How To Keep Your Boxer Healthy

Boxers, unfortunately, are prone to several potential health problems like:

–   skin allergy
–   food allergy
–   cancer
–   hip dysplasia
–   bloat
–   heart ailments
–   hypothyroidism
–   fleas
–   worms

Knowing what they are will help you to better monitor your pet’s health and to gather the pertinent information, in case of an illness, that would assist your veterinarian to administer the correct diagnosis and treatment. Below are some common afflictions of Boxers.

Alapechia (Lost of hair on the trunk)

Seems to be more common in male Boxers.

One, which died at the age of 12 years and 4 months, was diagnosed with seasonal alopecia. “He used to go bald once a year but the hair always grew back on,” said its owner.


Gastric torsion or GDV or bloat in your Boxer can be life-threatening so bring him to the veterinarian immediately.

The stomach gets filled with air and twisting and this can happen suddenly. The symptoms include restlessness, drooling and nausea and the stomach is bloated (distended abdomen). Your Boxer may vomit and continue to retch but nothing would come out.

Cancerous and benign tumors

Boxers are highly prone to cancer. 

So any time you see a bump on your Boxer, you should check it out. About 20 out of 100 cases are cancerous.

Watch out for both external and internal lumps, eye ulcers or cherry eye as they called it, as well as demodicosis or skin sores.

Mast cell tumors are malignant and do not occur very often but can form either in the skin or within the body. 

The related disorders reported along such tumors are round raised masses in the skin of your Boxer, lack of appetite, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Check for tarry stools due to bleeding in the upper intestinal tract. 

Boxers of any age can develop mast cell tumors but older ones, above 8 years, are more prone to it.

Never take tumors in your Boxers lightly, even a small one! The veterinarian would usually have them removed immediately because of their high susceptibility to cancer.

One owner noticed her Boxer had a bump the size of a mosquito bite that did not go away even after 10 days. The vet diagnosed it as a malignant tumor and removed it the very next day. The owner felt so relieved that the tumor was removed before cancer had a chance to spread.

Another owner found both his Boxer girls had lumps and had it checked out immediately. The vet removed the lumps due to their breed and the Boxers were all fine now!

Yet another owner was not so lucky.

“I have had the pleasure of raising two great Boxers but both passed away much too young of cancer. The last one, Nick, died one week after being diagnosed with anal cancer. It spread rapidly and he was only 7 years old!”


Is peculiar to male dogs and a condition present at birth.

The testicle/s, which developed in the abdomen, fail to descend into the scrotum. The usually underdeveloped and non-functional testicle/s should be removed, as it could turn cancerous later in life.

If the condition remains after the puppy is more than 2 months old, then the chances are it will remain so permanently.

Eye ulcers, if caught early, are easy to treat. Late treatment can be expensive for you as well as painful for your Boxer. 


Or non-contagious mange first appears as numerous patches anywhere on the Boxer’s skin. The hair will fall off, leaving bald patches in large areas, and the bald skin starts to break down, turning into crusty sores. 


Is an itchy (pruritic) skin disease caused by allergy to something the Boxer breathes in or touch.

It cannot be cured and is the number two common allergic skin condition in dogs, after flea allergy dermatitis. Having fleas would make it worse for your Boxer.

A Boxer suffering from atopy would have itchiness, particularly on the hands and feet.

He’d be chewing his paws, scratching his ears, shaking its head, scratching the muzzle or rubbing it on the ground. These same symptoms can also be brought about by food allergies. 


In young dogs shows as red bumps (papules) and blackheads (comedones) on the chin and lips.

Shorthaired dogs like Boxers are more likely to get them. And like in humans, they start getting acne around puberty, but the problem would usually go away after one year old or so.

However, you may have to help with some topical gel medication similar to the one used by teenagers. Such lesions may become infected and develop pus, which becomes itchy for your Boxer and he starts rubbing his face in the carpet or against furniture. 

Urinary incontinence 

In dogs can be due to a neurological lesion – something not normal with the parts of the nervous system that deal with urine regulation. 

A Boxer with incontinence will dribble urine and if a neurologic lesion is a cause, then this has to be removed.

There are also other reasons not related to the nervous system like congenital defect and bacterial urinary tract infection, also known as bacterial cystitis or bladder stone.

If your Boxer leaves wet spots where he has slept and he has skin irritation from contact with the urine, then he may have incontinence.

However, wet spots around the house alone may simply mean that he drinks a lot more and needs to relieve himself often but you are not allowing him outside frequently enough. Straining while urinating and blood in the urine, are two signs of bladder stone. 


Boxer is among the more than 35 breeds of dogs on record to have hereditary sensorineural deafness. 

The condition cannot be reversed with medications, surgery, or hearing aids. Dogs also could become deaf from old age, toxicosis, or infection.

How do you tell if your Boxer is deaf?

He doesn’t respond to spoken commands and only responds to you when he sees you.

He keeps shaking his head and pawing his ears or turns in the wrong direction when you call him.

He sleeps more than normal and would not wake up till you physically touch him. 

But not to worry, you can still have a wonderful companion in your deaf Boxer through sign language. 

Dogs have been known to learn as many as 65 command words in sign language. These include signs for, among others, “stop”, “potty”, “drop it”, “stay”, “lay down”, “sit”, “come” and “cookie”.

As extra measures, you want to keep the deaf Boxer in a safe environment as he cannot hear approaching dangers like an approaching car. So keep him on a leash and close to you when in traffic or out for walks.

On his nametag, add the word “deaf” so he will not be misunderstood if he ever gets lost. Some suggest putting a bell as well so you know where to find him if he gets lost.

And finally, if your Boxer tested positive for inherited deafness in one or both ears, do not breed him or her. 

Epilepsy/seizure disorder

When your Boxer is between 2 to 5 years old, he may develop a seizure disorder.

When he has an epilepsy attack, he’d be unconscious and like he is not breathing but he is. He is not suffering.

The information that would be important to your veterinarian regarding such episodes includes: 

> Duration of the attack

> The type of muscular activity your Boxer exhibits during the seizure

> Any abnormal behavior during the attack

> Frequency of the seizure

What you do in such instances is not panic and time the attack by actually looking at a watch or clock. 

It may only take place for 30 seconds but may seem forever to you. You need a veterinarian if it lasts more than 5 minutes. 

Emergency treatment is definitely called for if your Boxer goes into seizure for 10 minutes or longer, twice in the span of 24 hours, or if he has a second attack before he could completely recover from the first seizure attack. 

Remain by your Boxer’s side; be there when he comes out of the seizure to calm him. Stroke and comfort him.

To keep your Boxer from hurting himself during the seizure, move away furniture from the immediate area and protect him from water, the stairs and any sharp objects. If you can, place a pillow under his head to protect him from head trauma.

Unlike seizure attacks in humans, animals do not swallow their tongues. So you don’t have to put your hand or spoon or any other object into your Boxer’s mouth when he has an attack. You might get bitten.

Also, keep children and other pets away from your sick Boxer.

Coming out of the seizure, your Boxer will be groggy, confused, and feel like he has done something wrong. He may make unusual sounds and stumble around.

Do not allow him on the stairs until he has fully recovered. In the meantime, soothe him by talking to him softly, offer him some water, stroke, and comfort him.

And if he doesn’t recover fully after 30 minutes, consult your veterinarian or an emergency vet facility.

Flea-infected Boxers

Flea-infected Boxers can develop skin diseases especially those allergic to fleas.

Black specs in the fur and bite marks on the skin tell if your Boxer has them. To check further, spread some newspapers and place your Boxer on top. Brush him and look for the black specs falling off.

Fleas live up to 6 weeks, feeding on blood, and during that time would have laid hundreds of eggs that mostly land on your Boxer’s bedding, carpets, and other favorable nests around your home.

The eggs hatch into larvae that seek nice, dark places while feeding on flea’s droppings, dust, human shed skin, dandruff, and other such tasty morsels.

The larvae turn into hardy pupae that could survive for months before changing into adult fleas.

Fleas are host to tapeworms. Both problems are likely to occur together in your Boxer and, therefore, the treatments are also usually given together by the vet.

A bit of garlic a day may keep the fleas away from your Boxer.

Heart ailments

-Bradycardia or slow heart rate may be a symptom of thyroid disorder in Boxers.

-Dialated cardiomyopathy constitutes a serious, emergency case. 

Your dog may collapse from it or the back legs have sudden pain and paralysis. 

It is a serious heart condition whereby the heart muscle is enlarged and thin-walled. Your Boxer will experience shortness of breath, coughing, and can’t take to exercise.

Another serious heart condition is called cardiac conduction disease that is affecting Boxer’s longevity. It was previously known as Boxer cardiomyopathy but the new term is used to differentiate it from dilative cardiomyopathy. 

Cardiac conduction is difficult to deal with due to 3 factors.

-One is many Boxers will not show any symptom (asymptotic) but will just drop dead suddenly from it.

-The Boxers develop this disease later in life, often after they have been bred.

-There was no good screening method for it until the one recently developed by Ohio State University researchers called the 24-hour Holter monitor test. 

However, there is still no assurance that Boxers “cleared” now from cardiac conduction disease by the Holter test will remain so in the future.

Many breeders and Boxer experts are now working to refine the test procedures, expand the database and come up with a guideline to select only, for breeding purposes, those Boxers with high probability of being free of the disease.

There are also concerns elimination of too many dogs from the gene pool would be bad for the breed diversity and could cause more problems in the future. Some opinions hold that extensive culling should only get done after more studies on genetic diversity in Boxers. 

Hip dysplasia

This is a bone disorder whereby there is an improper fit of the large femur bone with the hip socket, causing lots of pain and lameness.

It occurs more in male than in the female of primarily large breed dogs like Boxer.

Hip dysplasia is genetic and can be passed on. If you think your Boxer may have a hip problem, take him for an x-ray when he is 24 months old for a proper diagnosis. And then, if he is tested positive, do not breed him or her.

It develops in puppies and can show up as early as when the Boxer is four months old. Or it could show up much later when he is an old dog, and the hip weakens and becomes arthritic. 


When the adrenal gland is hyperactive and starts producing too much cortisol into the blood, your Boxer may become sick.

He will then exhibit what is known as Cushing’s syndrome – he drinks more water (polydipsia), urinates more (polyuria), and has a bigger appetite (polyphagia).

The stomach or abdomen may become distended or potbelly and he starts losing hair on the trunk.

Other symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome are chronic skin infection, chronic urinary tract infection, excessive panting, lethargy, muscle weakness, and calcium deposits in the skin (calcinosis cutis). 


This disease concerns the thyroid gland that does not produce enough thyroid hormone, which can cause illness in the Boxer.

He becomes lethargic, sleeps a lot more, not interested to play, tires easily, and experiences depression or mental dullness. 

He may gain weight and become obese without having to eat more than usual.

There are so many symptoms that vary and are non-specific and they all develop slowly. This is because not enough thyroid hormone produced affects the metabolic function of many organ systems. 

Other signs of thyroid disorder are slow heart rate (bradycardia), infertility, constipation, diarrhea, and your Boxer cannot stand cold, always seeking a warm place to lie down. 

It may also result in chronic skin disorders like dry skin and excessive hair loss, as well as other neurological and hormonal abnormalities.

A single symptom may not point to thyroid deficiency but a combination of them should make your veterinarian more suspicious of it. 

Intervertebral disk disease 

The disease causes back pain and makes your Boxer clumsy and walk like a drunkard. He might not want to climb stairs or play and would yelp when he is handled, petted, or lifted. 

The disease affects his spinal disks and could end in paralysis. 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Boxers having IBS aren’t gaining weight, seem lethargic, and have pale color mucus membranes in the mouth (oral mucosa) and eyes (eye scleras). 

Monitor their stool for frank or occult blood and start with a blood test to check for hematocrit (abdominal bleeding), which could save their life. This condition can be caused by food allergies.

One male Boxer diagnosed with IBS of the small intestine was failing to thrive and began to have syncopal episodes (fainting spells).

The owner put him on a strict venison diet and he finally thrived, gained weight, and is very active. The owner said many butcher shops sell venison and it is very reasonably priced. 

Kidney problem

Preventing kidney damage is key to your Boxer’s survival.

If you suspect your Boxer may have kidney trouble, take him to the veterinarian for aggressive treatment. 

Remember the concern over too many grapes or raisins is toxic for dogs and could ruin their kidneys? 

Aggressive treatment in such poisoning cases means, if your Boxer had just overindulged in the grapes/raisins, the doctor will induce vomiting immediately and prescribe some activated charcoal pills.

There will be repeated blood tests to determine the status of kidney function plus hospitalization and intravenous fluid therapy if necessary.

The induced vomiting is to remove as many grapes or raisins as possible while activated charcoal is to help prevent absorption of the toxic substance.

Two days of intravenous fluid therapy is often recommended to help prevent damage to the kidneys.

A blood test is usually repeated after 48 hours and 5 to 7 days to ensure the kidneys are functioning within the normal range. 

Where kidney damage has occurred, the intravenous fluid therapy shall continue until blood tests indicate the kidneys have returned to normal function again.

Progressive axonopathy

This is a debilitating disease of the nervous system, which used to be common among Boxers but not anymore because of the due diligence practiced by breeders

Medical Terms for Boxer’s Health You Should Know:

Health Terms                       Descriptions:

Alapechia                         Hair loss of the trunk

Aortic stenosis                 Heart ailment

Atopy                               Itchy skin disease

Axonopathy                     Disease of the nervous system

Bacterial systitis               Bladder stones

Bradycardia                      Slow heart rate

Boxer cardiomyopathy    Cardiac conduction

Calcinosis cutis                Calcium deposits in the skin

Cardiac conduction          Heart ailment pertaining to an irregular heartbeat

Cardiomyopathy              Heart ailment

Cherry eye                        Eye ulcer

Comedones                      Blackheads/acne

Cryptorchidism                Undescended testicle

Cushing’s syndrome        Adrenal gland disorder

Demodicosis                    Non-contagious mange

Dilative cardiomyopathy  Enlarged and thins-walled heart muscle

Eye scleras                       Mucus membrane in the eyes

Gastric torsion/GDV        Bloat

Hematocrit                       Abdominal bleeding

Hip dysplasia                   Genetic disorder of the hip bones

Hyperadrenocorticism     Overactive adrenal gland

Hypothyroidism                Disorder of the thyroid gland

IBS                                   Irritable bowel syndrome

Incontinence                     Poor control of urination

Intervertebral disk disease Spinal cord disease

Mast cell tumor                Malignant tumor

Oral mucous                     Mucus membrane in the mouth

Papules                             Red bumps/acne

Polydipsia                        Increased water consumption

Polyphagia                       Increased appetite

Polyuria                            Increase urination

Syncopam episode           Fainting spell