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Boxer Breed Information: Traits, Facts, Colors & More


Last Updated: June 5, 2024 | 11 min read | 4 Comments

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A well-bred, well-socialized Boxer gets on well with everyone, including kids and other pets. Although they are pretty trainable, they can have a stubborn streak, but that’s generally viewed with amusement by their owners. After all, how could you not love this pup’s wrinkled, permanently worried look and unwavering devotion? Let me introduce you to the adorable and lovable Boxer dog breed.

Breed Overview
    • weight iconWeight48-85 Pounds
    • height iconHeight22-25 Inches
    • lifespan iconLifespan8-10 Years
    • color iconColorsTan, Brindle, White
  • Child Friendliness
  • Canine Friendliness
  • Training Difficulty
  • Grooming Upkeep
  • Breed Health
  • Exercise Needs
  • Puppy Costs

Boxer Breed History

Brown and White Dog by a Pond
Though once used in dogfighting, Boxers make wonderful family pets.

These pups are Molosser breeds and share similar traits to other bully breeds, like the Pitbull Terrier. The Boxer comes from Germany and was developed as a working dog in the late 19th century.

Evidence shows the Boxer as one of the descendants of the old fighting dogs of Tibet. Early Boxers are thought to belong to the same family as Bulldogs and Bull Terriers. It’s also likely that huge, Mastiff-type dogs known as “Bullenbeissers” were the ancestors of the Boxer. Bullenbeisser comes from the German word meaning “bull biter.” These dogs were employed on large estates for bringing down large game animals. Later, the Bullenbeisser found a place as a livestock herder and guardian.

The smaller, lighter-weight dog we know today appeared in the 1880s. These versatile pups were used as police dogs and guide dogs and served as scouts and messengers in the German military during World War I. In 1904, the Boxer was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). Today, they rank in the top 20 most popular breeds.

Primarily due to anti-German feelings following the two World Wars, it wasn’t until the 1950s that the Boxer began to enjoy popularity as a family pet.

Although they can be used as seeing-eye dogs, the Boxer’s primary role today is as a family pet and guardian.

Boxer Temperament

Brown and White Dog by Yellow Flowers
These dogs are bouncy, friendly, and affectionate.

If you are looking for a fantastic family pet, the Boxer fits that bill to a T. They are very outgoing pups who feel the need to be involved in just about every family happening, whether it is watching a movie on the sofa, playing in the backyard with the kids, or following you around the kitchen while preparing a meal. Boxers are incredibly energetic and could spend all day long playing outside.

Boxers are steadfast and not easy to influence. They are active, bright, fun-loving, and loyal. Boxers desire human affection and love children, which is why they are great with families. Boxers are patient and can be protective. They like to jump and leap, which will definitely put a smile on your face.

Though Boxers are social, they can be standoffish with strangers. They may bark loudly and act suspicious of them until their owner welcomes them. This loyalty and protectiveness also contribute to them being such great family pets.

Boxers are also very intelligent and loyal, making them easy to train. They get along well with children of all ages, as well as other pets in the home. Their bouncy energy, favorable demeanor, and somewhat goofy mannerisms have entertained families for decades.

Size & Appearance

Face of Dog With Underbite
The Boxer’s cute underbite is caused by the lower jaw being longer than the upper.

Boxers are medium-sized to large dogs. An adult can weigh from 48.5 pounds to almost 80 pounds and stand from 22 inches to 24.5 inches tall at the shoulder. Males are generally 25″ tall at the shoulders, and females are a little shorter.

Boxers are a medium-sized, square-built breed. They have a short back and strong limbs, and their muscles are well-developed and appear smooth under the skin. The skull is slightly arched, and wrinkles appear on the forehead when the ears are erect and are always present around the muzzle. Boxers have dark brown eyes.

The muzzle is 1/3 the length of the head and 2/3 the width of the skull. The ears are at the highest point of the skull, cropped, long, and tapered. If the ears are uncropped, the ears should be thin, lying flat, and close to the cheeks. The chest is fair width, and the forechest is well defined. The pelvis is long, and in females, it is broad.

Their well-proportioned bodies have long legs that carry their thick and square-shaped bodies. Boxers have deep barreled chests and skinny waists. Their tails are long and carried high. Usually, the tail is docked and sticks straight up. They have round faces, and their lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw. For this reason, they are brachycephalic canines, which come with breathing problems. The underbite can be pretty cute, though.

Coat & Colors

Profile View of Female Brown and White Dog
Brindle, tan, and white are the most common Boxer colors.

Boxers come in shades of bridle, tan, and white. Unlike some breeds, the Boxer’s white coloring is not caused by a genetic mutation. However, as is the case with most white animals, white Boxers are more likely to be deaf than tan or brindle animals. Also, you’ll need to take care that your white Boxer doesn’t suffer from sunburn that could ultimately lead to him developing skin cancer.

They have a short, smooth coat and shed moderately. Boxers require little grooming, and it’s easy to keep clean with regular brushings with a soft bristle brush.

Exercise Requirements

Running Brown and White Dog
These energetic pups need 60-90 minutes of daily exercise.

This breed is well-known for its boundless energy and boisterous temperament. These dogs need a lot of exercise every day! When you aren’t running them around the yard or neighborhood, you’ll need to keep them busy with plenty of dog toys.

Your Boxer won’t be satisfied with a quick walk around the block. He will require at least two long walks every day and as much playtime as you can fit into your day! Ideally, you’ll have a house with a large back garden where your pup can play and burn off his seemingly endless energy.

Living Conditions

White and Brown Dog Resting on the Floor of Living Room
These pups do better living inside with their family.

They are very family-oriented dogs and won’t take kindly to being put outside alone.

Also, exposure to outside temperatures for prolonged periods is not healthy for a Boxer. Their bodies do not tolerate extremes of heat and cold well. In hot weather, a Boxer kept outside is vulnerable to heatstroke, breathing problems, and dehydration. Boxers have relatively thin, short coats and are not built to handle exposure to very cold weather.

In winter, it’s advisable to provide a warm coat or fleece for your Boxer to keep him warm when the temperature falls below freezing.

Training Your Boxer

Happy Brown Dog Looking Up
Though they can have a stubborn streak, Boxers are fairly easy to train.

Boxers are quite intelligent and can be trained. Like the Rottweiler and other stubborn breeds, you will need to be patient and prepared to persevere with training, as they can be a tad stubborn!

It’s essential that you take your Boxer puppy to obedience training classes as soon as he is old enough. Early training, such as crate training and education, will ensure your bouncy Boxer can be kept in line when he’s fully grown, at least most of the time. If you plan to harness train your Boxer, you should ensure you find a harness specifically made for the Boxer breed because they love to pull.

Boxer Dog Breed Health

Senior Dog With Graying Face Tilting Its Head
Boxers have a fairly short lifespan of only 8-10 years.

Boxers are prone to a few health problems, including genetic issues such as arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, a severe congenital heart disease that is usually fatal. Other inherited health problems that affect Boxers include:

  1. Aortic/Subaortic stenosis
  2. Degenerative myelopathy
  3. Hip and elbow dysplasia

Responsible breeders will have all their breeding dogs screened by an appropriately qualified vet for these genetic abnormalities. In theory, puppies bred from parents who are free from genetic diseases should be healthy. For this reason, you should always ask to see the veterinary screening certificates for both a puppy’s parents and grandparents before you buy a Boxer puppy from a breeder.

Other non-hereditary health conditions that tend to affect them include:

  1. Bloat, sometimes resulting in gastric torsion
  2. Skin allergies
  3. Cancers, including hemangiosarcoma, mast cell tumors, lymphoma
  4. Hypothyroidism

Boxers are brachycephalic dogs. Their flat face and deeply wrinkled snout can lead to breathing problems for these pups, especially during hot weather.

Best Pet Insurance For Boxers

Boxers sadly don’t have an exceptionally long life expectancy, usually living for eight to ten years. Consider pet insurance for your boxer to help offset the likely medical bills you will face over their lifetime.

Fortunately for you, if you sign up for pet insurance before your Boxer is diagnosed with a health condition or suffers from an accident (post-waiting periods), it can help you cover unexpected medical expenses.

Choosing the best pet insurance for your Boxer is a personal decision, but we recommend selecting a company based on coverage, customer service and reputation, claim repayment timeline, price, and available plan customizations. We also feel it is important to get multiple quotes and then compare your top considerations against your primary coverage needs.

We’ve evaluated and selected the best pet insurance companies. Our article includes our top picks and the most popular pet insurance companies in the marketplace.


White Dog With Brown Patch on Left Eye Lounges Near Food Bowl
Choose a high-quality kibble formulated for your pup’s age.

Boxers do not typically have any specific food requirements. However, these are high-energy pups who quickly burn off calories if they are given sufficient exercise.

Always feed your Boxer high-quality food, as recommended by your vet. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on the product packaging to give your dog the daily ration indicated for his weight and age.

Dry dog food (kibble) is the best choice of food for your Boxer, as the biscuits help to remove bacteria from the dog’s teeth as he eats, helping to prevent the formation of plaque and tartar that could cause gingivitis or canine periodontal disease. You can mix in fresh dog foods and wet foods to add additional flavor, moisture, and nutrients.

Boxers are inclined to be scavengers, so be sure to keep trash cans well out of reach of your dog, and don’t leave your meal unattended and within range of your pup.


Brown and White Dog in a Bathtub
Boxers are low-maintenance pets.

The Boxer is an easy-maintenance dog as far as grooming is concerned. And that’s just as well, considering how much time you’ll need to spend exercising your pet.

The Boxer’s short, smooth coat just needs brushing once a week with a firm bristle brush to keep it shiny and healthy and to get rid of any dead hair. Boxer shedding is minimal and, due to their short coats, not very noticeable.

You won’t need to bathe your Boxer too often unless he rolls in something especially disgusting, like poop. Remember to bathe your dog with only a mild, dog-specific shampoo that won’t dry his skin or trigger an allergy.

Trim your dog’s nails every couple of weeks to keep them tidy. If you don’t like the idea of doing this yourself, ask your local dog groomer or vet clinic to do the job for you.

Don’t forget to brush your Boxer’s teeth a few times a week. This helps stave off dental disease and keeps their breath fresh.

Breeders & Puppy Costs

Three Brown and White Puppies
Expect to spend $800 – $2,500+ on your Boxer.

The key to finding the right puppy is to go to a reputable, licensed breeder who abides by the American Boxer Club’s Code of Ethics.

A reputable dog breeder has a vet carry out all the necessary screening of the puppy’s parents to make sure they don’t have any genetic defects that may pass onto their offspring. The breeder should be happy to show you written documentation confirming that both the puppy’s parents have been examined and cleared by the appropriate health organizations.

The price you’ll pay for a Boxer puppy can vary widely, depending on his place of origin, the sex of the pup, whether his parents are prize-winning show animals, etc. The current price for Boxer puppies varies from around $800 to $2,500 or more. Expect lots of costs to add up during year one.

Recently, there has been much well-deserved bad press about so-called puppy mills.

Many people buy puppies from puppy mills because their price is low, without realizing that the breeding dogs used to produce the puppies are frequently poorly cared for and are kept in unsanitary, miserable conditions. Often, the puppies are sickly and unvaccinated, and many succumb to illness or death within a week or so of arriving in their new home.

The moral of this story is you should only buy a Boxer puppy from a reputable breeder, preferably one who is recommended by a vet. If the breeder is unwilling to introduce you to the puppy’s parents or siblings and won’t show you around his kennels, walk away.

Rescues & Shelters

Brown and White Puppy Walking in a Meadow
Look at your local shelter or Boxer rehoming organization before shopping with a breeder.

Puppies are undoubtedly great fun, but they’re also a lot of work! So, it may be that an adult Boxer better suits your needs and lifestyle than a puppy.

There are dozens of shelters across the U.S. where you could find an adult Boxer that would be perfect for you. Some rescue centers also have Boxer puppies, although their parentage can be uncertain.

If you adopt a Boxer from a shelter, always have your vet check the dog or puppy over for any health problems. Most rescue organizations will test their dogs for temperament and suitability before agreeing to a re-homing.

There are many different Boxer mixes to pick from, especially with the “designer dog” craze that has hit the United States and other countries. Some of the most popular Boxer mixes include:

  1. The Boxer Labrador Mix
  2. The Boxer Pitbull Mix
  3. The Mastiff Boxer Mix
  4. The Boxer Beagle Mix
  5. The Great Dane Boxer Mix

Funny Boxers (Video)

The video below shows some of the funny things Boxers do that keep their parents laughing hard.

As Family Pets

Boxers are boisterous dogs, and they need a lot of exercise. If you’re an outdoorsy family with plenty of time to devote to playing with and walking your dog, this breed could fit the bill for you.

Boxers are brilliant watchdogs, but they’re not aggressive unless they lack proper leadership. The athletic Boxer excels in activities such as agility and flyball, which could provide hours of fun for you, your dog, and your family and introduce you to a whole new social circle of like-minded folk.

This breed is loyal and loving. If properly socialized, they can get along well with other pets and children. Boxers need company and can be destructive if left home alone for long periods.

These dogs are intolerant of extremes of heat and cold. That might be a problem for you if you live in a climate where the summers are sweltering or the winters are bitterly cold.

If you have plenty of space and a large backyard and you’re an outdoorsy family that lives an active lifestyle, a Boxer could be the ideal dog for you. If you have already set your heart on one of these pups, check out these fun names for your new Boxer.

Have you had a Boxer as a pet? Please share your experience and questions in the comments.

Other Breeds To Consider

Boxers are a wonderful breed and make fantastic companions in the right home where they can be the center of attention. That said, they may not be right for everyone. You may want to consider a calmer breed, like the Cocker Spaniel, Basset Hound, or even the mighty yet lazy Great Dane. Before bringing any new pup home, be sure to ask yourself if you are ready for a dog. Consider fostering a dog if you aren’t sure as a way to see how a dog fits into your lifestyle and home. You can learn more about the fostering process in our guide.

Why Trust Canine Journal?

Janet Wall is a dog trainer and former educator who grew up with dogs from her youngest days. She developed an appreciation for all dogs, their care, and training. She has trained competition and therapy dogs, working at length with children as well as Alzheimer’s and brain injury patients.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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