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Spotlight On The Boxer

January 15, 2024

January 17th is a special day for many of our canine patients: it’s National Boxer Day! This  loyal, lovable, and energetic dog breed has bounded into millions of hearts and homes, and definitely deserves his time to shine. A local Roanoke, VA vet offers some advice on the Boxer in this article.

Boxer Breed Basics

Boxers are sleek and muscular. (Of course, some of that imposing air goes out the window when you see Fido bouncing up and down with his favorite toy.) These dogs are usually around two feet high at the shoulder, and live about 11 to 13 years. They weigh up to 70 pounds.

Originally hunting dogs, Boxers have also been used as war dogs, police dogs, and guard dogs. However, the vast majority of American Boxers are family pets. 

How Much Grooming Do Boxers Need?

Fido can be a few colors, including white, fawn, and brindle colored. They also sometimes have white markings. The Boxer has a short, shiny coat, which is quite easy to care for. As long as you brush your canine pal regularly, you probably won’t have to bathe him very often. However, that thin fur doesn’t provide a lot of protection against weather. Your pup will likely get cold easily in summer, and may get hot quickly in winter. You may need to get your furry friend a jacket or sweater for cold days, and a cooling vest for really hot weather. 

Aside from bathing, your furry friend will need nail trims and dental care. You’ll also need to gently clean your pooch’s ears. Those cute facial wrinkles also need some attention, as they can trap bacteria. If you have a white Boxer, you may also need to put sunscreen on your pooch when it’s hot out. 

Ask your Roanoke, VA vet for specific advice. 

What Health Problems Do Boxers Have?

The Boxer is a rugged pup, but he isn’t immune from health problems. Like other breeds, these guys tend to be susceptible to a few specific conditions. Skin problems are quite common with these guys. You’ll want to do some breed research. The AKC is a great source of information. You may also find that the American Boxer Club is also very helpful.

Pay attention to recommended screenings and DNA tests. There are several for the Boxer. 

These include:

  • Thyroid Evaluation
  • AS/SAS Cardio
  • Aortic Valve Disease
  • Holter Monitor Testing for Boxer Cardiomyopathy 
  • Degenerative Myelopathy 
  • Elbow Evaluation

Ask your Roanoke, VA veterinary clinic for recommendations and specific care tips. 

Where Did Boxers Get Their Name?

There’s a bit of mystery here, as there are a few possible sources. One option is that Fido got his moniker from the Bullenbeisser. Another option is that the breed was named because of their habit of ‘punching’ each other with their front paws. A Boxer by any other name is still a great pet! 

What Is The History Of The Boxer?

Fido is a German hunting mastiff, whose family tree includes the English Bulldog and the now-extinct German Bullenbeisser, a mastiff that was skilled at hunting bear, wild boar, and deer. You may have noticed that Boxers have rather blocky heads. That head shape is actually very well-suited to catching prey. The name Bullenbeisser translates to Bull biter. Sadly, this points to an early history of the dogs being used for bull baiting before the sport was outlawed.

Thanks to a 1939 book, John Wagner’s Book The Boxer, we have a pretty detailed record of Fido’s history. Records from the Assyrians, who lived nearly 4000 years ago, mention brave, loyal war dogs with thick heads and heavy builds. Hundreds of years later, these dogs were given the name Molossian, after the city of Molossis in what is now known as Albania. The pups spread over Europe, eventually mingling with local dogs and becoming progenitors of the German Bullenbeisser.

After the Napoleonic wars, the Bullenbaiser suffered a downturn in his fortunes. The noble houses breeding the pups were dissolved and their estates partitioned off. Fido made an abrupt career change, switching his focus from hunting boar and bear for aristocrats to helping butchers and cattle herders. He also discovered he was good at being a family pet. Around the 1800’s, the breed was mixed with English Bulldogs. By 1895, the breed standards had solidified. Specific bloodlines can be traced back to that point.

What Is The Boxer’s Personality?

Boxers have some wonderful personality traits. They’re extremely devoted to their humans. In fact, they love attention, and are usually great with kids. They are very protective, and make great watch dogs. 

Friendly, curious, and a bit goofy at times, the Boxer loves to play, and can be lots of fun to watch. As long as they are properly socialized, these lovable pups do well in homes with other animals, and often get along fine with cats. In fact, the Boxer is in general a very sociable dog. They don’t do well when left alone for long periods.

The Boxer may not be right for everyone, though. While they have huge hearts, they are a bit clumsy and over-excitable at times. They can also be a bit bouncy, and may need some training as far as petiquette goes. For instance, you’ll probably need to teach your pooch not to jump on people. Boxers shouldn’t be left unattended with small animals, as they do sometimes have strong prey drive. 

How Active Is The Boxer?

As far as activity levels, Fido is a fairly high-energy dog. He’ll need quite a bit of exercise every day, and is athletic enough to make a great hiking or running buddy.  Making sure that your canine pal is getting enough exercise is very important. If Fido has too much pent-up energy, he may get a bit rambunctious, or even destructive. Long walks and games of Fetch or Frisbee are some of Fido’s favorite things. (Note: These guys do have a tendency to chase squirrels, and should never be allowed to run around off-leash.) It’s also worth mentioning that the Boxer has a rather long puppyhood. He’ll be frisky and playful well into his adulthood.

Ask your Roanoke, VA vet for specific advice on your pup’s exercise needs.

When Did Boxers Get To The States? 

Although Fido’s family tree has ancient roots, these dogs were rather late to cross the pond over to America. In fact, they didn’t arrive in the States until after 1940. 

Are Boxers Aggressive? 

Boxers aren’t considered one of the more aggressive breeds. However, they aren’t exactly the meekest dogs, either. They can get pushy, especially if they haven’t been trained properly. And while they can get along well with other dogs, this isn’t a given. Proper introductions are important. 

If Fido has any behavioral issues, such as digging, aggression, or just not obeying commands, consult your vet or a behaviorist. 

How Do You Keep A Boxer Entertained? 

You’ll need to make sure that Fido has plenty of toys to occupy himself with. Playing is also a great way to help your pooch burn off his zoomies. Boxers love classic doggy games like Fetch. Your canine buddy may also enjoy agility training, or more challenging games, like Hide And Seek. 

Although many of our canine pals like swimming, the Boxer is somewhat torn on this. Some Boxers do enjoy swimming. However, they really aren’t well-suited for it. Keep your pooch in shallow water, and never leave him near water unattended. 

Do you have questions about caring for a Boxer? Contact us, your Roanoke, VA pet hospital, today! 

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