The Scottish Boxer Club

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History of The Scottish Boxer Club Written By Joan MacLaren (Braxburn)

Prior to the 39/45 War the Boxer was a relatively rare breed in the UK with membership of the British Boxer Club (founded 1936) being mainly based in the Southern Counties of England. The enthusiasm of returning serviceman, many of whom first encountered the breed during duties abroad, did much to accelerate the Boxers' amazing rise in popularity on a nationwide basis. In 45 there were 399 registrations, some eleven years later 7570 were recorded which made the Boxer the nations third most popular breed at that point in time. As is now recognised upsurges in popularity can bring difficulties and care must be exercised to protect such breeds from exploitation.

 

This was certainly true of the Boxer. In Scotland the first Boxer classes were scheduled by the Scottish Kennel Club in 46. Well filled classes ensured other Scottish Canine Associations were quick to follow suit. This provided the incentive for enthusiasts from the North, Central belt and border regions of the country to come together. In October 48 an inaugural meeting was convened in Edinburgh with the purpose of forming a separate club for the breed in Scotland. Application to the Kennel Club was supported by the Midland Boxer Club (founded '48) and guaranteed 100%. This was approved and in March '49 the Scottish Boxer Club was granted official status by the Kennel Club.

 

The founding members, largely comprised of professional and business people, fully understood their responsibilities to the breed as is demonstrated by the Club Constitution which was compiled at that time. Although amended to suit changing times and in accordance with updates KC regulations, in essence it remains unchanged and is structured to keep the club and therefore the breed strong.

The objects are "promotion of breeding exhibiting and general improvement of pure bred boxers, altogether with the protection and advancement of the interests of the breed"

From the outset the Officials and Committee combined their various skills and resources in organising the club and its events to a particular high standard. New members were cordially welcomed and received a copy of both the the Constitution and Breed Standard. If advice on breeding or an assessment on a Boxer was required owners were advised to enter at a club event and seek the judge's opinion.

It was acknowledged that judges had the greatest responsibility in maintaining the breed within reasonable confines of the Standard. And were in fact, the guardians of the breed.

Accordingly careful consideration was given to the selection of judges for club events.
Having proved its ability as a responsible body through the organising of several successful open shows the club was granted Championship Status in '53.

Held in Waverly market, Edinburgh, in May that same year the first Championship Show was a memorable occasion with extensive classification and many 'Specials'. 105 boxers making 281 entries awaited assessment by Herr Knapen, an authority from Holland. This gentleman owned his first boxer in 1903 and had watched the breed develop in mainland Europe so his opinion was eagerly awaited.

His impressions were most favourable and although the top spot travelled over the border with the great Ch Winkinglight Viking, Scottish members did well in capturing many placements. In particular a brindle and white male, of great nobility showing superbly on a loose lead challenged the mighty Viking hard for the top spot. His name was Blacknowe Beau Ideal and he was to become the first of many Champions boxers to be bred in Scotland.

 

For the next three decades the club settled into an annual pattern of holding a Championship Show in the Spring and an Open Show in the Autumn. Anniversary years have always been celebrated and, when appropriate overseas authorities have been invited to ' run the rule' over the breed in Scotland. Always a club that enjoyed ' occasions' the Scottish Pre-Show and After Show dinners commenced in the 60's. An impressive array of  'silver ware' donated by enthusiasts down the years, is competed for annually at all club shows with the Bostock Memorial Trophy being allocated on a points system to encourage entries at shows throughout Scotland which schedule boxer classes.

 

During the 50's in addition to shows fortnightly meetings were convened in both Glasgow and Edinburgh with a two monthly break during the summer holiday period. Termed 'Social Sections' these regular meetings were of great benefit to budding enthusiasts as many items included on the syllabus were educational with the most important of these concentrating on the standard. Quite the best 'Presenter' on this all important subject was a lady veterinary surgeon - the late Mary Moodie of Edinburgh. This lady imparted anatomical knowledge in easily understood terms making the Standard's requirements clear in her explanations of how, and perhaps equally as importantly why, this breed is constructed and balanced as it is, in order to function efficiently to a working dog in addition to being and ideal family companion. As an essential aid to successful breeding is a clear understanding of the standard  these meetings taught us to view our own dogs objectively, to stick to type when breeding were also covered. Subjects such as Mating, Care of the Brood Bitch, Whelping, Puppy Rearing etc, ere of great help to new enthusiasts particularly as the majority of people in Boxers were in this category at that time and as this was the case lectures on the 'practicalities' were often given by experienced breeders from other breeds who had mastered the art of keeping their dogs fit and breeding successfully even though times of hardship and food shortages.

 

Basic obedience was also on offer as many new owners, formerly accustomed to less 'hearty breeds' did find young exuberant boxers difficult to train. Inter spaced with evenings devoted to 'show ring preparation and presentation', judging competitions plus matches with other breeds or general canine societies the Social Sections were on unqualified success and became like a mecca for dog breeders generally - often with 'standing room only' being available. This was the first dog club in Scotland and possibly the UK to run such an ambitious enterprise. Of course it was a great deal of work requiring time and dedication but with an abundance of the latter plus a committee of twenty willing members in addition to Office-Bearers - which was the club structure at that time - this did not pose a problem. As a result everyone benefited and particularly the ' BOXER'.

 

Prompted by requests from General Canine Societies for specialist judges the club first founded it's internal judging list in the late 50's. A few successful enthusiasts were already judging but their number were insufficient to fill these requests without over judging. Accordingly the committee enquired if several members who had shown particular aptitude would care to be included in this list to prevent this situation arising. The list was used in rotation and reviewed annually. In many respects it was the forerunner to the Breed Council judging lists of today.

 

A Newsletter, forerunner of today's Club Magazine also commenced in the late 50's. It's frequency was determined by finance and means of production. It's purpose to keep members informed of happenings within both the clubs and the breed. Outgoing expenses included paper, envelopes and postage but free access to duplicating equipment plus typing etc, being undertaken by 'editorial staff' expenses were kept affordable and further offset by advertising priced at 1p per word. Extremely 'labour intensive' nevertheless, so great was the enthusiasm that by the mid sixties members were receiving newsletters on a monthly basis!

 

The 60's decade was one of progress and expansion. As the latter required funding every available channel was considered to cut expenses and increase revenue. Although not convened as a money making enterprise the Social Sections had proven to 'make profit' with special 'crowd pulling' projects thus an inter Breed Club quiz, similar to the Brains of Britain was organised by the West Social Section. This involved many personalities from different breeds with all being anxious to score points against the Scottish Boxer Club. Naturally they brought supporters who in the process of enjoying an entertaining evening consumed all catering supplies and made welcome donations to the club. Yet another feat of massive organised proportions was 'The Parade of Champion Dogs resident in Scotland' with commentary by a renowned Scottish all rounder. This was a sell out as every breed Champion brought his or her family of supporters! Show budgets were scrutinized as even with numerically strong entries the cost of venues plus benching (which had to be transported from England) greatly reduced any profit that might result from a breed Championship Show in Scotland. in order to improve the situation by sharing expenses the club joined forces firstly with the Poodle Club the Dachshunds followed by Beagles then finally Beagles and Bassets together. In practise this worked well but as out club did most of the organisational work and were virtually almost deafened by hounds baying on the last occasion the idea was abandoned.

 

During the sixties attempts were also made to convene a social section in Aberdeen. This started well but eventually petered out there being two few club members in the North to sustain such a project successfully. At this time too the structure of the club was changed by reducing the number of committee members from twenty to twelve. Considering committee meetings were held on a monthly basis this made for easier working and additionally reduced financial outlay.
were also made to convene a social section in Aberdeen.

 

This started well but eventually petered out there being two few club members in the North to sustain such a project successfully. At this time too the structure of the club was changed by reducing the number of committee members from twenty to twelve. Considering committee meetings were held on a monthly basis this made for easier working and additionally reduced financial outlay.During the sixties decade several problems also beset the breed which clearly required addressing at more than club level. These included the proliferation of nervous temperament and cosmetic surgery. Discussing these problems with respected members of other senior boxer clubs it was decided that some type of forum was indicated at which all Boxer clubs in the UK could meet and hopefully find a solution to these and any other problems that may involve the breed in the future. This was the birth of the Boxer Breed Council. The first draft of its proposed Constitution together with a proposal for establishing a list of Council preferred judgeswere both drawn up in Scotland. Bearing in mind the council meets twice yearly in the Midlands Area of England the ‘Scottish’ made considerable effort down the years to support this endeavour.   It must be said however that on occasions this was to the extreme frustration of the Scottish delegates when it was found that not all delegates from other clubs understood the difference between the workings of Breed Council and that of the Breed Club Committees.

 

In 1968 the Scottish was invited to host what was at that time the highlight of the year the Boxer Breed Conference. This was an honour, but one , which for the Scottish caused some organisational problems. Formerly when hosted in England this conference stood alone. Our northerly situation was a distinct disadvantage particularly as, with the motorway system not yet completed, most enthusiasts from some distance attending Championship Shows in Scotland travelled by train. In addition to have held this event in conjunction with our own Championship show would have greatly overburdened the committee.

 

Finally the date was arranged for the day following the SKC ‘s spring Ch Show where the breed judge was a highly respected lady guaranteed to draw a large nationwide entry. Held in Glasgow City Centre in a venue convenient to all railway stations and with overnight accommodation and kennelling arranged for all English delegates and their Boxers ensured good attendance for enthusiasts south of the border.
The morning programme was breed specific with talks on :- The Boxer as a Working Dog : Comparison between the German, American and British Standards : The Boxer Head : Boxer Construction :  all being presented by specialist Championship show judges.
 
Following lunch the afternoon session focused on Hip Dysplasia and Bone Dystrophies with lecturers being experts in these fields from Glasgow University Veterinary Hospital.
This was a highly successful conference with delegates from as far distant as the SWBC attending.
 
To round off the 60’s a further successful “Parade of Champion Dogs Resident in Scotland” was convened with comprehensive commentary on each breed and each champion given by our lady Vice President at that time.

Into the seventies with the ‘Scottish’ again taking the initiative by holding the first temperament tests for Boxers in the UK. Based on the Swedish Boxer Club’s temperament tests the motivation, with a rising crime rate, was to demonstrate to our breeders and owners how mature Boxers of sound character and temperament could be used to detect danger and as protectors without actually attacking. This was achieved by subjecting the dogs to a series of unexpected happenings and observing their reactions. The judges were the then chief Inspector of Police and his colleague. On inspecting the course these gentlemen were somewhat perplexed to learn that the dogs they were about to assess were not formerly trained for such a purpose. Despite their misgivings to the delight of the ‘sponsors’ all entrants passed – some with flying colours with the judges being noticeably impressed both with the breed, the tests and by the motivations. This event received noteworthy comment in the dog press and a number of temperament tests have been held since that time. Even more gratifying is that other UK breed clubs anxious to preserve this all important aspect of the Boxer followed suit ‘given’ time.

 

 

In 1980 the club was fortunate enough to obtain the services of the recently retired Chief German Breed Warden to judge the 28th Championship Show.
This event evolved into the most memorable ‘Scottish Weekend in the history of the club with the organisers truly excelling themselves to give a real ‘sense of occasion’ together with a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. The show opened to the ‘skirl of bagpipes’ as the judge accompanied by the President entered the ring. The boxers seemed to enjoy this innovation as they sat howling in chorus from their benches. This set the seal on a relaxed and expert judging performance during which the Boxers were allowed free expression and with the handlers actually encouraging each others dogs!
Show over we attended a hilarious party, which was open to all, and at which enthusiasts were afforded the opportunity of speaking freely to the judge.

 

The following day we were treated to a slide and film show depicting the motivation of the Boxer from the judges extensive collection. The weekend closed with a formal dinner this ended up much like the evening before! About this time largely due to difficulties in obtaining suitable easily accessed venues attendance at Social Sections commenced decreasing. Despite various attempts to re-vitalise the formerly popular endeavour it was obvious the previous support for regular meetings no longer existed. Accordingly other project which might keep the membership together were considered, these included ‘A Day out with the Boxer ‘ events, which at their peak, were amongst the most successful projects organised by the club principally as they had great appeal fro every category of Boxer owner. Initially the work involved almost overwhelmed the committee as support for these events greatly exceeded all expectations. These projects were held in the Spring and early Summer.
As a counter balance to ‘Days Out’ what commenced was a process to select competitors for the Midland Boxer Club ‘Pup of the Year Competition’ which had been well supported, this was revamped  as the September Gathering and run as a rally with both beauty and novelty classes  these too were well supported in their time.

 

Next part.