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
- Where do Boxers come from?
- Fascinating Boxer facts
- Boxer dog colors and appearance
- Characteristics and temperament
- Boxers and kids
- Boxer dog health
- Training and exercising your Boxer
- Boxer puppies
- Breeders and Rescue
- Pros and Cons of getting a Boxer
Boxer dog origin
The Boxer 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 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.
Boxer dog facts
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 though!
Boxer dog colors
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 Boxers 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 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.
Boxer dog weight
Boxers are a medium sized breed.
Boxer dog temperament
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.
They also have an unbridled enthusiasm for life, and 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.
Are Boxers good with kids?
Boxer dogs owe a lot of their popularity as family dogs to their reputation for being good with children.
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, which makes socialization as a puppy especially important.
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 to cool himself.
Boxers have a somewhat mixed reputation for discipline.
They are very intelligent and have stacks of capacity to learn, but they’re also known for a stubborn streak when the mood doesn’t take them.
To get the best out of your Boxer, keep them motivated with lots of rewards, and never punish them during training.
Do Boxers shed?
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.
Boxer dog health problems
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 be able to provide you with hip scores for your puppy’s parents.
Gastric Dilation Volvulus
GDV is a potentially life threatening problem in large-chested dog breeds, where the stomach fills with gas and twists back on itself after eating.
If your Boxer 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.
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 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.
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.
Boxer dog lifespan
How do these health concerns affect the Boxer dog 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. One study from 2013 giving the average at 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.
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 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.
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 easily costs several hundred dollars, and 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.
And finally, remember that the price for a Boxer puppy is just a fraction of their lifetime cost.
Boxer dog rescue
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.
Boxer dog pros and cons
Boxer dogs have charmed people for over a hundred years, and their first breed standard reads more like a love poem.
Pros: 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
Cons: This is a breed that needs a lot of commitment to training and exercise. It is also a breed with a high frequency of inherited health problems. Your Boxer may need expensive veterinary treatment and have a shorter lifespan than some other similar breeds.
Do you have Boxer dog?
What led you to this iconic breed? Tell us about your Boxers in the comments section below.
- American Boxer Club
- Boxer Club of Canada
- Hip dysplasia
- Packer R et al. 2012 Do dog owners perceive the clinical signs related to conformational inherited disorders as normal for the breed. Animal Welfare
- http://users.pullman.com/lostriver/breeddata.htm#Companion Medium