Boxers are medium-sized dogs with well-developed muscles. They have unique, chiseled heads and a smooth appearance over their toned muscles underneath. They are also said to have the longest tongues of all dog breeds!
The average life expectancy is 11 to 15 years or more. Males weigh between 60 to 70 pounds while females range from 50 to 65 pounds. Females grow to an average height of 21 1/2 to 23 1/2 inches tall while males come in a bit taller from 23 to 25 inches tall.
Boxers have dark brown eyes and coat colors in fawn and brindle colors. Some coat colors can be black or white. The tails are usually docked, although this practice is criticized and outlawed in countries outside of the United States.
The boxer is believed to have descended from a line of different dogs throughout Europe dating back to the 16th century, one of which is believed to have been an old fighting dog from Tibet. Boxers also carry lines from the bulldog and terrier. They were originally used for dog fighting and bull baiting until the practices were outlawed. The dogs were also used in hunting; boxers would pin down large animals until the hunter could arrive.
The breed was refined in Germany in the 19th century and exported to the United States after World War I. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed in 1904. Boxers were exported to England in the 1930s in limited numbers; a breed club was formed, which raised the popularity of the breed.
The name comes from the animal’s use of its paws in fighting that appears like boxing; boxers also use their paws in many daily activities.
The boxer is a companion pet, a competitive show dog and a large game hunter. The breed also participates in search and rescue, guide/service for disabled people and are excellent guard and watch dogs. Some boxers also participate in Schutzhund.
Boxers are patient and affectionate with adults and children. They are also very protective, courageous and fearless, and these qualities lead to the desirability of the breed. They are intelligent dogs that are easily trained; boxers are also energetic and playful dogs with a natural curiosity. Properly socialized boxers can live with cats, although they should not be left alone with small animals.
Boxers are active indoors and do well in apartments. They do need a long, brisk walk every day and are sensitive to extremes of heat and cold. They require a large amount of play in order to be happy; this is not a dog to put outside and leave alone. Boxers that are not socialized, trained or allowed to expel energy on a regular basis can become stubborn and difficult.
Some boxers are extremely fond of water, and this video shows one dog happily playing fetch in the pool:
Shedding is average for this breed, and a weekly brushing is usually sufficient. Bathing should be done as needed and not too often or it will strip the coat of its natural oils. Clip the dog’s nails regularly, brush the teeth and clean the ears. Some boxer owners report their dogs clean themselves like a cat by self-bathing.
Common Health Problems
Unfortunately the boxer is susceptible to a host of health problems, some of which include:
- Cardiomyopathy and other heart problems
- Thyroid problems (hypothyroidism)
- Skin and other allergies
- Tumors (more common after eight years of age)
- Hip dysplasia
- Back and knee issues
- Excessive flatulence
- Deafness (more common in white boxers)
Is the Boxer the Right Dog for You?
Boxers are muscular, active and athletic dogs that are active indoors, so apartment life is agreeable with a daily walk. Socialized boxers can get along with other family pets, but they should not be left alone with small animals. The breed is affectionate and protective of owners and family, and is a great dog for children. They do have a long list of common health problems, so superior care and regular vet visits will help keep them healthy. If you have the time and dedication to take excellent care of this beautiful and devoted animal, the boxer might be a perfect addition to your family.
Adopt, Don’t Buy
If you consider getting a boxer, please check rescues and adoption resources. Even purebred animals can end up in shelters. Try Pets Adviser’s adoptable pets search.
Finding a boxer through adoption resources may be difficult. You can also check with rescue groups and breeders. If you do choose to go to a breeder, make sure the breeder is reputable and doesn’t exhibit any of the puppy mill warnings.
Do you have a boxer? Tell me about your dog’s unique personality in the comments below. If you enjoyed this breed profile, you’ll love Pets Adviser’s email newsletter. It’s free to sign up, and you’ll be among the first to get alerts about major pet food recalls. New subscribers also get instant access to our 40-page ebook — which has “secrets every cat and dog lover should know.” Learn more here.