A curious mix of fun-loving clown and serious worker, the Boxer is one of the most versatile breeds in existence. They've served as military, police, service, guide and therapy dogs---but most of all, they're best friends and beloved family members.
Boxers have always combined work with play, even when their ancestors, called German Bullenbeisers (bull-biters) chased and grabbed big game like boar and stag. In the early 1800s, the Bullenbeisers were bred to mastiff-type dogs for size, bulldogs for grip and terriers for tenacity. The result was a tough, agile dog with strong jaws and a recessed nose that enabled it to hang on to anything and still breathe. Early Boxers worked as butcher's dogs, controlling cattle in stockyards.
Later, Boxers became one of the original police and military dogs. When American soldiers brought Boxers home after World War II, families discovered they made great companions. By the 1950s, with the help of publicity from a famous 1940s Boxer show dog named Bang Away, Boxers were the third most popular dogs in America.
Playful, devoted, brave, tough, smart, athletic, loving and innovative---and sometimes a tad mischievous---Boxers love to play almost as much as they love to love. They enjoy active games but need tough toys. Challenge a Boxer's mind and body, and he'll repay you with a remarkable friendship.
As a large dog, the Boxer has a somewhat greater predisposition to hip dysplasia. Feeding a diet formulated for large breed puppies during the first year of life will help decrease the possibility of hip dysplasia. These diets allow the puppy to grow more slowly, while still achieving the same adult size---just a little later. Joint supplements, such as glucosamine chondroitin supplements, are also important for protecting joint health throughout life, especially in active dogs.
One of the Boxer's most dangerous potential problems is bloat or gastric torsion, a condition in which the gases accumulate in the stomach and can't escape. The stomach may then twist, totally cutting off any ability for anything to leave the stomach. The dog's stomach enlarges as gases continue to accumulate, and the dog is restless and tries unsuccessfully to vomit. This is an extreme emergency that need immediate veterinary attention to save the dog. Nobody knows exactly how to prevent it, but many veterinarians advocate feeding an anti-gas pill with every meal.
Boxer coat care is fairly easy. The hair is short and requires only a quick brushing to remove dead hair once a week. However, any skin folds on the face, especially between the eyes and muzzle, can harbor moisture and set up an ideal location for infections. To combat this you must clean the folds with an antibacterial wipe and dry thoroughly. For most Boxers, once or twice a week will suffice; for others, once a day.
Some Boxers may develop itchy skin that may have small pustules or scabs. An antibacterial shampoo may help combat the infection, and an avocado oil or oatmeal based shampoo can help alleviate the itchiness.
Apply an ear cleanser any time the ears start to accumulate dark secretions. Some ear wax is healthy; a lot is not. If you must apply ear medication, use the ear cleanser first to remove thick secretions that would block the medication from reaching the surface of the canal.
Brush the teeth daily.
Clip the nails every two weeks or so using a heavy-duty dog nail clipper.
Boxers can suffer from age-related changes, including arthritis, by 6 years of age. Besides any intervention recommended by your veterinarian, a soft cushion to lie on and glucosamine chondroitin supplements added to the diet can help soothe aching joints, and keep him as young in body as he is in spirit.