Boxers: Strong, Intelligent, Affectionate…Need I Say More?
Looking for a dog breed that meets every criterion of an ideal pet?
Look no further because the Boxer is the whole package doggo that you’re looking for!
According to the American Kennel Club’s list of the Most Popular Dog Breeds of 2021, the Boxer ranks 13th.
Read on and find out why the Boxer is one of the most beloved dogs in the United States today.
What is a Boxer?
The Boxer breed brings the brains and brawn to the canine world, making them a formidable match to other dog breeds. There’s more than meets the eye with the Boxer because this tough-looking pupper is not just famous for its charming and muscular features.
Boxers, more than anything, love good company and are highly affectionate with their dog owners. The Boxer will be an interesting choice if you’re looking for a loyal furry friend who can keep up with your active lifestyle.
Origin of the Boxer
The Boxer that we know today originated in Germany and was developed during the 19th century. Its breed name was believed to be a reference to the sport of Boxing. Most say that it refers to the Boxer’s playing style where it stands on its rear legs and uses its front paws to play, resembling a human boxer during a boxing match.
The Boxer’s roots go way back to ancient times, and its ancestor was believed to be the Molossian Hound, a type of mastiff, who then developed into the Bullenbeisser.
The Bullenbeisser was originally bred as working and hunting dogs to catch wild beasts such as bears, bison, wild boars, and even deers. Following their success as hunting dogs, the breed became popular across Europe and is now known as the modern Boxer’s ancestor.
By the mid to late 19th century, the Boxer was developed by crossing the English Bulldog and German Bullenbeisser, which unfortunately is now an extinct dog breed.
It was only after World War I that Boxers were first introduced in the United States, and it was in the late 1930s when they rose in popularity in the country.
In 1904, the first Boxer was registered and recognized by the American Kennel Club and became a part of the Working Group.
What Was the Boxer Bred for?
Like its ancestors, the Boxer was originally bred as a working dog. This breed has made an impressive resume working as cattle dogs, police dogs, war dogs, therapy dogs, service dogs, guide dogs for the blind, and alert dogs for people suffering from seizures.
You should also know that Boxers do not only excel as working dogs but also as fantastic family pets and guard dogs.
What Does a Boxer Look Like?
Based on the AKC Official Breed Standard,
“The ideal Boxer is a medium-sized, square-built dog of good substanceOfficial Standard of the Boxer, American Kennel Club
with short back, strong limbs, and short, tight-fitting coat. His well-developed muscles are clean, hard, and appear smooth under taut skin.”
Coat colors and markings
There are three coat colors of the Boxer listed on AKC, but only two are considered the standard colors, namely Brindle and Fawn. Meanwhile, the Boxer also comes in various coat markings, with only three of them considered the standard marking.
Brindle. Brindle, also known as the “tiger-striped” pattern, is a popular coat in many dogs, including the Boxer.
It’s more of a pattern than a color described as streaks or stripes of black layered on top of the base coat color, which are usually fawn or deep red. The stripes can vary from light to dark shade in thin or thick strides.
Fawn. Fawn is also one of the most popular looks in a purebred Boxer. Fawn is characterized by different shades, including yellow, tan, sleek brown, or mahogany. Most Boxers with this Fawn coat color have white markings typically found on their chest, neck, and paws.
White. White is the non-standard color of the Boxer. Boxers with this coat color are met with many misconceptions relating their coat color to albinoism, which is not the case for the White Boxer dog.
White Boxers are actually brindle or fawn-colored with large white patches or markings on their body that occupies most of the skin. It might surprise you, but white-colored Boxers are just as popular and common as fawn and brindle Boxers, with 25% of them being born with a white coat.
Moving on to the coat markings, the Boxer has three standard coat markings, including:
- White Markings
- Black Mask
- Black Mask, White Markings
Boxers can also come in two non-standard coat markings, which are:
- Fawn Markings
- Brindle Markings
Boxers feature a set of beautiful dark brown eyes accompanied by an intelligent and alert expression on them.
The Boxer’s ears hang down naturally. However, most Boxer parents opt for their ears to be cropped so it can stand erect, emphasizing the Boxer’s alert expression and posture.
Face and snout
One of the distinct characteristics of the Boxers is their flat face and short snout, classifying them as a brachycephalic breed. Unfortunately for these breeds, they are susceptible to respiratory problems because of their narrowed nostrils and smaller airway.
Boxers are born with a full-length tail that can stand high or curve upwards, but according to the AKC breed standard, the Boxer’s tail should be “set high, docked, and carried upward.” This is done for practical reasons as Boxers are considered working dogs, and docking their tails would prevent injury.
How Big Does a Full Grown Boxer Get?
Boxers are medium dog breeds with an average height of 22 to 25 inches (56-63 cm) for a full-grown male Boxer, and 21 to 24 inches (53 to 61 cm) for a full-grown female Boxer.
Meanwhile, a male adult Boxer weighs between 60 and 70 pounds (27 to 32 kg), while a female adult Boxer’s weight ranges between 55 to 65 pounds (25-29 kg).
Different Types of Boxers
Boxers can also be identified depending on the region they were originally bred from.
American Boxer Dog
The American Boxer Dog was the first Boxer to get recognized by American Kennel Club in 1904. Its most distinguishable trait is its smooth, tight, shiny, and wrinkle-free coat that sets it apart from the other variation of the Boxer.
Other than that, it also has a wider muzzle compared to the German and English Boxer Dog.
The Boxer is the ideal contender for dog shows because they are more elegant and sleek than the rest. Among the others, they are also the most energetic ones.
English Boxer Dog
Next is the English Boxer Dog, otherwise known as United Kingdom Boxers or British Boxers. They were the second to be recognized as a standard in 1948 by The Kennel Club (KC).
English Boxers are considered the smallest and slimmest out of all the three types, mainly because of their slender legs and body, matching their small feet and high knuckles.
This type of Boxer is known as calm, loyal, fearless, confident, and lively. Meanwhile, they are more reserved with strangers compared to the American Boxer.
German Boxer Dog
Finally, the German Boxer was the last to become the official standard in 1995, as acknowledged by the FCI. Among the others, they resemble their German ancestors the most and are considered the traditional Boxers. German Boxers have a proportionally balanced physique with their large, muscular bone structure and defined strong legs.
The German Boxer has a shorter snout than the American Boxer but wider than the English Boxer. Most Boxer breeders say that the German Boxers are the easiest to train out of all three and are much calmer than the others.
How to Take Care of a Boxer?
Pet care is one of the most essential parts of being a dog owner. And as someone who owns a Boxer dog or is thinking of owning one, here are the things that you should know about when taking care of a Boxer.
The Boxer is a highly active, energetic, and playful companion as we have established before. They can be high maintenance when it comes to the area of exercise. An increase in playtime and exercise would probably make the Boxer ecstatic, especially if they have someone to it with. Boxers will need plenty of exercise.
Anything that’s physically stimulating, like walking daily, running, playing fetch, or backyard agility, is good for them.
BUT, (and this is a big but—no pun intended), it’s important that you don’t overwork them or let them exercise while the sun is high up because this breed is prone to overheating. Once they get overheated, it may cause breathing problems for them, which is something they need to avoid at all costs.
This is also especially true for young dogs. Boxer puppies can’t be overworked because their bones at the time are still fragile and can take damage if they do strenuous activities.
Boxers have sleek short coats and their grooming needs are relatively low. Brushing them weekly using a bristle brush or grooming mitt would suffice. You only need to bathe them occasionally if the situation really calls for it.
When it comes to dental hygiene, it’s highly advisable to brush their teeth regularly to avoid bad breath and tartar buildup. As always, clean their ears and trim their nails regularly.
If you’re doing the grooming, check for any signs of inflammation or infections in the skin, ears, nose, mouth, eyes, and paws.
Generally, any dog would do well on an age-specific high-quality diet with the right balance of protein and fat and appropriate levels of vitamins and minerals.
Athletic dogs like the Boxer need a quality protein source from fish, meat, or poultry to promote lean muscle development.
Also, dog foods with balanced levels of healthy fats, like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, are highly recommended to keep the Boxer’s coat looking shiny and healthy.
1. How much to feed
How much you should feed your Boxer will depend on your dog’s age, size, weight, metabolism, and activity level. An adult Boxer needs 3 to 5 cups of dry kibble each day. Meanwhile, Boxer puppies need 55 calories per pound of body weight, so 1 to 3 cups a day.
Need to feed your Boxer? Try one of our recommended best dog foods for boxers.
2. How often to feed
It’s recommended for adult Boxers to have at least 2 meals per day, split during the morning and evening. Boxer puppies need at least 3 to 4 meals a day distributed in 5-6 hour intervals.
3. Common food allergies
Any Boxer can develop a food allergy when fed the wrong ingredient. The best way to prevent food allergies is to avoid common food allergens like corn, wheat, soy, dairy, and eggs. Animal proteins are also one of the main sources of allergies in dogs; these include proteins from chicken, beef, pork, and fish. Food additives can also trigger an allergic reaction, so always opt for dog foods free from artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
Dogs with allergies will show signs and symptoms of:
- Irritated skin like itching, rash, or skin sores
- Skin inflammation
- Hair loss
- Dry and dull coat
- Glassy eyes
- Teary eyes
- Bloodshot eyes
- Chronic ear infection
- Upset stomach or diarrhea
- Coughing or wheezing
- Biting or scratching of their own skin
Are Boxers Easy to Train?
I wouldn’t say that Boxers are easy to train right on the bat because they may be potentially challenging to train, especially of their innate stubbornness. But, it’s nothing that a good training method and training treats can’t fix.
The best way to train a Boxer is through positive reinforcement or reward-based training. Remember that these are intelligent breeds and they can excel in obedience training the most. Teaching them basic commands won’t be much of a problem, however, you will need to find creative ways to get them to participate.
What you shouldn’t do is use harsh training methods or harsh punishment because Boxers are sensitive and I guarantee you they will not appreciate this approach. At best, the Boxer loves being friendly and you can use that to your advantage. Praising them, giving them treats, or showing them affection works better for them.
Are they easy to potty train?
If you want your Boxer’s potty training to go seamlessly, better to start them as early as 7 weeks old. Puppies learn better and adapt well at this age. Again, the breed’s tendency to be stubborn can make training challenging at first.
Ease them through the training with treats or praises to perform better. Like any other puppy, getting them fully trained can take 4 to 6 months.
There are many good things that you could say about the Boxer. Their courage, devotion, fearlessness, confidence, and intelligence are a few reasons they make excellent working and hunting breeds.
However, despite their history as hunters, Boxers are more of a lover than a fighter. They are loyal, patient, friendly, playful, and affectionate. A true man’s best friend and all-around doggo for the family.
Does this breed do well with children?
Boxers are a great furry companion for humans, and they are even great with children. Despite what others might think, this dog is incredibly patient and friendly to children. That makes them a good family dog for big families with children. Without a doubt, children will be safe and protected around a Boxer. Both the children and Boxer’s playful and energetic personalities go well together, making them wonderful playmates.
Does it do well with other pets?
Boxers can be compatible with other breeds or animals, especially if they belong to the same family or household. However, that might not be the case all the time. Boxers may assert dominance when around other animals or other dogs of the same sex.
Still, this can be corrected with proper training and early socialization.
Are boxers aggressive?
Boxers are one of the most loyal and protective dog breeds and can be aggressive at the expense of their owner’s safety. They are naturally friendly toward strangers, but if they feel threatened, they can act aggressively.
However, a well-trained and socialized Boxer will not act aggressively without reason.
What Environment Is Ideal for a Boxer?
Since the Boxer is an energetic dog, they will require a space where they can spend their time expelling their energy. The ideal environment is probably in a large house or estate where they can regularly exercise or do a wide range of physical activities.
This breed is classified as brachycephalic, increasing their risk of breathing problems and, therefore, can’t tolerate hot weather very much. However, Boxers will also not do well in extremely cold temperatures because of their short coat.
What Is the Average Life Span of Boxers
The life expectancy of a Boxer ranges between 10 to 12 years.
However, there are cases where some Boxers don’t reach the minimum of 10 years, while others exceed the maximum life expectancy and even live as long as 15 years.
Of course, their life span will depend on many factors, the biggest one being their health status.
Boxer Common Health Issues
The Boxer is a delightful dog to have around any home. Unluckily, this breed is prone to several health issues that can threaten their happiness and lifestyle. As a Boxer owner, it’s your responsibility to know about the common health problems that can affect a Boxer.
Degenerative Myelopathy is an inherited neurologic condition that affects the nervous system and lower spinal cord, causing disability issues in your Boxer’s hind legs.
Weakness in the rear legs is one of the obvious signs of this disease. If it progresses further can lead to partial or complete paralysis.
Bloat, most commonly known as Gastric Dilatation–Volvulus, is a condition characterized by the swelling or expansion of the stomach due to the buildup of gas, food, or liquid inside.
Bloating can also cause the twisting of the stomach, blocking the stomach’s exit and preventing proper digestion.
Bloating can be hard to recognize, and if not treated as soon as possible, it may lead to death. Here are the signs and symptoms of bloating you need to watch out for.
- Difficulty breathing
- Enlargement of the abdomen
- Lack of appetite
- Dry heaving
- Sudden collapse
- Failed attempt at pooping
- Looking at their belly
- Stomach appears to be hard
Hip Dysplasia causes extreme pain in the affected limb due to the misalignment of the hip joints. This is the displacement of the hip ball from the socket, wherein, if it progresses, it can lead to joint inflammation because of the constant rubbing of the ball and socket.
Common signs and symptoms of hip dysplasia are:
- Exercise intolerance
- Stiffness on the rear legs
- Skipping or hopping
- Physically in pain
- Difficulty walking, running, or climbing
- Loss of interest in exercises or physical activities they used to have fun doing
Boxers tend to also be prone to certain cancers. The most commonly affected are light-colored Boxers who are at risk of developing skin cancer. Another type of cancer that can affect Boxers is lymphoma.
Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph nodes and the lymphatic system. It can develop in the lymph nodes, spleen, or bone marrow and spread to the other parts of the body.
Another concern for the Boxers is their susceptibility to heart problems.
- Cardiomyopathy – Cardiomyopathy is a heart condition that causes the thinning or weakening of the heart, making it hard for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body. Boxers with this condition can show irregular heartbeats, weakness, lethargy, labored breathing, or sudden collapse.
- Aortic Stenosis (AS) – Aortic Stenosis is quite common among the Boxer breed. It is an inherited disorder defined by narrowing of the heart valve, essentially obstructing blood flow to the rest of the body.
Hypothyroidism is a thyroid disease characterized by the deficiency of the thyroid hormone thyroxine. Thyroxine is responsible for regulating various processes in the body like metabolism, heart and muscle function, brain development, etc.
The underproduction of this hormone can cause an imbalance in the body affecting all other systems by slowing their processes.
The following signs and symptoms occur when the dog has hypothyroidism:
- Weight gain
- Lethargy or fatigue
- Chronic skin and ear infections
- Hair loss
- Excessive shedding
- Dry, dull coat
- Increase in dark pigmentation of the skin
- Low activity level
- Cold intolerance
How Much Does a Boxer Cost?
Reputable Boxer breeders can charge $800 to $2800 for a purebred Boxer puppy. Ultimately, the price tag would depend on the age, pedigree, coat color, location, breeder’s reputation, etc.
Other Similar Dog Breeds
There are many things to love about the Boxer. If it’s not their unique and distinctive features, it’s definitely something about their personality that makes them a good furry friend, in general. Their playful, loyal, and devotedness make them one of the most beloved pets.
If you’re wondering if another breed has some of the characteristics and traits of a Boxer, here is a list of other dog breeds that may be similar to the Boxer.
|Other Dog Breeds||Similarities||Differences|
|Bulldog||short muzzle, low grooming needs, great with children||low energy, relaxed, low exercise needs, challenging to train|
|Mastiff||working dog, easy to groom, intelligent, protective, loyal, affectionate||larger in size, reserved with strangers|
|Doberman||sheds moderately, fearless, loyal, energetic, intelligent||low prey drive, reserved with strangers, taller and leaner|
|Great Dane||low grooming needs, average shedder, friendly, intelligent, confident||gentle, long tail, shorter life span|
|Pug||low grooming needs, confident, intelligent, playful, friendly, loyal||sheds more, gentle, friendlier with strangers and other pets|
|German Shorthaired Pointer||minimal grooming, intelligent, playful, sensitive, great with children||easy to train, good for first-time pet owners|
|Rottweiler||minimal grooming, fearless, loyal, courageous, protective, sensitive||independent, good-natured, easy to train, high prey drive, not friendly with strangers|
|Pitbull||thick and square-shaped body, minimal grooming, friendly, loyal, stubborn||smaller in size, aggressive, longer muzzle|
Tips on Finding the Right Breeder
Looking to buy a Boxer pup? Start by researching reputable and responsible breeders in your area. Doing your own research and checking the profile of your breeder is the first step to buying a puppy.
You must find a breeder with a good reputation that abides by the standard of AKC. Responsible breeders should conduct health screening tests for their stock, specifically for health conditions like hip dysplasia, aortic stenosis, cardiomyopathy, thyroid deficiency, degenerative myelopathy, and certain cancers.
Signs to Look For in a Responsible Breeder
A good breeder is also a true animal lover. Check out these signs of a responsible breeder when buying a puppy.
- The breeder is part of parent breed clubs (i.e. American Boxer Club or National Breed Club)
- Extensive breeding background
- Shows genuine concern for animals
- Creates a high-quality living environment for dogs
- Shows transparency about the history of the dogs
- Provides necessary documents such as Hip Certification, Genetic Testing, Registration, and Bloodline
- Open to answering questions
- Implements health clearances to ensure puppy’s health is in good condition
- Schedules a visit or video call to see the puppy
- They make sure that the puppy will live in a good home with good fur parents
What to Avoid When Looking for a Breeder
Pet breeding can be a nasty business. Don’t let deceitful breeders take advantage of you, and watch out for breeders like this.
- Backyard breeders and puppy mills… enough said
- They sell two to three litters of puppies at the same time
- Making false undocumented claims about the dog’s character
- Defensive when asked about their breeding practices
- Doesn’t allow visits
- If visits are allowed, the place where the puppies are bred doesn’t satisfy comfortable living conditions
- No pedigree information and registration documents are available
- No medical history provided
Boxers are widely known for their lovely personality and, of course, let’s not forget their charming and adorable faces that just make you swoon.
This breed is no doubt a great family pet, one of the reasons why they’re so popular and loved by many pet parents.
Once you get to know the Boxer, you will learn to adore every part of them and you just can’t get enough of their natural charm.