The Boxer dog is a large, heavily-built breed, when you first meet one, it will only be natural to feel a bit of fear in you. That is, until you look into the Boxer’s eyes and find out that this dog is pretty playful, loyal, and gentle. They are so playful, in fact, that Boxers are sometimes called the Peter Pan of the dog world. One reason this is so is that Boxers do not fully mature until they are three years old, which means that they have one of the longest puppyhoods among all dog breeds.
Boxers are typically intelligent, very alert, and brave, but they are also quite friendly to people who are close to them. They are deathly loyal to their human family, and want nothing more than to please them. However, Boxers can also be quite headstrong, which will be especially evident when you use negative reinforcement when training them.
Boxers need minimal grooming, and they are well known for being extremely patient and gentle with young kids. As long as you give them enough exercise, mental stimulation, and lots of love, Boxers can be great family companions. In addition, if you are willing to make adjustments in your lifestyle, and provide your Boxer with enough exercise in the form of long walks and runs in the morning and/or evening, they could also adjust to living in an apartment.
Boxers are considered by the AKC, a medium-sized dog breed. Many would assume that it is a large dog breed as they are so massive and muscular. This is why there is so much confusion about the Boxer’s actual size.
The term “medium” is a blanket term that is used to describe the overall physique of the dog. This applies to dogs that weigh from 35 to 65 pounds.
However, dogs with similar weights can have vastly different body structure, frame size, and musculature. You need to keep in mind that these are just the standards set for the breed. These dogs can either be a bit smaller or larger than the standard. Also, Boxers grow quite rapidly; a three month old puppy looks very different from one that is six months old.
Here are the standard sizes for Boxers:
Full-grown males can weigh between 60 and 70 pounds, while their height can vary from 22 to 25 inches measured from the shoulder.
Females are a bit smaller, they weigh between 55 to 65 pounds, and can stand 21 to 24 inches from the shoulder.
Their neck sizes can range from 13 to 22 inches.
At first glance, one might assume that the Boxer is an aggressive dog breed, based just upon their looks. However, they are actually playful and very loyal to their human families; you will find a gentle soul behind that muscular build and imposing presence.
Boxers typically display almost the same personalities as each other. These dogs are usually very courageous and energetic, which makes training them quite a challenge. But they are also loving, loyal and affectionate towards their humans, so all that training will be more than worth it. With that said, you need to have a flexible schedule so you can spend a lot of time with your Boxer pup should you decide on owning own.
Boxers thrive on companionship, and they really do not like being left alone for hours on end. If you fail to provide your Boxer pup with enough attention and companionship, he can develop problematic behavior issues when he grows up.
Because Boxer dogs are a working breed, they tend to be quite independent and have a mind of their own, which makes them quite challenging to train. For you to break through this dog breed’s stubbornness, you need to start his training as early as possible, to establish early on that you’re the head of the household.
If you let a Boxer grow up without proper training, he will think that he is the boss of the family and will do as he pleases, often displaying destructive behavior and lashing out at you when you try to scold him.
Training a Boxer can be a challenge, most especially if you have a particularly hyper puppy. You need to be consistent and firm when you are training your Boxer pup. As long as you can devote enough time and patience, you will be rewarded with a well-behaved puppy in no time.
The temperament and personality of a Boxer can change a lot depending on the amount of exercise and physical activity that it gets every day. Be forewarned though, Boxers are known to have a huge store of energy and will require a significant amount of physical activity, so you need to adjust your schedule accordingly in order to provide your pup with enough exercise.
Boxers tend to have a lot of pent up energy, which is why they need to have a consistent daily outlet to help them release most of it. This dog breed loves to go on long walks and runs, if they do not get to release enough of their energy, they will tend to become destructive.
While they are still puppies, Boxers require at least 45 minutes to an hour of physical activity every day. Although they can thrive in a small apartment, Boxers will be a whole lot happier in a home with a spacious backyard where they can play for as much as they want until they expend all of their excess energy.
Just like any other dog breed, the temperament and personality of Boxers will depend on how they are socialized, trained, and their genes. You cannot do much about the genetic makeup of your Boxer pup, other than choose from the litter of a good pair of parents, but you can do something about their socialization and training.
Socializing your dog
It is important that you start to socialize your Boxer pup while he is still very young. This way he will feel comfortable in the presence of family and friends, and will also be eager to go on walks and play dates with other dogs. A properly socialized Boxer will have an extroverted personality, which will allow him to know how to deal with different kinds of situations that arise every day.
You should expose your dog to as many new people, take him to new places, and allow him to experience new things while he is still a young pup. Whether it is taking a walk through the park or taking him on car rides when you’re running errands, as long as your pup gets used to daily activities, he will grow up well-mannered and calm.
Training your dog
As mentioned several times before, Boxers are not easy to train, but that does not mean that they are impossible. Anything is possible as long as you have enough patience and you are consistent with your training. As the owner, you need to establish your role as the head of the household while the pup is still young. Boxers tend to be hard headed and independent when they lack training; they will ignore commands and will lash out when their owners try to discipline them.
Another important element in properly training a Boxer pup is to use positive reinforcement. Using negative reinforcement will only make the dog resent you. Prevent this from happening by using praise and affection as rewards for successfully doing what he was told. You can also use treats liberally to reinforce the training even more.
The Boxer’s roots can be traced to a now extinct dog breed, the Bullenbeisser, which is a Mastiff-type breed. The Boxer breed had one heck of a journey from when it was first bred into existence to becoming one of the most popular dog breeds in the world today.
The reason the Boxer was created was because the breeders back then wanted to create the perfect dog; a dog that was very strong, could hunt and hold down prey animals larger than themselves and hold them down long enough so their human partners could deliver the finishing blow. This would explain why Boxers have very active personalities and a seemingly unlimited reserve of energy.
The first Boxer came into existence in the early 1800’s, when dog breeders cross-bred a Bullenbeisser (an extinct breed of Mastiff dogs) and an English Bulldog. The Bullenbeisser dog was a large Mastiff-like dog that was used primarily for hunting.
The features that people love about the modern Boxer actually served a purpose; they were bred to become an effective hunting dog:
- Their wide underbite jaw allowed the Boxer to latch onto its target prey animal and hold on until it tired out or until his master arrived to deal the final blow on the animal.
- The side flaps on either side of the face were believed to prevent the blood of their prey from spraying into the dogs’ eyes causing them to release their bite. Although the validity of this claim is still up to debate, this feature was continuously bred into the Boxer breed.
- The large nose with open nostrils that is set back into the Boxer’s face was purportedly created so that the dog could still breath while its jaws were still locked onto its prey. Today, modern veterinary medicine knows that flat-faced dogs actually have trouble breathing, something that they did not know back then.
The Boxer was bred to be the ultimate hunting dog; a breed that has exemplary strength and “beneficial” physical features that give him the advantage over other dog breeds. Even the coloring of its fur was carefully thought of; the brindling coloration gave the Boxer a natural camouflage that allows the dog to hide among the tall grasses and behind the trees.
The Germans refined the breed, their goal was to increase the Boxer’s size and make it even more brave. Once the bravery of the Boxer dog became more evident, people started using them as guard dogs. After just a couple of generations, the focus of the breed turned from hunting, and they became popular as guard dogs, and eventually they became family companions.
The move from guard dogs to companions was quite quick; the Boxer’s loyalty and good temperament (with proper training) made them great indoor pets, companions, and family pets.
The popularity of the Boxer breed skyrocketed when people found out that they made great pets. It got so famous that in 1895, the first Boxer breed dog club was established in the city of Munich, Germany. By the 1900s, the breed found its way in the USA, and the American Kennel Club immediately recognized the breed’s merits, and officially placed it in the official records in 1904.
In the First World War, the armies used Boxers as pack animals, as attack dogs, and also for delivering messages. After World War II, the Boxer got even more famous, with soldiers from all over the world bringing pups back home with them after the war ended.
The origin of the Boxer’s name is still unclear, and there are a couple of opposing theories that are still being discussed these days. Some people believe that the name “Boxer” came from the dog’s ability to stand on its hind legs with its forelegs flailing in the air while they played. The name came from the way the dog mimicked the movements of human boxers. Other theories suggest the name came from the name of its ancestor, the Bullenbeisser, which was shortened to just “Boxi”, and eventually it became the “Boxer” that people know of today. Unfortunately, there are no historical records of how exactly the name came to be!
Boxer Health Problems
Boxers, although they look like strong dogs, are prone to a lot of diseases, most of which were brought about by the reckless breeding of the Boxer. Modern Boxers look very different from the first generation of the breed. Breeders, until now, bred the dogs to exaggerate their features and make them look more like perfect show dogs. This reckless breeding caused a myriad of health complications, you need to take note of these health issues when you are planning on getting a Boxer of your own.
Heart Disease – Boxers are very prone to serious heart issues. Because of their somewhat screwed-up genetic makeup, Boxers are very prone to Cardio Myopathy, a disease where the heart gets so weak that it can no longer pump blood around the body efficiently. Other heart diseases that are common in Boxers include Aortic Stenosis, which can be fatal and can suddenly kill the dog, and Dilated Cardiomyopathy, which causes the heart to grow in size. The latter usually happens to Boxers that are two to five-years-old.
Bloating – Stomach bloating is a health issue that is common in large dogs that have deep chests, but it is even more common in Boxers. When a dog is bloated, its stomach twists its stomach, which can cut the supply of blood to the body. Symptoms of bloating include excessive drooling, frequent vomiting, and in serious cases, the dog will turn away food.
Cancer – The Boxer breed is actually prone to a certain kind of cancer, the mast-cell cancer, which affects the lymph nodes. The Boxer is also prone to other types of cancer like cancer of the lymph nodes, skin cancer, reproductive organs, spleen, and the thyroid glands. It is important to catch cancer at the early stages so it can be treated immediately. You should make it a point to visit the Vet every month to catch the early symptoms when they rear their ugly heads.
Hip Dysplasia – This is another disease that came about because of haphazard breeding. To give the Boxer a good stance, breeders would breed dogs that had shorter back legs than forelegs to make them stand up elegantly. This caused the joints of the Boxer to develop improperly, often getting loose and cause the bones to scrape against each other. This is a very painful disease, and dogs are often prescribed painkilling medicine to help ease the pain.
Eye Diseases – Boxer dogs are prone to damage of the corneas of the eyes, this disease is called refractory superficial ulcers, and this is yet another painful condition.
Neurological Disease – Boxers are also prone to certain neurological diseases, and the most common one is called degenerative myelopathy, a disease that affects the spinal cord and the nerves of the hind legs. This disease makes it difficult for the dog to walk properly.
Hypothyroidism – This is a disease that affects the thyroid gland, impeding its functions, which results in low thyroid hormone levels. The common symptoms of this disease include sudden excessive shedding, accelerated weight gain, and also infertility.
Alopecia – This is a disease that is a result of the thyroid gland malfunctioning. Because of the resulting hormonal imbalance in Boxers, it causes them to shed fur uncontrollably.
Colitis – Boxers are also genetically predisposed to be prone to developing Histolytic Ulcerative Colitis, a disease that causes the colon to become inflamed. Symptoms of this disease include severe diarrhea containing mucus and blood.
Skin Disease – Boxers are prone to suffer from different kinds of food allergies and other substances in their surroundings, often causing serious skin infections. However, the most common skin ailment that Boxers suffer from is demodectic mange, which is a disease caused by parasites.
How To Care For Boxer
If you ask other Boxer owners, they will tell you how tender, playful, and caring these dogs are. Boxers are often called “forever pups” because of their endless stores of positivity and happiness, and also because they do not physically mature until they are three years old. It is important that Boxers receive basic obedience training while they are still young, so it will be easier for them to learn.
A Boxer puppy does not require any special treatment when it is re-homed. You just need to provide the puppy with a warm bed, enough water, a couple of toys and several brushes for grooming.
Nutrition And Feeding For Boxer
What kind of food you feed your Boxer will depend on the stage of growth they are currently in. Ideally, you should feed a Boxer food that is indicated as “nutritionally complete”, this will depend on the size and age of the dog. If you notice that your Boxer is hard to feed, even after changing from several different brands, you should consult with your veterinarian on what course of action you need to take.
Coat Color And Grooming For Boxers
The Boxer is one of the most interesting dog breeds in the world because they only come in three main colors: fawn, brindle, and white. They also have five different kinds of markings: black mask, black mask with white, brindle, or fawn markings.
The first three markings are standard, while the brindle and fawn markings are recognized by the AKC, but they are not considered standard.
Brindle is not technically a color, but a color pattern. The base of the brindle is fawn with stripes. The stripes can be light or dark, and thin or thick. Some brindles are so light that they can be mistaken as fawn, and some will be so dense that they look black. This is usually the case when people say they found Boxers that are black in color, there are no black Boxers. It is possible that they just saw a Boxer with an extremely dark brindle.
Since Boxers only have a single layer coat of fur, they do not shed that much. And when they do shed their fur, they will do so in small increments throughout the year. This means that you only need to give your Boxer pup a good brushing once or twice a week to get rid of any loose fur.
Children And Other Pets
When socialized and trained properly, Boxers can be great family companions. They might look scary, but they are quite gentle and can be great playmates for young children.
If you are thinking of adopting a rescue Boxer dog, there are a couple of groups that you can get in touch with:
Adopt a Boxer Rescue – www.adoptaboxerrescue.org
Boxer Freedom Ride Boxer Rescue – www.boxerfreedomride.org
Boxer Luv Rescue – www.boxerluv.org
Coastal Boxer Rescue – www.coastalboxers.org
If you want to learn more about your new Boxer pup, it would be best to join one of the many different Boxer breed groups, like:
American Boxer Club – www.americanboxerclub.org
Boxer Fan Club – www.boxerfanclub.com
Boxer Breed Council – www.boxerbreedcouncil.co.uk
The British Boxer Club – www.thebritishboxerclub.co.uk