Boxer Dogs: What’s Good About ‘Em, What’s Bad About ‘Em

Boxer temperament, personality, training, behavior, pros and cons, advice, and information, by Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

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Boxers can be fine family dogs if you can proviide enough exercise and training to control their rambunctiousness when young, and if you can provide for their special needs due to their unnaturally short face.

As puppies and young adults, Boxers are animated, playful (often cuckoo!) dogs who love to romp and jump. Middle-aged Boxers typically become more deliberate and dignified and make calm, loyal companions for the rest of their (unfortuntately not very long) lives.

Exercise needs vary from long daily walks for more sedentary Boxers to vigorous daily romping for high-energy individuals – but not in hot weather, because Boxers are more susceptible to heatstroke than most dog breeds.

Though most Boxer dogs are fine with other family pets, including the family cat, quite a few Boxers are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs of the same sex, and some are cat chasers

Boxers need consistent leadership. Their heritage, after all, is that of a strong-minded working dog. But you must handle them in an upbeat, persuasive way. Boxers are stubborn, yes, but also sensitive and proud. They will « shut down » (sulk and pout and passively refuse to do anything) if you jerk them around.

Most Boxers make vigilant watchdogs – meaning they will bark when they see or see something out of the ordinary. Their guarding and territorial instincts, though, vary a great deal.

Most Boxers react to strangers with a joyous « Hi, come on in! » accompanied by enthusiastic jumping and tail-stump wiggling. Other Boxers are more standoffish, neither fawning over strangers nor threatening them.

  • Is medium to large, with a rugged, sleekly-muscled « masculine » build
  • Needs minimal grooming
  • Loves to romp and play
  • Is usually steadfast and reliable with everyone
  • Looks imposing enough that he is an effective deterrent even when friendly
  • Rowdiness and exuberant jumping when young
  • Potential aggression toward other dogs (usually of the same sex)
  • A strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
  • Snorting, wheezing, snoring

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

Health problems. Most Boxers, unfortunately, do not live a long life. This is partly due to unwise breeding practices such as inbreeding and linebreeding, which are more likely to pass along defective genes. It’s also partly due to the deformities in their structure, especially their shortened face. An alarming number of Boxers die of cancer or heart disease in middle age. Other health concerns include eye diseases (such as corneal ulcers), digestive diseases (such as ulcerative colitis), hypothyroidism, itchy allergies, skin tumors, and more.

Prospective Boxer owners should be aware that they might be taking on expensive health problems over their dog’s lifetime. Read more about Boxer Health.

Boxer sounds. Boxers are not quiet dogs. Now I don’t mean they’re yappy! Not at all. But they do vocalize with grumbles and grunts (which owners find endearing) and also snorts, snuffles, and snores (which bother some people). Only you know whether you’re one of those people.

About the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers.

An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs

Dog training videos. Sometimes it’s easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.