Everything You Should Know About The 3 Boxer Dog Breeds

by Amy DeYoung

Considering adding a Boxer pup to your pack? Here's what you should know.

The boxer dog breed is among America's top ten most popular breeds for good reason. They were one of the first dog breeds used by the military and police, primarily due to their agile, powerful build and watchfulness. These athletic dogs also have an outstanding reputation as family guardians and playmates, all in one adorable, fun-loving package!

What Were Boxers Bred For?

The boxer’s ancestors are tracked as far back as 2,500 B.C. However, the boxer dog breed that we think of today originated in Germany in the late 1800s. 

Boxers are believed to have been bred by German dog fanciers from the giant, heavier German breed, the Bullenbeisser, meaning bull biter. The Bullenbeisser was used in medieval times by noblemen as a big-game hunter. After crossbreeding the Bullenbeisser with a smaller, mastiff-like dog breed, German dog fanciers created the modern boxer. 
The name boxer comes from how this dog breed plays and defends itself with its front paws, much like a prizefighting human boxer. 

Boxers are classified as working dogs by the American Kennel Club. Over the years, they have had many jobs, including cattle dogs, police dogs, watchdogs, athletes, protection dogs, guide dogs, and war dogs (serving during both world wars). 

The Boxer Dog Breed (Photo Credit: jackson-morgan-e6j7ZutkkAA-unsplash)

Boxer Physical Traits

Boxers are a sight to behold! In prime condition, they have strong muscles underneath their short, shiny coat. This medium to large-sized dog is known for their athletic gait, which is graceful but powerful. 

Male boxers weigh between 65 and 80 pounds, while female boxers weigh between 50 and 65 pounds. A male boxer will stand as tall as 25 inches, and a female will be as tall as 23.5 inches. Both male and female boxers have a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years. 

Boxers come in two standard colors: brindle and fawn. They have white markings and a black mask. Their dark brown eyes and wrinkly forehead give them a curious, lively expression, which matches their playful, bright, and active personalities. 

Currently, there is only one recognized boxer breed by the American Kennel Club. However, there are several boxer dog breed variations based on the country of origin, which affects their physical appearance slightly: 

  • American boxer: American boxers are less wrinkly, with prominent wrinkles typically only around the muzzle. Their muzzle and nose are also typically wider. 
  • German boxer: German boxers have the largest bone structure and broader thighs. They also have smaller noses. 
  • English boxer: English boxers are the most delicate of the three and have smaller feet. 

Boxer Behavioral Traits

Boxers are loyal, protective, and playful companions. They are very intelligent and trainable, but their high energy levels will require you to be patient with them during training. 

Boxers can be wary of strangers, making early socialization critical for them to be comfortable around children, strangers, and other animals. They also have a protective streak, which makes them excellent watchdogs. 

However, obedience training is crucial to ensure they don’t ‘protect’ you from the wrong people. 

Fortunately, boxers are eager to learn. According to the Veterinary Centers of America, they can be stubborn but usually respond well to a firm owner and reward-based training. 

Boxer Breed-Related Health Issues  

All boxers have brachycephalic syndrome, which gives their face and nose a pushed-in or ‘smushed’ appearance. The shorter bones in their nose and face can cause increased airway resistance, meaning it requires more effort to breathe. As a result, most boxers and other brachycephalic dogs, like pugs or Boston terriers, breathe through their mouths rather than their nose. 

Common symptoms of brachycephalic syndrome include noisy breathing, snoring, and snorting. Dogs with a more severe case of brachycephalic syndrome may experience gagging, retching, coughing, or vomiting. Hot and humid weather is especially challenging for brachycephalic breeds because they are more susceptible to overheating due to their compromised ability to pant to cool down. 

Other breed-specific health issues include a higher susceptibility to heart issues, like aortic stenosis and cardiomyopathy, kidney disease, degenerative myelopathy, and some types of cancers. 

As a larger dog breed, boxers are also more prone to hip dysplasia, a developmental disease that affects the hip joint and its functioning. Hip dysplasia is believed to be hereditary, but environment and diet may reduce the risk or severity of hip dysplasia. Helping your boxer maintain a healthy weight is especially important to reduce stress on the joints. 

Boxer Breed Care

Grooming Recommendations

Boxers have smooth, short coats, leading many pet parents to wonder, “Do boxers shed?”

The answer is yes! Though their coats are short, boxers do shed, albeit minimally. 

Boxers’ coats can easily be maintained with an occasional brushing about once every week or two to remove dead hair and keep their coat shiny. 

Health Recommendations

Boxers have brachycephalic syndrome, which makes them intolerant of heat and more prone to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Keep this in mind when you leave your dog outside in the backyard or take them out for walks. Aim to take them on walks early in the morning or evening to avoid the hottest parts of the day. If you must take your boxer outside during a hot afternoon, limit their time outdoors by opting for a shorter walk.  

Cold weather is also challenging for boxers because of their short coats. Keep them inside as much as possible during cold weather, and place them in a warm dog sweater or vest to keep them warm during your walks. 

Exercise Recommendations

Boxers are typically calm house dogs, but they can become restless if they don’t receive enough exercise. Usually, boxers do best with daily exercise, such as a long walk, jog, or energetic playtime. 

Obedience training is also recommended because it provides excellent mental exercise for your boxer. 

Breed Nutrition

Boxers tend to maintain a good weight but should be fed a balanced diet to support their high energy levels, health, and coat. Some boxers are prone to skin allergies and irritation, so a diet high in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids is also a must. 

One of the best ways to ensure your boxer gets all the nutrients they need is by feeding them Sundays air-dried, human-grade food. Our nutrient-dense food is vet-formulated by our co-founder Dr. Tory Waxman and a team of food scientists and pet nutritionists to ensure your pup receives superior nutrition and flavor.  Sundays is also high in glucosamine and chondroitin - both essential for healthy, springy joints!
Try Healthy, Easy Sundays