Common Boxer Dog Ailments

Before committing to this breed, you should learn about boxer dog ailments. Many pet owners fail to realize that boxers are highly susceptible to a range of health issues. Learn more about these predisposed health traits. Quality breeding is important. Before buying a boxer puppy, ask the breeder if the parents have had specific tests used to rule out genetic diseases, including the following:

  • Cardiac Auscultation to detect heart murmurs
  • CERF screenings for genetic eye diseases
  • Holter Monitor/24-hour EKG testing to check heart function
  • OFA screens for heart, hip and thyroid health
  • University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program X-rays to check for hip dysplasia

Susceptibility to Specific Cancers

Brain tumors, lymphoma and mast cell tumors are common boxer dog ailments. White boxers or boxers with large white patches anywhere on their body are also very prone to skin cancer if they spend a lot of time in the sun. These dogs benefit by having sunscreen applied before outside activity.

It's important to check your boxer dog regularly for lumps, open sores that don't heal and any swollen or painful area. If you find anything of concern, make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative myelopathy seems to be most prevalent in middle-aged and elderly boxers. This neurological ailment targets the nerves in the dog's rear and spinal cord, causing incontinence and mobility problems.

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus, aka Stomach Bloat

Because of their deep chest, boxers are prone to GDV or bloat. Because a boxer has a large chest, the stomach has more room to move around. When a dog quickly eats or drinks, air builds up in the stomach. The excess air causes the stomach to twist in the more spacious abdomen, cutting off the blood supply to the stomach and heart. Once GDV occurs, dogs can die within a few hours. Seeking emergency care is essential.

Hearing Issues

Not every boxer will have hearing loss. Deafness is prevalent in white boxers because the blood flow to the inner ear is suppressed. Quality breeders will not breed dogs found to carry the White Boxer gene, but backyard breeders and puppy mills are unlikely to follow this guideline.

Heart Disease

There are two dog ailments involving the heart that affect boxers. The first is aortic or sub-aortic stenosis. The aorta is too narrow, making it harder for blood to flow properly. Decreased blood flow causes a heart murmur, fainting and sudden death.

Cardiomyopathy is the other common problem in boxers. This condition causes improper heart rhythm. Cardiac arrhythmia occurs causing the heart to beat rapidly. Dogs may collapse during activity or die suddenly from heart failure.

Hip Dysplasia

In some dogs, the hip joint is deformed. The hip bone slides out of the socket due to bone malformation or loosened ligaments, causing osteoarthritis. The condition is painful, so the dog will start favoring the affected joint. The condition will not improve without medical treatment, typically pain medications or even surgery.

Boxer Dog Ailments Involving the Thyroid

Hypothyroidism is common in boxers. With these dog ailments, the thyroid gland becomes inactive. It's not a life threatening disease, but it can lead to anemia, epilepsy, hair loss, lethargy and obesity. Treatments include daily oral medications that increase thyroid hormones into the blood stream.