Standard change to accept white boxers?
There is quite a commotion these days among boxer fanciers after it has been known that the German Boxer Klub (BK) is likely to change the boxer Standard in short notice to allow full? rights to white boxers. The German Boxer Klub is the “official owner” of the breed Standard for all FCI countries and the only one with the power to introduce any change. This without even asking anyone else’s opinion – I find it shocking that in the 21st century a small bunch of people dictate with absolute power how a worldwide-level breed has to be, but that's a subject for another debate.
The thing is that at a recent official Meeting all the Regional breed wardens have unanimously agreed to the Standard change, and the petition has been signed, as well as the Breeding Rules’ and the Breeding Evaluation Test’s (ZTP) changes. So unless they change their mind, which seems unlikely to me, it will be just a matter of time that the Standard change will be enacted after the VDH (German Kennel Club) and FCI pass it. These organizations generally just pass any Standard change petition by the Breed Club.
This likely Standard change is very important because of the many consecuences it will have at various levels. The exact wording of the changes and how it all will be implemented is still not known, and details will be crucial to the outcome and the difficulties that may arise.
The white boxer issue has always been controversial. I have had an opinion on this matter for a long time, but as a result of the proposed Standard change I have been thinking through it all and have “refined” my opinion somewhat.
Aesthetically, I much prefer brindle or red boxers over white ones, this is my preference. It would also be ok with me if boxers were a solid breed with no white markings at all, and that would solve many of our problems. I consider white boxers “disadvantaged” because of the biological issues associated to ‘swsw’ white: deafness, sunburn, blue eyes more sensitive to sunlight, …. I have always thought that it is truly unfortunate that the white markings in boxers are produced by the ‘sw’ allele instead of the ‘si’ allele (carried by Corgies, Basenjis, …), which produces the same type of markings *without* the issues associated to ‘sw’. The average percentage of white boxers born worldwide is probably close to 20%. Discarding 20% of a breed (at birth!) is madness. We have two choices to solve this: 1) Completely avoid producing whites. This would be the ideal solution, but I do not think it will ever happen as people love white markings, or 2) Make intelligent use of quality whites for breeding.
The basics of colour inheritance in the boxer breed are quite simple, not rocket science. And the association of deafness with white coat colour is well stablished. It is also very important to note that the probability that any individual boxer puppy has to be deaf is quite directly related to that individual puppy’s general lack of pigment (amount of white). A white puppy, especially one with no patches, has a relatively high probability of being uni- or bilaterally deaf, and it does not matter if the puppy is the result of white x white, white x flashy or the usual flashy x flashy breeding. The problem lies in the lack of pigment in the *individual* puppy.
I definitely think white boxers should get a pedigree because, even if faulty, they are boxers just like their coloured littermates. All kinds of “coloured but also defective” boxers get their pedigree (monorchids, wry mouths, lacking-in-type, etc. etc.), so why not white boxers?
Uninformed, uneducated or unscrupulous people all around the world are already breeding from dogs:
Will those uninformed, uneducated or unscrupulous people make poor use of the possibility of breeding from white boxers? This is the issue that worries many fanciers, and I fully understand their concern. The answer is “probably”, but the fact is they are *already* doing it, and also a multitude of other things (many of them more serious) mentioned above. I do not think the shortcomings/misdeamanors of such people should dictate what we all are allowed to do. I am a proponent of personal responsibility. So, “breeder beware and inform yourself before breeding” and “puppy-buyer beware and inform yourself before buying”.
- with physical problems (like badly elongated palate, very narrow nostrils/airways, etc.)
- with temperament problems (too nervous, shy, etc.)
- that are very faulty specimens (all sorts of conformation defects)
- that are sick (all kinds of illnesses, hereditary or not)
- in bad physical condition (poorly fed, too thin, etc.)
- kept in poor conditions (filthy or too small kennels, etc)
- with no pedigree / fake pedigre / pedigrees that belong to other dogs
- etc. etc.
A reasonably informed and educated breeder (as I guess many readers of this article are or will be), one that knows the basics of white inheritance in our breed and the association of deafness with white colour, is perfectly able to make judicious use of existing white boxers in breeding if he/she so wishes. So I, personally, can not be against intelligent use of whites in breeding. Not before and not now or in the future. The fact remains that white boxers if mated to solid boxers will produce a litter as good as any other (and in fact will not produce any white nor deaf pup, while a flashy x flashy breeding will produce 25% whites and possibly some deaf ones). Information was hard to come by in past decades, but nowadays everyone has access to internet, and information is available and easy to find. For example, 20 years ago very few fanciers knew that “solid” boxers are the only kind of boxers that *never* produce white puppies. Nowadays many people know this. I can tell that my website was among the very first worldwide to explain the inheritance of “sw” white (and the more comprehensive Spanish version: El color blanco en la raza bóxer ), and I have answered lots of emails and phone calls asking for information or clarification on this very subject. There is no reason why others (and breed clubs!) could not do the same. There could (and should) be a clear recommendation to breed whites exclusively to solids. A beneficial side effect of this would be the promotion of solid boxers, which are sadly underused. Some white boxers used + more solid boxers used = a less restricted gene pool, this would certainly be very good.
In my opinion the goal should *never* be to promote white boxers themselves in the sense of having more of them. Showing tends to promote whatever is showed, so in order to *not* promote white boxers, I think it would be better not to show them. At least not unless it is very clearly stated in the Standard that red/blindle colour is *always* preferred over white (and judges judge according to it!). Personally I would even like to see included something along the lines “moderate white markings are preferred over extensive ones”.
My view is that the goal should be the rational and judicious use of the white boxers we *already* have, as it is a fact that we have always had whites and seems will always have whites as people like white markings so much. There are other breeds (of dogs, horses, etc.) that have certain colours or other characteristics that are not accepted at shows but are nevertheless allowed for breeding as they can produce quality offspring if mated judiciously.
How well will this Standard change regarding whites turn out? I think much will depend on how exactly the Standard change is worded and implemented, including breeding recommendations.
Note: on this subject my father -Antón Moscoso- and I agree on the basics and he already put it down in writing a few years ago in this interview – question 21.
Natacha Moscoso (2010)
[ Urkabustaiz'tar Boxers ]