The Boxer — What to Expect of This Dog Breed

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The Boxer is most of all a people dog, it is trusting, loyal and devoted to its owner. The boxer is basically a quiet dog, but always the guard dog. They need lots of exercise and attention. Boxers love to play and are great with children. They can be very sensitive to their owners need and when called upon can be courageous.


In the early 1800s a German writer wrote “A different kind of Bullenbeisser is being established in Brabant. These are more of a medium size being somewhat than other Bullenbeissers, but are the same as to limbs and general construction and are called ‘Bullenbeisser.'” The author goes on to tell us that the new dogs hunt and bait bear, make good watchdogs, had short noses with black MUZZLES, protruding lower jaws and was black and yellow striped in color.

In 1836 another writer bragged about the great courage of the Bullenbeisser. He went on to describe it as a square dog, having a short head and being fawn in color. The smaller Bullenbeisser soon became adopted by butchers and cattle dealers for their great ability to bull-bait. Circus people used these dogs in there acts during in the 1800s, they found these dogs to be intelligent and easily trained. Many people became aware of the breed because of its supreme temperament, guarding abilities and hunting instincts. It wasn’t until the English Bulldog (more like a small Mastiff at that time) came to Germany that the white gene was introduced to the Bullenbeisser.

Early History

An English Bulldog named Tom sired a white female that became the dam of Meta Von der Passage. Meta Von der Passage was white with brindle patches, she became one of the greatest producing bitchs in the boxer breed. The boxer can trace its lines back to six specific animals, the bitchs being Alt’s Flora, her great great granddaughter Meta Von der Passage and Mirzl. The stud dogs were Flock St Salvadore, Wotan and Bosco Immergrun. In 1896 the first Boxer club was started in Munich, Germany. It didn’t take long for the appeal of the Boxer to grow world wide. The first boxer to win a championship in the United States was Sgr. Damph Von Dom in 1915. In 1935 the American Boxer Club was founded.

Coat, correct grooming and bathing

The Boxer is a very easy dog to groom. He will clean himself naturally and should not be bathed often. When you do bath your boxer use a mild shampoo. Bathing too often could remove essential oils from your Boxer’s skin. Toenails should be clipped often and teeth and gums checked weekly. Facial whiskers, back of tail, ears and stray hairs on belly, legs, etc., are trimmed on Boxers for the show ring.

Bringing home your puppy

Before you bring the puppy home you should have bought a crate, collar, lead, bowl, and chew toys. The puppy and you will need a few days to get adjusted to the changes. The puppy needs to be checked by a veterinarian in the first 72 hours, the vet will explain about vaccinations and any medications the puppy might need. Crating is one of the best ways to aid in housebreaking your new puppy. It also gives the puppy a bed and safe haven of its own.

A Boxer puppy will chew anything, a crate with chew toys is much safer than leaving the puppy alone in the house. The house should be went through and puppy proofed, just like you would for a small child. The breeder should have told you the kind of puppy food she was using, if you plan on changing the food its best to change it gradually over a few days to keep from giving the puppy an upset stomach.

Socializing and Training of your puppy

Boxers are intelligent and energetic animals. Every Boxer should have at least one basic obedencience class. They have to learn their position in the family and act correctly. Socialization with people and other dogs is very important with puppies. The AKC offers the canine good citizen (CGC) award to encourage owners to train their dogs. The dog must be able to sit for petting, accept a stranger, have a nice appearance and be groomed, walk on leash, walk through a crowd, under supervision separate from owner, not disturbed by distractions, come, not react to another dog and be able to sit and stay on command. Training aids are in abundance, its just finding the ones that will meet your needs.

Potential health risks

Demodectic Mange

Also known as red mange. The demodex mite is passed from the dam to her puppies. The localized form of demodex is characterized by a few spots that do not itch. These patchs usually appear on head, neck and fore limbs. Ninety percent of those puppies that develop localized demodex will heal on their own. Ten percent of those puppies will go on to have generalized demodex. The American Academy of Veterinary Dermatology passed a resolution in 1983 suggesting that all dogs with generalized demodex should be neutered or spayed.


Bloat is a life threatening emergency. Sometimes for unknown reasons Boxers develop bloat. Bloat is usually connected with the rapid ingestion of a meal or a lot of water. The stomach distends with air and gas, you may notice that the boxer’s abdomen looks swollen. The dog may try to vomit and relieve himself. If you suspect bloat get your boxer to a vet immediately.

Aortic Stenosis

A narrowing of aortic valve that causes obstruction of blood flow into circulation which makes the heart work harder and the wall in the left ventricle thickens. The defect can occur below the aortic valve and thus is referred to as sub aortic stenosis.


This is a disease of the heart muscle itself. It causes reduction in the force of heart contractions and thus causes a decrease in the circulation of blood thru lungs and rest of body. The disease may be caused by many reasons: infectious (viral), metabolic, malnutrition, toxic degenerative or unknown reasons. Cardiomypathy is thought to be congenital in Boxers.


The thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. This can affect many organs including the heart. Some symptoms are hair loss, obesity, dry skin, and infertility. The replacement of thyroid hormone will relieve the symptoms but will need to be given the rest of the dog’s life.


Boxers are at a high risk for tumors. It is a good idea to check your Boxer often for any growth or unusual medical developments. Always consult with your vet if you notice anything unusual.

Gingival Hyperplasia

This is an overgrowth of gum tissue, seen in some older Boxers. Always consult vet to rule out malignancy. Your Boxer should have plenty to chew on. Some people use bones, but for the teeth, nylabones and gummabones should be preferred. After six months of age the Boxers teeth should be brushed daily to prevent plaque and calculus build-up.

Proper nutrition for puppy

Make sure that water is always available. A boxer puppy should be fed a good quality puppy food. A puppy should be fed 3 or 4 times daily until at least six months of age.

Proper nutrition for the adult

A quality adult food is suggested for the full grown Boxer. He or she should be fed twice a day. There are many treats, and vitamin supplements available, but if your Boxer is getting a quality food these are not necessary. Some people prefer to feed a diet of special home cooked meals.

Special nutritional requirements for skin, coat, or allergies

There are many supplements available for skin and coats. Lamb and Rice foods are suggested for food allergies. Sometimes a special diet food may be required. Boxers are known to get hives, its can be caused by food allergies and/or other factors.


There is one drug commonly used in anesthetic protocols that should not be used in the Boxer. The drug is Acepromazine, a tranquilizer, which is often used as a preanesthetic agent. In the Boxer, it tends to cause a problem called first degree heart block, a potentially serious arrhythmia of the heart. It also causes a profound hypotension (severe lowering of the blood pressure) in many Boxers that receive the drug.

White Boxer

Around 25% of all Boxer puppies are born white. Deafness and blindness has been associated with the white gene, because of this many breeders elect to put the whites down. The white boxer does not meet the Boxer standards, but in every other way is a Boxer and as such deserves a good home. White boxers are NOT rare and any breeder that advertises as such needs an education on the breed.

Ear Cropping

Whether or not to have the ears cropped is a personal decision that must be made by each individual owner. People are attracted to different breeds because of their unique appearances and cropped ears are often an important part of what people think a boxer should look like. Others may not want to risk anesthesia in their new puppy and be perfectly content with the softer look of pendulous ears. Although pendulous ears can have a higher incidence of ear infection, this is easily prevented with good hygiene and a preventive ear cleaning program as a part of routine grooming. The cost of ear cropping can range from around $80 to $200 depending on the locale and the reputation of the surgeon.

Aftercare adds more cost and many trips to the breeder or veterinarian for the taping procedure which “teaches” the ears to stand. Complications can include infection, improper taping (which can cause ear tips or whole ears to lose blood supply and slough or fall off), and failure to stand (caused by improper taping or inadequate taping, assuming the crop is a good one). A commitment must be made to follow the recommended taping procedures to achieve optimum results.

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