Health of the Boxer

Health of the Boxer

The average life expectancy of a Boxer is between 10 – 12 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.

As with many other pedigree dogs the Boxer is known to suffer from specific health issues more than other breeds which are worth knowing about if you are thinking about sharing your home with one of these fun-loving dogs. The health disorders the breed is known to suffer from includes the following:

  • Aortic Stenosis/Sub-Aortic Stenosis (AS/SAS) – Breed Club – Heart testing available and only murmur-free dogs should be used for breeding purposes
  • Bloat/Gastric Torsion
  • Boxer Cardiomyopathy (ARVC)
  • Colitis
  • Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
  • Epilepsy
  • Cataracts
  • Hip Dysplasia – Tests available
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cancer
  • Cutaneous Asthenia
  • Hives and allergies
  • Corneal Ulcers
  • Skeletal Scurvy Osteodystrophy
  • Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome

Boxers have also been seen to react badly to a sedative commonly used by vets called acepromazine. As such vets avoid using the sedative when treating a Boxer. The other thing to bear in mind is that because Boxers have flatter muzzles and are a brachycephalic breed care must be taken when exercising these dogs in hotter weather to prevent them from overheating.

More about Aortic Stenosis

Aortic stenosis is a condition that affects a Boxer’s heart. The aorta becomes narrower. As a result their hearts have to work much harder to pump oxygenated blood through it and around the body which over time puts it under a tremendous amount of pressure. Another consequence of the condition is when the left heart muscle becoming thicker which is a disorder known as hypertrophy. If the level of blood that flows through a dog’s heart falls too low it can lead to dogs fainting and could even result in their sudden death in very severe cases. The noise of the blood as it travels through the narrower opening in a dog’s heart can be heard using a stethoscope and is referred to as a heart “murmur”.

Back in the eighties the number of Boxers that suddenly died were found to have developed the condition but through careful and selective breeding only using dogs tested clear of the disorder the number has dropped considerably. As such only murmur-free Boxers that have been tested and graded as 0.6 should ever be used in a breeding programme.

More about Boxer Cardiomyopathy (ARVC)

Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy or ARVC is a disorder seen in Boxers and it affects them more than other heart conditions seen in the breed. It is not the same as cardiomyopathies which can affect other breeds and the reason is due to fatty and fibrous tissues found in a Boxer’s heart muscle which results in an electrical disturbance. In cardiomyopathies in other breeds the problem is caused by a thickening of a dog’s heart muscle. With this said when a Boxer develops the condition their heart walls can thicken because of the electrical disruption.

A Boxer can suffer from the condition at any point in their lives and there are 3 categories of ARVC which are as follows:

  • Concealed – a dog might experience arrhythmias but otherwise there are no other symptoms
  • Episodic fainting (syncope) which is generally associated with a dog being excited or having been exercised
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Sudden death

For the moment Boxers cannot be screened for ARVC but a lot of research is being carried out to establish if and why some dogs develop the condition whereas others do not. The prognosis tends to be variable with many dogs living out their lives and enjoying a good quality of life. However if a Boxer’s condition is severe they typically succumb to the disorder even when they are being carefully monitored and treated.

More about hives and allergies

Some Boxers develop hives which is triggered by an allergic reaction to something. Occasionally finding the root cause of the problem is simple more especially if a dog has been stung by an insect. However finding the triggers can often prove challenging and often even with in-depth investigation the cause is never known. A Boxer with the condition develops lumps on their body which can be varying in size from 1 to 2 cm in diameter. Often dogs look like they have been “bubble-wrapped” when they develop hives which is accompanied by quite a bit of discomfort and itching.

It’s very important to keep an eye on a Boxer when they do develop hives because it could lead to them suffering from anaphylaxis which can prove life-threatening due to the fact a dog’s airways swell up and therefore prevents them from breathing and they would need to see a vet as a matter of urgency so they can be given an antihistamine.

More about corneal ulcers

Thanks to the way a Boxers eyes are constructed they are more at risk of scratching the surface which can lead to corneal ulcers forming. Unfortunately a Boxer’s cornea does not heal as quickly as in other breeds and as such a trip to the vet would be well advised so they can examine the affected eye and treat it accordingly sooner rather than later to prevent things from getting any worse and to make a Boxer more comfortable as quickly as possible.

More about Skeletal Scurvy Osteodystrophy

Skeletal scurvy osteodystrophy affects puppies between the ages of 2 and 8 months when they are developing and growing rapidly. The disorder is extremely painful because it affects a puppy’s growth plates which are found at the tip of bones in a dog’s limbs. It is thought the condition is caused by a Vitamin C deficiency although there is a belief that the disorder is more complex than simply this. With this said a puppy’s diet must be well balanced and correctly thought out so it is well balanced and offers all the correct levels of nutrients they need to grow and develop properly.

More about tail docking

Traditionally a Boxer’s tail was always docked but since the law banning the procedure came into effect in 2007 tail docking Boxers is now illegal with the only exception being because a dog suffers from some sort of health issue that requires their tails to be docked and the procedure has been agreed and authorised before being performed by a qualified vet.