Do Boxer dogs have health problems?

smiling boxer dog looking into the camera

Pedigree dogs are more prone to illness than mixed breeds, and boxers come with their fair share of predisposed conditions. Purely Pets shares what they are and how dog insurance plans can help.

If you’ve ever spent time with a boxer dog, you’ll know they’re playful and fun with a sociable personality. They are eager to please everyone they meet and are one of the most loyal breeds to own.

Unfortunately, like with many purebred canines, boxers are more susceptible to a host of health concerns.

As a caring pet parent, we understand you want the best for your boxer and for them to live a long and enjoyable life. That’s why we’ve put together a list of common health problems to look out for and ways to give your dog the care it deserves.

Read on to learn what your pup needs to stay healthy, the best accessories to keep them happy, and where to find the best dog insurance plans to protect your boxer.

Boxer breed facts and characteristics

Boxers are some of the happiest dogs around. They want to be everyone’s best friend and thrive off spending time with people and other canines.

This breed needs plenty of exercise and their energy never seems to run out! You’ll need to have an active lifestyle if you hope to get one of these large dogs at home.

These pups have a clownish nature, often making their owners chuckle and rightfully earning their place as a popular family pet. Boxers are loyal and intelligent – they are great at picking up basic skills and learning through training.

The perfect way to reward their loving and loyal nature is with protection through dog insurance plans. With comprehensive cover in place, your boxer gets the right medical attention when it needs it most.

Here’s an overview of what to expect from a boxer:

Average life expectancy: Over 10 years

Average size: Medium to large

Average weight: 25-32 kg

Average height: 53-63 cm

Minimum daily exercise: 2 hours

Minimum monthly cost: £80

House size needed: Large home and garden

What health problems are boxers known for?

With their warm and playful nature, it’s distressing to see your beloved dog in pain. Sadly, boxers are prone to a range of medical conditions like most pedigrees. For this reason, it’s vital to protect your four-legged family member with pet insurance.

At Purely Pets, we offer 15 levels of lifetime cover. With one of these dog insurance plans in place, your boxer can get emergency vet care for an accident or illness without you having to worry about a huge bill at the end of it.

So, what health concerns are boxers most likely to experience?

  • Eye problems
  • Heart problems
  • Skin problems
  • Certain cancers and lumps
  • Cruciate ligament disease
  • Hormone disorders
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS)
  • Epilepsy

With such a long list of possible health issues, it’s important to know what to look out for. Take your dog to the vet as soon as possible when you spot any changes in their health. Or, if you’re a Purely Pets policyholder, you can access a vet 24/7 via video consultation.

Let’s take a closer look at each condition and learn the signs to look out for.

Eye problems

Boxers were originally bred to have a flat face, meaning their eyes are exposed and more prone to damage. Injuries in this area can cause a corneal ulcer, which requires immediate attention – make sure you have one of our dog insurance plans in place for any sudden surprises!

Look for the following symptoms to spot the issue in your dog:

  • Red, bloodshot eye
  • A crater or hole on the eye’s surface
  • Squinting or frequent blinking
  • Weeping eye
  • Cloudy eye
  • Scratching or rubbing their face
  • Closing their eye to avoid bright light

Other common eye problems include entropion (an eyelid scrolling inwards) and cherry eye (tear glands poking out of socket).

Heart problems

There are two heart conditions that boxers are more likely to get – cardiomyopathy and aortic stenosis. These are common in larger breeds and can cause sudden death without you noticing any symptoms previously.

Dog insurance plans don’t include regular check-ups, but they are an essential cost of owning a pet. They provide the opportunity for your vet to spot underlying conditions before they develop.

Heart murmurs and irregular heartbeats can signal issues like those mentioned, and symptoms can be managed with lifestyle changes and medication.

Skin problems

Although not usually life-threatening, boxers can develop several skin issues that cause them discomfort. Take your dog to the vet often to help spot and treat:

  • Skin tags
  • Warts
  • Skin allergies
  • Soreness in their skin folds

Cancer and other lumps

It’s not uncommon for dogs to get lumps and bumps on their fat, skin and muscle. Boxers commonly develop abscesses, cysts, and warts, but they are also more likely to have cancerous growths than many breeds.

Mast cell tumours and sarcomas are the most common, and you may be able to feel them when you stroke and hug your beloved hound.

If you notice a lump on your pet and you’re not sure if it’s cancerous or not, take them to the vet. Even if it’s nothing serious, large growths often need surgical removal.

Cruciate ligament disease

This medical condition is something we often see in boxers. These ligaments hold the knee joint in place, but when a dog develops the disease, the ligament slowly weakens over time and can sometimes tear.

Look for the following in your pet and take them to the vet if you suspect the issue:

  • Lameness in back leg
  • Swelling around joint
  • Whimpering in pain
  • Instability when walking
  • Sitting wonky or with leg out to the side

Hormone disorders

The most prevalent hormone disorder in this breed is hypothyroidism, which occurs when the thyroid becomes underactive. You might notice certain symptoms in your pup that point to this condition:

  • Hair loss
  • Weight gain despite eating less
  • Generally tired

If you suspect something’s wrong with your dog, get them to the vet for a blood test. If your pet gets diagnosed with hypothyroidism, they will need to take medication for the rest of their life to live comfortably.

Hip dysplasia

This painful condition arises while your boxer is still a puppy and causes one or both of their hip joints to develop abnormally. Dogs experience lots of discomfort and swelling with hip dysplasia, and it can eventually lead to arthritis.

To lower the risk of boxers getting this condition, breeders should screen their hounds through the BVA & Kennel Club Hip Dysplasia Scheme.

If your dog does develop the illness, your vet may try a combination of weight control, rest, exercise, and medication to treat them. When a boxers’ condition is severe or they don’t respond to these daily management techniques, they may need surgery.

Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS)

As boxers are a flat-faced breed and have narrow nostrils, nasal passages, and windpipes as a result, they’re more prone to this respiratory condition.

Get your dog to the vets as soon as possible if they develop any of the following:

  • Loud breathing
  • Snoring
  • Constant panting
  • Difficulty exercising and keeping up with other dogs
  • Needing regular breaks
  • Excessive sneezing
  • Blue gums
  • Struggling in hot weather
  • Collapsing

Your vet will discuss weight control and the possibility of surgery to help your dog feel more comfortable with the condition.


This common cause of seizures in boxers is often inherited from a parent and usually surfaces between six months and six years of age.

The condition can’t be cured but you can manage your pup's symptoms once they’ve been diagnosed.

It’s important to mention that a one-off seizure doesn’t mean your dog necessarily has epilepsy. Perfectly healthy canines can have one or two unexplained seizures during their lifetime.

If your boxer appears to be having a fit, it’s important to stay calm and follow these steps to keep them and you safe:

  • Stay away from your pet’s mouth in case they bite accidentally.
  • If they’re somewhere they can get hurt, move them if possible or use cushions and pillows as padding.
  • Turn off any lights and make the room quiet.
  • Note how long the seizure lasts and film it if you can.
  • Phone your vet – if you have coverage with one of our Purely Pets dog insurance plans, you can call the 24-hour vet video service for quick and professional advice.
  • Don’t transport your boxer until the seizure is over.

Caring for your boxer dog

With the knowledge of the possible health concerns your boxer may experience and the symptoms to look for, you can get your animal help when it needs it.

Dog insurance plans cover your pet in case it needs urgent care, but there are complementary measures you need to take at home to make sure it enjoys the life it deserves.

What does a boxer dog eat?

a boxer puppy chewing a bone

This breed grows to a medium or large size, and they need a well-balanced, complete diet to keep them fit and healthy. According to the PDSA: “The wrong diet can lead to obesity and life-long health issues. So feeding them the right foods is essential to their quality of life.

Discuss with your vet how much your pet should be eating. They can weigh your boxer and measure their height to determine an ideal diet.

Your dogs’ food should be high quality and commercially available. Most owners split the daily allowance into two complete meals and sometimes provide additional treats, especially when training, which shouldn’t be more than 10% of their daily calorie allowance.

Feed your four-legged friend at a similar time each day and let their meal go down before taking them out to exercise.

How to train a boxer dog

This breed is clever, but they can also be boisterous and clown around during training. Use these tips to raise an obedient and well-trained pup:

  • Implement a positive, reward-based training programme from an early age.
  • Maintain a firm but fair attitude with plenty of reassurance for good behaviour.
  • Be patient and consistent to get the best results.
  • Consider using accredited trainers if you’re finding it difficult.

Boxers mature at a slower rate than most dog breeds, and their energetic puppy-like ways can make it challenging to control them as they get bigger. Before you bring a boxer into your home, consider whether you have what it takes to keep it controlled. This may not be the breed if you’re a first-time pet owner.

What exercise does a boxer need?

As you might expect, this high energy, active breed needs plenty of exercise. Boxers love playing and it can be a rare sight to see one sitting calmly.

These dogs need a minimum of two hours daily exercise, which can be split into a few walks. Give them plenty of chances to get sniffing and explore their surroundings as well as some off-lead time for a decent run around.

Use every opportunity you get to let them stretch their legs. This could be taking them with you when you pop to the shop or letting them out into the garden on a nice day.

Do boxers need grooming?

All dogs need some form of grooming to keep them clean and maintain their coat. Boxer owners will be pleased to hear this breed is fairly low maintenance, thanks to their short hair that only needs a weekly brush.

Your dog will shed throughout the year, especially in autumn and spring, but the hairs are easy to clean with a hoover.

Make sure your boxer has frequent baths to keep their skin folds clean and dry. The excess flaps can cause skin fold dermatitis if not looked after properly.

Many owners complement their dog insurance plans with a pet health programme. While the former takes care of your animal in case of an emergency, the latter is sometimes offered by vets to spread the cost of routine treatments and grooming.

What are the best accessories for a boxer dog?

Your boxer needs plenty of love and care to keep it happy and healthy but choosing the right accessories and toys can also boost your dogs’ wellbeing and make sure it stays safe.

When you bring this breed into your family, budget for the following:

  • The right dog crate for your needs (training, sleeping, staying home by itself)
  • Dog seat belt for car journeys
  • Quality feeding bowls they can’t chew
  • Large cosy bed for your big boxer to sprawl out
  • Dog puzzles to get treats from
  • Automatic fetch machine to appeal to their love of chase
  • Chew toy for young teething pups
  • Tug of war rope to bond with your pet
  • Rubber curry brush to remove dead hair and skin cells

Choose your pets’ toys carefully to make sure they cater to their playful needs but also stimulate them mentally.

If they’ll spend time home alone each day, treat dispensers and puzzle toys can keep them busy and stop them from getting bored.

Is a boxer the right dog for me?

The affectionate and loyal nature of this breed might make you consider bringing one into your family home. Remember, boxers are large dogs and need lots of care to keep them healthy and happy.

Before you adopt or buy one of these canines, ask yourself if you have the funds and time needed to give them the life they deserve.

Cost of owning a boxer

Usually, the bigger the breed, the bigger your bank balance needs to be. Costs go up even more when it’s a pedigree, like a boxer, because they tend to need more healthcare over their lifetime.

The minimum you should budget to look after your boxer each month is £80. The PDSA believes that large breeds can cost up to a whopping £30,800 in a lifetime! So, just what causes such a big expenditure?

Purchase costs: Unless you adopt a boxer from a rescue centre, you can expect to pay a hefty price for these lovable dogs. Be wary of cheap puppies and check you always buy from a Kennel Club Assured breeder.

Set-up costs: This includes everything you need to pay for when you first get a puppy. They need vaccinations, neutering, and lots of accessories. Dog insurance plans don’t cover routine vaccinations.

Ongoing costs: Throughout their lifetime you need to provide food, preventative healthcare, more accessories, and vet bills. As boxers are prone to so many health conditions, dog insurance plans are a good idea to help you save on unexpected medical bills.

Additional costs: You need to budget for other miscellaneous costs like training, kennels, and a dog walker if you work all day.

Time needed to look after a boxer

Unless you have the budget to pay for doggy day-care and walkers every day, you need plenty of free time to give your dog the care it deserves. Your boxer needs at least 2 hours of exercise a day plus training.

You also need to factor in time for feeding, bathing, and playing with your fun-loving pet. Don’t forget all the cuddles on the sofa after hours of running around. If you work a lot or have other commitments, a boxer likely isn’t the right breed for you.

Are boxers good with kids and other pets?

Yes, this breed usually makes excellent family dogs that love to play with children. Boxers take pride in protecting their owners but are very rarely aggressive. They fare best with older children due to their large size and boisterous nature.

These dogs also love other pets as long as you introduce them slowly. If they’ve been trained to be around other animals or grew up close to them, they are more likely to get on well with other pets.

Where to get a boxer

Once you’re sure you have what it takes to give a boxer all the love and attention it needs, it’s time to find the right pup for your family. The two most common ways to get this breed are rehoming centres and breeders.

There are many rescue centres across the UK that may have boxers, and others specialise in finding new homes for the breed. Dogs from these organisations are usually older, so make sure to check their history for any health or behavioural concerns you need to look out for.

When you buy from a breeder, there are a few things you need to check before you bring a puppy home. Make sure they meet the high standards required to be a Kennel Club Assured breeder.

The dog should also be well socialised and have up-to-date vaccinations and health checks along with screening tests.

Protect your loyal boxer with lifetime insurance

boxer dog staring up

With a boxers’ fun-loving and devoted personality comes a host of predisposed health concerns. The greatest way to reward their ever-growing loyalty is with a lifetime pet insurance policy.

Dog insurance plans protect your animal in times of need and could save you thousands in vet bills.

At Purely Pets, we know how important dogs are to your family and that they deserve only the best during their time with you.

That’s why we insure pups from as young as 8 weeks old and have no upper joining age limit. Choose from 15 levels of lifetime cover to fit your budget and needs and manage your policy online at a time that suits you.

Are you looking to protect your loyal boxer through every stage of its life? Check out the dog insurance plans at Purely Pets today.

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