Developed in Germany, the Boxer is a breed of stocky, medium size, short-haired dog. The coat is smooth and fawn, brindled, white, or even reverse brindled with or without white markings. Boxers are brachycephalic, and have a square muzzle, mandibular prognathism, very strong jaws and a powerful bite ideal for hanging on to large prey. The Boxer was bred from the Old English Bulldog and the now extinct Bullenbeisser and is part of the Molosser group.
Boxers were first exhibited in a dog show for St. Bernards at Munich in 1895, the first Boxer club being founded the next year. Based on 2009 American Kennel Club statistics, Boxers are the sixth most popular breed of dog in the United States for the third year in a row—moving up in 2007 from the seventh spot, which they'd held since 2002.
Leading health issues to which Boxers are prone include cancers, heart conditions such as Aortic Stenosis and Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (the so-called "Boxer Cardiomyopathy"), hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, and degenerative myelopathy and epilepsy; other conditions that may be seen are gastric dilatation and torsion (bloat), intestinal problems, and allergies (although these may be more related to diet than breed). Entropion, a malformation of the eyelid requiring surgical correction, is occasionally seen, and some lines have a tendency toward spondylosis deformans, a fusing of the spine, or dystocia. Another health problem that is common in Boxers is often referred to as Boxer Colitis.It is called this because it most often occurs in Boxers. Boxers who get this are picky eaters and get upset stomachs easily. When they have this problem their backs are hunched up. The best way to solve this problem is keep the dog on bland food with healthy digestive enzymes. Pancreatic Endocrine Insufficiency is also a common health problem. Basically, this is the Boxer's inability to produce sufficient digestive enzymes and leaves them with an upset stomach, even though they are hungry. They have chronic diarrhea and weight loss, but a healthy appetite. The nutrients are never properly absorbed which leave the brain thinking the dog is hungry. This is a hereditary problem that can oftentimes lead to other health problems, like inflammatory bowel disease, or colitis.
According to a UK Kennel Club health survey, cancer accounts for 38.5% of Boxer deaths, followed by old age (21.5%), cardiac (6.9%) and gastrointestinal (6.9%) related issues. Average age of death was 9 years and 8 months. Responsible breeders use available tests to screen their breeding stock before breeding, and in some cases throughout the life of the dog, in an attempt to minimize the occurrence of these diseases in future generations.
Boxers are known to be very sensitive to the hypotensive and bradycardiac effects of a commonly-used veterinary sedative, acepromazine. It is recommended that the drug be avoided in the Boxer breed.
As an athletic breed, proper exercise and conditioning is important for the continued health and longevity of the Boxer. Care must be taken not to over-exercise young dogs, as this may damage growing bones; however once mature Boxers can be excellent jogging or running companions. Because of their brachycephalic head, they do not do well with high heat or humidity, and common sense should prevail when exercising a Boxer in these conditions.