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The famous boxer dog – a breed full of high-spirits and unwavering love for human companionship. From its iconic, muscular appearance all the way to its fun-loving, warm-hearted disposition, boxer dogs are undoubtedly one of the most popular breeds in America.
Perfect for anyone who wants a medium to large dog with a love for humans, the boxer dog is often a great fit for experienced dog owners and new pet parents alike. Are you considering adopting a boxer dog? Read on to find out everything you need to know to make the decision about whether to adopt a boxer into your family.
- History & Origin of Boxer Dogs
- Physical Attributes of Boxers
- Behavioral Characteristics of Boxers
- Boxer Breed Health Risks
- Caring for a Boxer
- Final Notes
History & Origin of Boxer Dogs
The history of the boxer dog breed stems from Munich, Germany in the late 19th century.1 This was when people in Germany began to take dog breeding more seriously, with the dog breed of the boxer soon spreading across the entire country and continent.1
Ancestors to the German Bullheiser, the boxer dog was bred into existence due to a need for muscular, strong dogs to help with hunting.2 This even included larger prey such as deer or wild boar.
Boxers were used during both World Wars as guard dogs or police dogs.2 Guards often then became the owners of these dogs, taking them home to their families where they discovered they were also very sweet family dogs.2
Their love for human companionship made them easy to train, and so this breed also became an active part of many circus shows.3 After being deported to America in the late 1800s, the boxer dog breeds popularity really took off, with this charming breed winning many dog competitions.3
Additionally, boxers worked as guide dogs for the blind, a watchdog, a cattle herding dogs / farm helping dogs, and aided athletic training.4 Sadly, the boxer was also commonly used in dog fighting competitions, which is where many untrue, negative connotations of this breed may stem from.4
Physical Attributes of Boxers
These striking dogs are equal parts impressive, equal parts adorable, with their strong jaw and ultra smooth, sleek fur. Their typical print is reddish, brown fur with a darker splash of black fur across its face and white markings spread sporadically across the dogs body, residing most typically on the underbelly.5 Its coat tends to be on the shorter side which means they may need a little extra love and a few more cuddles during the colder months.
With athletic, muscular bodies and dark, wide eyes, the boxer dog breed is often described as having an alert or curious expression. Its sturdy front paws are essential to its design as a defensive guard dog and they are usually 21 - 25 inches tall, weighing between 65 to 80 lbs depending on gender and stature.5 The most obvious and well known characteristic of the boxer dog has to be their short, blunt muzzle.
Behavioral Characteristics of Boxers
A dog’s personality strongly depends on the way they have been socialized and bred. Like us humans, each dog is different and cannot be generalized so simply - every single one of human’s adorable four-legged companions have their own personality. It’s one of the reasons we all love dogs so much!
However, generally speaking, boxer dogs tend to be extremely loving and playful pups.4 With bundles of energy and an athleticism rivaled by few other breeds, the boxer dog brings countless hours of fun as you watch them make the most out of playtime and run around. For this reason though, you may want to keep them on a leash during walks - they can get a bit over excited.
They have been known to paw at their food bowls or toys so that us humans can understand what they want.4 So don’t worry, these dogs will let you know exactly what they need, there is no guessing involved here! Boxer dogs absolutely adore humans and are extremely loyal and protective over their family. Not only this, if socialized correctly and exposed to strangers from a young age, these dogs are often friendly towards people they don’t know and other passersby.
Boxer breeds get on well with children, but very young children and elderly people may be overwhelmed by their sheer power. These muscular bodied canines are very strong, even at a young age, so they’re playing or early years may be too rough for those who are sensitive to stronger pets.
Excellent watch dogs and guard dogs, the boxer dog makes for great family guardians and so they typically only bark when they feel they have a good cause.5
Boxer Breed Health
There are a few health issues that the boxer dog breed may face. However, these can usually be identified early on in puppyhood and so for the most part, boxer dogs will live long, happy lives. Keep in touch with your veterinarian and attend routine, yearly check ups to ensure that your four-legged friend is in the best physical condition possible. A boxer dog lifespan typically ranges between 10 to 12 years.4
There are a variety of cancer strains that boxers are at risk of.6 These are brain, thyroid, mammary gland, testicular, heart, spleen, blood, lymph system (lymphoma), and other organs.6 Different cancers will need different forms of medical treatment. In order to effectively prevent the cancer from spreading, it is important to alert your veterinarian of any changes to your dog’s temperament, mood, physical condition or mental disposition.
They can also be prone to a heart disease called aortic stenosis.6 Although there are often not symptoms with this disease, your veterinarian should check for it during routine check ups by listening to their heart and checking for murmurs.6 However, in severe cases, dogs can show symptoms that include fainting, lethargy, exercise intolerance and shortness of breath.6
Routine heart examinations are also important in identifying boxer cardiomyopathy early on.6 This is an irregular heartbeat that can occur in a boxer dog from between the ages of 6 months old, all the way up to 10 years of age.6
Some middle aged boxer dogs have developed degenerative myelopathy, a neurological disease that can affect their spine and legs, meaning they may then lose their ability to walk.6 Your dog can be genetically tested for this disease so you can get an accurate diagnosis. Another degenerative spinal condition boxers are prone to is spondylosis, a condition most common in elderly dogs. Boxers may hide their symptoms, but if they are limping, having difficulty walking or are experiencing lameness, then they may have spondylosis.6 Spondylosis can be treated using specialized programs, including physical therapy.
Hip dysplasia also affects boxer dogs, but this can generally be spotted early on in a boxer dogs life.6 With symptoms including an aversion to play, lameness or whimpering and pain, puppies tend to show signs of hip dysplasia between 6 months to 1 year of age, however, they should be routinely checked until they are two years old.
Caring for a Boxer
Boxers should be fed with a nutritious food that is appropriate for their age and overall health. Although this breed is not known for obesity due to their love for exercise and running, it is still important to monitor the amount your dog eats so that they remain a healthy weight.4
Boxer dogs are often highly intelligent and can pick up on training cues easily, responding well to obedience training. However, they can get restless if they are not provided with enough exercise.
With light coats, these dogs have minimal shedding, so only require baths every now and then. To minimize this shedding further, brush your boxer dog with a rubber brush or hound glove to keep their coats sleek and shiny.4
Is the boxer dog a good family dog?
Yes, the boxer dog can be a great family dog thanks to its playfulness and love of humans. However, if you have any younger members of the family it may be best to wait for them to grow a bit older as this breed's form of playing can be boisterous! Likewise with any elderly people or anyone less equipped to deal with a strong breed.
How smart are boxer dogs?
Boxer dogs are usually incredibly smart thanks to their years of astute training, whether it was in the circus, the war, as police dogs or even as hunting help. Each individual dog is different though, so it is important not to go into dog adoption with any expectations in mind.
Do boxer dogs like to cuddle?
Boxer dogs can be very affectionate towards humans and love to be pet by their owner. Like all dogs, smothering your pet may sometimes cause them to take themselves away to their own space, but for the most part the typical boxer dog loves a good old cuddle!
Do boxer dogs shed a lot?
Thanks to their light coats, boxers don’t typically shed much. To ensure that their coat still looks sleek and shiny, we recommend brushing them at least once a week, as well as giving them the occasional bath.
What are some boxer dog names?
This is where the fun begins! If you’re looking for some inspiration beyond the classics of Fido, Buddy or Max, consider thinking about a name personal to you. Got a favorite movie? Favorite song? Favorite band? Favorite food, even? These could all be good sources of inspiration when picking the perfect name for your pup.
If you’ve gotten this far and the boxer dog sounds like a great addition to your family, then great! Time to start looking! Adopting a dog is always an exciting adventure and a boxer dog truly is a brilliant partner to have by your side. Combining adorable puppy eyes with impressive agility and athleticism, this breed never fails to impress.
The perfect spot for all dog enthusiasts, the Dutch blog has a plethora of information on other breeds, dog behaviors and answers to any questions you may have. We also stock a comprehensive storefront full of dog care essentials approved by licensed vets as well as advice on nutritional options for your furry friends via our telemedicine services. Browse the website to learn more about our services and explore other Dutch blogs for more information on your favorite, furry friends.
Voran, Judy. “Short History of the Boxer Breed” American Boxer Club https://americanboxerclub.org/boxer_history.html
“About the Boxer” US Boxer https://www.usboxer.org/overview-boxer
“Meet the Boxer - A Unique Breed” American Boxer Club https://americanboxerclub.org/unique.html
“Boxer Dog” Wisdom Panel https://www.wisdompanel.com/en-us/dog-breeds/boxer
Coile, Caroline. “Boxer” Britannica, 12 May 2023 https://www.britannica.com/animal/boxer-dog
“Health Issues” US BOXER https://www.usboxer.org/health-issues