Choosing The Right Boxer

Bringing home a dog, whether a puppy or an adult, is a HUGE life decision, and shouldn’t be taken lightly! Before making a 10 year+ commitment, ask yourself the following questions:

*Where will my dog stay when I am not home? 

I strongly suggest crate training until you can trust your Boxer to be out and about in the house unsupervised. Crate training keeps them safe when you can’t have your eye on them, all the while keeping your furniture from being ripped to shreds by teething puppies! Also, boxers are very sensitive to hot and cold weather, so leaving them outside in extreme weather is NOT an option.

*Do I have the time and patience to train my new friend?

Boxers are very intelligent, but also incredibly stubborn! Hogan absolutely knows how to “high-five”, unless I try to show off his talent to other people. All of a sudden my smart, little man becomes an apathetic, head strong turd with a “what’s-in-it-for-me” attitude. That is a boxer for you!  That being said, Boxers are definitely people pleasers, so training a Boxer is much easier than training a few other breeds. Don’t just think you can just cross your fingers and hope your boxer turns out great without any sort of discipline… training is a MUST! Some Boxers (mostly European lines, like Hogan) can reach upwards of 80 or 90 pounds! You won’t want them bulldozing through every house guest or playing tug-of-war with your curtains! A stubborn dog calls for an even more stubborn owner! Once trained, they are the gentlest of giants, a most loyal companion and will surprise you with their sense of humor!

*Do I want an independent dog, or a dog that clings to me like a shadow?

Some dog breeds have a very strong pack mentality, and greatly enjoy the company of other dogs. While a well socialized boxer gets along great with other dogs, however, THEY ABSOLUTELY CRAVE HUMAN ATTENTION! Expect your boxer to follow you to the bathroom!

* Can I Give My Boxer Enough Exercise?

Boxers are a working-class breed of dog. They need mental stimulation to stay out of trouble. He will want to play tug-of-war, will want you to throw the ball for him and will expect you to run around the back yard a bit with him. When he is old enough (after receiving all his Parvo shots), you should make it a daily routine to take him for a walk.

Boxers make GREAT companion for children. Together they can run each other ragged!

While boxers can have a lot of energy, it really is on a dog-by-dog basis. Every boxer I have owned has been on the low-key side, but I chose them for that reason!  Some boxers are high-energy, but mine have always been Champion Nappers.

               *Am I willing to care for my boxer’s veterinary needs?

Unfortunately, Boxers are predisposed to a quite a few serious illnesses, some of which include: cancer, heart disease and hip dysplasia. You can try to avoid these diseases from buying from a reputable breeder with health-tested parents, buying high quality dog food, and following all the other health tips you will find in my blog!

If, after asking yourself the questions above, you still believe you can provide your boxer with a life he deserves, congrats! You ready to be a Puppy Parent! Read below on how to pick out the best puppy! Scroll down farther for tips on picking a boxer from a shelter.

*Is the Boxer the Right Breed for You?

Please make informed decisions! Before deciding to bring home a boxer puppy, read this page on the pros and cons of the boxer breed.

Picking Out The Right Puppy

Thegang

Thegang (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1) Choose a reputable breeder

Search the web for breeders near your hometown (if you want the most options, consider looking nationwide and choosing to have your puppy shipped to you) . Be prepared to make a long drive in order to get the right puppy! We drove 7 hours away from our hometown to pick up Hogan, but he was totally worth it!

A reputable breeder should be comfortable with letting you visit their facilities. Their facilities should be clean, and the number of dogs they use to breed should be minimal. Their dogs should look both healthy and happy (however, keep in mind the mom of the puppies will more than likely look a little malnourished if she is currently nursing a large litter).

A good breeder will also ask YOU questions. Yup, that’s right, you SHOULD be interrogated. They don’t want their puppies going to just anyone, so be prepared to explain to the breeder why you will make a great Boxer Parent! A good breeder won’t want their puppy living outside their whole lives or going home with a family that is too busy to spend time with him.

A good breeder will be able to provide to you the papers and family lineage of both parents. Ideally, the parents of the puppy will have been health tested. This is VERY important in order to ensure your puppy isn’t predisposed to life threatening diseases.

Puppies shouldn’t be allowed to go home before 8 weeks of age. A breeder who allows their puppies to leave any earlier does not have the little tykes best interest at heart.

All puppies should come with vet records. By 8 weeks of age, your puppy should be dewormed, dew claw removed, have received his first round of Parvo prevention, etc. A good breeder will discuss the puppy’s previous vaccinations with you, supply you with all vet records and inform you on what to expect from your own vet.

2) Take a good look at the parents.

This will be a good indication for what type of puppies they will have. For instance, if both parents are brindle, most of their puppies will be brindle. When I picked Hogan, the breeder had three litters from three different sets of brindle parents. Out of 19 puppies, 18 were brindle! Do you want a fawn or brindle puppy? Classic or flashy?  Besides color, take into account the following when viewing the parents:

*Body style – European lines are more stocky while American lines are more sleek and athletic. Hogan is 3/4 European.

*Personality – Look for parents who have a calm demeanor. Parents who seem territorial, aggressive or dominant may have puppies with similar traits. Likewise, laid-back parents also tend to have calmer puppies. When we chose Hogan, we had first pick of any of the three litters available. We narrowed it down to his litter because: 1) the first litter had parents who were more dominant and had a working-dog mind set, 2) the second litter had parents who were a little more active.

*Overall Health- Do the parents appear to be healthy and happy? This is THE most important factor.

3) Pick the “Middle Man”

By this I mean, don’t pick an underdog or a dominant puppy in the litter. Dogs that show fear or skittishness are more prone to bite out of fear, while dominant dogs tend to be harder to train and may be more aggressive to other dogs and people. This applies to any breed of dog, but is especially important in big dogs (an aggressive Shih-Tzu can’t do as much damage as an aggressive Boxer). Couple a dominate demeanor  with the boxer’s natural tendency to be head-strong, and you could have a long,hard road ahead of you. In the same sense, a fearful boxer could easily snap at a child who pulled on his ears. In essence, GO FOR THE MIDDLE MAN!

Ask the breeder to let you view all of the puppies interacting together. See if you can determine both the underdog (if there is one, not all litters have one. Infact, most good breeders socialize their puppies from the time they are born, so fearful puppies can be few and far between) and the dominant puppy. Underdogs will be shy, skittish or fearful. They will shy away from you instead of approach you curiously. Dominant puppies will jump, pull, bite and growl at other puppies. They also tend to hate being on their backs (a sign of submission), so pick up each puppy, flip him over and see how he reacts to you holding him like you would hold a baby (a little struggle initially is normal!) Once you find the puppies who fall somewhere in the middle, THEN you can go with your gut instinct and pick the puppy that pulls on your heart strings!

NOTE: Just because a puppy is the largest of the litter does not make him the dominant puppy. Likewise, the runt is not always the underdog. Hogan was by far the largest of his litter and yet is completely submissive! I could cradle him in my arms like a baby all day and he would LOVE it!

I chose Hogan because he was:

1) BEAUTIFUL! I had never had a “flashy” boxer (one with white markings), and Hogan’s markings were perfect!  Both of his parents were sealed brindles (or black boxers) and because of their extremely dark markings, Hogan was the only puppy in the litter with any sort of “flash” on him!

2) He was INCREDIBLY calm! While his brothers and sisters romped around, Hogan just hung out on the sidelines. When his siblings tried to play with him, he didn’t jump on them or pull on their ears, he just licked them. It was precious! When I picked him up, he fell right asleep in my arms. My kind of dog! For everyone out there who believes boxers are high-energy dogs, my puppy could debunk that myth for good. Even as I am typing, Hogan is sound asleep on the couch and has been all day… and its 3:30 in the afternoon!

3) His parents were health-tested, calm, friendly and also beautiful. His father in particular! Zeke, better known as Champion Zaffiro Porta Trsatica, is  the most beautiful boxer I have ever seen (not to mention the sweetest)!

Oh and in case anyone was interested, I got Hogan from Boondock Boxers! The owner, Lisa, is very good about answering all your puppy questions and I would definitely purchase a puppy from her again!

Picking out An Adult Boxer From a Shelter

Bringing home an adult dog from a shelter is a very noble and respected act. Every 8 seconds, a dog or cat is euthanized in the United States due to overpopulation.

There are MANY advantages to bringing home an adult Boxer:

1) You won’t have to deal with the tasks of raising a puppy, and he will no longer teething

2) More than likely calmer, has grown out of his puppy exuberance

3) Probably has some knowledge of common commands

4) Might already be house trained and crate trained

5) Personality is fully developed. Unlike a puppy, you know for sure what you are getting into.

5) Less expensive. Puppies from breeders are much more expensive AND the first 2 years of a dog’s life can cost quite a bit due to vaccinations, microchipping, etc.

These are all great incentives for rescuing a boxer from a shelter. However, just as with buying a puppy, there are still precautions you should take when choosing an adult boxer:

1) Test his socialization skills.

When not properly socialized, a boxer is a force to be reckoned with. Ask the shelter to see the dog interacting with many different dogs: small, large, young, old, male, female, neutered, un-neutered… If you have any other pets, introduce them to the new possible family member. Make sure everything runs smoothly between the new dog and your current pets.

This dog should also be comfortable around all different kinds of people. However, many dogs in shelters have been abused or neglected in the past, and therefore resent certain demographics of people. Test the dog’s reaction to people of different ages, genders, hair color, skin color, etc.

Though boxers are naturally great with kids, you should still bring your children along to meet the new guy. It is important to see whether or not he views your kids as a playmate or an entity to dominate.

2) Ask about his health.

Finding out how old the boxer is can be a good start, but there are so many other important questions people forget to ask. See if he has had any health issues in the past, or if he currently is experiencing any. Specifically ask about the following:

* Hip Dysplasia

* Cancers

* Heart Disease

* Skin irritation

* Allergies

* Diabetes

* Heartworms

* Tick – Fever

*Rabies

*Parvo

* Etc.

The shelter should be upfront with you about how in-depth they check their animals before re-homing. If they can’t give you any information on his health, consider asking if a vet could look him over first before bringing him home.

3) Determine his Previous Training

Housebreaking an adult dog isn’t impossible, and is done in just the same way housebreaking a puppy is. However, expect it to take longer and the messes to be larger. For tips on housebreaking, click here. 

How does he do on a leash? Does he know basic commands? All of these are important questions. If the answer is no, make sure you have enough time to work with him on improving these skills.

4) Bad Habits?

The shelter should know if the boxer has any bad habits that a new owner should be aware of. Maybe he has a tendency to jump fences, dig holes, is terrified of thunderstorms and requires medication. Whatever the case may be, most shelters will be open about this information. They would much prefer to place their dog in a forever-home that was well informed in advance of all the dog’s lovable quirks.

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