About The Boxer Breed
In the working class group, the boxer was developed in Munich, Germany in the mid 19th century. They were bred to simply hold down (but not tear asunder) bulls, bison, wild boar and other large game until the hunter arrived. A cross between the extinct Bullenbraiser, Great Dane, Bulldog and Mastiff, the boxer was brought from Germany to the US after WWI. By the late 1930’s, the boxer quickly became one of America’s top ten favorite family dogs. As of this writing the boxer is rated 6th on the list of favorite family dogs in America. Considering there are over 300 breeds of dogs in the world (210 registered with The Kennel Club and 150 registered with the AKC), that is quite impressive.
Personality and Temperament
The boxer has been endearingly nick-named the “Peter Pan of the Dog World” because to those of us who enjoy their silly playfulness and energy, “they never grow up.” Remaining puppy-like throughout their lifetime, it is not uncommon to see the white-muzzled senior boxer rolling a ball, tossing a stuffed animal into the air, or inviting others to a gentle game of chase. High-spirited, naturally curious and playful, the intelligent, eager-to-learn boxer bonds closely with his human family and is especially beloved for their loyalty and devotion to children.
Affectionate dogs that love to snuggle, boxers will plow their meaty heads smack dab between the other dogs or children to get in on the attention. With stubby tails wagging, they seem to teasingly say, “Me! Me! Don’t forget me!” They will lean affectionately against your legs to “hug”, and when they’re excited, they’ll curl their bodies in the classic boxer “kidney bean.”
Generally excellent watchdogs, boxers can be weary of strangers. They will also welcome them when they see that you do, too. They have been known to lay their own lives down for their families and can be a curious and sometimes stubborn breed that needs good leadership. Not usually barkers, boxers generally bark for (at least what they consider) “a good reason.” A high pitched bark can mean “Look, I found something!” (A snake? A turtle? A frog?) A rhythmic bark often means, “I’m bored.” “Where are you?” “I’m ready to come in.” An “alarm” bark might mean, “Someone I don’t know is in on our property!” “Come check this out!” Although they don’t generally bark without a cause, many boxers are “talkers” and can be vocal by whining, making gentle “growling” sounds, or yawning out loud to chat with their humans or other dogs. The characteristic “Woo Woo” sounds for which boxers are known may just be your boxer making conversation; their “conversing” makes these little clowns a most endearing companion.
Like any dog, Boxers should have early exposure to many different people, situations, genders, other animals and places. Socialization is important for the well being and balance of any dog. Boxers can be “busy bodies” that get themselves into a pickle if left to their own devices. Without direction, training and socialization, boxers can be nosy trouble makers that find it amusing to chase cats or pick fights with other dogs.
Exercise and Mental Stimulation
Overall, boxers can be high energy dogs who love to be in the middle of the action and the center of attention. They require regular exercise and mentally stimulating physical activities such as leaping hurdles, weaving through a homemade agility course, jumping over hay stacks, taking long walks or jogs, chasing balls of all sizes, fetching Frisbees or other exercises that help them constructively spend their boundless energy.
Clowns of the dog world, boxers can be great fun and bring laughter and comedy to the families who adopt them.
Like stubborn, happy-go-lucky, easily distracted children, young boxers need consistent leadership, direction, correction, positive reinforcement and treats. Training is essential for a well-behaved pet of any breed, but larger breeds can appear more unruly due to their sheer size.
All dogs (small or large) should be taught early not to jump on or at people. Boxers are very eager learners and love to please. They respond well to a strong leader who provides consistent and firm guidance and reward. They can be sneaky, boisterous and demanding if they have a weak leader.
Whether the training is done by you or a professional trainer, it is strongly recommended that you begin your journey with your boxer in obedience and agility training. Show them their boundaries and stick with it. Don’t let them run the show, as they, like disobedient children, can be unruly. Boxers (all dogs) NEED good leaders. It’s not “cute” when large or small dogs jump on people, and it’s not “adorable” when they ignore their leaders’ commands.
A well trained boxer is truly one of the greatest joys a family can have!
Check out other links regarding training:
Physical Attributes and Needs
Boxers have short coats that can be tan, white, mahogany or brindle in color. Most have a black mask, and some have white markings on the face, neck feet/legs, chest and tip of the natural tail. If healthy, the boxers’ easy-to-care-for coats are shiny, beautiful, and tight fitting. A well groomed boxer on a healthy diet sheds minimally.
With ears set high on their head, boxers may have thin, natural ears that flop forward, or surgically cropped ears that taper to a point and stand erect on top of their heads. Purebred boxers generally have thick, muscular necks, deep chests, and muscular legs. Their natural tails are long and thin and have white tips or they can have docked, stubby tails that stands straight up. Some countries do not allow tail docking, and more Americans are refusing to dock their tails or crop their ears as well, enjoying the boxers’ natural look.
Rescued boxers can range in size from 40-90 pounds. They can be short and thick or tall and lean. They may not fit AKC standards or come with “Papers” but they are every bit as precious as any “papered” boxer.
Boxers have a low tolerance for hot or cold weather and are considered INDOOR dogs. Shorter nosed boxers may snore and some drool, but they are well worth the sound or the dribble for what they contribute to a family.
With a good diet and annual veterinary care, the average life expectancy of a boxers today is 11-14 years.
Boxers, like many breeds, may be prone to allergies, so consider putting your boxer on a grain free diet to ensure that allergies are not related to grain.
Other major health issues that afflict some boxers are heart problems such as cardiomyopathy, skin allergies, or mast cell tumors. Some may be prone to hip dysplasia, arthritis or thyroid problems as they age.
Rescued boxers that come into the care of this rescue are vetted upon intake, have been heartworm and ehrlichia tested and have had all vaccines recommended for good health and protection against disease. This non-profit rescue ensures that all our rescued boxers are neutered or spayed before adoption. Known health issues are addressed and are revealed to the adopting/fostering families prior to placing them in care. Keeping family pets current on vaccines and annual wellness checks will ensure that they have the best chance for a long, healthy life.
What’s all the hype about white boxers? Are they “rare?” Are all white boxers deaf or blind?
The answer to all of these questions is no. They are not rare, and they are not all deaf or blind. In fact, they are no different than fawn or brindle colored boxers, and white boxers have been in existence since…well, since boxers have been in existence!
Uneducated “breeders” may advertise that white boxers are rare. The fact is, one in four boxers (25%) is born white. Unfortunately, because the white boxer does not conform to ABC and AKC breed standard, many breeders euthanize boxers that have more white than “allowed” to meet breed standard which has greatly reduced the number of white boxers from professional breeders.
Some call white boxers “albino boxers,” a statement that is simply not accurate. White boxers are not albinos, as albinos have no pigment at all. White boxers simple have white fur.
Approximately one in five white boxers (18%) is born deaf. The deafness is due to a defect gene that is also found in 64 other canine breeds. The defect gene causes pigment-associated deafness which is not limited to dogs but can affect cats, horses, mice, mink, pigs and humans as well.
Contrary to what you may hear, there is absolutely no proof that white boxers have more health issues than other boxers. They are more susceptible to sun burn, however. Sunscreen is an easy remedy.
Training Your Deaf Boxer
Deafness in boxers can be caused by many things. From congenital deafness (a defect in their genes) to illnesses that can cause deafness (such as chronic ear infections) to ototoxic drugs (chemicals that can cause damage to the cochlear hair cells) to full or partial hearing loss caused by loud sounds (gun shots, explosions, etc.) or hearing loss due to aging, deafness is a handicap that can be dealt with effectively with a little knowledge and training for both human and canine.
White boxers can absolutely be trained just as effectively as hearing boxers. The use of hand signals, reward, and patience is needed for training both deaf and hearing boxers. Other creative training tools such as laser lights, flash lights, vibration collars, and hand signals have proven highly effective!
SIMPLE WAYS TO HELP YOUR DEAF DOG FEEL AND BE SAFE
- Use a night light
A good friend and teacher of deaf and blind children, and a woman who adopted one of Boxer Rescue of NWA’s deaf boxers once told me that leaving a deaf dog in a pitch black room would be like someone lowering you into a deep hole late at night where you couldn’t see or hear anything. Think of how disorienting and frightening that would be! Use night lights in the rooms where a deaf boxer sleeps to ensure he/she can always get his/her bearings! If you think about it, a hearing dog can “follow” where you are in the room, the house, or even outside simply by listening to your voice, the shuffle of leaves under your feet, or the sounds you make wherever you’re located. A deaf dog does not have that ability, so when you “round the corner” and are out of sight, they are left to wonder if you didn’t just disappear off the face of the globe.
- Use a vibrating training collar
- Microchip your deaf dog
If your deaf dog is not microchipped, get him chipped right away! It’s only about $25 and will ensure your beloved pet is returned to you should he run off.
- Teach your dog sign language
Most dogs follow hand commands, and dogs that have advanced training (police and combat dogs, canine television “stars”, dogs trained for the hearing impaired) all respond to hand signals. Your non-hearing dog will respond naturally to hand signal training whether it is signs used in Standard Obedience training, American Sign Language (ASL), or signs you make up that both you and your dog understand.
- If your dog is out in public, get him a tag or collar that tells others this dog is deaf
A sign on your fence letting delivery people or meter readers know you have a deaf dog will help alert them that they could startle your dog.Your deaf boxer cannot hear an oncoming car, a stranger knocking on the door, you entering the room when he’s half asleep…so not only are deaf dogs easily startled, but they are at risk for serious injury if you don’t take precautions on his behalf. A fenced playground/yard is extremely important when your boxer is off leash and not yet trained to respond immediately to a vibrating collar and hand signals.You are your deaf dog’s ears – ensure you take the time to train your deaf boxer so that his life with you and your life with him/her is enriched, safe, and fulfilling.
Living with a Deaf Boxer
- Deaf dogs startle easily, so try these techniques to awaken them:
Turn the light on/off a few times before entering the room to alert him that you are approaching. Stomp on the ground to let him know you are there. Blow gently on his fur or hold your hand in front of his nostrils so that he can smell you, then very gently touch him. When he awakens, smile, sign “good dog,” and give him a treat each time you awaken him so he will associate something good with being startled or awakened.
- It takes creatively to get a deaf dog’s attention.
Start immediately training your deaf boxer to check in with you and to pay attention when you stomp the floor, flash a light, give a light touch, use a vibration collar. Use treats at first to reward him every time he pays attention and soon he will be checking in with you instead of the other way around.For starters, a light “tap-tap” (not a single tap) on his shoulder or side to get him to look at you should be rewarded every time he responds favorably.Teach him to respond to a laser light – you can use the laser light to communicate different things such as “check in/come” or other commands. (Never shine a laser light in the eye—it can cause blindness.)Stomping on the floor or waving your arms can work to get his attention – but remember to reward him whenever he respond so that he comes to you and/or checks in every time he feels the stomp.Training your deaf fur friend to respond by coming to you whenever you use the vibration collar can save his life!
- Dealing with separation anxiety
Much of the anxiety expressed by a deaf dog comes from being confused, disoriented or just plain frightened. As stated earlier, never leave a deaf dog in the dark. Invest in a small night light that turns on automatically at dusk.Before leaving your dog alone for any length of time, take him for a brisk walk first to give him opportunity for stimulation, to relieve himself, and to provide him much needed exercise to wear him out before leaving.For your deaf dog’s health, safety and well-being, do not leave him more than an hour or so at first. He needs to learn and figure out that you do return. Consider giving him a T-shirt that you’ve worn so he can find comfort in your scent, and don’t make a big deal out of leaving – also, do not make a big deal when you return; keeping your energy calm will help your dog handle separation anxiety.Before leaving, ensure that your dog’s environment is safe. Give him something safe to chew (Kong toys filled with treats he has to work for, rawhide wraps or other safe chew toys will keep him out of trouble and give him something to do while you’re away. Be sure to supervise any rawhide or chew treats.Consider giving your pet Composure or a pheromone spray that provides a calming effect if he is still anxious. Some people have found that a Thundershirt or doggie coat helps provide calmness for dogs prone to separation anxiety.
- Provide visual stimulation – A deaf dog needs visual stimulation; if possible, set him up near a window that he can look out or turn on the TV so he can watch the moving light.
- Deaf dogs often have a keener sense of sight, smell and touch than a hearing dog. They are incredibly resilient and make up for their loss of hearing by relying on their sense of sight, smell, touch or taste which are generally even keener than hearing dogs.
A dog born deaf does not know that he is deaf, so don’t “feel bad” for him! He’s just fine with who he is even though he lives in a “hearing” world. Your deaf dog has learned to function and rely on his other senses and he CAN learn sign language and learn how to communicate with his human family with some training.
Deaf Boxer Support and Resources
Deaf Dogs Rock, is an excellent website that provides helpful tips, support, resources and educational materials to help caregivers of deaf dogs.
One of the first canines to work as police dogs, boxers also excel as seeing-eye dogs and overall outstanding human companions. They are best known for the loyalty to families and their gentle fondness of children.
Read stories about boxer heroes: