If you bring a boxer into your life, he can bring you a lot of joy. He easily becomes a member of the family, and serves as a fine companion and watch dog. However, there are disadvantages to having a boxer as a pet, and they fall primarily into the realm of health issues.
Boxer Health Problems
There are quite a few genetically related health problems in the breed. These include:
- Heart disease, including cardiomyopathy and aortic or subaortic stenosis.
- Cancer, especially mast cell tumors, hemangiosarcoma and lymphoma.
- Bloat, or gastric torsion, twisting of the stomach that is fatal without surgical correction.
- Allergies, most often affecting the skin.
- Degenerative myelopathy, a neurological disorder.
- Hypothyroidism, or too little thyroid hormone.
- Elbow and hip dysplasia
Boxers should never receive acepromazine, a sedative often used by veterinarians. It can cause the dog to go into cardiac arrest. Try to find a vet familiar with a boxer's needs.
A boxer doesn't do well in hot or cold weather. His short coat means he can't stay outside for long in cold weather -- unless you put a coat on him -- and his short nose means breathing is an issue when it's hot and humid. Boxers are a brachycephalic breed, or short-headed. That facial conformation predisposes them to respiratory issues. It's very easy for him to suffer from heatstroke because he can't pant efficiently enough to keep himself cool. When it's hot, keep your boxer comfortable in an air-conditioned environment, and take him out for walks or playtime in the cooler morning or evening hours.
Exercise and Training
Boxers are active, energetic dogs, requiring a lot of exercise. If he doesn't receive sufficient exercise, all of that energy still needs an outlet, and could result in destructive behavior. You can channel that energy by participating with your boxer in various canine sports, at which he should excel. These include agility, tracking and fly ball.
Patience -- a lot of it -- is key to training your boxer. He's so high energy that he may not pay much attention at first, or quickly lose interest. Stay consistent and he'll eventually get there. Food rewards don't hurt. Take your boxer puppy to puppy kindergarten and proceed through regular obedience training.
Boxers aren't the easiest dogs to house-train. Lots of praise when he "does his business" outside helps, as well as keeping him on a regular schedule. Don't give up on him -- he should be reliable by the time he's 6 or 7 months old.
Boxer Life Span
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of a boxer is his relatively short life span. These lovable canines often live only 8 to 10 years, not a long time compared to other breeds of similar size.