More and more frequently we have been seeing ads for, getting questions about, and hearing from people who have purchased black Boxer dogs.
Black boxers do not exist – the color gene responsible for black coat color does not exist within the breed. If you “see” a black Boxer, if that dog is a purebred Boxer, he or she must either be a very dark brindle.
Brindle is a striping, however sometimes the colors of that striping can be so dark that they seemingly blend together and create what may be interpreted as a solid dark coat.
There are some people who believe that they own black Boxer dogs. Also, there are some breeders who claim to have black Boxer puppies for sale. However, neither can be correct.
Perhaps that seems a little confusing. Maybe you have even seen a Boxer yourself who appeared to be black, and you can't see how the above statement could possibly be accurate. It is genetically impossible for a black Boxer dogs to exist and we will explain why…And what Boxers who look black actually are.
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Why Colors are Misinterpreted
In most cases of this, the dogs are actually VERY heavily striped brindles, which some people call "black brindles" and misguidedly shorten to "black".
All Boxers have a fawn base coat color; Brindles are actually fawn with a brindle marking. Those markings are made of a pattern of black stripes which cover the fawn…Sometimes just a bit (lightly brindled) and sometimes a lot (a heavily brindled dog).
In over 100 years of recorded Boxer breedings, the only time a solid black coat has appeared was in a handful of dogs descended from a Boxer and a mixed breed dog that was a cross between a Bulldog and a Schnauzer…This happened in Germany in the late 1800’s.
Since another breed was introduced into the bloodline, they were not purebred.
Sometimes, breeders who claim to be breeding solid blacks often use the above incident as "proof" that there is such a thing. However, it quite clear that the dogs were not purebreds and that the coloring came from another breed…They were quickly eliminated from the Boxer gene pool and the issue was settled.
At that time in Germany, the Munich Boxer Club strictly controlled the breeding of Boxers. A dog had to meet conformation and working standards before it could be bred. In 1925, the standard was changed so that a black coat was not an accepted color.
The Munich Boxer Club did not want black Boxers, so they did not allow them to be bred. It's possible that some "unapproved" breeding went on - but these dogs would NOT have been registered with the Club, so would not have been part of the gene pool that has come down to us today.
The question, then, is this: If the original black coloring came from a Schnauzer, and black Boxers (not purebred) from this cross became extinct in the early 1900s, why do some people insist that this coloring still can appear? There are several elements that prove that the black gene that was created in that crossing in the late 1800’s does not exist anymore:
The trait has not been passed down – The proof of this is that the color black in Schnauzers is a dominant trait - a dog that has even one copy of the gene will be black, so a non-black dog could not be carrying or have the hidden the gene.
While mutation is a possibility, the odds of it are enormously high - and the odds of it happening in several separate breeding populations are astronomical - enough so that we can safely rule out mutation for the majority of black Boxers out there. The only viable option, then, is the genetic influence of another breed. In other words, any solid black dogs are not purebred.
There have been claims of a recessive black coat color gene in Boxers, but those making the claim also state that recessive black is fatal in those dogs. This means that a puppy with two copies of the recessive gene for black coat color will not survive. However, there is no documentation to support this theory, and it has been discounted by breeder-geneticists.
What About Breeders Who Claim to Have Solid Blacks?
Even with the false assumption that these are truly purebred Boxers, there are other factors to consider. The first, and most obvious, is that the AKC does not have a color code for a black coat in Boxers. That means that any AKC-registered black Boxer is actually registered as a brindle. Thus, the only explanation is that either the breeders are falsifying information with the AKC, or they are admitting that the dogs have fawn (tan) on them and so are not solid black.
Since the solid color cannot exist, the only answer is the former: The dogs do have fawn, however well hidden by the dark striping. When they then continue to advertise their dogs as black - often "rare black" - is ethically wrong.
It makes no sense why breeders would purposely breed dogs who would be disqualifications. While there is nothing at all wrong with owning a dog that has a breed disqualification, it is another matter entirely to breed them. Any breeder who claims to be selling a breed variety that doesn't exist in nature most likely doesn't have the highest moral standards.
If these dogs are truly brindles, as they are registered, then we go back to the standard, which states that fawn must clearly show through any brindle striping. If no fawn is visible to a judge, the dog will be either excused or disqualified from competition, even if it is genetically a brindle.
Now, let’s go into more detail about what these dogs really are. After all, these dogs look every bit like Boxers...and you might be thinking that the coloring of these dogs looks like black to you.
As it turns out, these dogs are actually brindle Boxers. Some people call them reverse brindle boxers.
A brindle is one that has some type of fawn coloring (from a tan color to a dark reddish color)-BUT, on top of the fawn coloring are black stripes. Boxers can have any number or sort of black striping. They can even have such a quantity of black striping that they appear to be black with fawn-colored striping. The boxers who have this much black striping are often called reverse brindle boxers.
Some of these brindles may end up with such a great amount of black striping that it can be quite difficult to find the fawn under-color. Boxer experts know that there is fawn underneath; even if you cannot see it without close inspection.
To the Left: This is a heavily brindled, white mis-marked Boxer. Not a black Boxer.
Every being (whether it is a mammal, like a dog, human, etc. has genes. These genes determine everything about the being, from skin color to the number legs to where the eyes are...genes control everything.
Genes control coat color in dogs, too. In order for a dog to be black, that breed of dog must contain the gene for having a black coat. Boxer dogs do not have that gene. So, there cannot be any black Boxer dogs. It is genetically impossible.
A "Boxer" that is black, or black with brown points, for example, MUST be a mixed breed or a heavily brindled dog.