Written by Vet

Boxer: The Ultimate Dog Breed Guide

Ivana Crnec
Written by: Dr. Ivana Crnec
Boxer is a medium to large dog with playful nature. Among canines, they have the longest puppyhood. Read on to discover more interesting facts about this fantastic breed.

Ranked as 11thout of 197 dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club, the Boxer is the ultimate dog package – alert, loyal and affectionate, and sometimes silly but always protective.

This ultimate dog breed guide will review the breed’s history, personality, lifestyle requirements, health problems, needs and more.

Check this article to learn why the Boxer is frequently referred to as the “Peter Pan” of the canine world and how this dog became one of the first dogs employed by the police.

Breed Overview

The Boxer is a bright, fun-loving and active dog from the Working group (according to AKC Classification) or the Guardian group (according to UKC Classification).

The breed’s hallmark is its playful, slightly immature and childish personality. Other key features include the brachycephalic face with floppy ears and droopy eyes.

The Boxer is a German dog breed designed by mixing various different dog breeds.

There is a popular belief that the breed was named Boxer after the way members of the breed play with their paws which pretty much resembles a sparring box fighter.

Quick Facts

Real name: Boxer
Other names: German Boxer, Deutscher Boxer
Origin: Germany
Breed type: Working Dogs
Weight: 65-80 pounds (male), females are about 15 pounds less than male
Height: 23-25 inches (male), 21.5-23.5 inches (female)
Lifespan: 10 – 12 years
Litter Size: 5 – 8 puppies
Color: Fawn or brindle, and white
Coat: Short, shiny, smooth, close-lying

Boxer History

The Boxer is a descendent of the now extinct, but famous Bullenbeiser. The Bullenbeiser had a powerful jaw with a distinct undershot bite – features quite helpful when hanging onto large preys, such as a game, deer, and wild boar.

The Boxer originated in Germany in the 19th century with the purpose of being a bull-baiting dog.

Later on, Boxers became quite useful serving as butchers’ helpers – their job was to control and escort the cattle on their way to the slaughterhouse.

During WWI, Boxers were used as messenger dogs and today they frequently used as police and military employees.

All in all, over its relatively short history, the Boxer performed many roles and completed different tasks. However, today, the breed is mainly popular as a friendly, devoted, and affectionate companion dog. The Boxer is rated among America’s top 10 most popular dog breeds.

Boxer Physical Appearance

The Boxer is a medium-sized dog with square-built, strong long legs and well-developed muscle structure. The gait is elastic yet firm, the carriage proud and the movements energetic. The Boxer’s facial expression is alert and intelligent.

The eyes are brown, frontally set, and either too deep-set or too protruding. The high-set ears are of moderate size and carried closely to the face.

The Boxer has an undershot bite, which means the lower jaw protrudes beyond the upper jaw. The neck is muscular and slightly arched, the chest is deep and broad and the tail is set high.

Boxer Size

Boxer males are 24 inches tall (60.9 centimeters) and weigh around 65-80 pounds (29.4-36.2 kilograms). Females are slightly smaller – they are around 22 inches tall (55.8 centimeters) and weigh around 50-65 pounds (22.6-29.4 kilograms).

Boxer Coat And Color

The Boxer’s coat is short, soft, smooth, and lying close to the body.

There are three coat colors – fawn (ranging from mahogany to light tan), brindle (the stripes can be sparse or dark and bold), and white. The fawn and brindle pattern may or may not have nicely-distributed white markings.

Boxer Grooming And Maintenance

The bad news is Boxers shed both hair and dander which makes them an unsuitable fit for allergic people. On the bright side, the Boxer’s coat is low-maintenance.

The short and smooth coat needs no more than a few brushes a week. However, the wrinkles need frequent cleaning – at least few times per week with dog-friendly wipes.

Boxers can safely be bathed on a weekly basis, as long as you use mild shampoos and grooming products. White Boxers are particularly prone to skin issues and their bathing schedule should be discussed with a vet.

Like any other dog, the Boxer needs regular teeth brushing – at least three times per week and preferably every day.

The ears are prone to wax buildup and ear infections which is why they need weekly cleaning with a dog-friendly cleansing solution.

The nails should be trimmed with a clipper or grinder monthly and the anal glands expressed when necessary.

Boxer Temperament And Personality

The Boxer’s personality can be described as fun-loving, bright, playful devoted, energetic, and goofy.

The Boxer is attentive and amiable with family members and trusted friends. On the other hand, when it comes to strangers this dog is reserved and prepared to protect at any moment.

Boxers thrive on human affection and attention. They are equally fond of both adults and children.

When playing with children they are entertaining and patient but can get overly-excited and boisterous.

The Boxer dog does not mature until about three years old.

This is probably the longest puppyhood in the canine world. The delayed maturing influences the Boxer’s personality – it makes it too playful and a bit childish.

Boxer Training

Boxers are generally easy to train. They are exceptionally intelligent, endlessly curious and eager to please.

As long as the training sessions are short, entertaining, and interactive, the training should be straightforward.
However, as mentioned, Boxers are late bloomers and during their long puppyhood phase, they can be forgetful.

This means they may need to retake their puppy classes even when older – just to repeat the previously learned rules and commands.
Because of their athletic built and sharp minds, Boxers are excellent at agility training.

This will keep both their minds and bodies well-challenged and stimulated. Alert, smart and loyal, Boxers can be trained to make outstanding hunting dogs.

Finally, it should be mentioned that Boxers are prone to aggressiveness towards other, unfamiliar dogs. Extensive and early socialization help manage this issue.

Exercise Requirements And Energy Levels Of The Boxer

Boxers are quite active and energetic dogs. Hour-long walks are not enough to physically challenge this go-all-day king of a dog.

The Boxer needs several walks per day and at least one more demanding activity – playing a game of fetch, or hiking. A healthy, adult Boxer can run for as much as three miles.

Boxers make excellent running partners as long as they are not over-exerted. They are also prone to joint problems and should not be allowed to run on hard surfaces. Basically shorter runs on grass are the ideal combination for Boxers.

Keep in mind that during the cold, winter months the Boxer needs a nice, fashionable jacket to protect from the elements since the coat is too short to provide the necessary warmth.

Common Boxer Health Issues

The average lifespan of the Boxer is between 10 and 12 years. Unfortunately, Boxers are prone to a plethora of diseases and health conditions.

The major health concerns include:

  • Orthopedic issues – hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Cardiovascular issues – subvalvular aortic stenosis and arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy
  • Digestive issues – colitis, gastric dilatation, and volvulus (GDV)
  • Eye issues – corneal erosion and progressive retinal atrophy
  • Hypothyroidism

White Boxers have a higher than average risk of being born deaf and develop a plethora of skin issues. All Boxers are extremely sensitive to the commonly used sedative known as acepromazine.

In this breed, the popular sedative causes life-threatening arrhythmias.

According to the National Breed Club, Boxers should be subdued to the following tests:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Thyroid Evaluation
  • AS\SAS Cardio
  • Aortic Valve Disease
  • Boxer Cardiomyopathy
  • ARVC DNA Test
  • Degenerative Myelopathy DNA Test

Diet And Nutrition Needs For The Boxer

The adult Boxer’s healthy weight is quite variable based on lifestyle. Therefore, Boxers need between 1 ½ cups to 6 cups of high-quality, protein-rich food.

If feeding homemade meals, the amount of food and type of ingredients should be discussed with a vet or licensed nutritionist.

Boxers are prone to gaining weight. They are voracious eaters and unless their food take is limited they will overeat. They are also very fond of treats and never picky when it comes to food choices.

Because of their body built, Boxers often develop gastric dilatation and volvulus.

This potentially life-threatening condition is associated with over-exercising immediately after over-eating. Therefore, to decrease the risk, Boxers should be fed twice per day and their physical activity restricted for an hour or two after the meals.

Tips For Raising A Healthy Boxer

Being a responsible Boxer parent is a full-time job. Raising a happy and healthy Boxer requires time, patience, and devotion. However, its love and affection are definitely worthy.

Having a Boxer means always being entertained and stimulated to play and feel childish.

When planning to get Boxer, consider the following factors:

  • The Boxer is strongly independent-minded and requires constant repetition of the training rules
  • Abundance of physical activity and mental stimulations are necessary to prevent the Boxer from making boredom-induced shenanigans
  • Boxers are prone to jumping and leaping and if you do not enjoy being jumped at every single time you enter the room, you will have to redirect this tendency into something more positive

The Cost Of Parenting A Boxer

Purebred Boxers usually cost between $500 and $1500, but the average price is $900. A Boxer terrier puppy with exceptional parental lineage may cost between $1500.

Adopting through rescue organizations or from a shelter is much more budget-friendly – it costs between $100 and $300.

This is just the initial purchase cost. Once the pup is home, there will be additional expenses for food and supplies (treats, bowls, toys, harness and leash, beds), professional grooming and grooming tools, training classes, daycares, insurance policies and last but not least – vet bills.

In general, the first year is the most expensive – the expenses are around $2900. After that, the expenses decrease and the annual cost is estimated to be $1600. That would be around $140 per month. The average lifetime cost of owning a Boxer is $19500.

Four Fun Facts About Boxers

1. Boxers Have A Thing Called Peter Pan Syndrome

Boxers are late bloomers. And the term late is an understatement – Boxers reach maturity when three years old.

This is definitely the longest puppyhood in the canine world. Because of their childish personality and delayed adulthood onset, Boxers are popularly charged with having a Peter Pan Syndrome.

2. Once Mature, Boxers Take Their Jobs Seriously

It may be hard to believe that a dog with such a cheery nature can perform serious and responsible tasks. However, the Boxer is real proof that someone with a playful and goofy personality can be trusted.

During WWI, Boxers were enlisted by military forces and served as a trusted messenger, guard, and attack dogs.

In fact, the Boxer was one of the severe breeds, the Germans decided are worthy of helping the military.

3. The Boxer Is Quite Popular Among Celebrities

Many celebrities are in love with the Boxer’s athletic built, goofy personality, and cheery nature.

Cameron Diaz, Jessica Biel, Ryan Reynolds, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Justin Timberlake, Luke Perry, and Chelsea Handler are all proud Boxer parents.

4. The Boxer Has A Particularly Long Tongue

A Boxer named Brandy holds the world record for “longest tongue on a dog”. Brandy’s record-breaking tongue was 17’’ (43 centimeters) long.

Brandy lived in Michigan with her parent John until 2002 when she died. As a comparison, the longest human tongue was only 10 centimeters long.

Boxers FAQs

Is A Boxer A Good Family Dog?

Yes, Boxers make exceptional family dogs – they are playful and entertaining, affectionate and gentle, loyal and protective.

Boxers are particularly fond of children of all ages and can learn to get along with other dogs and pets.

Do Boxers Shed?

Yes, Boxers shed both hairs and dog dander.

The shedding is not profuse but it is present almost all-year-round. On the bright side, the shedding does not require extra grooming efforts.

Are Boxers Easy To Train?

Generally speaking, the answer is yes.

Boxers are smart, eager to please, and like mental challenges. These features make them easy to train. However, they can be quite forgetful and usually need frequent training repetitions.

Are Boxers Hypoallergenic?

Sadly, no. Boxers are not hypoallergenic dogs – they shed their short and sharp hair and also shed dander.

Sensitive people may find both the hairs and the dander troublesome. Finally, some sensitive people may be allergic to the Boxer’s saliva.

Are Boxers Good Swimmers?

No, Boxers were never bred to be swimmers. However, just like any other dog, they can learn to swim but should not be left unsupervised or without a vest while swimming.