Breed of the Week - Boxer

by Claudia Loomis

Powerful yet gentle, alert, protective, energetic, intelligent, strong, swift, loving, and slobbery, are just some of the adjectives that describe this noble breed.

If you are looking for a great family dog, a loyal companion and a vigilant watch dog look no further the Boxer. As wonderful as the Boxer is, it is not the breed for everyone. Because they are intelligent, they can be stubborn and difficult to train. Because they are powerful, you need to start training early and be consistent so that bad habits and behaviors do not have a chance to develop. But, in the proper home, where the Boxer receives affection and discipline equally and fairly and clearly understands his place in his pack of humans, there is no better family dog.

Our Boxer, Kirby, was raised in a house with two young boys who used him as a pillow, a playmate, a food disposal unit, a confidant, bed warmer and even a science project ( no animal testing was performed for this project and no Boxers were harmed in any way). He was a steadfast guardian keeping vigil on the many nights my husband was away from home traveling for business. I was never concerned about any stray noise in the house because I knew that Kirby had our backs.

How did we come to choose the Boxer as our family dog you might ask? Well first we did some research and then my husband and I each wrote five breeds we would consider on a piece of paper. Boxer was the only breed on both of our lists. So we did even more research, learning more about the breed and searching for reputable breeders. Here is some of what we learned about the Boxer:

The Boxer was first breed in Germany and used initially as a hunting dog. Boxers are a cross of several breeds. They are a combination of the ancient Bullenbeisser, or bull bating dog, mixed with Terriers for persistence, Bulldogs for a low center of gravity, and Mastiffs for size. The Boxer began its development as a distinct breed in the 1800’s. In addition to being used for hunting, the breed was also trained to be a police and military dog. The first Boxer arrived in the United States in the late 1800’s and it became a recognized breed by the American Kennel Club in 1904. The Boxer gained popularity in the 1940’s and is now regularly among the top ten dog breeds registered by the AKC.

The Boxer is considered a medium sized muscular dog, however, with their speed and power they can seem more like a large sized breed. Males weigh up to 85 pounds and females weigh up to 65 pounds. Boxers commonly come in two colors, fawn with black markings and white flash or Brindle with black markings and white flash. White Boxers are less common and from a breeding standpoint they are much less desirable. White Boxers are more likely to suffer blindness and deafness as well as other illnesses. That is why responsible breeders will not mate white Boxers.

The ears on the Boxer are medium sized and either hang or are cropped so that they stand erect. Cropping of ears has fallen out of favor with many, and is actually illegal in the state of California. Cropped ears are still a requirement for the show ring however (except in California).

The Boxers body should be square, meaning that the distance from the breastbone to the back of the thigh is equal to the height of the dog from the withers to the ground. In the show ring the Boxer is known as a head breed, meaning that the head is an extremely important feature. The muzzle should be proportionate to the size of the skull and the jaw should be slightly undershot, meaning that the bottom jaw protrudes in front of the upper jaw.

The Boxer is a brachycephalic breed with a short muzzle. So be prepared for the snoring which is common with brachycephalic breeds, and of course, drooling and slobbering. Because brachycephalic breeds are not as efficient at moving air in through there noses and into and out of their lungs they tend to pant more than other dogs. It is important to limit exercise for these breeds in extreme heat. Exercise your boxer either early in the morning or at dusk during the extreme heat of the summer.

The temperament of the Boxer makes it a perfect family dog. The Boxer is known to be dignified and self confident as well as playful, loyal and affectionate. Yet the Boxer is courageously willing to defend his family and home when necessary.

The Boxer is an energetic dog and requires a good deal of exercise to stay fit and mentally stimulated. Be careful not to over exercise your Boxer puppy, though they are little balls of energy, too much exercise can cause damage to growing bones, joints and muscles. Limit their play to romps around the house and yard. You can enjoy long walks or jogs and other activities with your Boxer once they are one year old.

Since Boxers are so intelligent and fast they are great candidates for activities such as Agility, Fly Ball and Obedience. Because they are so strong and muscular they can participate in Weight Pull.
Great toys to engage and stimulate the Boxer brain are the Nina Ottosson puzzle toys. The Boxer will have to manipulate the toy in order to find hidden treats. These interactive toys are particularly fun for the intelligent Boxer, as well as many other breeds of dog.

Boxers enjoy a wide range of activities, but their favorite activity is any one that they get to do with you, as these are consummate people loving dogs.

Boxers are among the easiest dogs to groom. Their short coats require little maintenance. Frequent brushing will help to limit the amount of shedding that all Boxers do. The best brush I have ever used on my Boxer was the Chris Christensen Ionic Boar Bristle Brush. It is best to use a bristle brush on the Boxer instead of a pin brush or a slicker brush.

It is important to clean the ears and brush the teeth of the Boxer weekly. Aside from brushing the coat and cleaning the ears and teeth, the only other required grooming maintenance that is required is trimming the nails. This should also be done weekly or it can be stretched out to every other week.

The expected lifespan of a Boxer is 8-10 years, though there are those that live to 12 or more years.

Boxers are a strong and powerful breed but they are prone to some health issues and diseases. It is important to choose a Boxer from a reputable breeder in order to minimize the risk that your Boxer will suffer from one of the common Boxer disorders.

Because Boxers are energetic dogs they are commonly suffer from arthritis and joint issues as they age. It would be good to monitor their gait and ability to jump up for signs of arthritis as they reach their golden years. There are many joint supplements on the market to help relieve the pain and inflammation of arthritis as dogs age. Wholistic Pet Run Free has a high concentration of Glucosamine and Chondroitin and has the added benefit of coming in powder form so that it can be easily added to food.

To learn even more about the wonderful Boxer I would recommend purchasing a book about the breed. One that I would recommend is Boxer: A Kennel Club Book. More information can be found at American Boxer Club, the AKC Parent Club.

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