Boxers are formidable-looking creatures. After all, they descend from bulldogs and mastiffs, both of which are stereotyped as tough dogs. Furthermore, male Boxers average 60 to 70 pounds while female Boxers average 55 to 65 pounds, meaning they are on the heftier end of things. Despite this, these dogs are total sweethearts that get along well with a wide range of people under a wide range of circumstances. Still, if people are looking elsewhere, they should know there are dogs similar to Boxers without being Boxers.
1. American Bulldog
The American Bulldog is a relative of the Boxer. We know this because both dogs descend from the Old English Bulldog, which took an irrecoverable blow when the United Kingdom passed the Cruelty to Animals Act in 1835. Dog breeders took these dogs in new directions, but their results are considered new dog breeds rather than mere continuations of what existed before. With that said, the American Bulldog isn’t one of these dog breeds. Instead, the AKC says it traces its roots further back.
Specifically, working-class people brought their Old English Bulldogs to the Americas as early as the 17th century. Over time, the descendants of those dogs became all-purpose working animals. They worked as catch dogs, stock dogs, and even guard dogs. However, American Bulldogs were particularly useful because of feral pigs. The latter didn’t have a native predator in the past any more than they do in the present. On top of that, they were always smart, tough, and opportunistic omnivores. As such, it isn’t hard to see why people wanted some kind of counter to feral pigs.
In modern times, American Bulldogs remain working animals. They still see use in managing livestock. Similarly, they still see use in hunting feral pigs. Despite this, American Bulldogs get along well with their families while remaining much more reserved toward strangers. Interested individuals should expect to spend a lot of time with them. That is critical because American Bulldogs base their understanding of who is and isn’t a threat on their owners’ judgments. For the best results, they also need a lot of exercise, training, and socialization. A properly cared-for American Bulldog is a beloved companion with a surprising amount of tolerance for everyone else in the family. In contrast, an uncared-for American Bulldog is a nightmare.
2. Boston Terrier
Some people describe the Boston Terrier as a smaller version of the Boxer. It isn’t hard to see why. The Boston Terrier might be a smaller, more compact dog. Even so, its head has the same square shape even though its ears are erect rather than floppy. Of course, people in the United States and Canada still sometimes crop Boxer ears, so that isn’t necessarily a reliable way to distinguish between the two dog breeds. For that matter, the Boston Terrier’s tail can look like the Boxer’s tail for two reasons. One, tail docking is still a thing. Two, people bred Boxers with natural bobtails in the United Kingdom when they realized that a tail docking ban was on its way.
Personality-wise, Boston Terriers are well-suited for being pet dogs. As a rule, these dogs are friendly people-pleasers that interested individuals can train with relative ease. Boston Terriers are protective of their people though, which can sometimes cause them to act aggressively toward strange humans and strange animals. Conveniently, they don’t bark much, thus making them very compatible with renters.
On a semi-related note, interested individuals might come upon something called a Miniature Boxer. Hepper says such dogs are designer dogs. Other than Boxers, Miniature Boxers can descend from several dog breeds, with the Boston Terrier being one of the more common possibilities. Designer dogs are unpredictable combinations of characteristics from both of their ancestors. If people want a Miniature Boxer, they need to know exactly what their chosen dog is like rather than put too much faith into generalizations that may or may not apply.
Bullmastiffs have a very straightforward name. True, no one knows the exact process by which these dogs came into existence. Still, they are clear descendants of bulldogs and mastiffs, thus explaining their name.
These dogs look like bigger, heftier Boxers. Despite that, Be Chewy points out some notable differences between the two dog breeds. For example, the Bullmastiff isn’t as energetic as the Boxer. As a result, it has less need for exercise and thus less need for a space to exercise in. Likewise, the Bullmastiff is a friendly dog, but it isn’t quite as good at getting along with other animals as the Boxer. With that said, the size difference itself has significant consequences for a wide range of things. It isn’t a coincidence that the Bullmastiff lives an average of 7 to 9 years compared to the Boxer’s average of 10 to 12 years.
4. Cane Corso
Supposedly, the Cane Corso descends from Roman war dogs. Theoretically speaking, that is possible. The Romans didn’t unleash dogs on their enemies during battle, but they did bring dogs with them on military campaigns because there was still a need for guard dogs, herding dogs, and hunting dogs under such circumstances. Dog breeds didn’t exist in those times in the same sense they exist in the present. Still, the Romans were very fond of the Molossus, which is often considered ancestral to modern molossoids. The Cane Corso is an Italian molossoid.
These dogs make excellent guard dogs. They are assertive, courageous, and self-assured, so much so that they are best suited for people who can establish themselves as the leader of the pack with practiced ease. Naturally, they are also intelligent and affectionate toward their families, which are good characteristics to have in guard dogs.
5. Continental Bulldog
Dog breeders are still creating new dog breeds. For proof, consider the Continental Bulldog, which is still in the process of securing widespread recognition. It received recognition from the FCI in 2022, but it could take some time to receive recognition from other prominent kennel clubs. Continental Bulldogs are an attempt at improving on the English Bulldog. As such, they have the same confident friendliness. However, they lack the health problems that plague that part of their ancestry.
6. English Bulldog
English Bulldogs are direct descendants of Old English Bulldogs. Of course, they are much changed from their ancestors. For instance, English Bulldogs are much friendlier than Old English Bulldogs, which makes sense considering their much different role in human society. With that said, these dogs make decent watchdogs. They have a strong protective instinct. Thanks to that, they don’t look kindly upon strange humans and strange animals that get too close to them and theirs.
As for offering actual protection, that is iffier. English Bulldogs can provide deterrence because bulldogs have a reputation for being formidable animals. Unfortunately, these dogs are nowhere near as physically impressive as their ancestors. Their spirit might be strong, but their body isn’t up to the same standard. Still, the English Bulldog does have an impressive bite.
7. English Mastiff
As strange as it sounds, Britain had a reputation for formidable dogs in ancient times. We know this because we have a historical account of Romans importing British dogs for use in their arenas. It seems safe to say those dogs weren’t there for pure exoticism, which means they were there to show off their physical capabilities in what was probably a very violent manner. Simply put, the Romans loved their bloodsports, so they tended to use their imported animals in very predictable ways.
No one can say whether English Mastiffs are descendants of those British dogs or not. The idea isn’t impossible. Post-Roman Britain might have given way to Anglo-Saxon Britain, but that was a cultural transition rather than a total replacement. As a result, it isn’t a huge stretch to speculate that English Mastiffs descend from dogs that we know existed in the same part of the world in the distant past. Whatever the case, the British held and continue to hold these dogs in high regard. They are gentle yet courageous, though they do have a disadvantage in that they are better suited for either country or at least suburban living.
8. Olde English Bulldogge
The Olde English Bulldogge isn’t the Old English Bulldog. Instead, it is a man named David Leavitt’s attempt at recreating certain elements of the Old English Bulldog. Specifically, the UKC said he wanted his dogs to look like their source of inspiration without sharing their source of inspiration’s more problematic traits. That makes sense because the overwhelming majority of modern people see bloodsports in a negative light, meaning the instincts of the Old English Bulldog would be much more of a hindrance than a help.
In any case, the Olde English Bulldogge is a success at achieving Leavitt’s stated goals. These dogs have a gentle temperament that doesn’t diminish their love and their loyalty to their families. Better still, people claim these dogs are healthier than English Bulldogs, which is good because English Bulldogs are rather disastrous in this regard. The gist of it is that the latter have flat faces that look cute in exchange for giving them eye problems, breathing difficulties, and skin infections. The BBC and other sources have outright reported veterinarians pleading for the public to stop buying them until dog breeders can fix these issues. Some people have speculated about the Olde English Bulldogge contributing to that process as a source of new blood because English Bulldogs are so inbred.
9. Presa Canario
Generally speaking, the Canary Islands don’t get much mention in the history books. However, they served as a stepping stone for Spain’s overseas empire-building. The Canary Islands were the country’s first overseas conquest, meaning they were a practice run of sorts for later efforts. Later, they became a staging point for expeditions headed to more distant destinations. As a result, a wide range of people visited the Canary Islands, thus resulting in a wide range of dogs settling in said region. Those became the ancestors of more than one dog breed, with an excellent example being the Presa Canario.
Historically speaking, the Presa Canario did triple duty as a guard dog and a herding dog that did some dog fighting from time to time. Fortunately, it is much closer to people’s expectations for the first two roles than to people’s expectations for the third role. So long as the Presa Canario receives training and socialization, interested individuals can expect it to be a loving companion 100 percent dedicated to the rest of the household’s protection. That isn’t an exaggeration. The Presa Canario is very suspicious of strangers. If it isn’t trained and socialized, that can translate into aggressiveness.
10. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Bloodsports didn’t just suddenly stop when the United Kingdom passed the Cruelty to Animals Act in 1835. Instead, it took time for interest to die off bit by bit, helped along by pressure from the authorities and animal welfare organizations. In the meantime, people took the relevant dogs in new directions, as shown by the crossbreeding of bulldogs with terriers to create more agile animals. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is one of the dog breeds that emerged from that trend. Sadly, the lack of records, the lack of centralization, and its multitude of names mean its exact origins are murky at best.
Regardless, Staffordshire Bull Terriers are a good choice for a pet dog in modern times. They retain their ancestors’ brave, tenacious nature. At the same time, they have become kinder, more playful, and more even-tempered. As a result, Country Living says the KC considers Staffordshire Bull Terriers one of the best dog breeds for families with children. Suffice it to say that is a huge show of trust.