Boxer Puppy on Grass

Getting to Know Your Boxer

Boxers are a beautiful and impressive looking breed. Despite their reputation as guard dogs, these guys tend to be wonderfully sweet and playful. However, they can be a little overly excited sometimes so firm (but fun) training is very important.

Learn more about the specifics of this breed in this guide so that you can make the right decision for you and your family!

Physical Characteristics

Bread as working dogs and guard dogs, boxers are a medium to large breed with a strong, powerful build. They’ll typically reach a height of about 2 feet or a little under and they’ll grow to a max weight of around 60 or 70 pounds.

Boxer on All 4

They’ve got a short, sleek coat to cover their muscular and athletic build. They tend to be either a tan/mahogany color or they’ll have a striped pattern of black and tan (resembling a tiger).

In many cases, there will also be white markings on the feet and chest. If those markings cover more than a third of their body, they will not qualify for dog shows so if that’s something you want to do, keep this in mind while searching for your puppy.

Personality and Temperament

Originally bred as guard dogs, boxers are very loyal, adventurous and fearless. In fact, they were enlisted in the war efforts in both World War I and World War II as messengers, carriers, and guards!

However, don’t go assuming they are a fierce and vicious breed. Far from it. They are actually quite playful and patient, particularly with children. With their family and loved ones, they are extremely loving, affectionate, and can even be a bit of a jokester.

Boxer Hugging a Cat

Their “guard” traits such as alertness and watchfulness are reserved for suspicious threats to the ones they love.

While they will be a little wary around strangers, they will not become aggressive unless they feel that they (or you) are being threatened. Early socialization will ensure that they don’t take their guard duties too far.

Common Health Issues

Boxers are very robust and strong but there are some conditions they are at higher risk for than other breeds. That doesn’t mean they are definitely going to get them. It just means you’ll want to know the symptoms so you can catch a problem early if it does happen.

Cute Boxer Puppy Eyes

So here are the main things you’ll want to watch for and take steps to prevent if possible:

  • Boxers, especially those with a lot of white markings are prone to sunburns and can develop skin cancer. Apply sunscreen before going out on very sunny days. They are also prone to brain tumors and lymphoma. There is less you can do to prevent those. Just focus on providing a healthy lifestyle for your dog with lots of exercise and healthy food.
  • Aortic or Sub-Aortic Stenosis. This is a fairly common heart defect that is found in boxers. The aorta becomes too narrow making it harder for the heart to pump blood. It can cause sudden death. Symptoms include fainting and fatigue. It is genetic so your dog will either be born with it or not get it at all.
  • About 20% of fully white (or mostly white) boxers will be deaf or hard of hearing. There’s nothing to do to prevent this and they can still lead perfectly happy lives. But it is helpful to know whether or not your dog is deaf as it allows you to adapt to his needs and develop a nonverbal communication early on.

Basic Care Instructions

Caring for a boxer has its hard parts and easy parts as with any breed. Here are the basics:

  1. Feed him 2 to 3 cups of dry food per day depending on activity level. Divide this into at least 2 separate meals.
  2. Despite their build, these dogs are sensitive to heat and cold so they are better suited to be indoor dogs (that have frequent opportunities for exercise) and should definitely not be kept outside for extended periods.
  3. They need at least 60 minutes of exercise per day in the form of vigorous playing or walking. The more exercise the better as a tired out boxer is less likely to get into trouble in the house!
  4. In terms of grooming, boxers are very low maintenance. Like cats, they clean and groom themselves.  Their fur is quite short so they won’t need trims or baths as often.
  5. If you want to keep shedding under control, daily or weekly brushings are recommended.

Boxers respond best to a mixture of positive and negative reinforcement. They should not fear you but it’s also important that they know to respect you as the alpha in the household. Otherwise, they may come to believe that they are the one who’s in charge.

Boxer Puppys Running Towards Camera

So make sure to balance out rewarding the desired behaviors with punishing the bad behaviors. But, most importantly, make sure you are doing both correctly. Here is a great resource for training tips specifically meant for boxers.

Final Word

Boxers can be a wonderful addition to the family but they will want to be a big part of that family so if you know your dog will have to spend multiple hours each day home alone, you’ll want to choose a more independent breed (or, you know, just get a cat).

Also, you need to be prepared to commit to regular and consistent training from an early age because trying to train this energetic pooch when it’s full grown will be more than a handful.

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