Flashy Boxers are all the rage at shows these days.
The breeders that are charged with safeguarding our precious breed are jumping over themselves to produce dogs with just the right amount of "flash".... but not too much, of course, because the breed standard excludes dogs with white covering more than 1/3 of the body surface, which I suppose brings me directly to the point of this article.
My questions about Flashy Boxers are derived from what I know about the reasons why white Boxers do not meet breed standards.
Historically, white Boxers (Boxers that are too flashy) were excluded because they were too highly visible at night for combat and police duty.
But today, these dogs (which make up about 25% of the entire Boxer dog population)are excluded and prohibited from breeding because of health concerns .
The reason white boxers are white, is because they lack melanin. However, it is important to realize that they are not only melanin deficient in their skin and hair pigmentation, but throughout their bodies.
Lack of melanin causes deafness, plain and simple. And deaf dogs tend to produce more deaf dogs whether they are white or colored.
Lack of melanin in the eyes causes not only blue eyes, but eye problems.
If you include the skin, three of the five sensory organs are negatively affected by reduced melanin levels.
I have read of greater incidence of skin cancer in white Boxers.
The point is, white Boxers represent health risks to the breed, and that is THE reason they are excluded from the standard, and prohibited from breeding.
This beggars the questions: then why are breeders still striving to breed flashy boxers? And especially, why are judging standards which are supposed to be safeguarding the breed awarding so many Best of Breeds to flashy show entrants?
Here is a fact, that some very basic research uncovered, that really got to me: in theory, introducing one 'solid' or 'plain' patterned dog into a breeding pair makes it practically 100% certain that 0 puppies will be born white!
In other words, if the industry was serious about eliminating the white Boxer, because it is a health risk to the breed, it could probably do it (or at least substantially reduce the number of white Boxers).
Yet breeders aren't doing this, probably either for profit (customers pay more for flashy dogs, they are, after all, beautiful dogs) or for more aesthetic reasons (they simply think flashy Boxers look good, themselves).
What's more, the official bodies of the breed, the breed's protectors, are awarding these breeders for their efforts at shows.
I am neither a breeder (though we are considering breeding our girl after she is two and (hopefully) goes through her medical screening and (hopefully) gets the blessing of a judge on behavior and construction)nor do I show dogs, nor am I a veterinarian. However, as a long-time dog/ Boxer owner and observer with common sense (I think) I must naively question: isn't excluding white boxers from the breed on one hand, and more often than not, giving Best in Breed to a Flashy Boxer on the other, a bit of a policy conflict?
I am also not a geneticist, but I would presume one reason why so many White Boxers are still being produced in spite of the breeding ban, is because breeders are striving to produce dogs with some white. They are therefore breeding marked dogs with marked dogs in order to ensure there are at least some flashy puppies in any given litter. They do this, in spite of the practical guarantee such breeding pairs will produce one white puppy in every four.
It is hard to blame the breeders, as winning shows is their business- they are also just fulfilling a demand.
The various standards boards, however, could do better to bring their judging standards more in line with their policy on White Boxers.
As it is, white Boxers are essentially just the "acceptable level of collateral damage" in an otherwise successful (show winning) breeding program.
Dr. Theresa Garton has some interesting thoughts on the creation of a "true flashy" Boxer, which would not produce whites,
I have read a commentator who stated that more white puppies are being born and that existing color lines are being diluted due to attempts to produce Flashy Boxers for shows.
If it is true (and I think it is), that deficient melanin is a cause of health problems in Boxers, it is high time that judges and standard setters reassess the scoring or perhaps even start penalizing for excessive "flash" in shows- not only for the sake of the health of their flashy champions, but because the policy of breeding for flashy dogs 'accidentally' creates more White Boxers than necessary.
While admittedly flashy Boxers are beautiful dogs, these good looks may come at too large a cost to the long term well-being of the breed.
Again I am no expert, just a long-term dog and Boxer owner/ observer/ fan. I would welcome any responses that refute my opinions, especially from those of you with a scientific basis for your arguments... I admit, I have none.
We aren't set up with a forum yet, but if you respond on our contact form, I'll publish your thoughts here.
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