Known for their big, square heads, lithe bodies and bouncy personalities, Boxers are a well-loved dog breed and loyal and devoted to their owners. Originally bred in Germany and Belgium and descending from the Bullenbeiser, a now extinct German bulldog bred to hunt bears, deer and wild boar, Boxer Dogs are sturdy and strong. They are a part of the Molosser family of dogs, defined by their solid bodies and short muzzles. The first ever Boxer Club was founded in Munich in 1895 and they were introduced to the rest of Europe a few years later. Often used as messenger dogs during WW1, they became popular pets in the UK and Ireland after WW2, when soldiers returning from the war brought them home with them. The name Boxer is said to come from the stories of an English traveller who wrote of the dogs’ tendency to raise their paws while fighting.
Boxer Dog Size and Weight
Heavy and sometimes bullish, Boxers usually stand between 21 and 25 inches tall and weigh an average of 25-32kg.
Boxer Dog Personality
Boxer Dogs are usually friendly, cheerful dogs who are brave, determined and bold. Because they are so fiercely loyal to their owners and have a natural instinct to protect their families they make great guard dogs, and as natural watch dogs they usually bark when they see or hear something they don’t recognise or feel uncomfortable about. Despite their protective traits and loud, deep barks, they are usually kind natured and good with children and smaller dogs- although males can exhibit alpha behaviour and fight others of the same size and sex if not properly socialised. Because they are so bouncy and full of energy, they can come across as scatty so need proper exercise and good training from an early age and require strong leadership to avoid bullish and dominant behaviour. They love to run and jump and can bowl people over when over excited, so it’s wise to prepare any visitors prior to attending the home and consider keeping the dogs in a separate room for the first few minutes.
Although they can be slightly bonkers when younger, Boxer Dogs mellow with age and are often thoughtful, calm companions in later life.
Boxer Dog Training and Temperament
Boxers can be dominant and headstrong and some people find them overpowering, so they need to be well trained from an early age and require proper socialisation to understand how to behave around other dogs and learn not to jump all over visitors. They usually respond well to training and like to please their owners, learning particularly well from positive reinforcement, clicker training and problem solving. They like to be led by their owners, looking up to their “master”, and the best way to do this is in a friendly, upbeat but firm manner.
Children and other pets
Boxers are cuddly, affectionate gentle giants, usually very good with children and smaller pets. It’s not uncommon to find a Boxer Dog snuggling up with a young child, puppy or even a cat, and for all their bullishness they seem to understand when someone is much smaller than them. Problems can arise with dogs of the same size and males can be aggressive with each other, so attending good puppy training classes are essential if you want a well-mannered dog.
Nutrition and Feeding
Boxers are prone to a variety of health complaints so it’s important to feed them a diet rich in protein, vitamins and minerals to keep them as healthy as possible- particularly when they are growing. Adult Boxers eat a lot of food and even though the ideal shape is sleek and muscular, they can gain weight quickly so it’s important not to over feed them. Depending on the size and age of your Boxer, you should feed them between one and a half and six cups of good quality food a day split between two meals. Avoid giving them scraps or table food, which can be detrimental to their health and cause obesity. Because they tend to need more food than other dog breeds, it’s important to consider the cost implications before bringing a Boxer Dog into your family- as with any other pet, this is a long term commitment and it’s essential to be sure you can afford to look after them all their life.
Boxer Dog Coat and Grooming
The coat of a Boxer is short, sleek and close to the body, and as a result they require minimal grooming. Despite this, they are still quite prone to shedding, so a weekly brush with a bristled brush or mitt is advisable. Most common Boxer Dog colours are fawn, mahogany and brindle, and they often have a white blaze (or “flash”) on their coats. Traditionally, white Boxers were considered to be less desirable than the other colours so white Boxer puppies were sadly euthanised at birth- this is now unacceptable practice but there is still a higher number of white Boxers in rescue centres than the other varieties. Because they do not carry the gene necessary for a solid black coat, there are no pure black Boxer Dogs.
Boxers are bouncy, boisterous and incredibly energetic so require a lot of exercise and hate being left for long periods of time. Be prepared to take your dog for two good walks a day and a longer run out once a week- but due to their short muzzles they can become short of breath quickly, so keep a close eye on them and use common sense when it comes to exercise.
Boxer Dog Life Expectancy
Unfortunately Boxer Dogs can be prone to a wide range of health issues and live shorter lives than other dog breeds- 10 to 12 years is their average life span. Common health complaints in Boxers include acne, cancers, ear infections, heart conditions, back, hip and joint problems and Pyloric Stenosis; a stomach condition which causes vomiting and diarrhoea. Even though they can get ill, this long list doesn’t mean they necessarily will- and it’s very rare to find a dog who has all of these conditions. They may not live as long as other dogs but Boxers are fantastic dogs who have a lot to give, and if you’ve got the time, energy and love they deserve, they won’t let you down.