Breed At A Glance


Fun-loving and protective

Life Expectancy
10-12 years

Average Height
21-25 inches

Average Weight
55-70 lbs

Coat Color
Fawn (red) and brindle, with white markings

Coat Length/Texture
Short, lying smooth and tight to the body

Shedding Propensity
Consistent year-round

Also known as German Boxer

General Temperament

The Boxer is an extremely loyal and energetic breed who love to enjoy the affection of their families. They carry themselves with pride and a stoic stance, but are playful and happy dogs at heart. Their extreme devotion, coupled with their alertness and excellent hearing, make the Boxer and excellent guard dog, although visitors that are known to them will be welcomed boisterously. The Boxer is patient and gentle with children they have been raised with, and as such they generally make great family dogs. But given their size, energetic nature, and tendency to “box” when playing, it may be wise to supervise during play times with smaller children. Boxers are deeply attached to their families and require an inordinate amount of attention and exercise. Leaving a Boxer alone for extended periods can lead to destructive behavior in an attemption to get attention. They prefer to sleep indoors with their families, particularly in colder climates where their short coats don’t protect them from the elements.

Obedience training is essential for the Boxer. Although they require a dominant owner who is capable of controlling them, they do not respond well to harsh treatment. Positive reinforcement works best with the Boxer. These dogs are not aggressive or vicious by nature, but they need socialization to tolerate other pets, including other dogs. Female Boxers can sometime attempt to dominate other female dogs.

Breed History

The Boxer was developed in Germany in the late 1800s from the now extinct Bullenbeisser (a dog of Mastiff descent) and Bulldogs brought in from England. The Bullenbeisser had been working as a hunting dog for centuries, employed in the pursuit of bear, wild boar, and deer, and served as the root stock for several other breed of large, solidly built dogs in addition to the Boxer. The term given to this collection of breeds is “Molosser,” a name deriven from Molossia, modern day Albania. The versatility of Boxers was recognized early on by the military, which has used them as valuable messenger dogs, pack carriers, and attack and guard dogs in times of war.

The Boxer was introduced to the U.S. at the begining of the 20th century, and was accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1904. In recent years, these strong and intelligent animals have been used as service dogs, guide dogs for the blind, therapy dogs, police dogs, and even herding cattle or sheep on occasion.

Body Structure and Composition

The most noticeable characteristic of the Boxer, beyond it’s notable size and strength, is it’s square head and muzzle with a lower jaw that extends past the upper jaw. It’s powerful body is also described as square, and is in proportion to it’s head. The legs are strong and give the animal and fast and powerful gait. Often times, the tail is docked and the ears cropped, although these practices are illegal in some countries.

Medical Information

The largest medical issue facing Boxers is their propensity for various cancers as they age. Cancer is the number one killer of this breed, and it is important for owners to thoroughly check for any external signs of this disease by simply petting the dog’s entire body once a week, as well as take them for regular check ups. Boxers often suffer from many of the same medical conditions as other large breed dogs, such as Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV, also known as bloat/torsion, when excess gas is trapped in the dog’s stomach and the stomach becomes twisted) and Hip Dysplasia (when the head of the thigh bone no longer fits firmly in the “cup” provided by the hip socket, causing loss of mobility and arthritis-like symptoms). Heart diseases can also be a problem for the Boxer, including Aortic Valve Stenosis (AS), a valvular heart disease caused by the incomplete opening of the aortic valve, and Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC), also know as “Boxer Cardiomyopathy.” Eye problems such as corneal ulcers can also be an issue for the Boxer.

Boxers can sometimes develop Hypothyroidism, which causes underactivity of the thyroid gland. This gland has a number of functions, but is most well known for regulating your dog’s metabolic rate. This can cause lethargy, weight gain, skin infection and hair loss, cold intolerance, chronic ear infections or severe behavioral changes. Hypothyroid dogs who receive proper treatment, including a daily dose of synthetic thyroid hormone, can maintain a good health and have a normal life span.

The Boxer’s smooth, short-haired coat is easy to groom, they will often even groom themselves like cats! But they do shed on a regular basis, so regular brushing may help the household cleanliness. Some Boxers are prone to excessive flatulence; limited access to human food may help this problem.

Anecdotal Information

In addition to using his front paws to “box” when playing, fighting, or greeting known guests, the Boxer uses these to paw at his food bowl, flipping it over and moving it around the floor. This is his way of letting you know he’s hungry. A Boxer may also wrinkle up his face to express emotions such as curiosity, excitement, happiness, surprise, or sadness. Often he copies the emotional expressions of his human companion. They will even pick up household knick-knacks with their mouths and carry them around the house, if they think they can get away with it.

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