From the January 2020 issue of ShowSight. Click to subscribe. On the photo: Amy Bieri, Mary Frances Burleson, Loren & Laurie Freeman
- Where do you live?
- What do you do “outside” of dogs?
- In popularity, Boxers are perennially up towards the top of the list; they’re currently ranked #11 out of 192 AKC-recognized breeds. Do these numbers help or hurt the breed?
- Few of these dogs really “work” anymore. Although he’s a tremendously hard-working dog with great power and stamina, he’s highly valued as a companion. What qualities in the field also come in handy around the house?
- A strong Working dog requires a special household to be a perfect fit. What about the breed makes him an ideal
- Are there any misconceptions about the breed you’d like
- What special challenges do Boxer breeders face in our current economic and social climate?
- At what age do you start to see definite signs of show-worthiness (or lack thereof)?
- What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind?
- What’s the best way to attract newcomers to your breed and to the sport?
- What is your ultimate goal for the breed?
- What is your favorite dog show memory?
- Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate
I’ve been breeding, rescuing and showing Boxers since 1998, I’ve bred and owned over 50 champions, put multiple obedience and agility titles on my Boxers over the years. My Boxers have achieved all breed best in shows, several have ranked in the top twenty, won multiple awards/ titles at nationals and regionals along with much more.
I own a boarding and training facility in Island Lake, Illinois. We offer board and train packages along with multiple classes from conformation, Rally, nose work and much more.
I’m not only a professional all breed handler but I specialize in dog behavior and modification. I love what I do!
I live in Island Lake, Illinois. The majority of my life is spent with dogs because I own a dog boarding and training facility. I show dogs professionally on the weekends. I love what I do and dogs! The enjoyment outside of dogs would be spending time with my family and working out.
Does the breed’s ranking help or hurt the breed? I think it can help and hurt the breed.
It’s helpful because Boxers are such wonderful family pets and can be perfect for an active family with children. They are one breed that really adore kids. The popularity can encourage families to choose a Boxer for a family pet. In this day and age the Internet is useful to educate families in their research for finding a proper breed such as a Boxer.
It hurts our breed when Boxers can get into the wrong hands for unethical breeding purposes due to the popularity.
What qualities in the field also come in handy around the house? Their protection qualities are helpful around the house. They are known as a “guard breed” and can be protective of their families. They have a muscular physique and are medium sized with a “look” that would discourage intruders.
What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? They are an intelligent and active breed, perfect for families that want a dog to stay busy with. I love how funny and entertaining they can be. They do require a good amount of exercise and need a yard to run in.
The drawback to the breed are that they are prone to cancer and heart problems. It’s important families research and find breeders that health test properly, of course there are no guarantees but it decreases risk in my opinion.
Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? There are definitely a few that I’ve heard over the years.
I’ve had people ask me if Boxers are difficult to train? The breed can be stubborn but they are very smart and easily trainable. They learn quickly and with positive reinforcement training they will thrive.
I’ve had people ask me if all white Boxers are deaf. They are more prone to deafness but are not all deaf. I’ve had only two deaf white Boxer puppies in over twenty years of breeding. There’s a BAER hearing test that breeders can utilize on white puppies before they go to their homes to assure puppy buyers they are purchasing a hearing white puppy.
What special challenges do Boxer breeders face in our current economic and social climate? I don’t have challenges in this department. I breed selectively therefore I have families sometimes waiting up to a year or two for a puppy.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I like to evaluate my puppies for homes at eight weeks for show or non-show homes. I can access structure and temperament fairly well at this age.
The most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? I think in general it’s important to follow the breed standard. The most difficult part of our standard to judge in my opinion is the head piece. There are so many different styles of a Boxer’s head piece. It’s an important part of the breed but the overall structure and type of a Boxer should be considered as well.
The best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? I think getting our young people involved, mentoring and educating them. We need to take them under our wings and be supportive.
My ultimate goal for the breed is to continue to breed with high standards and ethics. I strive to breed for healthy Boxers with proper structures and temperament.
My favorite dog show memory? Oh my goodness! I have so many amazing memories but I think my favorite one was when my son Luc was only about eight years old he showed one of our Boxers named Vixen (Ch Happy Tails You’re My Diamond Girl) at the Boxer nationals in Rally novice.
He drew an audience that morning while he and Vixen did their course. She listened perfectly to his every command until she had to “down” on part of the course, after several attempts she finally did it while the crowd watched in suspense. When Luc and Vixen exited the ring they were greeted by the crowd with a standing ovation! They qualified with a great score and fourth placement!
Mary Frances Burleson
I live in a suburb of Dallas Texas, I’ve been in real estate for 60 years. Also past CEO of Ebby Halliday Real Estate Company in Dallas, Texas.
Does the breed’s ranking help or hurt the breed? I think it hurts, mostly. Due to under educated and improper breeding, the NUMBER of Boxers skyrocket, not the quality! While I understand the breed is extremely lovable, and “ fits in” alot of people’s lifestyles, the breed type, health, and temperament must be preserved, most importantly, and this needs to be done by educated and qualified breeders.
What qualities in the field also come in handy around the house? My first thought is they are fabulous protectors of their homes and families. They take their guard duty seriously. Also their companionship/friendship is unique, they make you laugh, but are also very sensitive to your mood. They are such kid-friendly dogs, and are very adaptable as long as they are with “their people”.
What about the breed makes them an ideal companion and are there drawbacks? Check out answer to number three for the first part of this question. Drawbacks for some—Boxers require a lot of exercise and attention, they are “people” dogs, need to have mental stimulation to be at their best. Also health issues might be a drawback for some folks, Boxers are prone to having cardiac problems, cancer, and other medical issues. Also, unfortunately, their lifespan is not as long as some other breeds.
Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? The general public expresses to me that Boxers are such BIG dogs, to me they are medium sized. Some people say they are “hyper”, to that I go back to the 4th question and answer, they do need space and need to run, a Boxer does have a lot of energy, but they also know when/how to settle down and just be with you.
What special challenges do Boxer breeders face in our current economic and social climate? Having dogs, any kind of dogs plural, is expensive. You must provide top of the line vet care, a good diet, and good training, among everything else. Showing a Boxer properly costs, it just does. So getting involved in showing and breeding, one must know the expanse is real! As Boxer breeders we also must be concerned with continuing to have the right to crop and dock this breed, therefore we must be aware and active in our local governments and elections.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I feel we see definite signs when they are born, we like to look at them for actual show evaluations, good or bad, at around seven to eight weeks. From there you must rely on that evaluation as they continue to grow and hopefully become what you expected.
What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? For me, there really is not one thing more important than all of the characteristics that make up a good Boxer. But a very important thing to always keep in mind is to look at the OVERALL dog. Mrs. R. C. Harris (Bang Away’s Owner) told Rufus and me, ”A judge should never fault judge!”
The best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? I think a Boxer can “sell” themselves. As far as dog shows go, we must encourage people to have fun, but also to remain mindful of the reason we have dog shows.
My ultimate goal for the breed? To continue to preserve breed type and soundness. Also to improve our health testing by developing and using more DNA testing for diseases, so we can prevent, rather than treat. And for Boxers to live long healthy lives!
My favorite dog show memory? February 1979, in New Jersey, Judge Don Bradley (wearing a tuxedo) was judging at the 1979 American Boxer Club National, and our girl, CH Marburl’s Rahab of Wesan, “Penny “ was awarded Best of Breed with Johnny Johnson on the end of the lead. Our mentor, Amy Ackland, was standing next to me, what a thrill! I remember it like it was yesterday!
I’d also like to share that breeders need to remember to put tremendous thought, study and care into each and every breeding, it must always be about quality never quantity! Boxers have been a huge part of my life, they have brought me tremendous joy, tears of happiness and tears of sadness, many great memories of the past, and many more to make for the future!
Loren & Laurie Freeman
Laurie and I live on a farm in Madera, California. We farm wine grapes, almonds and walnuts. Laurie retired from teaching a few years ago and is making craft type greeting cards to keep her safe and sane.
Does the breed’s ranking help or hurt the breed? Once you have had a Boxer it’s hard not to have another one. Breeding healthy dogs is the biggest challenge our breed has to face. Losing a dog at a young age may have chased some Boxer people away from the breed.
What qualities in the field also come in handy around the house? Boxers are extremely intelligent. They are still a good watch dog whose bark tells you a lot about what they are watching out for. They are good companions for young children. They are gentle and protective without being rough. They need a moderate amount of daily exercise but are couch potatoes otherwise.
What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? The Boxer is a good family companion. Loyal and affectionate to all in the immediate household. They need to have a “alpha” human to keep them in their safe environment. They are a strong willed athletic dog that needs to have a boss.
Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? They can be aggressive if encouraged to be. They are affectionate and intelligent otherwise.
What special challenges do Boxer breeders face in our current economic and social climate? The Boxer’s health issues need to be addressed. Complete testing can be expensive. When health issues are present they need to be disclosed or the dog shouldn’t be bred.
At what age do we start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? Our mentor, Lynda Yon, could look at a new born puppy and make a good assessment. It takes me a few months before I can make an educated guess.
What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? The breed needs to be square with a straight top line. Attentive, not shy, athletic and physically fit.
What’s the best way to attract newcomers to our breed and to the sport? Encouragement, encouragement, encouragement.
Our ultimate goal for the breed? A heart healthy and cancer free dog.
Our favorite dog show memory? We had a BIS win a couple of years ago with Savvy.
The Boxer breed brings all kinds of people together to brag and talk about their dogs. Some from the past and some currently. Enjoy your time with someone who has a similar interest in the breed that you have.
Mary Frances is shown here with homebred Ch Marburl’s Eclair’ “Clair”, at almost 8 years old, she is the reigning matriarch at our place right now.
Sired by Ch Marburl’s Hidalgo, Sire of Merit 2013 Stud Dog Class Winner and 2014 American Boxer Club Sire of the Year (tie), her dam is Marburl’s Zia