Boxers - Choosing a Boxer - Dog Breeds

Boxers - Choosing a Boxer - Dog Breeds

According to Matthew Cowley, in his article, "Canine Clowns," a boxer is all that is good in a dog. He is "a laugh a minute, lives life to the fullest, a maximum velocity version of canine slapstick. But he is also a sympathetic soul, a shoulder to cry on, a confidante."

Indeed, boxers are friendly outgoing people dogs. They can become so happy that their whole pelvis moves when they wag their tails. Popular in the United States since the 1940s, the boxer is a wonderful family dog who got his name from his habit of beginning a fight by standing on his hind legs and boxing with his front paws.

The boxer has been one of the top breeds based on the American Kennel Club (AKC) tallies.

History and Origin

Several theories exist regarding the origin of the boxer. One theory, from the 1800s, maintains that the boxer was developed in Germany as a cross between the mastiff-type bullenbeisser and English bulldog. One of these first boxers was the pure white "Blanka." Considered an instrumental dog in the development of the breed, Blanka gave birth to a litter of puppies. One of her daughters, "Meta von der Passage" became an important member of the boxer pedigree. It is thought that nearly all boxers can be traced back to Meta.

Another theory is not so precise. It claims that the boxer is a much older breed, developed from fighting dogs of Tibet.

Regardless of their origin, boxers are working dogs and was one of the first breeds in Germany to be trained as police dogs. They were also used in the previously popular sport of dog fighting. Their courage and bravery led them to be used to run messages on the battlefields during World War I and World War II.

First registered with the AKC in 1904, the boxer did not become popular with American families until the 1940s.

Appearance and Size

The boxer is a medium sized, square built dog with a noble appearance. He combines strength and agility with elegance and style. The breed has a short back, strong limbs and a short square muzzle with a protruding lower jaw and facial wrinkles. His well developed muscles are hard and appear smooth under taut skin. Most boxers in the United States have docked tails and cropped ears but in some countries, these cosmetic procedures are outlawed (one or both practices).

The hair coat is short, shiny and lies smooth and tight to the body. It can be brindle, fawn or brown, with or without white markings. Completely white boxers are not common since breeders typically cull them due to their high risk of deafness.

The adult boxer stands 21 to 25 inches at the shoulder and weighs 65 to 70 pounds.


The boxer is the ultimate people dog. He is deliberate and wary with strangers but curious, and he will exhibit fearless courage if threatened. Boxers can adapt to nearly any environment, as long as they are with people.

Boxers are very intelligent but can be boisterous. For that reason, obedience training is a must. The breed enjoys training and learns easily. Some have worked as guide dogs as well as guard dogs.

Home and Family Relations

The boxer is a friendly breed, devoted to his family. His temperament is fundamentally playful, yet he is patient and stoical with children. He is tolerant of their antics and loves to play. He is a natural protector and, if trained, can be a good watch and guard dog. Without training, some boxers tend to be too friendly and would rather lick and play with an intruder instead of guarding.

Special Concerns

Boxers are low maintenance but they require consistent exercise. Their short hair coat requires minimal grooming. Though they are excellent family pets, they tend to fight among themselves, especially if the other family boxers are the same sex. The most significant concern regarding the boxer is the high rate of cancer compared to other breeds.

Common Diseases and Disorders

  • Boxer Cardiomyopathy - is an electrical disorder of the heart that causes arrhythmias (ventricular premature contractions). Dogs may present syncope, weakness and congestive heart failure.
  • Gastric torsion, also known as bloat, is a life-threatening sudden illness associated with the stomach filling with air and twisting.
  • Epilepsy is a seizure disorder that develops between the ages of 2 to 5 years.
  • Intervertebral Disk Disease is a disorder that affects the spinal disks resulting in pain, difficulty walking and possibly paralysis.
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy is a serious heart condition that results in a large, thin walled heart muscle.
  • Atrial Septal Defect - is a congenital defect of the atrial septum of the heart
  • Aortic Stenosis - this disease is caused by stenosis of the aorta and causing symptoms such as weakness, collapse and sudden death.
  • Sick Sinus Syndrome - is a disease that causes a dysrhythmia of the heart.
  • Interdigital Dermatitis, also known as pododermatitis, is an inflammation of the paws involving the feet and nails.
  • Mast Cell Tumors are malignant tumors than can occur in the skin or within the body.
  • Drug Reaction to Acepromazine may lower the blood pressure and cause arrhythmias of the heart. Acepromazine should not be used in the boxer breed.

    In addition, although these occur infrequently, the following disorders have also been reported:

  • Hyperadrenocorticism is a disorder affecting the adrenal glands. When overactive, the adrenal glands secrete excessive cortisol, resulting in illness.
  • Cryptorchidism is a condition in which one or both testicles do not descend into the scrotum.
  • Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland does not function adequately. Without- enough thyroid hormone, illness can occur.
  • Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive degenerative disease of the spinal cord that slowly results in weakness and eventually inability to use the rear legs.
  • Progressive axonopathy - is a debilitating nervous system disease, which thanks to diligent boxer breeders, is now uncommon.
  • Prolapse of the third eyelid also known as cherry eye, is not painful and occurs spontaneously.
  • Entropion is a problem with the eyelid that causes inward rolling. Lashes on the edge of the eyelid irritate the surface of the eyeball and may lead to more serious problems.
  • Ectropion is a problem with the eyelid that causes eversion of the eyelid margin. It most commonly affects the lower central eyelid.

  • Melanoma is a tumor arising from melanocytes, which are the cells that produce pigment.
  • Cutaneous Histiocytoma - is a benign tumor of the skin that can affect young dogs.
  • Vaginal Hyperplasia an exaggerated response of the vaginal tissue to estrogen during certain phases of the heat cycle. The vaginal tissue becomes swollen and may protrude through the vulva.
  • Insulinoma is a malignant tumor of the pancreas that secretes excessive amounts of insulin leading to hypoglycemia.
  • Food Allergy can occur in some pets. Affected pets develop skin lesions secondary to some food ingredients.
  • Pyloric Stenosis - is a congenital hypertrophy of the pyloric muscle which can cause vomiting and obstruction.
  • Colitis is an inflammation of the colon causing intermittent diarrhea.

    The boxer is prone to various tumors and malignancies, demodicosis, atopy, acne, deafness and urinary incontinence.

    Life Span

    The life span of the boxer is 9 to 11 years.

    We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.