The Boxer dog breed is an immensely popular dog, known for its loyalty and charismatic nature. One of the first breed standards to be recognized by the American Kennel Club, the Boxer breed is a distinguished dog.
It is a medium sized breed that can weigh anywhere between 55 and 75 pounds when fully grown.
Boxers were originally bred as hunting and working dogs. So early socialization is necessary to make sure your Boxer gets on well with strangers.
What’s In This Guide
- Boxer Dog FAQs
- Boxers At A Glance
- In-depth Breed Review
- Training and Care
- Pros and Cons of Owning a Boxer!
Let’s get to know the brilliant Boxer!
Boxer dog FAQs
Find quick answers to your Boxer questions
- Are Boxers good family dogs?
- Are Boxer dogs dangerous?
- What health problems do Boxer dogs have?
- Are Boxers smart dogs?
Boxers At A Glance
Here are some quick facts about the iconic Boxer breed.
- Popularity: AKC no. 10
- Country of origin: Germany
- Purpose: Guard / companion
- Weight: 55-75lbs
- Temperament: Loyal and enthusiastic
This is a short coated moderately large and active dog breed.
Like all dogs, there are good things and bad things about Boxer dogs.
Boxer dog breed review: contents
Here’s a quick summary of the article content. You can use the links to skip to the parts that interest you:
- History and original purpose of the Boxer
- Fun facts about the Boxer
- Boxer dog appearance
- Boxer temperament
- Training and exercising your Boxer
- Boxer dog health
- Do Boxers make good family pets
- Rescuing a Boxer
- Finding a Boxer puppy
- Raising a Boxer puppy
- Popular Boxer breed mixes
- Boxer products and accessories
- Breeders and Rescue
- Pros and Cons of getting a Boxer
History and Purpose of The Boxer
The Boxer dog traces its roots to Munich, Germany in the 19th century.
The foundation of the breed was meticulously documented at the time, and the American Boxer Club tells the story on their website. It’s rather complex, and they admit you deserve an award if you can follow it!
To cut a long story short, the Boxer dog was derived from several popular hunting breeds of the time.
The aim was to consolidate all the traits they admired in those breeds, and fix them in one, definitive dog.
Once the Boxer dog breed was established, people discovered they weren’t just good at hunting, but also made vigilant guard dogs and intelligent military dogs too.
Fun Facts about The Boxer
The Boxer was one of the earliest dog breeds to be recognized by the American Kennel Club – the first breed standard was registered in 1904.
Nobody really knows why Boxer dogs are called Boxer dogs. There are a lot of rival theories
Celebrity Boxer owners include model Gisele, actor Jessica Biel and the dog whisperer himself Cesar Millan!
Boxers can take up to three years to reach their full grown size, almost a year longer on average than other breeds. You can take a look at more Boxer fun facts here!
Boxer dogs come in a pleasingly simple choice of colors.
Boxers’ main color is fawn. But like saying a human has brown hair, fawn can cover any shade from dark blonde to deepest mahogany, via a spectrum of tans and reddish browns.
The fawn can also be overlaid by black stripes known as brindling. Sometimes the brindling is so dense it gives the impression of being a solid black coat, but it is always brindling.
In some places, the fawn might also be broken up by white patches. We’ll come back to these in a minute.
And finally, some Boxers have a black mask over their eyes and muzzle.
White Boxer dog
Genetically, all Boxers’ base color is fawn. But, some Boxer dogs carry “white spotting” genes, which lay white patches on top of the fawn.
And for breeders, “white Boxer” has a very specific definition: a Boxer dog with white markings covering more than 30% of its body.
Which doesn’t sound like a large proportion, but for a Boxer to have that much white in their coat, they must have inherited two copies of the “extreme white spotting” gene.
These Boxers produce so little pigment they end up at risk of sunburn, skin cancer and blindness caused by UV damage.
And because the same pigment also plays a vital role in the development of delicate hair cells in their ears, white Boxer dogs are more likely to be deaf.
This doesn’t mean white Boxers can’t make great family pets with the right care (and SPF!), but breeders will usually require them to be neutered so that the extreme white spotting gene isn’t passed on any further.
Boxers have a short, smooth, single coat.
This is great in terms of shedding, because they don’t moult in huge drifts with the changing seasons.
Rather, Boxers continually shed in small quantities. This might sound unappealing, but it’s pretty easy to keep on top of as part of your usual cleaning routine.
Give your Boxer dog a weekly once-over with a grooming brush, and they’ll lose even less hair around your house!
Boxer dog weight
Boxers are a medium sized breed.
Boxers are a steadfast and devoted friends to their owners. The 1938 breed standard for Boxer dogs included the line:
“The Boxer is the soul of honesty and loyalty, and is never false or treacherous even in his old age”
Which has to be one of the most profoundly lovely things ever said about a dog.
The Boxer dog temperament includes an unbridled enthusiasm for life. They’re always on the go, looking for the next game or chance to go for a walk.
Are Boxers dangerous?
All large guarding breeds of dog have the potential to be dangerous.
Properly raised and well socialized, most Boxers will not carry out an unprovoked attack on a human being.
But many Boxers will guard your property and you need to ensure that visitors are not at risk.
Are Boxers smart?
Boxers are remarkably intelligent, and get bored easily by anything they consider pointless or repetitive.
Boxer dog training and exercise
Boxers are active dogs that need plenty of exercise. You should allow at least an hour a day for walking your Boxer. You also need to be careful to avoid overheating your dog as his shortened skull can make it hard for a Boxer dog to cool himself.
Boxers have a somewhat mixed reputation for discipline.
They are very intelligent and have stacks of capacity to learn. However, there can be a stubborn streak in the typical boxer dog temperament when the mood doesn’t take them.
To get the best out of your Boxer dog, keep them motivated with lots of rewards, and never punish them during training.
Boxer dog health and care
Unfortunately when it comes to overall health, not all dogs have been created equal.
Inbreeding to create and preserve pedigrees can result in a higher than average frequency of inheritable health problems.
Since modern Boxers can trace their roots back to a small foundation gene pool, they’re no exception.
These are the problems Boxers are particularly prone to, and how to avoid buying a puppy with a high risk of developing them.
Boxer dogs are more prone to congenital heart disease than other breeds of dog, in particular restricted blood flow from the heart to the body, holes between the chambers of the heart, and weakness of the valves which prevent blood flowing back in the wrong direction.
All Boxers should be checked by their vet for heart murmurs – a sign of congenital heart defects – before they are allowed to breed, and your breeder should provide evidence of this.
Hip dysplasia in Boxers
Hip dysplasia is a looseness in the hip joint caused by poor bone development. Eventually, the joint will develop painful arthritis.
Hip dysplasia can be screened for in breeding dogs, and your breeder should certainly be able to provide you with hip scores for your puppy’s parents.
Unfortunately, the Boxer dog breed is prone to having health problems with their stomachs. One of the more prevalent conditions found in Boxers is Granulomatous colitis.
The particular colitis found in Boxers is breed specific and can be life threatening. It must be treated with antibiotics.
Symptoms of colitis include constipation and weight loss. Please consult your vet if you are concerned that your Boxer has digestive issues.
Gastric Dilation Volvulus
GDV is a potentially life threatening problem in large-chested dog breeds. This is where the stomach fills with gas and twists back on itself after eating.
If your Boxer dog gobbles their meals, try a slow feeder bowl or smaller more frequent meals.
Making sure you know the symptoms and when to call the vet is vital too.
Related to GDV, bloat is the word used to describe the painful filling up of the stomach with gas. The difference between GDV and bloat is that bloat is not associated with stomach torsion (twisting) but it can lead to it.
Nonetheless, bloat is still a serious and potentially life-threatening problem in your Boxer.
Symptoms of bloat include attempted but unsuccessful vomiting. Your Boxer may appear to be in considerable pain, licking at her stomach and curling up in a ball for example.
If you are worried your Boxer is bloated it is worth consulting your vet. It may also be beneficial to feed your bloated Boxer smaller quantities.
Brachycephalic Syndrome in Boxers
Brachycephalic Syndrome describes the breathing and heat-regulation problems suffered by dogs bred for abnormally flat faces.
Among pedigree Boxer dogs, much is made of the exact proportions of the muzzle to the rest of the head – it must be one third of the overall length of the head, and two thirds of the width.
This particular ratio seems to be right on cusp of causing Brachycephalic Syndrome, and sure enough Boxers are regularly represented in Brachycephalic Syndrome studies, albeit in smaller numbers than breeds with even shorter muzzles.
Ask your breeder if either of your puppy’s parents has a history of breathing problems. When you meet the parents, listen to their breathing for yourself: it should sound easy and quiet.
Don’t fall for the myth that labored or noisy breathing is “normal” for any breed: it’s a sign that a dog is really struggling.
Cancer in Boxers
Sadly cancer is a common problem for all pet dogs, and mammary cancers are a particular problem among female dogs.
A survey of Boxer dog owners carried out by the UK Kennel Club found that 38.5% of deaths in the survey period had been due to cancer.
Predicting whether a puppy might get cancer in future isn’t straight forward. Ask your breeder whether any of their ancestors suffered from tumors, and at what age.
Another health concern a Boxer dog owner should be aware of, renal disease is the disease of the kidneys.
There are two main potential causes. One is the maldevelopment of the kidneys and the other is an inflammatory condition in the kidneys that prevents them from functioning properly.
Symptoms of renal disease include: increased drinking, increased urination, vomiting, weight loss and anorexia.
It is not clear if this condition is hereditary so it is difficult to test for. If you are worried and your dog is showing these symptoms, please consult your vet.
Other Boxer dog health conditions
Boxers are also susceptible to epilepsy, inflammation of the long bones in their legs called panosteitis, and problems with their eyelids.
The best way to avoid these problems is by looking at a puppy’s family tree for evidence that they might be inherited from previous generations.
Feeding your Boxer
Like most dog breeds, what you feed your Boxer dog will change as she grows from a puppy to an adult. We recommend that you feed your Boxer pup according to these guidelines.
- 2–4 months of age: 4 times a day
- 4–6 months of age: 3 times a day
- Above 6 months of age: 2–3 times a day
These guideline came straight from our guide to feeding a Boxer puppy.
We also have a guide to the best Boxer puppy food.
Because Boxers have sensitive stomachs, it is recommended that you avoid food like grains that may cause aggravation. It is best to consult with your vet to have your dog tested for allergies or food sensitivities.
Perhaps our guide to feeding Boxers with sensitive stomachs will be useful.
Boxer dog lifespan
How do these health concerns affect the Boxer lifespan?
A compilation of breed longevity data gathered by Dr Kelly Cassidy in 2007/08 included 2112 Boxer dogs.
On average they lived for 8.81 years, although the results from the most recent surveys seem to show a trend towards living longer. In fact, one study from 2013 claimed the average Boxer dog lifespan as 10 years.
Boxer dog life expectancy doesn’t compare very well with other breeds of the same size, probably owing to the high incidence of inheritable health problems in the breed.
Do Boxers make good family pets?
Boxer dogs owe a lot of their popularity as family dogs to their reputation for being good with children.
That is to say, a well socialized Boxer is a lovely pet for a household with children.
Bear in mind lots of Boxers in the past were bred as guard dogs, and their descendants today are still instinctively wary of strangers. This means that socialization as a puppy is especially important.
For a Boxer to be relaxed and confident meeting children as an adult, he needs to meet them as a puppy too. Training and socialization provided, the Boxer dog temperament should be a good match for a family.
Rescuing a Boxer
A great alternative to purchasing a Boxer puppy is finding a pup or an older Boxer dog from a rescue shelter near you.
The ASPCA estimates that approximately 3.3 million dogs are admitted to animal shelters every year.
So, with that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of Boxer rescue centers here.
Finding a Boxer puppy
The bigger the breed of dog, the more puppies are usually born in a litter.
Boxers are mid-sized, and there are usually six to eight Boxer puppies in a litter.
The American Boxer Club keeps a list of local Boxer Clubs in the United States, each with their own provision for matching breeders with potential purchasers.
The Boxer Club of Canada also keeps a page of links to regional Boxer Clubs.
Only buy a puppy from a breeder that fully health tests both parents. They should provide you with paper evidence of these tests, and be happy to answer all of your questions.
The pups’ mother should clearly have a strong bond with her owner, and she should also know her own name.
A good breeder will also have lots of questions for you, and genuinely care about the future welfare of their pups.
Please do not buy your Boxer puppy from a puppy mill or from a pet store. In addition to being poorly socialized these puppies will likely have lots of health problems.
Not to mention, the female dogs in puppy farms usually have an awful quality of life and are rarely treated well or are in good health. Pet stores likely source their pups from puppy farms and should also be avoided.
Boxer dog price
Breeding a litter of healthy puppies, especially from a breed which needs a lot of screening for inheritable problems, costs responsible breeders a lot of money.
A healthy, carefully reared Boxer puppy can cost several hundred dollars. On the other hand, a Boxer puppy for sale from show quality parentage can command well in excess of a thousand dollars.
The price for a Boxer dog puppy might also include fees for tail docking and ear cropping, which are routinely carried out on many Boxer puppies early in life.
Talk to your breeder if you are unsure about either.
If this sounds like a lot to consider, check out our step by step guide to finding a puppy.
Raising a Boxer puppy
Caring for a vulnerable Boxer puppy is a big responsibility. There are some great guides to help you with all aspects of puppy care and training.
Popular Boxer breed mixes
Maybe a Boxer mix isn’t quite what you’re looking for. Here are some other dog breeds you might want to consider:
Pros And Cons of Getting A Boxer
Boxer dogs have charmed people for over a hundred years, and their first breed standard reads more like a love poem.
But what are the pros and cons of owning one?
This is a breed that needs a lot of commitment to training and exercise. In addition, the Boxer has a high frequency of inherited health problems. As a result, your Boxer may need expensive veterinary treatment. Not only that but he may have a shorter lifespan than some other similar breeds.
The Boxer has an easy care coat and a fun loving enthusiastic nature. Many Boxers will warn off intruders while remaining affectionate to family members. Most will enjoy family outings and activities and will be a loyal companion for life
Boxer products and accessories
If you’re looking for gifts for the Boxer lover in your life, check out our guide to Boxer gifts.
When it comes to dog toys, there are so many to choose from.
Boxer Breed Rescues
- Notts and Yorkshire Boxer Rescue
- Joey’s Legacy Boxer Rescue
- Boxer Dog Rescue Northern England
- Boxer Dog Service Southern
Do you know of any other Boxer rescues? Let us know and we’ll add them to the list.
This article has been extensively revised in 2019.
References And Resources
- Gough A, Thomas A, O’Neill D. 2018 Breed Predispositions to Disease In Dogs and Cats. Wiley Blackwell
- O’Neill et al. 2013. Longevity and Mortality of Dogs Owned In England. The Veterinary Journal
- Schalamon et al. 2006. Analysis of Dog Bites In Children Who Are Younger Than 17 Years. Pediatrics
- Duffy D et al. Breed differences in canine aggression. Applied Animal Behavior Science 2008
- Strain G. Deafness prevalence and pigmentation and gender associations in dog breeds at risk. The Veterinary Journal 2004
- Packer et al. 2015. Impact of Facial Conformation On Canine Health. PlosOne
- Adams VJ, et al. 2010. Results of a Survey of UK Purebred Dogs. Journal of Small Animal Practice.
- American Boxer Club
- Boxer Club of Canada
- Chetboul, et al. 2006 Congenital Heart Diseases in the Boxer Dog: A Retrospective Study of 105 Cases (1998–2005) Transboundary and Emerging Diseases
- Packer R et al. 2012 Do dog owners perceive the clinical signs related to conformational inherited disorders as normal for the breed. Animal Welfare
- Merlot et al. 2008 Cancer Incidence in Pet Dogs: Findings of the Animal Tumor Registry of Genoa, Italy. Journal of Internal Veterinary Medicine
- Sverdrup Borge, et al. 2011 Litter size at birth in purebred dogs—A retrospective study of 224 breeds. Theriogenology
- Craven, M. 2014 Granulomatous Colitis World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings
- Craven, M. 2011 Granulomatous colitis of boxer dogs. Elsevier
- Hautman, C. 2008 The Boxer
- 2018. NEW STUDY TO EXAMINE CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE IN AMERICAN BOXER DOGS, Boxer Update