog with the strength of a bulldog and the talent and resourcefulness of a terrier. The result of this breeding was what became the various bully breeds, like the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and, of course, the American Pit Bull Terrier. So it is important to understand that half of a bullboxer mix is already a bit of a mixed breed. It is simply one with a highly predictable outcome and a well-established bloodline.
The boxer is a working dog with a long history of service, including being one of the first German police dogs. Pit bulls were also bred to be working dogs, and hunting and herding animals for farmers. Today, there is less farm work for them to do, but they still excel in organized physical competitions. Both breeds are very muscular dogs, though the boxer is leaner, and both have short, smooth coats. Both dogs also have broad, flat heads, but the pit bull has a longer muzzle. You can expect a mixture of the two breeds to be slightly shorter and leaner than a regular pit bull, but with a very muscular build and a penchant for pulling.
Both boxers and pit bulls are very friendly with people. The United Kennel Club even recommends not trying to use them as guard dogs because they are too friendly with strangers. So a bullboxer, as long as it has not been mistreated before being adopted, should make a great family pet and do well with children and adults alike. Pit bulls, though friendly, are aggressive players. So families that already have a small dog in the home may want to keep an eye on the relationship between the dogs until they know the bullboxer will not accidentally hurt the smaller dog.
Health and Grooming
Pit bulls and boxers are relatively healthy breeds, but no breed is without its health risks. Though not common, they can suffer heart disease, and pit bulls occasionally develop hip dysplasia. Ideally, a bullboxer will not suffer breathing problems associated with brachycephaly, but if your bullboxer does have a brachycephalic head type -- that is one with a squished-looking snout -- keep an ear out for wheezing or other signs of labored breathing. Bullboxers, like full-blood boxers, may also be susceptible to an aggressive form of cancer called hemangiosarcoma. It can be difficult to detect, but signs can include difficulty breathing, lethargy and depression. If you suspect hemangiosarcoma, talk to your veterinarian immediately, as this cancer can spread quickly. (See Reference 6)
These dogs are easy to groom, requiring only a good cleaning of the ears, a brushing once or twice a week to control shedding and a trimming of the nails from time to time.
- Vetstreet: American Staffordshire Terrier: American Pit Bull Terrier
- United Kennel Club: American Pit Bull Terrier
- American Kennel Club: the Boxer
- Vetstreet: American Staffordshire Terrier: American Pit Bull Terrier: Health
- Plus ONE: Localization of Canine Brachycephaly Using an Across Breed Mapping Approach; Cecile Fairhead, Editor
- Purina Pro Club Boxer Update: Vol. 4 No. 2, July 2005