Boxers vs. Labradors for Family Pets

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When choosing the best dog breed for your family, temperament is just as important as looks. Both boxers and Labrador retrievers have been kept as loving family pets for generations, and both are considered to be good with children. The decision about which breed is best for your family may come down to your own personal preferences. Being equipped with a thorough understanding of both breeds and how they are similar and different can help you make that decision.

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Kid-friendly Dogs

Boxers tend to be playful, but they are also patient with children and seem to understand that young children need gentler treatment. They are extremely loyal and brave, so they make good protectors of children as well as good companions. Labrador retrievers are also well-known for their kind nature when dealing with children. Labrador retrievers are extremely outgoing and tend to be nonaggressive, so a Labrador retriever may act more as a playmate than a protector toward its young owner.



Both boxers and Labrador retrievers are short-haired dogs, so not a lot of grooming is required. Labrador retrievers shed more than boxers because of the undercoat, so if you plan to keep your dog indoors, this could be a consideration. However, the lack of an undercoat in boxers makes them more susceptible to cold, so a boxer might be better suited to live indoors or in a warmer climate. Both are around the same size and require the same amount and type of food. As puppies, both breeds like to chew, although Labrador retrievers tend to chew on furniture and other household objects more than a boxer does. Neither should be left alone for long periods of time as puppies or they might get bored and start chewing on things. Both need daily exercise, but a Labrador retriever in particular needs to live with an active family to keep its need for exercise met.



Both breeds are amenable to training. Labrador retrievers tend to be extremely eager to please their owners, so training them with praise as the reward is extremely effective. The boxer's intelligence and alertness make this breed easy to train as well, since this type of dog will typically pay close attention to instruction and pick up training concepts quickly.


When purchasing either a purebred boxer or Labrador retriever, always go through a reputable, registered breeder. Both breeds can be prone to health problems, with heart problems being more common in boxers and bone problems being more common in Labrador retrievers. A reputable breeder will screen for potential problems before selling you a puppy or dog. Another option for families who like the look and temperament of these breeds but do not want to pay the price for a purebred is to look for mixed-breed dogs with one of these breeds as part of the mix.


By Bridget Coila

American Kennel Club: Boxer
American Kennel Club: Labrador Retriever
Go Pets America: Dogs Good With Children
PBS: Dogs That Changed the World -- Selective Breeding Problems

About the Author
Bridget Coila has been writing professionally since 1998 and specializes in health, nutrition, pregnancy, pet and parenting topics. Some of her articles have appeared in "Oxygen," "American Fitness" and on various websites. Coila has a Bachelor of Science in cell and molecular biology from the University of Cincinnati and more than 10 years of medical research experience.