Boxers have only two recognized colors, although a variety of shades exists among them. The American Kennel Club lists specific boxer coat colors as fawn and brindle. Other variations can include a mask or white markings. If your boxer has other colors, she is a mixed breed boxer.
Boxers do not have a gene for black, but rather a gene for fawn and brindle. Fawn is a solid coat color, with a range of shades. Your puppy may fall anywhere from light tan to dark red mahogany. Worldwide standards prefer deeper, darker shades like mahogany over tan. No brindling appears on these coats. Fawn boxers can have markings including a mask or white markings. Any other color on these coats is unacceptable.
Brindle refers to the appearance of black stripes on an otherwise solid coat. Brindling can occur on any shade of the fawn color classification. These stripes may include very sparse dark hairs to well-defined stripes. Some boxers are classified as “reverse brindles,” where the dark hairs are the predominant appearance, with fawn coloring a minor or background part of the coat color. Close examination of a black boxer reveals fawn hairs, indicating a brindle, or the pet is a mixed breed.
Boxers who are completely white or mostly white with darker markings, considered a check boxer, are not acceptable for breeding or showing. The gene responsible for white in boxers is not a color gene but a marking gene, which means that a white boxer would be fawn or brindle if the white was not present. They are common, making up an estimated 25 percent of boxers around the world. They typically result from breeding acceptable boxers with a high proportion of white. Some are born deaf or blind. They also may sunburn easily and should not be bred.
Masks and Markings
Other than brindle stripes, the only acceptable black on a boxer is her mask. This should not extend past your boxer puppy’s muzzle. White markings are common and acceptable, but they should account for less than one-third of your puppy’s coat. Appropriate white markings are highly desired, and boxers with them are considered “flashy.” These markings may occur on the chest, abdomen, legs or face -- even interrupting a black mask. An over-abundance of white can disrupt the “true boxer expression” and is considered a fault.
Elizabeth Muirhead is a practicing veterinarian with an undergraduate degree in biological sciences. She has real-world experience with the husbandry, grooming, training and feeding a variety of household pets.