If you are raising a Boxer dog or are planning to get one, I’m sure that you are concerned about its life expectancy. You might be asking, “How long will I have my dog in the family?” and “What can I do to prolong my Boxer’s life?”
Boxer dogs have an average life expectancy of 10 to 12 years. They are predisposed to some serious genetic diseases, which greatly affect their lifespan. However, with proper care and a healthy lifestyle, Boxers can also live way past 12 years.
I made this guide to answer some common questions about a Boxer’s life expectancy. Read on to find out more about a Boxer dog’s lifespan, health issues, and tips on how you can help your Boxer stay healthy and live a full life.
Boxer Life Expectancy: How Long Do Boxer Dogs Live on Average?
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), healthy Boxer dogs have a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years, which is pretty common for dogs their size.
However, many Boxers fall short of ten years, and some live way beyond 12 years. Other sources such as PetMD estimate their lifespan at only 8 to 10 years.
Many factors contribute to their lifespan and some cannot be controlled such as genetics. But as with any dog breed, the attention and care you give will play a huge role in how long your Boxer dog can live.
The Oldest Living Boxer: How Old Was the Oldest Boxer Dog That Ever Lived?
Data on a dog’s lifespan is hard to come by because owners or veterinary clinics are not obligated to officially report or document a dog’s death. However, breed enthusiasts usually attempt to document the oldest known dogs.
Here are the oldest Boxer dogs to have lived as recorded in Oldest.org:
1. Maccabee – 16 years, 9 months
Maccabee is the oldest known Boxer to have ever lived. He was owned by Jessica Kolis and they lived in Northern California. He was just a few months from his birthday when he died.
According to his owner, he lived a long life because he had regular vet checks, lots of mental and physical stimulation, proper oral hygiene, and he was never taken off-leash outside.
2. Brewski – 16 years, 5 months, 28 days
Brewski also reached the ripe old age of 16 years but was a few months younger than Maccabee when he died in 2017.
In his last years, he had arthritis in his lower spine and inflammation in his larynx. He was owned by Linda Klosterman from Vancouver, Washington.
3. Cece – 16 years, 4 months, 22 days
The only female on this list, Cece lived a long life with her owner Sophy Korm in North Carolina. As common with senior dogs, she had arthritis and cataracts but was overall healthy her whole life. She died in 2017, just four months after her 16th birthday.
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Factors That Determine the Lifespan of Your Boxer Dog
If you want your Boxer to live as long as those dogs listed above, it is important to know the factors in play and how you can act upon the known issues for Boxers.
Here are the main factors affecting your Boxer dog’s lifespan:
Unfortunately, larger dogs have shorter life spans. This is simply nature. It is said that the reason for this is because large dog breeds age at a faster rate than small breeds.
The Boxer lifespan of 10 to 12 years is quite typical for large dogs, but as I mentioned before, other estimates are significantly shorter because of the health issues the breed faces.
Boxers are predisposed to several hereditary diseases which directly affect their lifespan. The good news is that genetic testing can be done so that you know which diseases your Boxer might be at risk for.
This is the reason why you should always look for a responsible breeder when purchasing a puppy. Breeders who know what they’re doing always breed healthy and genetically tested dogs.
3. Nutrition and Exercise
Nutrition and exercise lay the foundation for the overall health of your Boxer. In general, food and exercise should be age and breed-appropriate. Dogs will have different needs at different ages.
Being underweight or overweight can also result in several other diseases, which can take years from the life of your dog.
4. Health Care
Your Boxer’s life span will also be affected by how you will take care of its health. Do you regularly take your dog for vet checks? Is your Boxer up-to-date in vaccinations? Do you have it screened for diseases?
For Boxers, preventive care is important because they are predisposed to illnesses that can be dangerous when found at a later stage.
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What Do Boxers Usually Die From?
Unfortunately, the Boxer dog is listed as one of the dog breeds with the highest cancer rate. It is the leading cause of death for this breed, so let me discuss this a bit in detail.
A study by the University of Georgia found that cancer accounted for 44% of deaths for Boxer dogs. Lymphoma, mast cell tumors, and brain cancer are some of the most common types diagnosed in this breed.
Research about the causes of canine cancer is continuing. The American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation (AKCCHF) conducted a study that suggests exposure to environmental chemicals contributes to the development of lymphoma in Boxers.
A separate study by researchers from the University of California also found correlations between the timing of spaying/neutering and the development of some types of cancer in dogs.
It was found that in Boxers that were spayed before two years of age, the rate of cancer increased by 32% for males and 20% for females.
Since the causes of cancer in canines are not easy to pinpoint, the best thing you could do is to keep your Boxer as healthy as possible. You must also pay close attention to changes in its behavior and physical appearance.
Look out for these common signs and symptoms of cancer in dogs:
- Lumps or bumps on the skin
- Enlarged abdomen
- Appetite changes and weight loss
- Coughing or difficulty breathing
- Changes in urinary habits
- Changes in behavior like spending more time alone or sleeping in odd places
Some of these symptoms may be subtle, but if you start noticing some signs, it would be best to take your Boxer dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Common Boxer Health Issues
While cancer is the leading cause of death for Boxers, there are other serious diseases Boxers are prone to.
Below are some of the diseases common to Boxers:
- Cardiomyopathy: Cardiomyopathy is a condition of the heart characterized by an irregular heartbeat. It is commonly seen in Boxers that are two years old, but the symptoms can also occur in puppies and senior dogs. It can lead to congestive heart failure, and in the worst case, sudden death.
- Degenerative Myelopathy: Degenerative myelopathy is a neurological disease that commonly affects middle-aged to senior Boxers. It affects the spinal cord and nerves coordinating the rear quarters of the dog. Over time, this disease can lead to them losing the ability to walk and becoming incontinent.
- Kidney Disease: Boxers are considered to have a predisposition to chronic kidney disease, and studies suggest it might be heritable for this breed. Some signs to look out for are increased drinking and urination, vomiting, and weight loss. This is a progressive and fatal disease in canines.
- Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is one of the most common disorders found in dogs. It is a condition where the thyroid gland fails to produce the right amount of hormones needed for the body to function normally. It is considered a hereditary condition and is highly prevalent in Boxers.
- Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a condition where the hip joint does not develop normally, causing pain and dysfunction. It is a condition that is common in large dog breeds and is considered to be hereditary.
Aside from the health problems common to their breed, their lives are affected a lot by their environment and their human families.
Here are some other factors that can affect your Boxer’s lifespan:
You must provide your Boxer the appropriate shelter. Even though they are highly active dogs, they are not the type you can leave out in your backyard.
They are a brachycephalic breed, so they do not do very well with extreme temperatures. Boxers are prone to heat stress and heatstroke. On the other hand, they may also have breathing issues during winter because of the dry air.
Each dog will respond differently to extreme weather, so it is important to take necessary precautions and never leave them unattended for extended periods.
As I mentioned previously, a study by the AKCCHF found that a dog’s environment can contribute to the development of some cancers.
In that study, researchers found that Boxers living within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant were five times more likely to develop lymphoma.
Boxers living two miles from a crematorium or chemical manufacturer were also found to be more likely to develop the same disease.
More research is being done on the causes of canine cancer. But since cancer is the leading cause of death for Boxers, it is very important to consider the location of your home before getting one.
Research done by the University of Georgia shows that spayed/neutered pets had longer lives than intact dogs. They found that the average age of death for intact pets was 7.9 years, while for spayed/neutered pets, it was 9.4 years.
Interestingly, for intact pets, the leading cause of death was trauma and infection, while for sterilized pets, it was cancer and autoimmune disease.
In a previous section, I mentioned a study that correlates the timing of spaying/neutering and the development of some cancers.
A lot of research is being done on the effects of spaying and neutering. If you choose to spay or neuter, there is also the best age to do it depending on the breed of your dog. For large dogs, it is recommended that the procedure is done after they have reached full size.
It might get a little confusing because of the varying opinions about spaying/neutering, but at the end of the day, it will be your decision. Do your research, and ask your vet about their recommendations specific to your Boxer dog.
Needless to say, you, as the owner and paw parent, will play a key role in your Boxer’s lifespan. Aside from providing for its basic needs and healthcare, your daily interaction with your dog will also matter a lot.
Boxers are very affectionate dogs. They do not like being alone. They should spend a lot of time with their families and be socialized with other animals at an early age. The way they interact with people and other animals affects their mental and emotional health.
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5 Tips to Help Your Boxer Dog Live Longer
The health concerns of Boxers are pretty daunting, but there are some things you can do now to help them live a longer life. Even if your dog is already facing some health issues, it is never too late to start developing good habits for your Boxer.
Here are five practical tips to keep your Boxer dog healthy and happy:
1. Keep Your Boxer at a Healthy Weight
This would come off as pretty basic advice for all paw parents, but did you know that in a 2018 study, researchers found that 55.8% of dogs in the US were classified as overweight or obese?
This is an alarming statistic, especially because canine obesity can shorten their lifespan by as much as two years.
Boxers are highly energetic and playful dogs, and they would need plenty of exercises. They would do well with 30 to 45 minutes of physical activities such as walking, running, fetch, and agility training.
But keep in mind that Boxers do not tolerate extreme temperatures well, so time your exercise sessions wisely.
Nutrition is key in keeping your dog at a healthy weight throughout its life. Remember that dogs in different life stages would have different nutritional needs, so be mindful of the food you provide. When in doubt, you can always ask your vet for recommendations.
2. Do Not Neglect Oral Hygiene
According to PetMD, it is estimated that over 80% of dogs have dental issues. This is a serious issue because poor oral hygiene can lead to many health problems.
Dental disease can lead to gingivitis (inflammation of gums) and periodontitis (loss of structural tissues around the teeth). Poor dental health is also associated with a higher risk for kidney, liver, and heart disease.
The best way to prevent all these would be simply to maintain good oral hygiene for your Boxer. Clean their teeth and gums regularly, and take them to the vet for annual oral exams. They also might need professional cleaning once in a while.
3. Keep Stress Levels Low
Some things may inevitably stress your dog out like moving to a new home and losing or gaining a family member. Loud noise, fireworks, and even parties can also be stressors for them.
There are also some things that pet owners do that can stress dogs out. For example, inconsistent behavior can be stressful because dogs love routine. Boxers may also get stressed when they are punished unnecessarily.
As I mentioned before, prolonged stress can cause multiple health issues in dogs. For this reason, it is important to identify the stressor, the symptoms of stress in canines and help your dog cope. Common signs of stress include growling, barking or whining, freezing, and pacing.
Exercise would be a great stress reliever for your Boxer. You could also provide them with a safe place in your house where they can escape during stressful situations.
If you cannot seem to relieve your Boxer’s stress, you can take them to the vet for an evaluation.
4. Keep Them Safe and Comfortable
If you have a yard where your Boxer dog can freely go, it should be fenced-in. It would protect your dog from wandering and getting lost, accidents, and from other animals. Since Boxers are energetic dogs, it is best to provide them a secure place to exercise and play.
Keeping them on a leash when outside is also a way to keep them safe from accidents. If you want to let your Boxer run and play freely, ensure that the place is secure and is far from vehicular traffic.
As I mentioned before, their shelter would also be critical in their overall comfort. Boxers do not tolerate extreme temperatures well and would do better being inside the house with you.
This breed also loves being with their humans, so you would be keeping them happy as well.
5. Always Seek Professional Help
After reading about all the Boxer dog’s health issues, I am sure that it is clear how important it is to have regular vet checks. Preventive care is very important for this breed, so always pay attention to any physical or behavioral changes your dog might show.
If your Boxer is already facing health problems, your vet will be able to provide the right treatment. Your veterinarian will also advise on lifestyle changes you need to do to prolong your dog’s life.
Senior Boxer Dog Care
Taking care of a senior Boxer dog will take a little more effort from you. First, you can expect that senior dogs will start to have less physical activity. You must give special attention to their diet and exercise to keep them at a healthy weight.
Their food must be high-quality and have the nutrients needed to aid with mobility issues or other health conditions. Your veterinarian should be able to recommend the kind of food that would help in your Boxer’s specific situation.
Of course, your Boxer will not be as fit and active as before, but you still need to help them maintain healthy muscles and bones. Adjust your dog’s exercise routine accordingly. Choose exercise routines that will be safe and mentally stimulating.
Depending on your Boxer’s needs and health condition, you could also have special provisions in your house to help them move around. For example, ramps can be helpful if you have a multi-level home.
Lastly, similar to humans, senior dogs are prone to developing vision and hearing loss. You may also notice behavioral and cognitive changes.
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) is common in senior dogs. CCD is similar to dementia in humans, and it is also progressive.
These are some common symptoms of CCD:
- Irritability and anxiety
- Decreased desire to play
- Changes in the sleep cycle
- Loss of appetite
Large dogs like Boxers are considered seniors at around six to seven years of age. Once they reach this age, pay close attention to their behavior and movement. If you see any symptoms, take them to the vet for evaluation and diagnosis.
But whether or not your senior Boxer dog gets CCD, it is essential to make life easier and more comfortable for them at this stage.
A Boxer dog can be a loyal protector and a great member of your family for a long time, so you should do your best to keep them healthy right from the beginning. It is no secret that having healthy habits at an early age prevents health problems in the future.
Boxers are predisposed to a number of health issues, but you are not helpless as a paw parent. With love, proper care, and the help of your trusted vet, Boxers can and will live long, happy lives.