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I’ve been a bit hesitant writing much about Boxers, since I’ve made my preference apparent practically from the moment I started this blog. I didn’t want to be seen as favoring one breed over another.
Well, let’s put a stop to that right now. I do favor Boxers, and I think that from now on, I’m just going to blather on about them as much as I want. My blog, my rules.
So, with that in mind, I’m going to devote this post to talking about what potential Boxer owners need to know in order to determine, not if the Boxer is the right breed for them, but if they’re the right kind of people to be boxer owners.
Do you think you’re right for a Boxer? Let’s talk about it.
If you’ve ever known a Boxer, some of these things might seem pretty obvious to you. If you’ve never met one, but you’re considering the breed, some might surprise you. Keep reading to learn more.
Boxers have a reputation for being very loyal, fun-loving, and sometimes silly. They can also be stubborn. If you’re not a reasonably strong-willed owner, then a Boxer can easily run roughshod over you. They’re cute as the dickens as puppies, but once they grow up, they can be a handful. And believe me, I speak from personal experience when I tell you that an adolescent Boxer can be a real handful.
A Boxer will happily follow you from room to room, just crashing out on the floor beside you wherever you decide you need to be. They also have no idea that they’re too big to be “lap dogs,” so if you’re going to get in a panic when you end up with 70 or so pounds of dog in your lap, kissing your face, then again, the Boxer might not be the right breed for you.
My Leroy is 5 years old now, and still very much a puppy in his own mind. My big sweet doofus isn’t all that unusual – in fact, many Boxer owners report that their Boxers don’t exactly “settle” until they’re 3 or 4. Now, given their puppy-like nature, that also means that many adult Boxers have an incredible amount of energy in their early years. They need a lot of exercise. Sadly, a lot of Boxers end up in animal shelters because their humans simply have no idea of how much exercise they’re going to need. If you’re not willing to devote at least an hour a day vigorously exercising your Boxer, then it’s probably not the right breed for you.
Sometimes, people adopt Boxers thinking, “This is a short-haired dog, so I won’t have to worry all that much about shedding or grooming.”
Again, I speak from personal experience here when I tell you that every day, Janice and Leroy drop enough hair that I could probably build a good-size puppy out of what I sweep up. Boxers aren’t all that high-maintenance, but if you think that they’re not going to shed, you’re very much mistaken.
Up until now, I suppose I’ve been telling you what’s not so great about Boxers. So now, let’s talk about something that’s really good. Boxers are incredibly kind and gentle, and good with small children and seniors. Boxers seem to know that these are fragile people, and they react accordingly. They’re not like some large breeds, that can bowl over kids and old people out of sheer rambunctiousness – although I should add, as a caveat, that there’s always an exception, and some will.
Most of the time, Boxers are very protective when it comes to their families, and actually, most of the time, Boxer owners can feel safe simply because of the sheer size and intimidating appearance of the dog.
That said, though, I wouldn’t necessarily suggest getting a Boxer because you think he’s going to be a good guard dog or watchdog. Just speaking for myself, Janice is pretty aloof, but not aggressive. If someone were to come in and rob the house while I was away, she’d probably just look on and do nothing.
Leroy, on the other hand, would lead a burglar to anything valuable, help said burglar carry the loot to his car, and then look up with his big, soft, brown Boxer eyes as much to say, “Will you take me for a drive, new best friend?”
So, if you’re looking for a guard dog, a Boxer is likely not what you want.
Boxers are extremely dependent on their humans for companionship, and are definitely not meant to be left unattended for long periods of time. If you leave your Boxer to his own devices, there’s a good chance that he’ll dig, chew, destroy your belongings, and become the scourge of the neighborhood with his incessant barking.
Boxers are so in tune with the feelings of their humans, it’s almost uncanny. If you’re sad, your Boxer will know, and snuggle up next to you. If you’re happy and want to play, he knows that too. Because of their compassionate nature, Boxers make great therapy dogs.
Okay, now we’re back to what’s not so good. If you’ve decided that the Boxer is the breed for you, you should probably invest in pet insurance, or at the very least sock away some money. They’re very prone to tumors (both benign and malignant) as well as skin conditions, bloat, and heart problems.
Obedience training is valuable for any breed of dog, but pretty much essential for Boxers. They’re very strong dogs, and they need capable handlers.
Fortunately, Boxers learn quickly. In fact, you might find that if your Boxer has learned a command, like “sit” or “down,” he’ll become annoyed if you want to repeat it. He’ll be like, “Okay, fine, I got this, now show me something new!” If you get that reaction from your Boxer, just do it – move on, and teach something else.
All puppies are going to chew, and Boxers are no exception. The trouble with Boxers, though, is that they’ll often carry it on into adulthood. That means that your shoes, your furniture, your electronic devices, and just about anything else that you leave laying around is going to be fair game for your Boxer. Provide him with lots of toys and rawhide chews to keep him entertained, and your belongings safe.
Often, people perceive large dogs as being naturally aggressive. This is absolutely not the case with Boxers. They’re typically good with humans, and with other dogs as well. However, it’s worth pointing out that it’s always best, in a two-dog household, to have dogs of the opposite sex, or if not of the opposite sex, then to have both neutered. This is simply so that they don’t give in to their natural inclination to fight over breeding rights.
I’m saying this in the context that Boxers have, lately, become a very desirable breed. And what that means is that more and more puppy mill operators are breeding Boxers (see 5 Reasons Why Puppy Mills Must Be Stopped for more information). If you’re thinking of buying a Boxer puppy, insist on seeing the mother. View the father as well, if you can. Assume, before taking your puppy home, that you can visit the kennel any time you want, and if the breeder tries to put you off, take that as a red flag – something is off.
A breeding kennel should always be clean, always open to you, and the breeder should always be willing to let you see not just your puppy, but any other puppies and dogs that are part of the breeding program.
Many of the Boxers who end up in shelters and rescue facilities come from puppy mills, or are adopted by people who simply aren’t suited to the breed – in other words, there are no bad Boxers, just bad (or inept) Boxer owners. If you’re not sure that your lifestyle is suited to the breed or if you’re not sure you’re buying from a good kennel, back off. This isn’t a decision that you can make and then say, “Oh, well, I changed my mind.” You’re not renting a Boxer, you’re adopting one. So, make sure you really do want to adopt. Changing your mind later on is unfair to the dog.
I can’t imagine my life without Janice and Leroy. They are the most wonderful dogs in the world, and I’m grateful every day that they came into my life. But I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say that I thought long and hard before bringing them home – I wanted to be sure that I was really ready for two rambunctious dogs.
How did I finally make the decision?
I asked myself, “If you don’t adopt these dogs, will you regret it later on?”
The answer was, “Yes, likely.” So, I went ahead with the adoption.
It might not be that easy for you. If it is, great! If it’s not, though, think long and hard. Boxers are not disposable. If you’re not sure that you’re ready for a Boxer, it might be best to pull back, regroup, and think a little more.
If you’re sure that you really are ready, though, then all I have to say is, welcome to the club! Leave a comment below – tell me about your Boxer!