Boxer vs. Pit Bull Terriers (Which is Right For You?)

Boxers and Pit Bull Terriers share a lot of traits. Both trace their lineage to bulldog breeds, are considering working dogs, and have been used in the public sector. But there are enough differences to make them wholly unique breeds. So what dog will work for your life?

Boxers in Brief

Boxers get their name in part because they do like to box – or at least, appear like they’re boxing. These exuberant pooches love to paw at objects, animals, and people while they play. But they won’t land a heavy punch – these dogs have a tremendous reputation for being gentle.

They also have a strong reputation for being dorky goofballs, which makes them effortlessly lovable. These little balls of energy wag their butts when they get excited – a byproduct of having a short, stubby tail – and they practically have their own language, filled with grunts, snorts, and “woo-woo” noises that tend to signal a call for attention.

While their muscular frame and pronounced underbite makes them look fierce, their gentle spirit and seemingly endless patience make them a terrific dog for owners with children. And while they do tend to slobber a bunch and have a reputation for being gassy, these unpleasant traits are forgivable compared to the joy the breed brings.

Pit Bulls at a Glance

Pit bulls – specifically, the American pit bull terrier – are the most misunderstood dog breed around, and it’s not even close. This breed has unfortunately been branded as a vicious, almost bloodthirsty dog. This reputation is particularly bolstered whenever a pit bull attack enters the national consciousness.

Unfortunately, the acts of a few pit bull terriers and the accompanying media buzz has completely sullied the reputation of a breed that in reality, can be a loyal family dog and a wonderful, loving pet. This intelligent breed is filled with joyful exuberance and tons of energy, and when properly trained can be an excellent dog around kids.

While their sturdy demeanor and their unfortunate reputation tend to put fear in the hearts of trespassers, pit bulls actually make pretty lousy watchdogs. Sure, they’ll bark at strangers, but that's because they're eager to see them as opposed to driving them away. That said, they are bursting with courage and will protect their family fiercely.

Similar, But Very Different, Breeds

To a point, boxers and pit bulls seem to be cut from the same cloth, and not just because they’re both considered “bully breeds” (that is, their lineage traces back to bulldog bloodlines). They are both fun-loving dogs that love their families unconditionally. They are also bright breeds that are full of energy and playfulness.

However, the differences between the two breeds can represent a pretty wide chasm. Don’t think that you can approach the two breeds in a similar fashion. If you do, you will end up making things extremely tough for you as well as your pooch.

Let’s look at the tale of the tape to spot a few easy differences. First off, pit bull terriers tend to live about 4 to 6 years longer than boxers, primarily because the latter is more prone to more serious diseases. Pit bull terriers also have a broader range of sizes to choose from than boxers.

Exercise and playtime are also big differentiators between these two breeds. Pit bulls will typically require a little more traditional exercise such as leashed walks than their boxer counterparts. On the other hand, boxers carry a greater tendency to play until they drop from exhaustion.

While both breeds tend to be stubborn when it comes to training, boxers tend to be the easier of the two breeds to work with. It also tends to be much more important to make sure pit bull terriers are properly trained. Stories of breed-specific viciousness do stem from improperly trained members of the breed.

The reason it's easier to train boxers is because there is a specific trick to working with the breed. That is, it's important that you make your training sessions loaded with fun. That way, your boxer will think of the training as a neat little game – and they love their neat little games.

Reputation: The Biggest Difference Between the Breeds

Sadly, the main difference between the boxer and the pit bull terrier is something that, in a more educated world, would not exist. While boxers look tough, it’s generally accepted that they are a happy breed that is a consistent deliverer of joy. Pit bull terriers, on the other hand, are dogged by a false yet constantly perpetrated perception.

Because of the furor that has developed over a handful of pit bull attacks, the breed has been saddled with a bloodthirsty reputation that’s so negative, it has been banned by certain communities. Even though the tide on these bans appears to be turning, the vilification of the breed remains strong.

Sometimes, this perception for evil gravitates from the pooch to the owner. If you do own a pit bull terrier, you may want to prep yourself to deal with people willing to make snap judgments on you simply because you own the dog. This could even devolve to hostile confrontations stemming from the woefully misinformed.

Because of this perception and the emotions it stirs up amongst a specific part of the population, people on the fence about whether to get a pit bull terrier or boxer may opt for the latter. This is a shame. Not to take anything away from boxers, of course, but it is sad that in this case, a few bad apples spoil things for what really is a good breed.

Ultimately, It’s Up to You

At the end of the day, you know what dog would best suit you and your family’s lifestyle and temperament. If you’ve whittled down your choices between the pit bull terrier and the boxer, make sure you heavily scrutinize the pros and cons before you make the call. Doing so could end up saving you and your dog a lot of grief in the long run.