Boxer Breed Health

BY | September 19 | COMMENTS PUBLISHED BY
Boxer Breed Health

Thumbnail of Wellness CORE Grain Free Original Formula Dry Dog Food

Wellness CORE Grain Free Original Formula Dry Dog Food

Dry Food
{{petcare_price|currency}} Price in Cart w/PetPlus {{petplus_price|currency}} See PetPlus Price in Cart

The Boxer is a happy go lucky breed that makes excellent companions with a great sense of loyalty. They can suffer from stomach and breathing problems, among others. Learn more about Boxers here.

The Boxer is a playful, medium to large sized dog, known to be both loyal and stubborn. Like Pugs and the Boston Terrier, the Boxer is a brachycephalic breed - which refers to the size and shape of its face and head - and at times has difficulty breathing. This breed of dogs is rather susceptible to genetically inherited heart problems, as well as gastric torsion, which is when the stomach becomes dangerously distended with gas. Boxers live approximately 8 to 10 years, which is a somewhat shorter lifespan than other dog breeds of this size.

Primary Health Conditions of the Boxer

Boxers are particularly prone to genetic problems of the heart, which are often quite serious. These problems include aortic stenosis, atrial septal defects, and dilated cardiomyopathy. These conditions are difficult to treat and are mostly addressed preventatively, through breeding practices. Also common in Boxers are conditions of the eye, including retinal atrophy and cherry eye, or protrusion of the tear duct. Gastric torsion, the twisting of the dogโ€™s stomach, is a serious condition among this breed that requires immediate medical intervention. A dog with gastric torsion may appear restless and exhibit dry heaves.

Secondary Health Conditions of the Boxer

The boxerโ€™s short snout and flat face makes this dog susceptible to breathing problems, a condition that can come on quickly and without warning. Generally, this brachycephalic syndrome occurs when the dog is overheated or over excited. The effects are typically mild and short lasting, but can be more serious, leading to cardiac arrest and death. As with many dogs, the Boxer is also prone to hip dysplasia, which can cause the dog pain or discomfort.

Boxer Exercise and Walking Needs

The boxer is a playful and energetic dog and enjoys lively play or a long walk each day. Regular exercise can help to increase the lifespan of the Boxer by several years. The dogโ€™s owner should, however, be aware of the breedโ€™s susceptibility to brachycephalic syndrome and its inability to tolerate heat. Lack of exercise and attention from its owners can lead to destructive behavior as well as compulsive licking or chewing of its coat.

Boxer Nutritional Needs

Because of a long colon and some differences in hormonal balance, the Boxer is more susceptible to gastric torsion and bloating than other breeds; as such, this breed requires a food that is higher in fiber than others. Beyond this, the dogโ€™s food should be high in protein and low in grains.

A Boxer's Behavior

If you love the Boxer breed, you already know how funny and animated these canine clowns can be. They're also very sensitive, creative, easily bored dogs who will try to outsmart you at every turn - and that's what makes Boxer companionship exciting. Understanding the Boxer's behavioral traits is the key to a wonderful and happy life with your dog.

People Lovers

Boxers adore companionship and forge intense bonds with family members. While this loyalty is admirable, a tight bond can leave the dog feeling insecure and prone to separation anxiety. They do poorly when left alone to their own devices. It's important to keep your Boxer entertained - or better still, exercised and all tuckered out - when you leave. If you don't, you can be assured that they'll find something to do, and whatever it is, it won't be on your approved list. Boxers love to chew. They love couches, wooden tables, doors, and all manners of fine home furnishings. With this important trait in mind, you should probably not own this curious and creative breed if you plan to be gone most of the day.

Independent

The Boxer is an independent thinker but not stubborn, and is commonly considered to be a dog who may not be 100 percent reliable in doing what is expected. As the master of the house, it's your job to convince the Boxer that your ideas are far more interesting than their own. You can distract a boxer with toys, giggles, and enthusiasm, and they'll watch you intently until they jump in and follow along, deciding that your way looks much more fun after all. In training your Boxer, you must have a better way of doing things than they do - sort of like a battle of wits.

Work

Boxers are categorized as working dogs. They need a job in order to be content. Originally bred for police and military work, Boxers are not happy sniffing around for old socks in your home all day. A good job for a Boxer dog is competing in obedience or agility trials. Any activity that is not too repetitive would work well for a boxer. A Boxer knows when something has been done right, and repeating a command over and over again will likely bore your dog.

Energy Level

Boxers mature later in life than many other breeds. The fact that they are puppies for many years -- even up until they are 5 years old or more - is a special trait that endears them to your heart. That said, Boxers need a lot of exercise each day. A simple walk around the block isn't going to cut it for this canine athlete. Many Boxers end up in rescue or are dumped at shelters because the owner neglected to read up on how much exercise this dog needs. A Boxer that doesn't expend all that pent-up energy can be overly boisterous and destructive in the home. On the flip side, young Boxers should not be worn ragged either. Their bones are still developing and you could face major orthopedic issues, such as arthritis, a torn ACL or spinal injuries, down the road.

Train a Boxer to Not Be Aggressive to Strangers

Boxers can be friendly and gentle companions who welcome new friends and are kind towards children. However, boxers are high-energy dogs who require plenty of exercise to remain calm. Without exercise, they may become hyper or aggressive. Similarly, without proper training or socialization, boxers may exhibit fear-based aggression, particularly with strangers and children. Early intervention is key for preventing aggression from escalating out of control, and if your dog is already exhibiting signs of aggression, you should seek the help of a qualified dog trainer who uses reward-based, positive training methods.

Step 1

Begin socializing your puppy as soon as you bring them home. Dogs are most easily socialized between the ages of 6 and 16 weeks. Expose your dog to a variety of people, including children, and ensure that the experience is a positive one by clicking your training clicker and giving your dog a treat for each new interaction. You should allow your dog to meet new people in a variety of settings on a daily basis during this critical window of socialization.

Step 2

Teach your dog a "Watch" or "Focus" command. Do this by encouraging your dog to look at you in low-stress situations, then clicking the training clicker and giving the dog a treat. Your dog must be very good at this trick for it to work to prevent aggression, so practice numerous time a day in a variety of circumstances. Then begin practicing in progressively more stressful situations. When you see an aggression trigger, such as a dog or person approaching, tell your dog to watch you. Each instance of aggressive behavior teaches a dog to be more aggressive, so teaching your dog to watch you when an aggression trigger approaches helps the dog avoid aggression and prevents the behavior from becoming fully entrenched in your dog's personality.

Step 3

Use a muzzle when socializing adult dogs who already have aggression problems. The process of socializing already aggressive dogs is called counter-conditioning because the focus is on teaching the dogs to develop positive associations with strangers. Determine the distance at which your dog begins to react to a stranger. For example, if your dog begins growling when a person is 10 feet away, start by getting no closer than 11 feet.

Step 4

Give your dog treats when strangers approach and ask people to toss treats to your dog. Repeat this exercise daily, decreasing the distance between your dog and strangers by one or two feet every week. As your dog becomes more comfortable with new people, encourage the new people to slowly approach your dog, continuing to toss treats. If your dog begins to react aggressively, ask the person to back up and continue practicing at that distance for another week or two. This process can take several months and the exercise should be repeated at least once per day.

Step 5

Put your dog in a crate when strangers visit. Crates provide dogs with safe spaces of their own, and are especially useful with hyper boxers. Ask your guests to give your dog treats through the doors. When the dog calms down, open the door but do not force your dog to come out of their crate. Do not allow your dog out of the crate while people are visiting if they have ever bitten a stranger.

Step 6

Provide your dog with at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. Simply playing in the backyard is insufficient for most boxers. These dogs need brisk walks or runs to burn off their considerable energy. A high-intensity game of fetch is also an excellent way to exercise your dog. If your dog continues to seem restless, increase the daily exercise to one hour. Many dogs become markedly calmer with sufficient exercise.

Tips & Warnings

  • Spaying or neutering your dog can help prevent aggression, particularly when the procedure is done prior to the age of six months.
  • If your dog is severely aggressive, several prescription medications are available that can help ease your dog's anxiety and make training safer as you work to correct the behavior.
  • Your dog's socialization experiences with people -- particularly when you are working to correct aggression -- must be positive and highly controlled. Don't take your dog to busy public parks when you're practicing counter-conditioning. You may need several cooperative friends to properly perform this training technique.
  • Never yell at or hit your dog. This can create anxiety and fear that may lead to aggression and biting.

Things Needed

  • Training clicker
  • Dog treats
  • Collar
  • Leash
  • Muzzle
  • Dog crate
More on Dog Health

Heart Disease In Dogs And Cats
What Are Symptoms Of Eye Infections In Pets?
The Benefits Of An Active Dog

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.

Was this article helpful?
High Protein Atrial Septal Defects Brachycephalic Syndrome Gastric Torsion Boxer

You May Also Like

Image for What Are Symptoms of Eye Infections in Pets?
What Are Symptoms of Eye Infections in Pets?

Watch Your Pet for These Symptoms of Eye Infections

Read More
Image for 6 Things to Do to Nurse an Emotionally Scarred Dog Back to Health
6 Things to Do to Nurse an Emotionally Scarred Dog Back to Health

Learn How to Patiently Heal a Heartbroken Dog After Adoption

Read More
Image for 20 Short Haired Dogs With Low Grooming Needs
20 Short Haired Dogs With Low Grooming Needs

A Comprehensive List of Dogs Who Wonโ€™t Put the "Fur" in Furniture

Read More