Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.
Intro / Overview
(All dogs are individuals, which means any single dog from any breed can be any number of ways, both good and not so good. Keep that in mind as we discuss breed generalities!)
Human Boxers are tough. But canine Boxers are as sweet as can be! There’s a reason this breed is one of the AKC’s most popular dog breeds. Boxers are a favorite with dog lovers thanks to the breed’s playful energy, fierce loyalty to their family, and athletic pedigree. (And it certainly doesn’t hurt that they have some of the cutest faces in the canine world!)
For the right person (or family!), Boxers can be the perfect companion. But what is it about these dogs that makes them so special?
Let’s take a deep dive into some interesting facts about the Boxer:
Also Known As...
The German Boxer. The Deutsche Boxer. "That barrel-chested dog that always looks sad, even when they're not."
Part of the Molosser dog group, the Boxer was originally bred in Germany in the late 19th century, where they were developed from Bulldogs (which came to Germany via Great Britain) and the now-extinct Bullenbeiser (which were descendants of the Mastiff).
In 1897, the group of breeders behind the Boxer formed the first official Boxer club, the Deutscher Boxer Club, which published the first breed standard in 1904—the same year the Boxer was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club.
The Boxer was also one of the first dogs used for military service. In both World War I and World War II, Boxers were used as everything from messenger dogs to guard dogs to attack dogs. After WWII, many soldiers returned home with their Boxer dogs in tow—and from that point on, the breed became more widely known and embraced as a lovable companion dog.
Boxers are on the bigger end of the medium-sized dog spectrum. Males are typically between 23 and 25 inches, while females are slightly smaller, falling between 21.5 and 23.5 inches.
The ideal weight range for a male Boxer is between 65 and 80 lbs. Ideally, females will weigh a little less; healthy Boxer females typically weigh between 50 and 65 lbs.
Boxers have incredible, fun-loving personalities. They’re playful, energetic, and love to run around outside. They’re also incredibly loyal to their families and love nothing more than to spend as much time with you as possible.
Boxers are also extremely smart. Just make sure you find a way to keep them engaged; when Boxers are bored, they have a tendency to channel that playful, intelligent energy into all kinds of canine hijinks!
Intelligence / Trainability
Boxers are an extremely intelligent breed. But they’re also extremely high-energy—and if you don’t use the right training techniques, all that energy can distract your Boxer pup from the task at hand.
Here are some of the best training techniques for Boxers:
- Layer on the praise. Boxers are extremely loyal to their humans—and, at the end of the day, all they want to do is please you. So, if you want your training to be effective, you need to show them when their behavior pleases you! During the training process, make sure to give your Boxer plenty of praise, treats, and other positive reinforcement when they follow commands. Once they see how excited you get when they follow commands, they’ll be happy to continue!
- Make training active. Because they’re so high-energy, Boxers do really well with more active forms of training (like agility training). If you want to train your Boxer, look for ways to make the most of their playful energy and keep them engaged with fun, active tasks.
- Engage their bran. Boxers are extremely high-energy—but they’re also extremely intelligent! If you want to get the most out of your training sessions, look for ways to engage your Boxer’s brain. This breed is excellent at solving problems—so if you can work a little problem-solving into your training (for example, hiding treats or toys and training your pup to find them), you’ll have much better results.
- Avoid too much repetition. Because of the Boxer’s high level of both energy and intelligence, they can quickly get bored with mundane, repetitive tasks. The best way to get results with your Boxer is to mix things up and keep things interesting with their training.
Boxers are extremely loving, loyal companion dogs. They want to be around their humans as much as possible—so Boxers tend to thrive in households where they get a lot of interaction with their families.
Boxers also have a lot of energy, so they need space to run around. A house with a fenced-in yard would be a great fit for a Boxer. If you live in a smaller space, you can definitely make it work with a Boxer—just be prepared to take your pup on plenty of long, leisurely walks to work out some of that characteristic Boxer energy.
Good For Families And Kids?
Boxers are a happy, playful breed. They’re also extremely loyal and protective of their humans—which makes them a great fit for families and children. But Boxers are also large dogs—so if you have small children in the home, make sure they treat your Boxer respectfully (and vice versa!).
Boxers have an average lifespan of between 10 and 12 years.
Boxers are an amazing breed, but they do have their fair share of health issues. Now, keep in mind—not all Boxers will struggle with all the health issues commonly associated with their breed. But if you want to be a responsible pet owner—and keep your Boxer happy and healthy—it’s important to be aware of them.
Some common health issues that Boxers may struggle with include:
- Boxer Cardiomyopathy. This genetic heart defect is categorized by an entropic heart rhythm, which can lead to a host of health issues, including irregular heartbeat, fainting, seizures, and—in severe cases—death. Boxers who struggle with this disorder will usually show signs relatively early in life (typically by about two years of age).
- Hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a genetic disorder that’s categorized by an abnormal hip socket. This causes the joints to grind against each other, which, over time, causes the hip socket to deteriorate, leading to severe pain and mobility issues. In severe cases, hip dysplasia can cause lameness, making it near impossible for the dog to walk.
- Hypothyroidism. Boxers may also struggle with an underactive thyroid, which can lead to a host of symptoms like weight gain, lethargy, and hair loss.
- Arthritis. Boxers may also struggle with arthritis, which causes deterioration of the joint. While most people think arthritis is a condition for older dogs, some dogs—including Boxers—can develop arthritis when they’re extremely young.
If you decide to add a Boxer to your family, you’ll want to make sure that your vet regularly screens your pet for any health issues common to the breed. The earlier you catch health issues, the earlier you can treat them—and the higher the likelihood that your dog will live a long, healthy, and happy life.
If you’re looking to add a high-energy dog to your family, you won’t find a better breed than the Boxer. Boxers are full of playful, fun-loving energy and are all about activity. To feel their best, Boxers need regular exercise, including long walks and play sessions with their humans. If they don’t get enough exercise to work off their energy, Boxers are prone to getting into mischief—so make sure you set aside at least an hour a day to let your Boxer work off some steam!
Friendly with…(Dogs? Strangers? Cats/Other Pets?)
Boxers are extremely loving and loyal to their family, including any children in the household. But there are two sides to that coin!
In an effort to protect the family they hold so dear, Boxers can be extremely wary of strangers—and, in some cases, downright unfriendly. Boxers aren’t aggressive by nature, but it’s still important to socialize your Boxer early and often to make sure they’re used to be around people they don’t know.
Boxers are also friendly to other dogs, but they can sometimes struggle with dogs of the same sex—especially if they’re larger or more dominant. Before you throw your Boxer into a situation with an unknown dog (especially if the dog is of the same gender), make sure to introduce them on neutral territory so you can gauge your dog’s reaction and make sure the pups are getting along.
Coat & Grooming
When it comes to grooming, Boxers are as low maintenance as they come. Brushing their short coat once or twice a week along with an occasional bath and monthly nail trim is all you need to do to keep your Boxer looking (and feeling!) their best.
Boxers have a tendency to drool...and snore. If you don’t mind a dog with a little bit of slobber (and a lot of snoring!), you’ll get along just fine with the Boxer breed.
Toys Boxers Would Like Best
Boxers are energetic. They're are fun-loving. And they love, love, love to play. And what better way to engage all of those qualities than with a nice, big collection of toys?
Some of the best toys for Boxers include:
Thinker Toys. Boxers are amazing problem solvers. So if you want to engage them in brain-stimulating play, why not give them a problem to solve? Thinker toys (also known as puzzle toys) are a great way to engage your Boxer’s brain (not to mention deliver a healthy dose of fun to your pup!).
Tug Toys. Boxers have lots of energy—and they love to play with their humans. The best way to check off both of those boxes? A tug toy! A nice game of tug will not only help your Boxer work off excess energy, it will also give them the one-on-one time with you they need to feel their happiest.
Super Chewer Toys. Boxers have some serious chompers—and if you don’t want those chompers to find their way to your favorite pair of shoes, they need something to chew on. Super chewer toys are designed to withstand the most intense chompers in the canine world—and giving one to your Boxer is the best way to keep those teeth busy (and out of your stuff).
For a more extensive list, check out the following article: What Are The Best Toys For Boxers?
Recommended Diet Or Supplements
Want your Boxer to be their best, healthiest self? Then you should plan to feed them a diet of high-quality dog food. You can make it at home or you can buy it in a store—just make sure it utilizes high-quality ingredients and avoids fillers that don’t add any nutritional value (like corn or soy).
As your Boxer gets older, you might also want to think about supplementing their diet. Because arthritis can be an issue with Boxers, joint health supplements can be a great way to keep your pup healthy and mobile. As always, talk to your veterinarian first.
BARK's Full Spectrum Hemp Oil is made of organically grown whole plants, grown in Colorado, and is non-psychoactive. It comes in 100mg, 250mg, and 500mg varieties, and can help with pet anxiety and pain relief. ($17.99-22.99.)
This joint supplement is veterinarian-formulated, made with all natural ingredients (glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid), and comes in the form of 150 soft chews. Basically, it looks and tastes just like delicious treats, and it could really help your Boxer with their hip and joint issues. ($32.99.)
For older Boxers or dogs suffering with arthritis or hip dysplasia (or just any dog that likes lying down!), a comfortable, supportive dog bed is probably a good idea.
This dog bed is great for supporting your pup's tired body. A high quality combination of ergonomic memory foam and gel foam helps ease body aches, joint pain, hip dysplasia and arthritis. This bed offers the best therapeutic support for your hardworking pal. ($27.99-64.99.)
Notable Rescues to Find the Boxer of Your Dreams
Are you ready to give a forever home to an adoptable Boxer? Here are a few Boxer rescues where you can find a loyal, loving Boxer to add to your family:
- The Boxer Rescue, serving New England
- Carolina Boxer Rescue, serving NC, SC, and VA
- Northwest Boxer Rescue, serving the PNW
- Boxer Rescue L.A., serving the greater Los Angeles area
- Across America Boxer Rescue, serving multiple states across the US
- Adoptable Boxers on Petfinder
Notable Instagram Boxers
Need a little more Boxer in your news feed? Check out these Boxer-centric Instagram accounts:
***Looking for a gift to blow your pup’s mind? Spoil them with a BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <-- This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! :)
Featured image via Cpt_Ziggy/Instagram