Frau Stockmann's Influence
The artist and sculptor Frau Friederun Stockmann was probably the single greatest influence on the world of American boxers. Her heartwarming autobiography, My Life with Boxers, exemplifies the European movement at the turn of the last century to champion a breed or indigenous type and promote it through showing and breeding. This work is described through her account of her life, including her struggles to help the breed survive the two world wars. Her autobiography includes stories of how she trained her dogs specifically to be of benefit to the war effort and details her heroism in caring for them under difficult situations, including barrages of enemy fire.
Frau Stockmann's kennel name was Von Dom (sometimes called “Vom Dom”), meaning “of the cathedral.” It is believed that the kennel was named for her first boxer, Pluto, famed for his many dog-fights in the vicinity of Munich's cathedral.
Frau Stockmann's life was a study in determination and dedication to the breed, and she managed to survive both wars with at least some of her boxer kennel intact. However, she found that to survive and to enable her kennel to thrive, she was forced to sell her best dogs to America and Canada to support the others — perhaps to their benefit and the world of dog breeding today.
Sell the Best to Support the Rest
Frau Stockmann's philosophy was, “Sell the best to support the rest.” She recounts many times when a proven champion or a promising youngster was sold to pay for the lesser lights in the kennel. This policy continues today among many successful, ethical breeders. They sell their best boxers to support the rest of the kennel family.
The foundation studs of American boxers are sometimes referred to as the Four Horsemen of American Boxers. They were all German-bred dogs: Sigurd Von Dom of Barmere, a fawn dog imported in 1939; Dorian von Marienhof of Mazelaine, a brindle dog imported in 1935; Lustig Von Dom of Tulgey Wood, a fawn dog imported in 1937; and Utz Von Dom of Mazelaine, a fawn dog imported in 1939. All four of these dogs can be found in most American pedigrees if traced back far enough.
The Original German War Dog
Frau Stockmann's husband Phillip, also an artist, was drafted early in World War I. Photographs of him in uniform on guard duty surrounded by numbers of boxers still exist today. The Stockmann's trained champion boxers and pets were both drafted by the German Army in World War I. Champions were the first to be taken since in those days, the German championship requirements included demonstrations of working ability, or what was then called “man work” (the equivalent of modern-day Schutzhund).
In World War I, Phillip Stockmann led the Munich Boxer Club to mobilize all useable and fit boxers in the German Home Guard. The dogs helped guard against enemy snipers and enemy infiltrators who were firing on German soldiers during guard duty.
Accounts of boxers of the early 1900s stress the boxer's agility, power, speed, and intelligence, all of which proved invaluable against snipers and spies. Sniper attacks dropped substantially once soldiers began using boxers on patrol. In her book My Life with Boxers, Frau Stockmann expresses pride in the fact that she and her daughter spent a great deal of time training the dogs to do such things as carry messages between points, track, jump, fetch, discriminate scent, and attack an enemy.
One of the best of the original war boxers was CH Roll von Vogelsberg. His ability to discriminate scent and his good instincts helped him round up and hold whole groups of smugglers and snipers by himself until soldiers arrived to assist him. Roll was also known for catching live hand grenades out of the air. He survived World War I, so he must have been very intelligent and capable! That amazing ability to assess and handle dangerous situations still characterizes the breed today.