Boxers - Boxer Dog Breed Information

There are many conditions in the boxer that are caused by heredity. Information on the breed in general, tumors, fainting and more.


The American Kennel Club lists the Boxer in the working dog group and it is there for good reason.

“Perfected” during the last half of the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries from a variety of breeds in Germany, it is the culmination of European breeding that dates back to the 16th century.

Originally bred for dog fighting and bull baiting, the dog soon became a favorite of police departments in Germany because of his courage, intelligence, fearlessness, strength, agility, loyalty and an aggressiveness that showed up only when necessary. As a pet, the Boxer is completely devoted to the family that owns him.

Appearance wise, the Boxer is a medium sized, square-built dog. His has a short, strong back, solid limbs and clean muscles that do not appear coarse. The head is unique unto the breed. It is large with a broad, blunt muzzle, an undershot jaw and a black masked muzzle. He also has dark-brown eyes, black nose, muscular neck and a deep chest as well as a glossy, short coat that comes in varying shades of fawn and brindle.

The average male boxer stands 22-24 inches at the withers and weighs about 65 to 70 pounds. The female stands 21 to 23 inches and weighs between 60 and 65 pounds.

Boxers had a higher incidence of unilateral (both sides) cryptorchidisn than any other breed. Cryptorchidisn is when one or more of the testicles are retained or remain undecended. Quite often the retained testicle is sitting right in the channel but has never completely dropped into the scrotum. Reasons for this could be an obstruction in the scrotum or even a shortness of the cord attached to the testicle. Not all of these are in this position. Some are retained in the abdomen and should be surgically removed as soon as possible since retained testicles are predisposed to develop Sertoli cell tumors. Dogs that have retained testicles, even if one is dropped into the scrotum, should not be bred since cryptorchidisn is considered an inherited trait.

Boxers also suffer from ulcerative keratits. This condition causes ulcers to appear on the cornea and is unique to the breed. There are no know viral or bacterial causes of the condition and it may involve one or both eyes. Usually consisting of small, superficial lesions, ulcerative keratits doesn’t have a tendency to spread. The condition can occur in males and females but oddly enough, 80% of the incidences of these ulcers occur in spayed females. Hormonal therapy has been shown to reduce the chances of recurrence.

As one of the deep chested breeds, the Boxer has been shown to be a candidate for gastric torsion or bloat. Bloat is a condition that causes the stomach to “flip over” and cuts off circulation to the area. It is commonly called bloat because the stomach fills with gas and liquids that cause it to swell to unbelievable proportions. This swelling is drastic enough that owners can often spot the condition from across the room. Gastric torsion is an emergency situation that requires immediate surgery to correct. It is also a condition that has an extremely low survival rate.

A common in Boxers is the high rate of tumors. Research reports this is in all Boxers, not just the ones in my area. As a breed, they are very prone to mastocytoma, histiocytoma osteosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, aortic body tumors, hemangioma as well as tumors in the testicles, thyroid and lungs. It is interesting to note Boxers don’t have mammary tumors that often and when they do, the tumors are usually benign.

The Boxer also has a problem with what appears to be oral tumors but is really hyperplasia of the gingiva. The condition usually happens in older Boxers. When looking into the mouth, they appear to have tumors growing from the gingival. These “tumors” are really fibrous overgrowth of the gingiva. Eventually these fibrous overgrowths begin to interfere with the Boxer’s mastication (chewing) and the problem will need to be solved surgically.

Many Boxers between the ages of two months to two years old will suffer from soft, bloody stools. The condition is often diagnosed granulomatous colitis. The exact cause of the problem isn’t known although many researchers feel it may be infectious. In the beginning stage of the condition, the Boxer doesn’t appear ill and the stool is the only symptom. Granulomatous colitis is usually a slow progressing disease. It causes increasing debilitation and even with the most persistent treatment, may prove fatal to the dog.  

Boxers also seem to be predisposed to intervertibral disc degeneration. The degeneration usually takes place between T12 and T13 (thoracic vertebrae numbers 12 and 13). To diagnosis the condition a veterinarian will use radiographs as well as palpating the dog’s back with his hands to check for pain and discomfort.
Male Boxers are more often prone to cystine urea and cystine stones of the urinary system.

There is an odd condition in Boxers, which is when seemingly resting dogs “faint” or collapse. The condition varies in severity with the worst cases appearing very similar to the Adams-Stokes syndrome in humans. Explaining why the dog faints is often difficult since it appears healthy in all other regards. Where as the most common assumption would be a cardiac rhythm problem, examination usually shows the dog does not have tachycardia (overly fast heart beat) or Sinus arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).

The normal lifespan of a Boxer provides much love and loyalty to their owners for ten and twelve years. They combine the very best of canine traits as far as intelligence, trainability, strength and pride and it is up to conscientious breeders to make sure the Boxer not only remains this way but that as many of the hereditary defects and disorders are weeded out of the breeding stock and not allowed to reproduce.