middle aged boxer

How Long Does a Boxer Live

Maybe you have heard that larger dogs don’t live as long as small breeds. The Boxer is considered a medium to large dog, does it fall under the category of this statistic? There are many things that factor into a dog’s life expectancy, and this fact applies to Boxer dogs as well. Boxers belong to a group of dogs that suffer from brachycephaly. A brachycephalic breed is one that has a short snout, a wide head, and a flatter face. These characteristics make brachycephalic breeds more prone to respiratory problems.

healthy-looking boxer dog
Photo by Anita Peeples on Unsplash

Of course, this isn’t the only issue that affects a Boxer dog’s lifespan. We have seen boxer dogs that exceed 12 years of age, and other ones that may not live such a long life. We know you’re concerned about your canine, and we’re here to help by telling you what has profound impacts on a Boxer’s life and how you can prolong it.

How Long Does a Boxer’s Life Expectancy Last?

2 brown middle-aged boxers
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As of now, the average lifespan of a Boxer dog sits at 10 to 12 years. This is a fair estimate for most dogs of this size. Again, remember that this is a rough estimate and that life expectancy can increase or decrease due to a number of factors. Boxer dogs as a breed also suffer from specific illnesses such as cancer, which happens to be the number 1 killer. In fact, cancer accounts for over 40% of Boxer deaths. The neurological disease takes up another 20% of that, with trauma rounding out the last percentage.

Keep in mind that these are all estimates and may change over the future as we learn more about these dogs, what they need and how to properly care for them. Now let’s dive into the most common variables that determine Boxer life expectancy.

Factors That Determine the Life Span of Your Boxer Dog

Softened dog food on a stainless bowl
Image by kalhh from Pixabay

Unfortunately, much of what you do for your Boxer dog in everyday life affect his life expectancy.

Diet

Your dog’s diet is the key and number one consideration if you want your Boxer dog to outlive the estimated age range. The diet you choose and what goes into the recipe is where you should start making changes. Contrary to popular belief, a dry dog food diet, or kibble, is not the best choice. In fact, it’s actually one of the worst diets you can choose as kibble has been found to cause many diseases and health problems in household pets.

We’re not here to push anyone’s diet on you and your Boxer dog, but a raw food diet or BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) has been gaining traction over the years. It’s no secret that fresh food, such as home-cooked meals with as many human-grade ingredients as possible does have its merits over highly processed kibble.

We also understand that dry kibble is the easiest, sometimes most affordable, and long-lasting option to feed. It may not make sense for everyone to feed a raw diet, especially if your Boxer dog is a grazer (free feeder). If this is the case, then we would suggest adding as many fresh ingredients as you can manage into your dog’s diet.

For example, you have a kibble base with freeze-dried raw, maybe some boiled chicken breasts if your Boxer can tolerate it, topped with some raw veggies such as carrots.

Aside from the right ingredients, you also have to make sure your Boxer’s diet is complete and balanced – this goes for all dog breeds. Adding supplements such as fish oil can help lubricate joints and ensure healthy skin and coats on your Boxer. We do suggest consulting with a vet first before making any major changes to your dog’s food and asking about the correct supplements to include because not all will be suitable for every life stage.

For example, your Boxer puppy may not need glucosamine supplements just yet. Your dog’s health is your priority, and no one has a better understanding of it than your vet.

Exercise – Too much or too Little

boxer dog playing with other dogs as an exercise
Photo by Anna Dudkova on Unsplash

There is such a thing as too much exercise, even for a Boxer puppy. Just like with any dog breed, a Boxer that overdoes it may decrease his life expectancy. For example, repetitive strain on his joints from climbing the stairs and steep hills could result in exacerbated hip and elbow dysplasia. Even for active breeds such as Boxers can be, adequate rest and downtime are still needed between sessions.

If you notice a movement that seems to be strenuous to your Boxer, try a different form of exercise instead. For example, if your dog likes to jump, maybe try a game of chase once in a while to switch things up a bit. Remember to space out the exercise period as well. It’s better to go on 3 half an hour walks rather than one long 1.5-hour walk for some dogs.

Stress

Many dog parents tend to target the physical aspect but forget all about the mental part. Boxer dogs live long if they’re healthy, and in order to prolong their life expectancy, you need to take care of their mental well-being too. A Boxer puppy will need as much mental stimulation as much as physical stimulation. Mental stimulation includes training sessions, puzzle toys, and letting them explore their surroundings on walks.

It’s best if dog parents can combine a healthy balance of both mental and physical stimulation, which is best to prolong the Boxer dog’s lifespan. Stress can be caused by a lack of exercise, boredom, changes, and disturbances in your dog’s surroundings. If you notice your dog may be stressed, try to give him an outlet to release pent up emotions (mental stimulation and physical stimulation).

A stressed out dog may also act out in destructive ways such as destroying your things and the house. If this is the case, try some calming aids such as music and scents.

Obesity

We all know that an unhealthy lifestyle leads to an undesirable physique, which can decrease a Boxer’s life span. Obesity is a problem animals and humans must combat. The life expectancy of an overweight and inactive dog is a great deal lower than a healthy and fit dog’s lifespan. We must make sure our dogs’ body condition scores are always ideal.

The body condition score for canines is measured on a sliding scale of 5 or 9 points. The 9-point scale is the one we recommend because it can differentiate between the body condition states more accurately. It starts from 1, which is emaciated, all the way up to 9, which is severely obese.

The ideal body condition score for all breeds falls under 4 to 5. At this stage, you should be able to see your dog’s ribs, pelvis, and backbone with a visible waistline and tummy tuck – but not obvious or with a layer of fat covering. The body condition score is a much better gauge of your dog’s health rather than his weight because it focuses on your dog’s frame.

Inbreeding

purebred boxer dogs
Image by Alexander37619 on Pixabay

While purebred dogs are highly prized, it is also a known fact that purebreds have a shorter lifespan. This is because their lineage is not mixed with foreign DNA, which means health issues and disease are more likely passed down. Genetics are a big problem and inbreeding happens with immoral backyard breeders, which is something we should all strive to avoid. Diversity is something that will create strong genetics, so make sure you ask the right questions before committing to a Boxer puppy.

Vaccines and treatments

All these drugs have toxicity and will also contaminate the bowel. Regardless of their use in your animal’s health, they accumulate in your body. They call it the “stack effect” which can end in disease if it becomes excessive. These medications have measurable risks and can cause serious side effects such as death and seizures. Boxers don’t often appear in these grim rankings. Make the right choice.

Yes, some vaccines and treatments are definitely necessary, but understand that each one you inject into your dog will leave harmful toxins. These toxins then build up in your dog’s organs and system. You can choose to protect your dog against everything, and while we understand the intention behind this, make sure to do your due diligence and see how likely it is for your dog to be exposed to the conditions in question.

Where applicable, dog parents can request a titer test to check their Boxer’s antibodies against certain diseases. If the antibodies are still high, the revaccination period of certain vaccines may be prolonged. The Titer test is mainly for parvovirus, canine distemper, and adenovirus. Just like with a raw diet, the titer test and frequency of revaccination is a hot debate within the vet community. Do what feels safe to you and for your dog.

Drinking tap water

boxer dog drinking tap water
Image by Myriams-Fotos on Pixabay

Drinking tap water may be okay in some cities, but many people still prefer to give their drinking water a boil before consumption just to be extra safe. Tap water may contain contaminants that are harmful to anyone’s system over time, and this includes your Boxer. Boiling the water beforehand is a good idea as is using a proper filter or purchasing spring water.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is 13 old for a boxer dog?

Yes, 13 is considered old for a Boxer dog since the average life expectancy for Boxers is around 10 to 12 years old. The average life expectancy is different for all dog breeds, with some that can easily live up to 18 years of age with the proper care. Boxers are playful dogs who need a caring and loving owner who will take good care of them, and that’s what matters when it comes to the length of a dog’s life.

Why do Boxers have a short life expectancy?

Boxers have a shorter life expectancy because the breed is plagued by cancer and is also considered brachycephalic, which puts them at a natural disposition for breathing issues. The way you take care of him will have a huge impact on your Boxer’s lifespan. Watch what you feed your dog, the amount of exercise he gets every day, monitor his stress levels and emotional health, and avoid unnecessary treatments.

What is the main cause of death in Boxer dogs?

The main cause of death in Boxer dogs is cancer. It’s perfectly possible for your Boxer to live a long and healthy life without developing cancer, but this condition does make up over 40% of Boxer dog deaths. It’s a health problem that has plagued the breed for many years. The types of cancers include breast cancer, lymphoma, mast cell tumors (skin cancer), bone cancer, testicular cancer among others. Spaying and neutering your Boxers will decrease the chances of certain types of cancers.

Final Thoughts

Proper care for any dog begins at a young age. Aside from everything we mentioned above, it’s also a good idea to get annual checkups for your dog just to make sure everything is looking good. You can even go a bit further and request blood tests, echocardiograms, and anything else if you suspect something isn’t right with your Boxer. We do suggest making it a daily effort when taking care of your dog such as making sure he gets daily exercise, mental stimulation, is kept at a healthy weight, and keeping an eye on his overall health.

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