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The Boxer – Humble Beginnings Lead to Greatness

From the archives of The Canine Chronicle, March, 2012

By Amy Fernandez

Boxers have ranked among America’s favorite breeds for so long we take their popularity for granted. Surprisingly, the breed was a hard sell in the beginning.

Attempts to establish the Boxer breed date from 1900. When it was recognized in 1904, Boxers were classified as a Bulldog and became an awkward addition to the Non-Sporting group until 1935. In 1915 the breed got its first champion thanks to New York Governor Herbert Lehman. German Sieger Ch. Dampf v. Dom was imported from the Stockmann’s Von Dom Kennel. Editors of Germany’s first Boxer magazine, they founded their kennel on a veteran WWI military dog, Rolf von Vogelsberg, the acknowledged prototype of modern Boxers.

That promising start fizzled. The next 17 years yielded only two more AKC champions, even though one of them, German Sieger Ch. Check v. Hunnenstein garnered the breed’s first BIS in 1932. Obviously quality wasn’t sufficient to launch a trend in America.

Status-seeking fanciers often gravitate to rare breeds but this phenomenon isn’t typically associated with a wellspring of quality. That time, the stars were favorably aligned for Germany’s Boxer world. That year Americans suddenly woke up to the fact that something unique had clicked into place and Germany’s Boxer stock began rising fast.

Dual Sieger Champion Sigurd vom Dom - 1935

The first to notice was heiress Miriam Breed. She had money and knew dogs. In 1934 she purchased five year-old dual Sieger Champion Sigurd vom Dom. A top winner in Germany and Austria, this watershed dog became Barmere’s foundation stud. His record of 54 BOB, eight Groups, and two BIS was eclipsed by his legacy as a producer. Along with 26 AKC champions, he sired crucial dogs before export, most notably sons, Xerxes and Zorn.

In Milwaukee John Wagner’s dreams of founding a Boxer kennel received scant support from his Great Dane peers. Suddenly, that didn’t matter when his wife returned from the 1934 Berlin Sieger with reports of a phenomenal Sigurd grandson sired by Int. Ch. Xerxes v. Dom out of a Ch. Check v. Hunnenstein daughter. Tightly linebred, Rolf v. Vogelsberg appeared five times within six generations of his pedigree.

Negotiations to purchase Dorian for Wagner’s Mazelaine kennel dragged on until January 1936. Shown 34 times, Dorian earned 22 BIS and 29 Groups including Westminster in 1937. Within a year, his progeny became the basis for new bloodlines.

Megawealthy Chicago industrialist Erwin Freund started in Bulldogs, mentored by James Mortimer. Like Wagner, he was inspired to found a Boxer kennel based on Von Dom and Mazelaine became his primary source of start-up stock. In 1937, he purchased 200 acres west of Chicago, built a palatial summer home and established Tulgey Wood kennel, taking the name from Alice in Wonderland. Freund knew all about Dorian’s chief European competition, and he wanted him.

Lustig von Dom was a double Sigurd grandson sired by Zorn out of a Sigurd daughter. His pedigree boasted four crosses back to Rolf v Vogelsberg. Six months younger than Dorian, he took the 1935 Sieger title in fawns the same year that Dorian took it in brindles.

The Stockmann’s resisted parting with their favorite dog, but Germany’s bleak economic picture made it impossible to refuse Freund’s generous offer. Imported in 1937, Lustig finished in a week. Shown 13 times, he was undefeated in breed, won ten groups, two BIS and sired 41AKC champions

As producers, the Dorian/Lustig rivalry continued. At the 1941 specialty, 16 entries were sired by Lustig, 11 by Dorian who unfortunately died suddenly that year. By then, Wagner had reinforced his position by importing Ch. Utz von Dom of Mazelaine in 1939. A repeat breeding of Lustig, he won the Westminster group in 1940 and sired 35 champions including Ch. Warlord of Mazelaine.

Within a year, the door shut on German imports. Many predicted that America’s newly established Boxer world would crumble as quickly as it arose. Instead, Boxers captured Westminster three times in quick succession. To many, the 1951 winner, Ch. Bang Away of Sirrah Crest remains America’s finest show dog.

These tightly linebred, prepotent sires proved to be a source of quality rarely encountered in dog breeding. Boxer breeding endured highs and lows over the years. Thanks to this rock solid foundation its competitive status as an American showdog remained unassailable.

1947 Westminster KC BIS - Ch. Warlord of Mazelaine

Friendly rivalry also continued to provide that extra element of determination. In 1947, an Utz son, Ch. Warlord of Mazelaine, became the first Westminster winning Boxer. Owned by Richard and Dorothy Kettles, he had conquered the Working Group in 1945 and 1946. In 1947, his visit to the BIS ring had a new twist. Among the challengers was the stunning Greyhound bitch, Ch. Magic of Mardormere. Shown by Percy Roberts, she was bred and owned by Dorothy Kettles’ sister Margaret Anderson.

The Boxer continues to be a force at dog shows across the country thanks to the strong foundation provided by these pioneering breeders and exhibitors.

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Posted by on Sep 25 2020. Filed under Current Articles, Dog Show History, Featured, Remembering Our Past?. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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  • November 2020