Trifecta's Rhyme & Reason
The following is based on my experience as a breeder, exhibitor in obedience and conformation and as a trainer for well over 20 years. Towards the end there are some personal stories about my dogs and experiences.
Puppies do go through some radical personality changes up until they are about 18 months old. Some are more radical than others.
Some absolutes are:
You cannot correctly assess a puppies personality in one visit.
The puppy that is asleep in the corner, and doesnít come running up to visit, isnít necessarily the wrong puppy to choose. He/She may be the pearl of the litter. He may not feel good that day. It doesnít mean there is something wrong with him. He may be tired and often the big puppies in the litter, especially the big males, get tired quicker. Sometimes these puppies are just very laid back. And this makes a very nice pet.
The puppy that is off investigating things may also be a wonderful puppy.
Rarely will you see a puppy that is shy, hang back when he is with his litter. He draws confidence from the litter. The only real way to tell if the puppy is a shy puppy, is to take him by himself to a brand new place and see how he reacts in that situation.
And shy puppies, although requiring some special attention socializing and training, can also be wonderful pets. I have never known a shy puppy, who was properly trained and socialized, to have any aggressive tendencies. I have had two and they both were extremely easy to live with.
Dogs are like people in any litter there are a variety of personalities.
The leader of the pack may be very aggressive and dominant. This can be as big a problem as the shy puppy.
The independent puppy can be a challenge as well. He is the one off investigating while his brothers and sisters come running up to you to play. He will probably be more stubborn and less cooperative than the others. My best boxer was just such a dog.
A very busy hyperactive puppy can be one of the biggest challenges. This puppy makes a wonderful working dog. But, as a pet they can really try the patience of a saint. He will probably be the puppy jumping at your feet trying to get your attention. He often has the most dynamic personality in the litter and will draw your eye.
The biggest puppy in the litter may be of normal size as an adult. The runt may be the biggest as an adult. I have kept two runts that turned out to be very big boxers.
Please be a sensible puppy buyer. It is common for a knowledgeable reputable breeder to steer you toward one puppy or the other. If you have done your research you should count on the breeders knowledge of the breed and what they feel fits with your family. THE PUPPY YOU SEE IS NOT THE DOG YOU GET. I rarely use size, color or sex to determine which puppy is best suited to which family. And, here you should note that I generally pick the puppy for my puppy buyers. As the breeder,I have just spent seven to eight weeks with the puppies. I have assessed their temperaments and personalities pretty correctly. Because I am a professional trainer and have been working with families and boxers for over twenty years I pretty much know which puppy will work out best with which family.
I always tell people whatever puppy they take they will think is "The Best" after they have had him/her for about five minutes. Regardless of color, size or whatever other criteria they have used to determine the perfect puppy. I have rarely been wrong.There is probably a very fine line between my preference for a male over a female. One that many would not see. Having trained and competed with boxers in the obedience and conformation ring has influenced this preference. As opposed to picking a dog to be a family pet. First of all, if the male is neutered at the appropriate age (11 - 13 mo) you should not have any problems with hormonal urges or even marking. Overall I think males have more personality and are more devoted. But again, this is a fine line. Training wise for example, especially when doing high level competition, the males will always try even if they are sick or having a bad day. But the females have bad days and they quit. Granted the average pet owner is not going to train to that level. But I use it as an example of the difference in the personalities.
I think the males are more affectionate. My boys always know where I am. But when buying a puppy, you must get them to adult hood before they really begin to shine as a companion dog. The males are very body stupid until they are about 18 months old. They just don't understand how powerful they are. This can be a HUGE problem if you have very small children. This is where the female can actually be THE VERY BEST DOG YOU EVER HAD. They mature mentally and physically earlier. As a rule, they are better for very small children. They seem to be more respectful. They actually provide an assistant nanny for people with young children.
Puppies are wonderful. But everyone seems to think this puppy hood lasts. It lasts for about two months. When they reach the five month age (if they haven't had the appropriate positive puppy training) they start to run amuck. From six months to a year or 18 months in the case of a male, things can be real exciting and the puppy is a puppy only in the brain. The cute, cuddly, sweet, sensitive little thing you bought is gone forever. I do not recommend altering (say/neuter) a puppy until they are at least nine months old. Older for the males. If you buy a boxer you must have a fenced enclosure for the dog.
A dog is what you make it. There are no bad dogs. You can get a really nice puppy and ruin it by incorrect or no training. And, you can get a real precocious puppy and make him a star. The puppy is 25% a product of his genetics and what he is and 75% (training, socialization and environment) what you make him after you get him.
Please check my training site (trifectatraining.com)for more information.
Please be a sensible puppy buyer. Don't pick a puppy based on color, size, sex
or preconceived notions of your last boxer. Better yet listen to what the
knowledge breeder says after they have interviewed and questioned you about all
aspects of your family and your life style.
Popular Dog Magazine interviewed me for their January 2007 issue. There are some other articles in the magazine that can be informative as well.
Meet Kona, my first competition dog. He was so shy he didnít come out from under my chair at puppy class for three weeks. When he retired from competition he had two obedience titles and was the easiest dog to live with.
Kona Winds CDX
Meet Jedi. I puppy tested Jedi as an eight week old before I bought him. I didnít want a male. I wanted a female. There were seven females in the litter and one Jedi. A puppy test is an evaluation some trainers use to determine how easy the puppy will be to train. Jedi tested in the genius range. So I bought him. He was the most outstanding competition dog I ever had. When he and I retired from competition, due to injuries mine and his, he was working on his third obedience title. He was also an extremely busy dog and was frequently doing things I didnít feel were appropriate.
Meet Oly he was my first boxer when I was an adult. We had several boxers when I was growing up. He was the runt of the litter and when he was an adult he weighed 85 pounds. The biggest boxer I have ever owned. Oly was a very bold high energy dog. He was an enormous amount of fun and extremely affectionate. With little training and no socialization he successfully became the most obnoxious boxer I have ever had. He is actually the reason I became a trainer. He was so aggressive he could never be let off leash anywhere accept at home. (By himself in a fenced back yard.) He hated anyone in uniform, the garbage man and anyone else that came within 10 feet of his home or car. He was extremely protective of me and would not allow most men within ten feet of me. This wasnít always a good thing.
Oly, Bru & Tundra
He was bred once and produced a beautiful litter. Both girls went to one obedience class. Meet Bru and Brezzy. Bru (above right) belonged to me and Brezzy to my vet. Bru was the easiest dog to live with. After that one obedience class she rarely went on leash. She was very trustworthy and responded extremely well to commands. She was very laid back and easy to live with. (Breezy below.)
Meet Merlin. Merlin was the most fun to train. He was extremely intelligent and very funny. He made a wonderful show dog. But he was very very busy. He was also the second most aggressive boxer I ever had. He finished his championship quite quickly, (my first champion.) He placed third in his first obedience qualifying trail. We had a lot of fun, but he was totally untrustworthy around other dogs.
When you buy a puppy from a reputable breeder who has been raising boxers for a long time you get a lot of knowledge and experience. It is best to rely on that experience.
A Boxer Puppy Is What YOU Make Him
Picking the puppy, is a small part of a much larger picture.If you are not sure what breed is best for your family and lifestyle go to the
American Kennel Club website** *** **
Now if you still want a Boxer please read
"Do You Really Want A Boxer"** *** **
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