Boxer Breed Health

Boxer Breed Health

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 Playful and Loyal Boxer

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, such as boxer cardiomyopathy, aortic stenosis, atrial septal defects, and dilated cardiomyopathy. These conditions are difficult to treat and are mostly addressed preventatively through breeding practices. Additionally, Boxers often develop skin cancer and mast cell tumors.

Eye conditions, including retinal atrophy and cherry eye, or protrusion of the tear duct, are also common. Gastric torsion, the twisting of the dog'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 Boxer's short snout and flat face make 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 sudden heart failure. As with many dogs, the Boxer is also prone to hip dysplasia, which can cause the dog pain or discomfort. Additionally, Boxers can develop degenerative myelopathy, a serious condition affecting the spinal cord and hind legs, leading to eventual paralysis.

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 dog's owner should, however, be aware of the breed'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

Due to 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 food that is higher in fiber than others. Beyond this, the dog's food should be high in protein and low in grains to maintain a boxer healthy. Dental disease is another concern, so dog owners should ensure regular dental care for their pets.

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 Thinkers

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.


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. Boxer puppies are known for their playful nature and boundless energy. From a young age, these purebred dogs exhibit traits that make them unique. It's essential to understand their growth and developmental needs to ensure they lead a normal life.

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 Not to 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. Boxer puppies 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 times 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

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Boxer a good family dog?

Boxers are generally considered to be good family dogs because they are intelligent, energetic, and loyal. They are known for their playful and affectionate nature, and they tend to get along well with children and other pets. Boxers are also known for being protective of their families and can make good guard dogs. However, like any breed, Boxers have their own unique characteristics and may not be suitable for every family. It's important to note that every individual dog is different and may have its own unique personality and needs. It's also crucial to do your research and consider the specific needs and personality of the individual dog before bringing it into your family. Some things to consider when deciding whether a Boxer is a good fit for your family might include their energy level and exercise needs, their training and socialization requirements, and their potential to be protective of their family.

What are the 3 types of Boxer dogs?

There are three recognized varieties of Boxer dogs: the European Boxer, the American Boxer, and the Japanese Boxer. The European Boxer is the original type of Boxer, developed in Germany in the late 19th century. It is a medium to large-sized breed with a short, smooth coat and a distinctive square-shaped head. The European Boxer is known for its athletic build, powerful muscles, and playful personality. The American Boxer is a slightly larger version of the European Boxer, with a longer and more slender build. It has a longer coat than the European Boxer, with a softer and slightly wavy texture. The American Boxer is known for its energetic and friendly personality. The Japanese Boxer is a smaller and more delicate version of the European Boxer, developed in Japan in the late 20th century. It has a shorter and smoother coat than the European Boxer and a more slender and refined build. The Japanese Boxer is known for its intelligent and loyal personality. All three varieties of Boxer dogs are intelligent, energetic, and playful, and they make excellent companion animals. They are also known for their protective nature and can make good guard dogs.

Are Boxer dogs easy to train?

Boxer dogs can be easy to train, but like all breeds, they can have their own unique personality and characteristics. Some Boxers may be more independent or strong-willed than others and may require more patience and consistency in training. However, overall, Boxers are known to be intelligent and eager to please, which can make them receptive to training. With consistent, positive reinforcement training techniques, many Boxers can learn quickly and enjoy learning new commands and tricks. It is important to start training and socializing your Boxer at an early age to help them develop good habits and behaviors. It is also important to use positive reinforcement and avoid using harsh punishment or physical force, as this can lead to fear and mistrust.

Is a Boxer a high-maintenance dog?

Boxer dogs can be considered moderate to high maintenance in terms of their grooming and exercise needs. They have a short, smooth coat that requires weekly brushing to remove dead hair and maintain their shiny appearance. They also shed their coats year-round, so regular grooming is necessary to keep their shedding under control. In terms of exercise, Boxers are energetic and athletic breeds that require daily exercise and playtime to stay healthy and happy. They are known for their high energy levels and need at least an hour of physical activity each day to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. While Boxers do require regular grooming and exercise, they are generally friendly, loving, and affectionate pets that make great companions for the right owner. With the proper care and attention, Boxers can be rewarding and enjoyable pets.

Are Boxers as aggressive as Pitbulls?

No, Boxers are generally not as aggressive as Pitbulls. While all dogs have the potential to display aggressive behavior, it is important to remember that aggression is not a breed-specific trait and can be influenced by a variety of factors, including genetics, socialization, training, and environment. Boxers are known to be energetic, playful, and affectionate and can make great family pets with the right training and socialization. Pitbulls, on the other hand, have a reputation for being more aggressive and have been involved in more dog bite incidents than some other breeds. However, it is important to note that aggression is not an inherent characteristic of any breed and that individual dogs of any breed can display aggressive behavior. It is up to the owner to properly train and socialize their dog to prevent aggressive behavior.
More on Dog Health

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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.

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