Everything You Need to Know About the High-Spirited Boxer

Despite their muscled exterior and worried wrinkled expression, Boxers are lovable, high-spirited, energetic family dogs.

Also known as the German Boxer or Deutscher Boxer, these purebred dogs are a perfect blend of protective watchdog and sweet-tempered cuddler, making them great with kids

Smiling Boxer dog posing sideways

Is the Boxer the family guardian you need? Read on to learn all you need to know about these playful pups.

The history of the German Boxer 

Boxer dog relaxing on the lawn

Boxers originated in Germany in the late 19th century. They are related to the Mastiff and Bulldog breeds.

German Boxers most likely were bred down from the large hunting dog called a Bullenbeisser, which means bull biter.

These dogs were bred for bull-baiting, dog fighting, and big-game hunting, as they could easily take down bears and wild boars. 

Boxers are named after the sport of boxing because when they defend themselves, they stand on their hind legs and use their front paws to “box.”

This boxing behavior is still seen in modern Boxers, which makes playtime fun to watch. They love to paw at toys, dogs, or humans, almost like a cat would!

Although they were originally bred as fighting dogs, the modern Boxer is now known as a working dog, with its helpful, task-driven nature. Boxers even work as police dogs in Germany. 

The first Boxer club was founded in Munich in 1895. They developed the first Boxer standards to set a guide for breeding. They started a dog show to display their beloved Boxers.

After World War I, the modern Boxer arrived in the United States. American soldiers returned home from war with Boxer dog mascots. The crowds went wild and Americans fell in love with this breed.

The Boxer was one of the first breeds recognized by The American Kennel Club (AKC).

The AKC registered the Boxer breed in 1904 as part of the Working Group. Boxers are also recognized by the American Boxer Club

Boxers continued to gain popularity in the United States, where it has ranked in the top ten most popular breeds for the past decade. This purebred dog ranks 11 out of 196 in AKC breed popularity. 

What does a Boxer look like?

Adorable Boxer dog posing outdoor
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Boxer dogs look tough, with a broad chest, muscular body, and a jaunty walk. They have a powerful jaw with an underbite, a regal, brachycephalic (squashed) head, and a short muzzle.

Their droopy, dark brown eyes unveil their inner playful personality.

You may notice a slight difference between German Boxers and American Boxers. German Boxers have larger heads and a larger, more muscular build.

Boxers have ears that fold naturally. If you see a Boxer with their erect ears, it means they have been cropped. Similarly, they have naturally short tails, but some owners have the tails docked or removed.

The AKC states that cropping and docking maintain the breed characteristics, although more Boxer owners are leaving their pups au naturel.

How big do Boxer dogs get?

Boxers take three full years to reach adulthood. They are a medium to large-sized breed.

Adult male boxers are 23 to 25 inches tall (57-63 centimeters) and 65 to 80 pounds (30-36 kilograms).

Female Boxers are significantly smaller, measuring at a height of 21 to 24 inches (53-61 centimeters) and weighing 50 to 65 pounds (22-30 kilograms). 

Due to their size, Boxers do best in homes with an outdoor yard for them to explore and burn off some of their high energy levels.

They can adapt to apartment living as long as they have plenty of exercise every day.

For dog lovers who need a smaller dog, some breeders offer miniature Boxers. These are not actual purebred Boxers, but rather a mixed breed that offers some Boxer traits in a smaller package.

Mini Boxers grow to an average height of 15 to 22 inches (38-56 centimeters ) tall and weigh 25 to 55 pounds (11-25 kilograms). 

Boxers have short-haired coats

Boxers are known for their smooth, shiny, short coat. Their coats are either fawn (light tan, reddish-brown, or mahogany) or brindle (tiger-striped black lines on a fawn coat), or white.

Some Boxers may appear to have a solid black coat, but this is called reverse brindle. It just means that the brindle stripes are so thick that they mask the fawn coat underneath.

Boxer dog faces can have a solid black mask, a black mask with white markings, or just white markings. White markings are usually only on their feet and belly.

Close-up of cute Boxer dog's face
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Twenty to twenty-five percent of Boxers will be born with white coats.

The AKC sets a standard that Boxers should have two-thirds of their coats as fawn or brindle, making white boxers disqualified from participating in an AKC dog show.

White boxers are not albino. They have just inherited the extreme white spotting gene from both of their parents.

They lack the right amount of pigment and need some extra loving care to keep from getting UV damage.

White Boxer dog relaxing on the couch
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Temperament: Are Boxers good family dogs?

Despite their large, muscular, and powerful build, Boxers have an innocent heart of gold. They make excellent family dogs and beloved babysitters due to their protective and loyal temperament.

They are known as being “shadow” dogs, meaning they will follow their owners everywhere. 

Boxers are often enthusiastic and excitable. Owners have termed their wiggly shake “the kidney bean” dance because they twist their bodies into a semi-circle when they are happy.

Boxer dogs are affectionate, love to cuddle, and will cover you in slobbery kisses. They want to be as close to their human as possible.

They will often try to sit in their owner’s laps, despite their large size! Many owners laugh when their adult Boxer dogs still want to be held and snuggled like babies!

Boxers are the perfect family pet as they are gentle and patient with children. This even includes families with small children and infants.

Just ensure you train your Boxer not to playfully jump, as this could knock down and injure a small child.

Watch this lovable Boxer reach out to hold a baby’s hand with his paw:

Fun fact: Boxers are one of the fastest known dog breeds. They can run 38 to 45 miles per hour! Their gait is athletic and joyful at the same time.

Full of bubbling energy, they love to jump, twist, spin, and wiggle.

Are Boxers dangerous?

Despite their slightly menacing appearance, Boxers are not aggressive dogs.

With proper training and socialization, Boxers will not have any reason to lash out or display aggressive behavior.

Of course, there will be stories about Boxer attacks, but this is most likely due to an owner training their Boxer to be an aggressive attack dog.

Early socialization is important to help your Boxer puppy feel comfortable around other dogs and strangers.

Once socialized and trained, Boxers do well in homes with other pets, including cats, as long as they are raised with them.

Goofy Boxer dog

Boxers are courageous and fearless, making them excellent watchdogs.

They are always on alert and will become highly protective of their family. They will likely warn you when people are approaching your home.

Boxer dogs don’t bark excessively, although they are vocal and will growl and snort. They also communicate with a super cute “woo-woo” sound instead of a traditional bark.

Barking might increase if left home alone, which they do not enjoy.

Most Boxers will experience separation anxiety when left alone for long periods of time.

So keep in mind that they will need to be checked on by someone midday if you work long hours outside the home.

Are Boxers easy to train?

Boxers are intelligent and moderately easy to train. They need training to be firm, yet fun! Boxers tend to get bored easily, so mix it up and vary your approach to keep their curiosity satisfied. 

Focus on getting your Boxer to understand that you are the dominant pack leader, and they will be obedient. Do not reward any dominant behaviors, as this might lead to them bullying other pups. 

House training Boxer puppies is similar to any other breed, although their stubborn side might mean it takes up to a year to be fully accident-free.

The key is to be consistent, stay patient, and start early. It is much harder to unlearn or correct bad habits. Treats and praise will help your Boxer puppy be accident-free in no time. 

How to take care of your Boxer dog

Your goofy, energetic, loyal companion is low-maintenance when it comes to grooming and high-maintenance when it comes to lifestyle. Your boxer will drool, snore, take up space, and shed.

They are the right dog for active owners who are willing to spend time exercising. They need devoted attention and companionship. 

Exercising your Boxer dog breed

Active Boxer dog jumping near the river

Remember that Boxers take three years to fully mature to adult dogs. This means they have playful puppy energy for much longer than other breeds.

Daily exercise does not just mean a quick walk around the block. These pups thrive on energetic play.

Boxers require 40 minutes to an hour of exercise every day. This can be broken up into two daily walks for half an hour each and some interactive playtime.

A game of fetch or agility training will keep your Boxer stimulated mentally and physically.

Boxers are not natural swimmers. It’s a good practice to keep a swim vest on your Boxer if you are near a lake or pool. 

Boxers have a high prey drive, so make sure that exercise is contained in a fenced yard or on a leash walk. 

Boxers thrive when they are well-exercised. Defiant behaviors usually only arise when they are bored and under-exercised.

If you give your Boxer ways to burn off energy, he will relax and snuggle on the couch and will be compliant and obedient.

Otherwise, you’ll have a mischievous trouble-maker looking for destruction. 

Grooming your Boxer

The grooming needs of your Boxer are relatively easy and low maintenance.

However, you might find your house covered in drool. Boxers are known for excessive drool, so keep this in mind if you are grossed out by slobber.

While their short coat is easy to maintain, they do shed and therefore are not hypoallergenic.

You will need to vacuum frequently during their shedding season in the springtime. They will shed in small quantities daily for the rest of the year.

Cute Boxer dog getting bathed
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Boxers only need a bath once a month. They like to groom themselves like cats do. Boxers are known for being clean and non-smelly pups. They most likely will never need to see a professional groomer.

Clean out their wrinkles with a damp cloth and they will be good to go!

You will need to brush their fur once a week, especially if you find your pup is shedding. Look for a bristle brush or grooming mitt.

Use a nail grinder to keep their nails trim (you shouldn’t hear them click on the floor).

Don’t forget to brush their teeth at least twice a week! However, daily toothbrushing is best to prevent periodontal disease.

Boxers are not hardy outdoor dogs, despite their larger size. They are temperature sensitive. Their short nose makes hot weather difficult, and their short coat makes cold weather miserable.

They are best kept indoors unless it is for their daily walks or playtime at the dog park.

What do Boxers eat?

Feed your Boxer high-quality dog food and be sure to offer minimal treats. This breed can become obese if they overindulge in too many high-calorie treats.

This breed is known for excessive flatulence, so make sure you aren’t allowing your dog any table scraps, or you’ll be sorry!

Make sure that you are choosing the right type of food for the age of your dog (puppy, adult, senior). Nutritious food should include a whole protein as the main ingredient.

Grains may aggravate their sensitive stomachs. Boxers can be prone to allergies, so it is best to look for food without additives or food dyes.

Boxers do best with two meals per day. Most adult Boxers eat 2.5 to 3 cups of kibble per day.

To prevent bloat, offer your Boxer an elevated feeding station and a puzzle feeder to slow down the speed that they scarf down their food.

Cute Boxer dog smelling its treat
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Are Boxer dogs healthy?

Unfortunately, the Boxer breed is prone to health problems and genetic disorders.

They are considered a brachycephalic breed due to their squashed faces. This causes snoring, upper respiratory problems, and breathing issues. 

Respiratory Distress Syndrome is common in these breeds, so keep an eye on your Boxer when it’s exercising to ensure there is enough oxygen flow.

Consult with your veterinarian if you notice your pup is breathing too loudly, coughing, or having bluish lips and gums.

Boxers are prone to inherited heart disease. The most devastating disorder is Boxer cardiomyopathy, which is a fatal heart disease.

They also can inherit aortic stenosis or subaortic stenosis, which is a narrowing of the aortic valve.

There are recommended health tests that all breeders should screen for.

This includes hip and elbow evaluation (for joint problems and hip dysplasia), thyroid evaluation, AS/SAS Cardio, aortic valve disease, Boxer cardiomyopathy, ARVC DNA & degenerative myelopathy DNA test.

Boxers are susceptible to gastric dilation-volvulus or bloat, which is where their stomach can fill with air, causing gastric torsion if it gets severe.

Always keep an eye on your Boxer after eating to ensure they are digesting their food properly and are not in any pain.

Sleepy Boxer dog
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Cancer is the leading cause of death in this breed (who is ranked number-one purebred dog to develop mast cell tumors).

White Boxers are especially susceptible to skin cancer. Always put zinc-oxide free sunscreen on your light-colored pup when outdoors. 

Boxers can also inherit eye conditions like corneal dystrophy, where you may notice an opaque spot in the center of their cornea.

Demodectic mange is another genetic health issue to watch out for. The Demodex mite can cause red patches of scaly skin, bald spots, or infections.

Boxers are prone to allergies, which can cause itchy skin.

Lastly, it’s important to note that 20 percent of white Boxers are deaf, which is why white Boxers are not supposed to be bred. This also includes Boxers who carry the extreme white spotting gene.

A healthy Boxer has a lifespan of 10 to 14 years old. This may seem slightly shorter than other dog breeds and may be attributed to the long list of inherited health concerns.

Be sure to attend well-check appointments on a routine basis with your vet to discuss any health conditions.

Also, remember that a good diet and exercise regime will help keep your Boxer as healthy as possible, and this will help them reach their optimal life expectancy.

How much is a Boxer puppy?

Five Boxer dog puppies playing on a pile of wood

As with all purebred pups, there comes a hefty cost. The most important thing is to find a healthy dog from a reputable breeder.

Average Boxer litter size ranges from 5 to 10 puppies. Be prepared to pay anywhere from $800-$2,800 for your purebred Boxer puppy.

Boxer dog breeders

Due to the high number of genetic disorders in the Boxer breed, make sure you find your puppy from a breeder willing to show proof of genetic testing and health screenings of the parent pups.

Also, you can ask that the breeder prove that they abide by the American Boxer Clubs Code of Ethics.

How do you find Boxer puppies for sale near you?

Contact the American Boxer Club, Inc. for assistance in locating a preferred Boxer breeder near you. Or, visit the AKC Marketplace for a list of available Boxer puppies from reputable breeders.

Boxer dog rescue and adoption

Unfortunately, some dog owners do not do their research and the bouncy, high-energy needs turn out to be overwhelming. There are often Boxer dogs that need new homes.

Contact your local animal shelter to see if your forever companion is waiting for you!

Adopt-a-Pet or even Facebook groups can help you locate a Boxer in need of a home.

Or, check out these rescue groups devoted to the Boxer breed:

Other lovable Boxer mixes

  • Bullboxer Pit: This protective and loyal mix is the cross of a Boxer and a Pitbull.
  • Boxador: The lovable blend of a Boxer and a Labrador Retriever. 
  • Boxer Shepherd: The Boxer German Shepherd mix is a great guard dog.
  • Boxer Mixes: There are a wide variety of crossbreeds that include the clownish, fun-loving personality of the Boxer breed and have cute names like Bulloxer and Boggle!

Is the Boxer dog right for you?

Close-up goofy face of Boxer dog

Are you looking for a large goofball, full of high-spirited energy? Do you have what it takes to keep up with a mischievous personality?

Maybe you fell in love with the droopy eyes and wrinkly face, or have met a Boxer dog and was charmed by its silly personality.

There are plenty of reasons why the Boxer is one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States.

If all those reasons are true for you, then the Boxer might be the best dog for your family!

You are certain to gain a lovable companion that will always bring a clownish sense of humor to your household.

Remember that this breed needs consistent training and boundaries and plenty of daily exercise. If you can offer those things, your Boxer will love and protect your family with sweet devotion.

If you plan on spending long hours away from home and just want a lazy lapdog, look elsewhere. This pup needs constant companionship and space to play.

Also, their inherited genetic disorders may be a concern. Keep in mind that you may need to budget for pet health insurance.

Do you have a Boxer? Or thinking about getting one? Tell us about your experiences or thoughts below!

Further reading: Similar breeds to the Boxer

Are you still unsure that the Boxer is right for you but have your heart set on a purebred pup? Here are some similar breeds that share the lovable Boxer traits in different little packages:

  • Bullmastiff: Love the Boxer, but looking for an even larger dog? Check out the impressive Bullmastiff.
  • Boston Terrier: Love the Boxer, but looking for a smaller pup? Check out the lively little Boston Terrier, otherwise known as “The American Gentleman.”
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier: Love the Boxer, but looking for a slighter smaller build? Check out the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a dog known for being a great family dog.

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