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Boxer | Dog Breed Info: Pictures, Traits & Facts

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Boxer standing tall

Height: 8–12 inches
Weight: 60–70 pounds
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Colors: Fawn, brindle, white
Suitable for: Families, singles, owners in need of working dogs, protection
Temperament: Energetic, devoted, confident, brave, friendly, playful, loyal, fearless

The Boxer is a stocky, muscular, and powerful breed with a somewhat imposing appearance, yet beneath this formidable outer shell lies a sweet, gentle, and loving dog. They have an almost legendary level of patience, leading them to become one of the most popular family dogs in the U.S., coming in 14th in the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) 2019 statistics.

Boxers originated in Germany in the late 1800s, but their ancestors can be traced as far back as 2,500 B.C. The modern Boxer we know and love today is thought to have been bred down from the larger, mightier breed, the Bullenbeisser, or “Bull Biter.” They earned their name by being German hunters’ go-to breed, used to hunt large game like wild boars and even bears. The “Bull Biter” was crossed with smaller Mastiff-type dogs to develop a small yet capable working and hunting animal, and the modern-day Boxer was born.

With their clownish antics and loyal temperament, these popular dogs are consistently a favorite breed in the AKC rankings, and for good reason. If the Boxer sounds like the breed for you, this article will tell you all you need to know about this regal breed.

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Boxer Puppies

white little puppy boxer in the garden
Photo Credit: Inesmeierfotografie, Shutterstock

The Boxer has one of the longest puppyhoods in the world, not reaching full maturity until 3 years old. This has led to them being referred to as the “Peter Pan” of the dog world, and their comical and playful nature is a testament to their extended puppyhood.

Boxer puppies are super playful, and filled with overflowing joy and energy. These adorable puppies are likely to leave you in stitches while you watch them get slowly acquainted with their surroundings. The best part is, they retain this lust for life to adulthood. Their gangly, long legs and floppy ears make for an irresistibly adorable pooch!

Boxers tend to be fawn in color, with a dark brown snout and face and white patching on their bodies, including white legs and feet that resemble socks. They have short, coarse coats and large round eyes that beg for attention. Indeed, be prepared to dish out a ton of attention should you choose to bring home a Boxer; these dogs require a great deal of it. They are loyal animals that become highly attached to their owners and will not be pleased to be left at home for long periods.

Boxers are not for everyone and are a huge responsibility. If you are up for the energy and attention demands of this breed and don’t mind drool now and then (all the time), they are a wonderful animal to have around the family home.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Boxer

1. Boxers can actually box!

The name Boxer is thought to have derived from the breed’s unique tendency to stand on their hind legs and “spar” or “box” with their front legs while playing. While this is a common trait among the breed, some believe that the name has other plausible explanations too.

The Bavarian term, “Boxl,” means “short trousers” or “underwear,” and the breed’s characteristically white legs may have earned them the name. But some breeders have an even simpler explanation. The Boxer also boxes with their head, often using it to butt and knock other animals rather than bite them. The term “prizefighter” translates in German as “Berufsboxer,” and it may have just been the Boxer’s fighting skills that earned them their English name. We prefer the boxing dog image, though!

2. They are particularly prone to deafness.

According to the AKC breed standards, Boxers only come in three colors; fawn, brindle, and white. Fawn and brindle are the most commonly found colors, and they are generally healthy dogs. However, white Boxers sometimes have a tendency toward deafness. This is due to a lack of pigmentation inside the inner ear canal and the subsequent loss of hair follicles. This is why most breeders do not purposefully breed for white coloring in Boxers, but around 25% of Boxers are born white.

Even though deafness is more common in white Boxers, the condition is rare, and only around 22% of white Boxers will go unilaterally deaf and approximately 8% are bilaterally deaf.

3. They have the longest tongues!

Boxers have some of the longest tongues of any breed, and the Guinness World Record holder for the longest tongue was a Boxer. Brandy, the record-holding Boxer, passed away in 2002 and had a whopping 17-inch tongue. For reference, the current human world record for the longest tongue is only 4 inches.

Boxer in snow
Photo Credit: Myriams-Fotos, Pixabay

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Boxer🧠

Boxers are intelligent, playful, and friendly dogs, despite their somewhat intimidating appearance. Their large, square head can give them an imposing look, but these dogs are rarely aggressive. With their extended puppyhood, they stay playful and full of comical energy far into their adult years and have unsurpassed patience and gentleness with children. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more enthusiastic canine playmate, but these dogs can also be brave and determined when needed. They have an unwavering devotion and loyalty to their owners and family but can be distrustful of strangers.

Boxers are easily trainable, and as such, they have been used for years as service animals. They are adaptable animals, content to live on large farms or small apartments—provided that they get adequate exercise. With their exuberant energy and lust for life, they will need a great deal of exercise to keep them healthy and happy. They can be prone to boredom-induced misbehavior, like digging and chewing, so regular physical and mental stimulation is a must.

Boxers are highly alert animals, making them excellent watchdogs. While they can leave you in stitches with their comical antics, they can swiftly switch into alert mode when necessary. They are often described as dignified and self-assured animals, leading to the common misconception that they are “headstrong” animals that are difficult to train. In reality, Boxers love to please their owners, and almost all Boxer owners will attest to their willingness in training.

Are These Dogs Good for Families?🏡 

Boxers make ideal family pets. Their patience with children is the stuff of legends, and they are rarely aggressive unless in defense of their beloved family. They are alert and aware animals that make ideal watchdogs, and they are highly adaptable, making them a perfect family companion.

Boxers get highly attached to their owners and do not like being left alone. They are social dogs that will suffer greatly from separation anxiety when left alone for extended periods. This is an important point to consider before bringing one of these pooches home: They need a ton of affection and attention.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?🐶 😽 

Boxers generally get along fine with other family pets—including cats—provided that they are properly socialized. Some may have a strong prey drive, but they can easily be trained to see your family hamster as a friend, not food. Some Boxers tend to be a bit dominant toward dogs of the same sex, but with consistent leadership and training, they are usually fine.

white boxer at home
Photo Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

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Things to Know When Owning a Boxer

Food & Diet Requirements🦴 

Boxers do not have any special dietary requirements but will do well on a protein-rich diet to support and sustain their stamina and energy. A commercial dry kibble is a great option, provided that it is of the best quality possible and free of filler ingredients like wheat, corn, and soya. Around 2 cups of quality kibble a day is sufficient. Dry kibble is convenient but should ideally be supplemented with lean meats occasionally.

Protein is important for any dog, and with the high energy of Boxers, they will require higher than average amounts. While commercial kibble does contain protein sourced from animals, lean meats and organ meats are unbeatable sources.

Boxers will also benefit greatly from some vegetables in their diet too, and sweet potato, carrots, and whole grains can be beneficial. Fruits like blueberries are a great source of antioxidants that will help support your dog’s immune system, and the omega fatty acids obtained from flax seeds will keep their coat and skin healthy.

Bonus: Learn all about the benefits of sweet potatoes for dogs.


Boxers are energetic animals with a ton of stamina and will need a minimum of 2 hours a day of exercise. This should ideally be split into two separate sessions of around 40 minutes each. They are intelligent pooches that require mental stimulation too, and throwing balls and frisbees is a great way for you to give them mental exercise and to bond with your Boxer.

Boxers have short snouts that can cause them some breathing difficulty in hot weather. If it is hot outside, it’s best to keep the exercise sessions short, with minimal exertion to prevent them from overheating. The same goes for cold weather: These dogs have a short coat and are highly susceptible to cold temperatures.

With all this in mind, remember that Boxers love to play, and games like fetch, long interactive walks, and even agility sports are a great way to satisfy this need. As with all dogs, exercise will go a long way in preventing unwanted behaviors like digging, chewing, barking, and aggression. A tired Boxer is a satisfied, well-behaved Boxer.

white boxer sitting on the grass
Image Credit: Michal Vitek, Shutterstock


Boxers have a somewhat undeserved reputation for stubbornness, giving many people the idea that they are difficult to train. However, in reality, these dogs are extremely eager to please their owners and will usually take well to training. They are also intelligent animals, and their long history as service dogs and working dogs is a testament to their ease of trainability. Boxers can be headstrong animals and are regal, proud, and dignified at times. This is likely what gave them their reputation for stubbornness.

The most important aspect in training these pooches is socialization—a well-socialized dog is far more likely to enthusiastically engage in training. When your Boxer sees other dogs behaving well and getting praised for it, they are likely to want the same! The happy and playful temperament of these dogs plays a large part in their trainability; they need consistent and firm training from the day you bring them home. The early days are arguably the most important and will set the foundation for the future of your relationship with your Boxer.

Getting them to sit before meals or a walk is a great place to start, from an early age as possible. You can then begin a small amount of leash training indoors to get them used to the idea, as these excitable animals will shake with joy at the very prospect of a walk. Also, tiring them out with a long walk or play session before training is a great way to engage them. They will have burnt off some energy and be more ready to listen and participate. Owners often make the mistake of doing training sessions before exercise, and of course, your Boxer will quickly get used to the idea. They will spend the entire training session champing at the bit to go play!

Boxers are powerful dogs and have many strong muscles set into their small frame. This makes good training an essential aspect of owning a Boxer, as this little powerhouse needs to be kept under control. When left to their own devices, these proud and protective dogs will quickly assume the role of leadership and begin to run things their way.

Grooming ✂️

The Boxer has a short and coarse coat that requires minimal grooming. They generally like to stay clean and are known to use their long tongues to groom themselves the same way cats do! A regular brush is necessary to get rid of any dead hair, as Boxers do tend to shed. Bathing is not necessary unless they are absolutely filthy, but even then, plain warm water will do the trick. It’s a good idea to avoid any soaps or shampoos unless they are specifically made for dogs, as these chemicals can disrupt the natural oils on your dog’s coat. Most Boxers have wrinkly folds in their skin, and these should be regularly checked, wiped clean, and kept dry to prevent infection.

Other than that, dental hygiene is essential, and their teeth will need brushing several times a week to prevent plaque build-up. These dogs love to enthusiastically jump up to greet their owners, so it’s a good idea to keep their nails short and trim.

Boxer standing on the patio
Image Credit: thenevarmoore, Pixabay

Health Conditions❤️

Boxers are generally a healthy and robust breed, with few genetic issues. Like all dogs, though, they are prone to a few health conditions that you need to be aware of.

Boxers are fairly prone to various forms of cancers, especially in modern times, with more unprofessional breeding practices taking hold due to the breed’s popularity. They are prone to certain heart issues, including Boxer cardiomyopathy, a disease affecting a small number of dogs but slowly starting to grow. Aortic stenosis is the most common heart defect affecting the breed, and dogs with this inherited condition should not be bred.

Hip dysplasia is fairly common among Boxers, another inherited disease that affects the dog’s hip joints and may eventually result in arthritis. It is mostly hereditary but can be managed by good exercise and diet. Hypothyroidism is a fairly common ailment caused by a deficiency of the thyroid gland but is easily managed with medication.

Gastric torsion is a potentially life-threatening disease found in some Boxers due to their large, deep chests. Boxers tend to eat quickly, and if they eat large amounts of food once a day, it can cause excess gas, which causes their stomach to twist. The excess gas cannot then be released, and without immediate medical attention, the dog can easily die.

White Boxers are particularly prone to deafness due to the lack of pigment in their inner ear.

Boxers are known as a brachycephalic breed and can have difficulty breathing at times with their pushed-in snouts and faces. This makes them susceptible to both collapsing tracheae and brachycephalic airway syndrome found in short-snouted dogs.

Minor Conditions
  • Allergies
  • Mange
  • Heat stress
  • Bloat
  • Obesity
  • Corneal dystrophy
  • Deafness
Serious Conditions
  • Cancer
  • Boxer cardiomyopathy
  • Aortic stenosis
  • Collapsing tracheae
  • Brachycephalic airway syndrome
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hip dysplasia, gastric torsion

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Male vs Female

If you have decided that the loyal and devoted Boxer is the breed for you, the last decision to make is whether to bring home a male or female. First, do you own any other dogs already or plan to in the future? While Boxers are a friendly and non-aggressive breed, they are prone to dominance and aggression toward dogs of the same sex, so this can influence your decision somewhat. Aside from this, there are a few small differences to be aware of.

Male Boxers are usually larger and heavier, taller by up to 3 inches and heavier by up to 15 or 20 pounds. Males are more affectionate and outgoing than females and enjoy showing this loyalty and affection. Females are no less loyal to their owners but are not as prone to show it, and they are usually more reserved. Boxers stay in puppyhood longer than most breeds, with male Boxers more so than females. This makes females easier to train from a young age, although females are prone to moodiness and unpredictable behavior.

These are mostly generalizations, of course, and every Boxer is a unique individual. The way that your Boxer is raised and trained and the environment they grow up in will have far larger parts to play in their personality than gender. Neutering males and spaying females are highly recommended unless you intend on breeding, as this will further mitigate any differences. These simple procedures can also benefit the health of your Boxer profoundly and prevent males from wandering.

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Final Thoughts

Boxers are a happy-go-lucky, playful, and comical breed that is sure to bring a ton of laughter and joy into your home. They are notoriously patient and gentle with kids and will quickly become your family’s loyal guardian. With this comical nature comes a more serious, alert, and proud side that makes the Boxer a fantastic watchdog too. Indeed, these dogs are rarely, if ever, aggressive, unless in the defense of their family. They are low-maintenance pooches when it comes to grooming but do require a great deal of attention and exercise to stay happy and out of mischief.

If you don’t mind a drool-filled embrace when you get home, the Boxer is a perfect family companion in every other way.

Featured Image Credit: Romek, Pixabay

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