Boxer Health Problems

Boxer Health Problems

Boxer Dog Facts

The Boxer is playful and fun-loving. He is loyal to his family and friends, and he particularly loves children.

The Boxer dog is, however, naturally suspicious of strangers and therefore makes an excellent watch dog and can be trained to be a guard dog.

Boxers are intelligent and alert, but can be stubborn at times. Therefore, early obedience training is highly recommended. Boxers are full of energy and they need long and regular walks to control their exuberance.

Besides being an excellent family companion dog and guard dog, the Boxer is often seen participating in Obedience, Tracking, and Agility.

Due to his natural instincts to guard and defend, he is also seen training in Schutzhund (which tests dogs of all breeds for the traits necessary for police-type work). Boxers are also used to work as Search and Rescue Dogs as well as Therapy Dogs.

The Boxer is one of the most popular breeds in the U.S.A.- Ranked 11th most registered breed by the AKC in 2017.

How Long Can a Boxer Live?

The average life span of a Boxer is from 10 to 12 years.

Boxers are prone to certain health problems, as listed below.

If you plan to get a boxer dog or already have one, pay particular attention to the following potential health threats to this dog breed and take necessary precautions.

Common Boxer Health Problems

The following Boxer health problems are rather common in this dog breed:

Boxer Cardiomyopathy

Boxer cardiomyopathy is a heart condition that can cause sudden death in boxers. The condition primarily consists of an electrical conduction disorder that causes the heart to beat erratically, or to have an arrhythmia in the form of a ventricular premature contraction, due to a loss of the normal contracting abilities of the ventricles.

In order to compensate for the loss of contractility, the heart works harder, eventually leading to congestive heart failure. Prolonged erratic heartbeats can lead to weakness, collapse, and even sudden death.

In the Boxer breed, the progression of cardiomyopathy can be outlined in three stages:

  1. Irregular heartbeats, but otherwise no clinical signs of illness.
  2. Irregular heartbeats, clinical signs include intermittent episodes of collapse or weakness.
  3. Dilated, flabby heart, signs of heart failure are shown - weakness, exercise intolerance, coughing, breathing difficulties, and fainting or collapse.

The only treatment available is prescription heart medication. However, even with medication, the quality of life of the boxer cannot be greatly enhanced if the condition is severe.

Sometimes, however, a boxer with cardiomyopathy shows no symptoms and manages to live to a ripe old age without any problems.

If your boxer has experienced any fainting spells, you should suspect cardiomyopathy and take him to the vet for a thorough check-up.

Aortic Stenosis

Boxer Health Problems Aortic stenosis (AS) is a condition in which there is a partial obstruction to the flow of blood as it leaves the left side of the heart (the left ventricle) through the main blood vessel (the aorta) that carries blood to the rest of the body.

Because of the obstruction, the heart must work harder to push the blood through the opening and, over time, this can cause problems and even death.

Congenital aortic stenosis is one of the most common heart defects seen in large breed dogs including the Boxer.

Mild cases of aortic stenosis can be difficult to detect. Dogs with moderate to severe stenosis will show symptoms of exercise intolerance because the heart cannot keep up with the body's demands during exercise. As a result, during exercise, the Boxer may not have enough energy, or he may even faint due to a lack of blood supply to the brain.

If you have a Boxer with moderate or severe aortic stenosis, therefore, you need to restrict the amount and intensity of his exercise routine.


Colitis is inflammation of the colon. Histiocytic ulcerative colitis (HUC), also called boxer colitis, is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that occurs predominantly in the Boxer breed.

Colitis causes inflammation and sores, called ulcers, in the lining of the large intestine. The inflammation makes the colon empty frequently, causing diarrhea.

Ulcers form in places where the inflammation has killed the cells lining the colon; the ulcers bleed and produce pus.

Symptoms can range from the occasional tummy upset to constant bloody diarrhea and vomiting. Also, a Boxer with colitis usually is a picky eater, and his back is frequently hunched up like a horseshoe.

For the occasional upset stomach, feeding the Boxer a consistent diet on a regular schedule, supplementing the diet with digestive enzymes and probiotics, and managing the symptoms should be sufficient. For more persistent and serious cases, be sure to consult with a vet.

Other Boxer Health Problems

In addition to the above, the boxers are also prone to the following health problems:

  • Bloating: Bloating is a common health issue that afflicts many bigger dogs like the boxers. Bloating in dogs could be life-threatening and prone veterinary attention is needed. If your boxer is prone to this problem, be sure to read our article on dog bloating for more information.
  • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is the result of a deformed hip joint. In many cases, the hip socket is too shallow to fully and firmly hold the ball-shaped thighbone. Sometimes, it also means that the muscles, ligament, and connective tissue surrounding the joint may not be strong enough to hold the "ball and socket" together.

    Understandably, hip dysplasia can cause a lot of pain in the affected hip joint, and the dog will have problem walking and getting up with ease.

    Visit our article on Hip Dysplasia in Dogs for more information on this joint problem in dogs.

  • Corneal Dystrophy: This is an eye condition that usually affects both eyes.

    If a dog has this eye problem, you can see a buildup of cloudy, opaque material on the dog's cornea. As a result, the cornea appears cloudy and whitish. Eventually, this can lead to recurrent and painful corneal ulcerations.

    Treatment in the form eye medication is aimed at eliminating the lesions. Surgical treatment may be required if chronic discomfort persists.

  • Cancer: Boxers are prone to various kinds of cancers, such as mast cell tumors, fibrosarcoma, osteosarcoma, lymphoma, and every other form of cancer that plagues the canine world.

    Also, Boxers (and other brachyocephelic - short muzzled - dogs) can be prone to brain tumors known as gliomas. These tumors start in the supporting cells in the brain.

    As the tumors grow, they compress and kill the brain tissue around them. These tumors can be slow growing and relatively benign, or they can be malignant and aggressive. They tend to occur in older boxers.

    Symptoms can include seizures, behavioral changes, circling, general clumsiness, head tilting, difficulty swallowing, and unsteady walking - all indications of brain damage.

Health Supplements for Boxers

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Recommendations for Your Boxer!

(FTC Disclosure: If you make a purchase via a link on this page, I may receive a small commission, at no added cost to you.)

Nature's Herbs for Joint Relief for Dogs and Cats

This Chinese herbal formula contains effective herbs for joint problems such as hip dysplasia, arthritis, and stiffness due to inflammation of the joints. Works well as a preventive or as a remedy.

This supplement supplies the necessary "friendly" bacteria for proper digestion and bowel health. Good for digestive problems such as IBD, diarrhea, etc.

This formula contains immune-boosting herbs, such as echinacea, goldenseal, elderberry and more. This powerful combination of herbs has an synergistic immune-boosting effect on dogs who are weakened by chronic diseases such as cancer or allergies.

Another powerful blend of herbs (mushrooms) with antioxidant vitamins that can synergistically boost the immune system. This formula seems to be extremely effective in dog cancer prevention and treatment.

K. Spitzer, The Everything Boxer Book (Everything Books, 2006)
Canada's Guide to Dogs - Boxers

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