So, you’re thinking of getting a Boxer? It’s no doubt they can make wonderful family dogs, with the right owner, but there’s an important list of facts that all prospective boxer owners should be aware of.
10 Boxer Facts All Owners Should Know
Knowing what you’re getting yourself into will ensure you’re making a well-informed decision. Perhaps you’ll be reassured that the Boxer really is the right choice. However, you may find that after reading this article, another breed may be a better fit.
1. Boxers make excellent family pets
Affectionate, loyal and good-natured, the personality of the Boxer means they are a popular pet. Many prospective pet parents will be happy to hear that they become devoted to their family and may even act protective of them.
Their exuberant nature and self-confidence make them fun to be around. However, their boisterous personality may be too much for some to handle. Indeed, a family with experience of dogs and one who is willing to put lots of time into training is a must.
2. Boxers are all born with long tails
This fact may be surprising to some. Many of the Boxers we see in the United States will have had their tails amputated (docked) during puppyhood. This is done more due to tradition and consumer demand than anything else. A hundred years ago, many working dogs would have had their tails docked to limit the risk of injury while outside. How effective this was is disputable. While there isn’t a good reason for most Boxers to have their tail docked today, it is still done with frequency.
If you do not wish for your Boxer pup to have their tail docked, speak up! Ethically, this practice doesn’t sit right with every owner. Most breeders will be happy to accommodate you and hopefully, the more ‘natural’ Boxers are seen, the less people will demand docked tails.
3. Not all boxers are naturally friendly
The Boxer is characteristically friendly with both people and other pets. They typically do well in busy households and enjoy having company. Having said this, this acceptance of others doesn’t always come naturally and owners need to ensure they make an effort to socialize their Boxer during its first few months of life. Studies have shown that the first 16 weeks are key when it comes to socializing and exposing our Boxer pup to the world in a positive manner.
As the Boxer is such a social butterfly, if left alone for too long, they may develop separation anxiety. These dogs struggle in their own company and can become upset and destructive. We can help to avoid this behavioral issue by ensuring our Boxer isn’t left alone for too long and always has plenty of mental stimulation. From a young age, get your pup used to spending some time alone and consider crate training.
4. Boxers are incredibly active
The Boxer is not the kind of dog to mooch on the sofa all day and be content with a brisk 20-minute walk. Bred to work, they were once used as messengers by the army as well as guard dogs. They are alert and athletic and like to be given a task to do. Indeed, if we don’t provide enough stimulation, many dogs become bored and destructive.
A solid 90 to 120 minutes of exercise each day are important to keep your Boxer happy and in shape. Remember, this shouldn’t be boring walks along the same route. Rather, we should try and offer a wide range of tasks including agility, swimming, and varied hiking trails. It is also good to let your Boxer explore and sniff; something they much prefer to walking in a straight line from A to B.
Related article: How to keep a boxer dog stimulated and entertained
5. Boxers are prone to many health issues
Sadly, the Boxer is not known for its hardiness or general health. Indeed, there are many health conditions that can affect the Boxer dog. These include:
- Hip Dysplasia. Those with hip dysplasia may exhibit signs such as ‘bunny hopping’ at a run and sitting with their legs to the side. Over time, the abnormal joints grate on each other and lead to localised inflammation and hip arthritis. This causes pain and muscle wastage.
- Bloat. The deep chest of the Boxer makes it more prone than others to ‘bloat’. This is a life-threatening condition whereby the stomach fills with gas and fluid and can turn on its own axis.
- Brachycephalic Upper Airway Syndrome (BUAS). The shape of the Boxer’s face and skull means they may find it hard to get enough oxygen and can struggle when exercising in warm weather.
- Indolent corneal ulcers. Chronic, non-healing eye ulcers are sometimes known in the industry as ‘Boxer ulcers’ as the Boxer is so commonly affected. There is thought to be a defect in their cornea which prevents appropriate healing.
- Cancers. Sadly, the Boxer is genetically prone to a wide range of cancers including lymphoma and haemangiosarcoma. In one study, cancer played a role in over 1/3 of Boxer deaths.
- Cardiomyopathy. Heart disease is not uncommon in the Boxer and may cause signs including collapse and even sudden death. An ECG and echocardiogram are advised in symptomatic dogs or those who are genetically at risk.
6. Boxers can be expensive to care for
The Boxer dog is not a cheap pet to have, not least due to the health issues they can suffer during their life. Given how many health conditions they are prone to, health insurance is a must.
However, healthcare alone is not the only expense. These are big dogs with hearty appetites who should be fed high-quality food.
Routine parasite prevention, including lungworm and heartworm prevention, is typically more costly in bigger dogs. Similarly, owners pay more for surgical procedures such as neutering.
Many pet parents will also find they need to pay for services including dog walks and doggy day-care to ensure their Boxer is not bored at home or left alone.
7. Boxers can have a stubborn streak
As the Boxer comes from working stock and is fairly intelligent, they can be nice to work alongside and train. However, they are not always willing to comply and some will need a little extra persuasion. As long as we are fair and consistent in our training and are generous with the verbal praise and tasty rewards, most Boxers will do well in their training.
Some individuals can be headstrong and will take longer to train. They may test boundaries and become disobedient, especially when going through puberty. Pet parents may find that they get best results when working alongside a canine behaviorist.
8. The short coat of the Boxer is low maintenance
The short coat should be brushed once or twice a week to remove dead fur and spread the natural oils along the fur. While this is simple enough, you will find your Boxer dog sheds a surprising amount. Due to this, it can be useful to brush them outside.
As well as brushing their coat, owners should brush their boxer’s teeth daily. Many have dental overcrowding and are prone to periodontal disease. Daily brushing can help minimize the risk of plaque build-up and gingivitis.
9. The Boxer is a brachycephalic dog
As mentioned earlier, Boxers have been bred to have an unusually snub-nosed face and a short skull. While some assume only small dogs (such as Shih Tzus and Pugs) can be brachycephalic, this is simply not true.
Those with BUAS can suffer from difficulty breathing, snoring, and excess panting. It is important that your vet assesses your Boxer’s breathing ability as some dogs will benefit from surgery early on in their life. This surgery is specialized and would ideally be performed by a board-certified surgeon.
In recent times, vets have started to urge breeders to stop breeding dogs to have such exaggerated features. Ideally, we would not breed those Boxers with very snub-nosed faces. This will benefit the breed as a whole and ensure they are healthier than their predecessors.
10. Boxers are a popular choice of dog when it comes to hybrid crosses
Did you know, the Boxer is often used when it comes to creating ‘designer dogs’. These are new cross-breeds that have been in existence for the last 20 to 30 years. These crosses include the Boxador (a cross between a Boxer and a Labrador Retriever), Bokita (a Boxer crossed Akita), and a Boxerdoodle (a Boxer cross Poodle). If you think the Boxer is the right dog for you, you may wish to have a look into similar dogs too.
Is a Boxer Right For You?
The Boxer will not be the right pet for everyone and is best suited to those experienced with dogs who lead an active lifestyle. They can be prone to poor health, so make sure you do your research and buy from a well-respected breeder who health tests their breeding stock.