The Boxer - this dog breed is certainly no ‘couch potato’

Rens Hageman
Rens Hageman

Boxers are high energy dogs that are often described as exuberant, extrovert while at the same time being known as the clowns of the dog world.


If there is one thing a Boxer is not, it's a couch potato. These dogs are renowned for their loyalty and the fact they are fun-loving characters. It is said that once a person has owned a Boxer, they would never dream of having another breed of dog in their lives.

The breed originates from Germany where they were bred as working dogs and it's believed Boxers boast an ancestry that includes the Bulldog and Great Dane. Their name comes from a German word "beisser" which was corrupted to Bullenbeisser which translated means "bull biter". Boxers are exceptional watchdogs even in a home environment and are very quick to let their owners know if there are any strangers or people about.

The Boxer has consistently been a popular choice of family pet for many years not only here in the UK, but elsewhere in the world and for good reason. They are loyal, fun-loving and extremely good with children of all ages always ready to join in a game with as much gusto as you would hope for from a family pet. In short, the Boxer is a true and much loved all rounder.


Boxers were around in their native Germany in the 19th Century when they were highly regarded as being sound and loyal working and hunting dogs. The breed was developed over several hundred years in their native land and as previously mentioned, they have an interesting ancestry with Bulldogs and Great Danes being two of the dogs used to perfect the breed.

It was only in the thirties that Boxers arrived on English shores and a few years later, enthusiasts of the breed got together in London to establish "The British Boxer Dog Club". It was not long before the club's membership doubled with six fans of the breed becoming twelve.

That same year in 1936, The Boxer Club was accepted as being an affiliate of The Kennel Club and Cruft's Dog Show started including Boxer Classes in their events. A breed standard was established and in 1939, and Boxers were granted Championship status. World War II put a stop to things for the next few years, but with the help of Mrs Caro who owned the very first Champion Boxer to be bred in the UK, the club survived and prospered gaining new members and before long a revival of the breed took place.

Today, the Boxer is known the world over as being among one of the kindest and most fun-loving albeit highly energetic dogs to own. The added bonus being they are extremely kind when around children and other pets, rarely showing an aggressive side to their personalities.


Height at the withers: Males 57 - 63 cm, Females 53 - 59 cm

Average Weight: Males 30 - 32 kg, Females 25 - 27 kg

One of the most noticeable and endearing physical traits of Boxers, is their undershot jaw and unlike in many other breeds, this is one trait that is highly desirable in the breed. Their jaw structure means a Boxer has a very strong grip when they take anything in their mouths. They are extremely proud looking dogs that always hold themselves well. They are extremely well-muscled and nicely proportioned from the heads right down to the tips of their tails.

A Boxer's head is perfectly proportioned in relation to the rest of their body and their muzzle is strong looking and broad. The only time a Boxer has any wrinkles on their faces is when they are excited. Their muzzles are always that much darker as compared to the rest of their faces and bodies.

Their eyes are always alert, dark brown in colour and have an "intelligent" look about them which is enhanced by the dark rims around them. Their ears are set wide apart on the top part of their head, falling to the front when a dog is excited, but otherwise they lie flat close to a dog's cheeks. As previously mentioned, one of the defining features of the breed is their undershot jaw and their extremely powerful bite.

Their neck is supple and strong, being well-muscled with a distinct arch in it that goes right down to a dog's withers. Their forequarters are powerful and square in appearance when seen in profile. Boxers have very deep chests with well arched and well defined ribcages. Their backs are short and slope downwards to their hindquarters giving these dogs a very powerful appearance even when they are at rest. Their feet are small and very cat-like in appearance with arched toes and their back feet are slight longer than their front ones. A Boxer's tail is set high and dogs tend to carry them high.

When it comes to a Boxer's coat, this is short and tight to their bodies being smooth to the touch and glossy looking. These lovely dogs boast a variety of colours which includes the following:

Fawn or Brindle with white markings (not to cover more than one-third of their total colour)

Fawn - this includes shades from extremely light right through to very dark

Brindle with black stripes on fawn (stripes running parallel to a dog's body)


Known to be real clowns, Boxers are often referred to as the "jokers of the dog world". They are energetic, playful and fun characters to have around and they take a long time to mature. Boxers are always eager to please and extremely loyal dogs by nature. However, they need to be handled gently, but firmly so they understand their place in the "pack" or they can become a handful and a bit wilful.

Boxers also need to be well socialised and introduced to new people, animals and different situations as early as possible to curb any unwanted behaviours like jumping up when they greet someone which if not nipped in the bud can develop into a real problem. They rarely show any aggressive behaviour, but due to their size jumping up can be a little intimidating to people and a dog could accidentally knock a child over by doing so.

Some Boxers can be a little wary when around people they don't know and they are quick to let an owner know when there are strangers about. They need to be kept busy because if a Boxer gets bored through lack of exercise or because they are not given enough mental stimulation, they can become quite destructive around the house which includes chewing on furniture and digging up carpets.

Being such hyperactive characters, Boxers are a great choice for families and people who love to spend as much of their free time with a canine companion in the great outdoors. They adore playing interactive games which includes things like Frisbee. In general, the Boxer is a quick learner because they are considered to be intelligent dogs although at times they are known to be a little head strong, but with the correct training and handling, Boxers are a real pleasure to be around.

Intelligence / Trainability

Boxers are intelligent dogs, but they need to be well handled and given the right sort of guidance from a young age for them to be truly obedient dogs. They also need to be well socialised as soon as possible so they get to meet new people, other animals and new situations for them to grow up to be calmer, more rounded dogs.

Boxers can be boisterous when young which means it can prove difficult to get a dog to focus when they are being taught anything new. With this in mind, it's essential for these dogs to be handled firmly right from the word go so they understand their place in the "pack" and who is alpha dog. Boxers can become unruly and wilful if they are not given the right sort of direction and they are extremely quick at picking up any bad habits which need to be nipped in the bud, gently but firmly.

Children and other pets

Boxers are generally very kind dogs when they are around children, given the correct guidance they are extremely loyal and protective of their family pack too. As with any other breed, they need to be well socialised and introduced to as many new situations, pets and people from a young age to be truly well-balanced, confident characters.

They are also known to be good around other dogs and family pets and as previously mentioned, a Boxer rarely shows any sort of aggressive behaviour towards other animals. However, it's always best to make sure that any introductions to new dogs or other animals goes smoothly by keeping a close eye on things.


The average life expectancy of a Boxer is between 10 - 12 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.

As with many other pedigree dogs, the Boxer is known to suffer from specific health issues more than other breeds which are worth knowing about if you are thinking about sharing your home with one of these fun-loving dogs. The health disorders the breed is known to suffer from includes the following:

Aortic Stenosis/Sub-Aortic Stenosis (AS/SAS) - tests available

Bloat/Gastric Torsion



Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)



Entropion (Eyelids Folding Inwards)

Hip Dysplasia - Tests available



Cutaneous Asthenia

Boxers have also been seen to react badly to a sedative commonly used by vets called acepromazine. As such vets avoid using the sedative when treating a Boxer. The other thing to bear in mind is that because Boxers have flatter muzzles and are a brachycephalic breed, care has to be taken when exercising these dogs in hotter weather to prevent them from overheating.

Caring for a Boxer

As with any other breed, Boxers need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in tip-top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise so they remain fit and healthy. Being high energy dogs, they are not the best choice for people who lead more sedentary lives. On top of this, Boxers need to be fed a good quality diet throughout their lives to meet all their nutritional needs.


Having short, tight coats, Boxers are relatively low maintenance in the grooming department. However, to keep on top of any shed hair and to make sure a dog's coat is kept in good condition, they need to be brushed at least once a week. It's also worth bearing in mind that like all other breeds, Boxers tend to shed more hair during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent grooming may be necessary.

It's also a good idea to check a Boxer's ears on a weekly basis to make sure there is no build up of wax which could harbour a yeast infection. A lot of Boxers have quite a bit of white in their coats which means extra care needs to be taken during the hotter summer months to reduce the risk of a dog suffering from sunburn which is all too commonly a problem with Boxers that boast more white in their coats.

It's also a very good idea to keep an eye on the condition of a Boxer's teeth and to teach a puppy that having them regularly cleaned in a good experience right from the word go.


Boxers need to be given lots of daily exercise and ideally, this should be at least 2 hours a day. A good brisk hour's walk in the morning and then again in the afternoon which should include lots of interactive games that would keep a Boxer mentally stimulated.

If you have a secure garden, it's also a good idea to let a Boxer spend lots of time out in it whenever possible so they get to expend all that pent up energy these dogs tend to have.


Boxers need to be fed a good quality, balanced diet to suit the different stages of their lives. It's worth noting that they have quite sensitive stomachs which in short means that feeding a Boxer food that has a lot of wheat and other fillers in it would not suit them and could end up causing them quite serious digestive upsets.

If you get a Boxer puppy from a breeder, they would have provided a feeding schedule and it is very important that you keep to it. You would also need to feed a new puppy the same type of food as they are used to eating to avoid any tummy upsets. However, you can gradually change their food over a period of a few weeks, keeping a close eye on things when you do. If you notice any loose stools, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change their food again.

As previously mentioned, Boxers are known to have quite sensitive digestive systems as such it's important they be fed a good quality diet that does not contain wheat or other fillers. If a Boxer proves to be intolerant of the food they are fed, they are at greater risk of developing colitis.

It's also very important not to feed a Boxer just before they are due to go out for a walk or any strenuous exercise and the same can be said of when they just get back from a brisk walk. The reason being that Boxers are prone to Bloat and feeding them when they are still too hot could trigger gastric torsion.

Average cost to keep / care for a Boxer

If you are looking to buy a Boxer, you would need to pay anything from £400 to up to £1500 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a 3 year old Boxer in the north of England is £51.58 a month for basic cover, but for a lifetime policy you would need to fork out £98.22 a month (quote as of March 2016). It's also worth remembering that insurance companies factor in quite a few things when they calculate a premium and this includes where you live in the UK and a pet's age and their breed.

When it comes to food costs, you would need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry to feed a Boxer throughout their lives. This would set you back between £60-£70 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Boxer which includes their initial vaccinations, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their annual health check visits, all of which can quickly add up to well over a £1000 a year.

As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Boxer would be in the region of £120 to £160 a month depending on the level of insurance you opt to get for your pet, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree Boxer puppy.

(Article source: Pets 4 Homes)

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