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How to find and choose a good Boxer

Good breeders, bad breeders. Rescue groups and animal shelters. Evaluating puppies and adult dogs for sale and adoption.

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You may have been advised by well-meaning friends to let a puppy choose YOU, i.e. the one who comes to you first or seems to like you the most. This usually results in all the bold and pushy puppies (who are often difficult to raise) being taken first, while the gentle puppies (who usually make calmer pets) wait politely in the background.

Most families make a mistake by letting the most brash, forceful puppies choose them. Sure, these little dynamos are a blast to play with for an hour at the breeder's. But they can drive you crazy if you have to live with them 24 hours a day.

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Puppies who hide or tuck their tails or shrink away from you are not safe choices as pets. Don't try to convince yourself that you can "bring them out of their shell." You don't know what's going on in these puppies' genes. Shy puppies usually become shy dogs who may snap defensively at anything that startles them.


If the litter isn't running away, what should they be doing? Normal puppies are friendly, curious, trusting. They mill around your feet, tug at your shoelaces, crawl into your lap, nibble on your fingers.


After a while, they may stop playing with you and begin wrestling with one another. You can tell a lot about the individual puppies by the way they interact with their littermates. 

  • Which ones are strong, outgoing, bossy, noisy?
  • Which ones are quiet, submissive, gentle?
  • Which ones grab all the toys and win the tugs-of-war?
  • Which ones seem delicate or picked on?

Most families do best with a pup who is neither boss of the litter nor lowest on the totem pole. Look for good-natured, middle-of-the-road pups who don't growl or grab or bite, but who do join in and hold their own.


Clap your hands gently, snap your fingers, jingle your car keys, shuffle your feet, whistle softly, cluck your tongue. 

  • Which pups are interested?
  • Which ones come over to investigate?
  • Which ones are apprehensive?

You want an alert and confident puppy. A nervous puppy who is afraid of sudden sounds or quick movements will not do well in a busy household. A puppy who is completely oblivious may be too dull, too independent, or unhealthy.

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