Boxers are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they’re prone to certain health conditions. Not all Boxers will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering this breed.
Here are a few conditions you and your vet should keep an eye out for:
- Cancer. Boxers are especially prone to the developing mast cell tumors, lymphoma, and brain tumors. White Boxers and Boxers with excessive white markings can be sunburned and may even develop skin cancer. If your Boxer is light-colored, apply sunscreen on their ears, nose, and coat when they go outdoors.
- Aortic stenosis/sub-aortic stenosis (AS/SAS). This is one of the most common heart defects found in Boxers. The aorta narrows below the aortic valve, forcing the heart to work harder to supply blood to the body. This condition can cause fainting and even sudden death. It’s an inherited condition, but its mode of transmission isn’t known at this time. Typically, a veterinary cardiologist diagnoses this condition after a heart murmur has been detected. Dogs with this condition should not be bred.
- Boxer cardiomyopathy (BCM). Also called Boxer Arrythmic Cardiomyopathy (BAC), Familial Ventricular Arrhythmia (FVA) and Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC). BCM is an inherited condition. The dog’ heart sometimes beats erratically (arrhythmia) due to an electrical conduction disorder. This can cause weakness, collapse, or sudden death. Because it is difficult to detect this condition, it can cause an unexpected death. Boxers who show signs of this condition should not be bred.
- Hip Dysplasia: This is a heritable condition in which the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop. X-ray screening for hip dysplasia is done by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHIP). Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred. Hip dysplasia is hereditary, but it can also be triggered by environmental factors, such as rapid growth from a high-calorie diet or injuries incurred from jumping or falling on slick floors. Treatment ranges from supplements that support joint function to total hip replacement.
- Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is caused by a deficiency of thyroid hormone and may produce signs that include infertility, obesity, mental dullness, and lack of energy. The dog’s fur may become coarse and brittle and begin to fall out, while the skin becomes tough and dark. Hypothyroidism can be managed very well with a thyroid replacement pill daily. Medication must continue throughout the dog’s life.
- Corneal Dystrophy: This refers to several diseases of the eye that are non-inflammatory and inherited. One or more layers of the cornea in both eyes are usually affected, although not necessarily symmetrically. In most breeds, corneal dystrophy appears as an opaque area in the center of the cornea or close to the periphery. This usually isn’t painful unless corneal ulcers develop.
- Demodectic Mange: Also called Demodicosis. All dogs carry a little passenger called a demodex mite. The mother dog passes this mite to her pups in their first few days of life. The mite can’t be passed to humans or other dogs; only the mother passes mites to her pups. Demodex mites live in hair follicles and usually don’t cause any problems. If your Boxer has a weakened or compromised immune system, however, they can develop demodectic mange. Demodectic mange, also called demodicosis, can be localized or generalized. In the localized form, patches of red, scaly skin with hair loss appears on the head, neck and forelegs. It’s thought of as a puppy disease, and often clears up on its own. Even so, you should take your dog to the vet because it can turn into the generalized form of demodectic mange. Generalized demodectic mange covers the entire body and affects older puppies and young adult dogs. The dog develops patchy skin, bald spots, and skin infections all over the body. The American Academy of Veterinary Dermatology recommends neutering or spaying all dogs that develop generalized demodectic mange because there is a genetic link. The American Academy of Veterinary Dermatology recommends neutering or spaying all dogs that develop generalized demodectic mange because there is a genetic link to its development. The third form of this disease, Demodectic Pododermititis, is confined to the paws and can cause deep infections.
- Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), also called Bloat or Torsion: This is a life-threatening condition that can affect large, deep-chested dogs like Boxers, especially if they are fed one large meal a day, eat rapidly, drink large volumes of water after eating, and exercise vigorously after eating. Some think that raised feeding dishes and type of food might be additional factors. It is more common among older dogs. GDV occurs when the stomach is distended with gas or air and then twists (torsion). The dog is unable to belch or vomit to rid themselves of the excess air in their stomach, and the normal return of blood to the heart is impeded. Blood pressure drops and the dog goes into shock. Without immediate medical attention, the dog can die. Suspect bloat if your dog has a distended abdomen, is salivating excessively and retching without throwing up. They also may be restless, depressed, lethargic, and weak with a rapid heart rate. It’s important to get your dog to the vet as soon as possible. There is some indication that a tendency toward GDV is inherited, so it’s recommended that dogs that develop this condition should be neutered or spayed.
- Allergies: Boxers are prone to allergies, both environmental allergies and food-related allergies. If you notice that your Boxer has itchy, scaly skin, have them checked out by your vet.
- Deafness: White Boxers are especially susceptible to deafness. About 20 percent of white Boxers are deaf, and white Boxers should not be bred because the genes that cause deafness in white Boxers can be inherited. Additionally, Boxers who carry the extreme white spotting gene can increase the incidence of deafness in the breed.
Boxers are housedogs. Their short noses and short coats make them unsuited to living outdoors, although they’ll enjoy having a fenced yard to play in.
Boxers love to play. To keep their muscles toned and satisfy their need for exercise, plan on playing with them or walking them at least twice a day for half an hour. Play fetch, take them for long walks, or get them involved in dog sports such as agility or flyball. Giving your Boxer plenty of daily exercise is the best way to ensure good behavior. A tired Boxer is a good Boxer.
Training is essential for the Boxer. They’re so big and strong that they can accidentally hurt people by knocking them over if they don’t learn to control their actions. The Boxer’s temperament plays a role in their trainability. They’re happy and excitable, bouncy, and a bit of a mischief-maker. Getting them to take training seriously requires starting early and using firm, fair training methods and positive motivation in the form of praise, play, and food rewards. Be consistent. Your Boxer will notice any time you let them get away with something, and they’ll push to see what else he can get away with. Before you head to training class, settle them down a little with an energetic walk or play session. They’ll focus better once they’ve got their ya-yas out.
Patience is the key to housetraining your Boxer. Some are housetrained by four months of age, but others aren’t reliable until they’re seven months to a year old. Take your Boxer out to potty on a regular schedule and praise them wildly when they do their business outdoors. Crate training is recommended.