Considering a Boxer?
Choosing the right breed is an important decision for you and your family, with many factors to consider. The information below will help determine whether you and a Boxer are right for one another.
The old adage “Who Rescued Who” holds true when it comes to Boxers. Our Boxer Rescue Angel Volunteers, almost all of whom have or have had a rescued Boxer, can attest to that. We recognize, however, that pet owners and their home situations will vary, perhaps making a particular breed or mixed breed better suited, depending on an individual’s or family’s circumstances, lifestyle and temperament.
Like people, individual Boxers have their own identities so it can be hard to bucket them all together in terms of personality, behavior and energy; however, the information below can help you make an informed decision as to whether you and a Boxer are right for each other.
The life expectancy of a Boxer is typically 10-12 years. You will want to keep this in mind when making the important decision to add a dog to the family. Are you willing to commit to caring for a dog throughout its whole life?
Only rarely are Boxer puppies available for adoption. Most Boxers in rescue programs range in age from 2-3 years and up. Many of these Boxers were obtained as puppies without careful consideration given to their energy level and need for training as they grew up. Dogs do not train themselves and as they became adolescents their families may have chosen to “get rid of them” rather than providing the care and training the Boxer requires to be a well-mannered dog. Boxers strive to please and given the opportunity will learn quickly.
Senior dogs are welcomed additions to many homes, to the benefit of the Boxer needing a new family and the fortunate adopter who is the recipient of grateful love and devotion from a less demanding companion. Those years together will certainly be the best years in the “Silver Paws” life, with the shared experience equally rewarding to the adopter, as many of our Boxer Rescue Angels have found.
Boxers do not tolerate weather extremes well and are best acclimated to temperate environments. Like you and your family, they should live indoors. Boxers enjoy going outdoors to run, play and explore and should be allowed to do so, on leash or in safely fenced supervised areas. They can adapt to condo or apartment environments provided their exercise needs are met daily. Never leave your Boxer outdoors unattended and always have fresh water available whether playing in the yard or out and about with you. In Florida’s climate, it is best to take them on walks early in the morning or late in the day. Boxers are intolerant of hot weather and even fit, athletic dogs can suffer from heat stroke, as brachycephalic breeds (smooshed-faced dogs like Boxers) are at greater risk.
Boxers are the class clowns with a joyful spirit that manifests itself in a happy kidney-bean dance. Their expressive face and human-like qualities set them apart from other breeds. Boxers are one of the most loyal, intelligent and people-oriented companion breeds. Their most notable characteristic is the desire for human affection and as such, needs to have their family around. If nobody in the family is around the house all day, then a Boxer is probably not right for you. Boxers need the opportunity to spend time and share their love with you. Simply put, no matter how much love you give your Boxer, it will return that love many times over. They consider themselves lapdogs and are a “hey, what are you doing…can I help?” dog, often “shadowing” you from room to room just to be with you. Having a Boxer means more than coming home from work to their excitement at seeing you. It means spending quality time together on a daily basis. A Boxer left alone for long periods may develop separation anxiety with resulting destructive behavior. If you and your family are rarely at home a Boxer is not the right breed for you, as this will not be meeting its true and ongoing need for attention and companionship.
Energy and Exercise
It goes without saying, Boxers are dogs with a lot of energy. They can be very rambunctious as they box one another and run their “crazy 8″ laps around the yard. Boxers like to play with people and with other dogs, and need opportunities each and every day to play in order to provide energy release. This is a must. A simple walk through the neighborhood after work is not enough for this breed. A younger Boxer will require more exercise than an older one, but all need a daily dose to keep them fit and happy. Lack of exercise can lead to boredom and destructive behaviors. A tired Boxer is a happy Boxer!
Boxers are an intelligent breed and need to exercise their minds as well as their bodies. Any activity that requires your dog’s attention is a mental task and will be great for their mind’s growth and keep them psychologically healthy. Games such as Fetch, Hide and Seek and Find It can be played indoors or outdoors and your involvement promotes bonding. Kong toys also provide mental exercise as the dog must figure out how to get the treat out of the toy. This is particularly good at keeping them from boredom while crated during your absence from the home.
Because they learn quickly, the Boxer is also ideal for various sporting activities such as agility, lure coursing and flyball. The training to perform in competitions provides more complex mental exercise, along with the physical exercise of running the courses. Please note that Boxers should be over a year old to participate in sporting activities which include running and jumping, as their bones are still growing and orthopedic damage or torn ligaments can occur.
Keep in mind that there are many other creative ways to provide fun for both your Boxer and you. They love going on visits to pet stores, most of which allow dogs, to help you buy their food and toys. Many Boxers enjoy a good swim and ball-chasing, though the swimming should be closely supervised and never allowed in local fresh water lakes due to the risk of alligators.
Due to the Boxer’s energy level and size, it is important to carefully consider this before adopting a Boxer into a household with young children or older adults. They naturally want to play and can be exuberant in this endeavor. In households with young children or older adults, you may want to consider adopting an older Boxer, one that is calmer and some of the “energy-edge” has worn off.
Socialization and Training
While most Boxers are naturally affectionate and friendly, it is important to socialize them early and often with people and other animals so they are acclimated appropriately to exhibit their instinctive friendly behavior. Like any dog that has not been properly socialized, an unsocialized Boxer may be “surprised” when coming in contact with unknown people or animals, leading to unwanted response behaviors. Boxers have independent minds and can be stubborn with training, though they have an innate desire to please and generally respond well to positive reinforcement training. Training classes are strongly encouraged, not only to help the Boxer learn basic obedience, but appropriate manners and social skills as well. Going through training together has the added benefit of creating a closer bond between you and your Boxer.
Boxers bond closely with their families and have a natural affection for children, perhaps due to their own playful and mischievous nature. They are generally patient and gentle with young ones, though may knock them down with their exuberant play so consideration should be given to a calmer older Boxer if that is a concern. Children and their Boxers tend to forge strong bonds, the Boxer a steadfast friend and confidante, always there to listen and give a reassuring kiss.
Boxers do shed but their short smooth coat requires very little grooming. Brushing them occasionally will keep their coat in good condition, along with a diet of quality food. Nails must be trimmed regularly unless naturally worn down on a hard surface. An occasional bath should suffice as the Boxer has a natural tendency to keep himself clean.
Being a larger dog, Boxers require more food (and expense) than smaller dogs. It is important to feed a high quality food, divided into two meals a day, which will provide proper nourishment and lead to a longer, happier life for the dog. Boxers love to eat and could win awards for training those big brown eyes on you hoping for a handout, but you must not give in as it is not healthy for the dog and can lead to obesity. Boxers are kept trim by measuring their food, feeding twice a day (no free-feeding) and limiting treats.
Boxers may make a mess around their water bowl, particularly when drinking after a vigorous play. This is best dealt with by using a large bowl, perhaps with a towel under it. An out-of-the-way area is ideal for placing a Boxer’s feeding and water bowls. They may also drool and consider you or your favorite chair their personal napkin.
Boxers are predisposed to certain health conditions, including cancers, skin conditions, allergies, corneal ulcers, hip dysplasia and heart disease. Not all Boxers will get any or all of these diseases, but one should be aware if considering a Boxer. Veterinary care can be expensive for any dog experiencing a medical condition and it is important to be prepared financially should medical issues or emergencies arise. Should you adopt a Boxer, Boxer Rescue Angels will expect that you treat your new Boxer as a family member, providing all medical care your Boxer requires. Before adopting a Boxer, please discuss Boxer health concerns with your Veterinarian and research the breed thoroughly. The links below or the many other Boxer websites can provide more information about the breed.