Boxers – Gentlemen Amongst Dogs
by Jim Navary
Developed in Germany as a medium sized security dog, the Boxer combines the characteristics of two German mastiff type breeds (the Bullenbeiszer and the Barenbeiszer) that were used for hunting, cart pulling and protection and the Bulldog.
The Boxer is a smooth coated athletic dog, generally fawn or brindle in color with a black mask and white markings. The coat lies smooth and tight to the body and is quite short and shiny. Males are generally approximately 23 to 25 inches in height at the shoulder and weigh about 65-80 pounds. Females are generally 2 to 3 inches shorter and 10-15 pounds lighter. Life expectancy is approx. 11-14 years.
Boxers were introduced to America after World War I when returning servicemen brought them home as pets. The Boxer’s popularity has grown enormously since then. The breed is valued as an intelligent and loyal pet, companion, and alert guardian of home and family. They are known to get along well with children.
Grooming of Boxers is uncomplicated. They require minimal bathing as they groom themselves somewhat like cats. Provide simple routine brushing to control shedding, nail trimming, and ear cleaning and your Boxer will be well groomed.
As a strong and spirited breed, the Boxer enjoys daily outdoor walks and runs as well as fetching and active play. They can adapt to most living arrangements, including apartment life, as long as they are provided plenty of exercise.
Although originating in Germany, the name “Boxer” is an English term. The breed probably came by the name as a result of the way that Boxers like to use their front paws. If you watch a Boxer for a while you will undoubtedly notice that he paws at his food bowl, toys, and other objects in a playful, almost cat-like manner. When participating in the sport of Schutzhund, Boxers are known to jump up and use their front paws as if they are boxing.
Due to the Boxer’s high-spirited and independent temperament, it is important that their human companions establish themselves as pack leaders. Training should begin during the puppy stage and be consistent and firm. They must learn that you and other humans rank higher up in the social order than the dog. Otherwise, the Boxer may become demanding, boisterous and very difficult to control.
Unfortunately, the Boxer is susceptible to several potential health problems, including hip dysplasia, bloat, aortic stenosis (a heart ailment), digestive problems, hypothyroidism, and cancerous and benign tumors.
Hip dysplasia and hypothyroidism affect many breeds of dogs and their presence can be determined by testing breeding stock before mating. Dysplastic dogs should not be bred; thyroid dogs should be bred carefully to non-thyroid dogs. Thyroid disease can be controlled by medicine; dysplasia cannot be controlled and can be corrected or alleviated only by surgery.
Prospective Boxer buyers should ask breeders for proof the litter’s sire and dame are free of dysplasia and for the thyroid status of both of the puppy’s parents.
Bloat, also known as Stomach Torsion or Twisted Stomach, is a life-threatening disease of dogs with deep, narrow chests. Bloat is an extremely serious condition, and should be considered a life-threatening emergency when it occurs. There are not home remedies for bloat, therefore dog owners must contact their veterinarians immediately if they suspect that their dog has bloat. Dogs can die of bloat within several hours. Even with treatment, as many as 25-33% of dogs with bloat die.
The good news is that the incidence of bloat among Boxers is much less common than for larger breeds. Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Weimaraners and Setters have a significantly higher probability of developing the condition. So, while the chances of an individual Boxer having bloat are relatively low, owners should still be aware of the possibility due to the severity of the condition.
Potential Boxer owners may be tempted to reconsider their preference upon learning of these potential health problems. However, the incidence of these diseases is not very high, and buying from an ethical breeder who provides health certificates, answers questions about her breeding stock, and offers a contract that guarantees the dogs improves the chances for having a healthy pet.
The Boxer is an affectionate and trustworthy pet for an active family. He
is low-maintenance, intelligent, athletic, and faithful. What more could a dog lover ask?
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