Boxer: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Boxer

 Ryan Murphy / Getty Images

The boxer is a medium-to-large dog breed with short, smooth fur and an athletic, agile build that's a member of the working group and originated in Germany. Boxers are generally energetic and loyal with a sweet and playful temperament. They often get along well with children, especially when socialized from a young age, and they possess an instinct to protect their family.

Breed Overview

Group: Working

Height: 21.5 to 23.5 inches (female), 23 to 25 inches (male)

Weight: 50 to 65 pounds (female), 65 to 80 pounds (male)

Coat: Short, smooth

Coat Color: Typically fawn and brindle, can have a black mask and/or white markings

Life Span: 10 to 12 years

Temperament: Active, affectionate, playful, energetic

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: Germany

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Click Play to Learn More About the Athletic and Friendly Boxer

Characteristics of the Boxer

Boxers typically have a friendly and playful temperament. They love people and can be quite affectionate. These people-oriented personality traits also make them relatively trainable dogs.

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability High
Intelligence Medium
Tendency to Bark Medium
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Boxer

The ancestors of the boxer can be traced back thousands of years. But the breed began to take shape in Germany toward the end of the 19th century. Breeders downsized larger mastiff-type dogs—specifically involving a breed called the Bullenbeisser that had been used for big-game hunting. Bulldogs also played a role in the breed's genetic makeup, as boxers are related to nearly all bulldog-type breeds.

The leaner, smaller boxer spread throughout Europe and then the United States in the late 19th century and 20th century. They unfortunately were involved in inhumane dog fighting and other blood sports. The loyal canines also were used on farms, as guard dogs, as service dogs, and in the police and military. In fact, boxers were one of the first dog breeds to work as police dogs in Germany. 

The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1904, and today boxers are one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S.

Railway guard dog by the tracks
A railway guard boxer in 1966 Reg Speller / Getty Images

Boxer Care

The athletic boxer has high exercise needs and loves playtime. Proper training also is a must to keep the breed's energy in check. Fortunately, the boxer is relatively low-maintenance when it comes to grooming.

Exercise

Most boxers have a lot of energy, which means they need ample exercise each day. It’s ideal to take your boxer for a 30-minute walk at least twice daily. Jogging, hikes, fetch, and other active play also will help to keep the dog fit and mentally stimulated. Because they are people-oriented dogs, boxers would prefer doing something active with you rather than being left alone in a yard. 

Keep in mind that boxers aren't very tolerant of either cold or hot weather. Their short coat doesn't give them insulation against the cold. And because of their short noses, boxers can't pant well to cool themselves off in heat. So it's best to exercise boxers primarily indoors during extreme weather, hot or cold. In hot weather, plan walks for the coolest time of the day if possible.

Grooming

Because boxers have very short coats, they have relatively simple grooming needs. Brush them weekly with a curry brush to remove any loose fur and debris from their coat. When the weather changes in the spring and fall, except heavier shedding and brush more frequently to compensate for the increase in loose fur.

The coat also stays fairly clean, requiring a bath only every couple of months or so in general. But keep in mind that many boxers are droolers, so their fur might need some cleanup with a damp cloth around their mouth.

Nail trims will be necessary roughly every month, depending on how much the dog naturally wears down its nails. Moreover, it's ideal to brush the dog's teeth every day.

Training

Boxers can become hyperactive and unruly if they aren’t properly trained and socialized. This is simply a result of their exuberant personalities. Boxers often love to jump up on people—a carryover of how the breed would jump while hunting game—and ideally they should have consistent training from a young age to curb this behavior. 

It’s best to start a boxer puppy in a puppy training class as soon as it meets the age requirement. There, it will learn basic obedience and how to socialize politely with other dogs and people. Expose your boxer to different people and situations, and make sure everyone who meets it uses positive reinforcement on good behaviors. Enrolling in dog sports, service dog courses, or similar classes also can help your dog work on its obedience and strengthen the bond you have with it.

Boxers playing at the beach
Danita Delimont / Getty Images

Common Health Problems

In addition to their intolerance to extreme temperatures, boxers also are prone to some common health conditions. They include:

boxers as pets illustration

The Spruce / Emilie Dunphy

Diet and Nutrition

Feed a quality, nutritionally balanced dog food, and always provide clean water. Follow your vet's instructions for the quantity and variety of food, as this can vary with age, activity level, and other factors. Regularly monitor your boxer's weight to prevent obesity and other health issues.

Furthermore, like other deep-chested dogs, boxers can be prone to bloat, which can lead to the stomach dangerously twisting on itself. Eating from an elevated bowl, eating slowly, and being fed smaller meals can help to prevent bloat. 

Where to Adopt or Buy a Boxer

Check out local animal shelters and breed rescue groups to find a boxer in need of a home. Because the breed is so popular, boxers are relatively easy to find. If you're looking for a puppy from a reputable breeder, expect to pay around $1,000 to $2,000 on average, though this can vary widely depending on bloodline and other factors. 

Some groups that can help you in your search for a boxer include:

Boxer Overview

Pros
  • Affectionate

  • Fun-loving

  • Good family dogs

Cons
  • Excessive drool with some

  • Can be hyperactive without training and exercise

  • Can't tolerate hot or cold weather well

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

As with any breed, if you think the boxer is the dog for you, do plenty of research before you get one. Talk to veterinarians, other boxer owners, reputable breeders, and rescue groups to learn more.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

FAQ
  • Are boxers good family dogs?

    Boxers can be good family dogs, especially when they are trained and socialized from a young age. However, the exuberance and tendency to jump in untrained boxers might be too much around young children.

  • Are boxers aggressive?

    Boxers are typically very loving and affectionate with their families. But they also can have a protective nature that must be managed through training and socialization.

  • Are boxers good apartment dogs?

    Boxers can live in apartments as long as they receive enough exercise and mental stimulation throughout the day.

Article Sources
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  1. Boxer. American Kennel Club.

  2. Boxer Puppies For Sale. American Kennel Club.