Boxer

A cheerful and energetic dog, a Boxer is a fun-loving dog with a sense of humor. Always ready for a game, an adventure, or just a romp, Boxers are great companions for active individuals and families. Your devoted boxer will want to be a part of all of the fun, and often will make himself the center of attention. If you plan to bring one of these delightful dogs into your home, be sure that you have the time and energy to devote to this very active breed. While many breeds grow out of their puppy stage quite quickly, Boxers are "perpetual puppies" and will maintain their puppy-like exuberance for several years.

Boxer Close-up
Dog. Original image by user foshydog on Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
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Though they were once bred as guard dogs, Boxers are now loyal family companions. For some members of the breed, some of that guard dog history remains and they can have a protective streak. To ensure that your dog is happy and well socialized, he should be introduced to strange people, pets, and situations at a young age and in a positive way. Choosing a dog with a personality that fits your living situation is also important. Some Boxers are more protective than others, just as some are more energetic than others. Be sure to work with your breeder or rescue to find a dog that will be the best companion for your family.

Key Breed Stats

Alternative names: The Boxer breed is also commonly known by the names German Boxer,Deutscher Boxer.

Popularity: Very popular

Life expectancy: 10 - 11 years

Breed group: Working Dogs (AKC), Working Dogs (KC)

Size: Medium

Male Female
Height 22 - 25 in 21 - 23 in
Weight 66 - 75 lbs 53 - 62 lbs

Coat:

Colors: Brindle, White, Fawn

Key Breed Facts

Shedding: Heavy shedder

Grooming requirements: Minimal

Good with children: Yes

Good with other pets: Average

Intelligence / Trainability: High

Exercise needs: Very high

Tolerates being alone: Absolutely not

Hunting drive: Average

Suited as Guard dog: Average

Sensitivity: Very sensitive

Good for novice owners: Average

Hypoallergenic breed: No

Drooling: Low

Barking: Average

General health: Below average

Cost to keep: Average

History

Boxers are part of the Molosser dog group that came about in the late 1800's. They are descended from the now extinct Bullenbeisser, a Mastiff-type dog, as well as the older generations of the Bulldogs bred for bull baiting. The Brabanter Bullenbeiser, a smaller, faster version of the dog originally bred to hunt bear, wild boar, and deer is considered to be a direct ancestor of today's Boxer. In 1897, three Germans, Friedrich Robert, Elard König, and R. Höpner founded the Deutscher Boxer Dog Club and published the first Boxer breed standard in 1904. Today's Boxers are very similar to the dogs outlined in this original breed standard.

It is commonly thought that the name "Boxer" comes from the dog's tendency to play while standing on its hind legs and "boxing" with its front legs. This is most likely untrue. There are several other theories about the name involving the evolution of the word "Boxer" from different dialects. One of the most widely accepted of those theories is the Brabanter Bullenbeiser dogs were also known as "Boxl" and the name "Boxer" is derived from that word.

The first Boxer was registered by the American Kennel Club in the United States in 1904. During World War I, Boxers were used as messengers, pack-carriers, attack dogs, and guard dogs. After the war, soldiers brought Boxers home with them and their popularity as family dogs, companions, and guardians grew.

Appearance

Upon first impression, the Boxer appears strong, agile, and energetic. He is a stylish, intelligent, dignified, and exuberant dog.
Typical characteristics are:


  • Boxers have a beautiful head with a short, blunt muzzle, dark brown eyes, ears that lift when alert, an undershot jax, and a broad, black nose.

  • Muscular body that is short and slightly sloping.

  • A docked tail is high set.

  • Short, tight, and shiny coat.

  • Colors: Fand and brindle. Fawn colors range from light to mahogany.

Temperament

Intelligence/Trainability

Boxers are intelligent dogs, quick to learn, but they are not considered easy to train. They tend to have a mind of their own and benefit from a firm, kind, and consistent hand. They do not respond well to harsh training methods and training will be most successful if you make it "fun" for your dog. Boxers are not recommended for novice dog owners.

As with all intelligent breeds, Boxers require an outlet for their energy and intelligence. In short, they do best with plenty of exercise and a job, even if that job is simply chasing a ball or accompanying you on walks.

Activity

Boxers are exuberant, playful, comical, and high-energy dogs that require a fair amount of exercise. 20-30 minutes of vigorous exercise twice per day is enough to keep your Boxer healthy and happy. Boxers mature slowly, and that rambunctious "puppy phase" is likely to last several years.

Because of their short muzzles, they may have trouble breathing in hot and cold weather. Take special care when exercising your Boxer in extreme temperatures.

Boxers are susceptible to certain bone disorders like hip dysplasia. Keep your puppy on soft surfaces like grass and keep play on hard surfaces to a bare minimum until your puppy is at least two years old.

Independence

Boxers are wonderful family dogs and need to be around their people as much as possible. They will not appreciate being left alone for long periods of time. Loneliness and lack of attention/exercise may result in undesirable and destructive behaviors.

Protective

A Boxer's protective instincts vary widely from dog to dog. While most are watchful protectors that will notice a threat, some are friendly to everyone.

Living Conditions

Boxers are fairly large, energetic dogs that require a lot of exercise, so apartment living is not necessarily ideal. They love to have a large space to run and play. However, because they are not prone to barking and are generally friendly dogs, they can adjust to apartments and smaller homes, as long as you are able to give him the proper amount of exercise.

Because of their short noses and short, thin coats, Boxers are not "outside" dogs. In the summer, they need a cool place to get out of the heat and in the winter they may need protective clothing when they are outside, and, of course, a warm home to get out of the weather.

Children and Other Pets

Boxers love children but may be too enthusiastic around younger children. They are large, playful dogs, so caution should be taken around small children (under the age of 6) as they could easily knock over a child while playing.


  • Young children may unintentionally invade the personal space of your dog and are unable to interpret the warning signals of your dog.

  • Dogs consider the family as a pack, and may consider the younger children as subordinates and may try to correct them.

  • Young children are very time-consuming. They may take away from the time you have to spend with your dog and he may become bored or frustrated.

Keep in mind that all children should be taught how to interact correctly with ANY dog and should never be left unsupervised.

Boxers get along well with other dogs and pets, especially of they were raised with them. As with any dog, early, proper socialization with dogs and other animals is important.

Health

The average life expectancy of a Boxer is between 10 - 11 years. Like all breeds, the Boxer is prone to certain hereditary health conditions. A responsible breeder will only breed with dogs that have been cleared for these conditions. A Boxer is prone to these diseases:
  • Hypothyroidism (hereditary)
  • Corneal Dystrophy (hereditary)
  • Demodectic Mange (hereditary)

Grooming

Boxers have a sleek, short coat that is easy to groom. In fact, many boxers have been known to groom themselves, much like cats.

They need to be brushed once a week, to keep the shedding under control; with their short coat, it's very easy. This especially true in Spring and Autumn when they shed the most.

They don’t really need a bath too often. If they are dirty, just wipe them clean with a wet sponge. When you bathe them, make sure to use a dog-specific shampoo that maintains the skin's natural PH balance.

Teeth brushing two or three times per week (daily is best) helps prevent tartar build up and teeth problems.

Nail trimming is an important part of grooming if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally. Once or twice a month should suffice. Trimming a dog's nails too close can cause bleeding and pain, so it is important to trim carefully or seek the help of a vet or groomer.

Ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad smell and the outer ear should be cleaned with a cotton ball and an ear cleaner designed specifically for dogs. Additionally, any time they get wet, ears should be checked and cleaned.

All puppies and dogs should be groomed regularly (preferably weekly) and have their paws, ears, and mouth handled and examined frequently so that they become comfortable with the process. This way, you will quickly become aware of any problems that arise and your dog will be easy to handle for the vet, groomer, and any treatments that are required throughout its lifetime.

Feeding

Boxers are large, generally high-energy dogs, so they will require a fair amount to eat. 2-3 cups of high-quality, dry dog food fed in two daily meals is a good starting point, but other factors need to be taken into consideration. Higher quality dog foods may require less food, as more of the food is digested properly. In addition, higher energy dogs will require more food, while more sedentary dogs may require less.

Puppies have special feeding requirements. Use food specifically designed for puppies. Adult dog food contains too much calcium, which will increase the risk for hip and elbow dysplasia. Don’t overfeed your puppy, as overweight puppies also have an increased risk for dysplasia. Puppies need to be fed 3 to 4 times a day. This might seem like a hassle, but it will help when it comes to housebreaking. A puppy’s digestive system works very fast. Five to 30 minutes after his meal, he will need to go out to do his business.

Just like any other breed, they need to have free access to fresh, clean water at all times.

Older dogs, like puppies, might need a diet adapted to their needs. In some cases, it is advisable to feed them smaller portions 3 to 4 times a day.

When changing your dog’s diet, it’s recommended to do it gradually over a period of a few days to avoid stomach problems.

Avoid exercise 1 hour before and after the meal, to reduce the risk of gastric torsion (bloat).