Boxers are a breed that elicits a strong reaction from people – you either love them or you hate them. This medium-large dog is known for its stocky build, pushed-in snout, and energetic personality.
While boxers have their appeal and make lovable pets for the right owners, they also have a reputation for being one of the worst dog breeds in certain respects.
So what earns boxers a spot on the list of the worst dog breeds? Here’s a look at some of the biggest challenges and downsides to owning one of these exuberant dogs.
Key Reasons Boxers Make Bad Dogs
There are some valid reasons why boxers are often ranked among the worst dogs for many households:
- High energy and exercise needs – Boxers need loads of daily exercise and mental stimulation. Without adequate outlets, their pent-up energy can lead to destructive and obnoxious behaviors.
- Rowdiness and exuberance – Boxers are famously spirited dogs that zestfully throw their weight around. Their boisterous ways can lead to accidental destruction and injuries.
- Difficult to train – Boxers can be bullheaded and a challenge to obedience train. Their training requires patience, consistency, and a firm hand.
- Barking tendencies – Boxers are quick to sound the alarm at every sight and sound. Their barking can become a nuisance without diligent training.
- Not great with small kids – Rambunctious boxers may inadvertently knock over and play too rough with little ones. Supervision is a must.
- Can be dog aggressive – Boxers often don’t do well with dogs of the same sex. Extensive socialization from puppyhood is critical.
- Prone to health issues – Boxers are predisposed to certain health conditions like cancer, heart issues, and bloat.
- Special grooming needs – Those adorable wrinkles need regular cleaning to prevent skin fold infections. Boxers shed a lot too.
Let’s delve deeper into why boxers are often dubbed one of the worst breeds to own.
1. Extremely High Energy Levels
One of the defining characteristics of boxers is their off-the-charts energy level. This is not a breed that is content to lay around half the day. Boxers are always raring to go and become restless when their high exercise needs aren’t met.
Without adequate outlets for their energy, boxers are prone to destructive and neurotic behaviors. This could mean escaping the yard, chewing up furniture, digging craters in your lawn, or barking incessantly out of boredom.
Boxers need a minimum of 1-2 hours of hard exercise every single day. This means vigorous activities like jogging, playing fetch, and swimming – not just leisurely strolls around the block. Ideally, they should have a fenced yard where they can burn off steam too.
Boxers that don’t get fulfilling exercise are among the most high-strung, hyperactive, and ill-behaved dogs. Bored boxers will destroy your home and sanity. Prepare for an exhausting experience if you get a boxer!
2. Exuberance Leads to Destruction
Boxers are famously spirited dogs that zestfully throw their weight around. They love to run, jump, wrestle, and play with reckless abandon. Boxers barrel through life full throttle!
This exuberance is part of their charm but also leads to accidental destruction. Boxers can easily bowl over furnishings and belongings as they joyfully gallop about. Their whip-like tails can clear coffee tables and shelves in an instant.
Young and rambunctious boxer puppies are like unguided missiles ricocheting off walls. They will play-bite, mouth, and chew with gleeful fervor. Without training and direction, a boxer’s exuberance will wreak havoc in your home.
Boxers mature around age 3 but remain lively dogs that need regular activity and stimulation. Leaving a high-energy boxer alone and unexercised is asking for trouble. Crate training is a must with this breed when left unsupervised.
Overall, the boxer temperament isn’t suited for households filled with fragile belongings. These dogs love life and want to experience it full-on!
3. Notorious for Being Stubborn and Difficult to Train
Boxers are strong-willed dogs with a mind of their own. This makes them notoriously stubborn and difficult to obedience train. They tend to only follow commands when it suits them.
Boxers will blatantly ignore cues they find boring and pointless. You can ask a boxer to “sit” multiple times and get no response. They seem to not hear you at all! This selective deafness is extremely frustrating for owners.
Positive reinforcement training is mandatory with boxers. Yelling, scolding, and “dominance training” techniques will utterly fail with this breed. But even with reward-based methods, boxers can be exasperatingly stubborn.
Their training requires saint-like patience, absolute consistency, and a firm hand. Forget about letting behaviors slide with a boxer – they will walk all over lenient owners. You must establish yourself as a strong pack leader.
Many novice dog owners are not equipped to properly train a defiant boxer. Their stubbornness and tenacity need an experienced trainer with unflappable resolve.
4. Prone to Nuisance Barking
The boxer was originally bred to guard and hunt large game. This background means the breed is quick to sound the alarm at anything suspicious. They will vociferously bark at the slightest odd sound or movement.
But what constitutes “suspicious” to a boxer can be as innocuous as a passing car or stray leaf blowing down the road. Boxers also bark to get attention, express excitement, relieve boredom, and announce visitors.
Boxers are notoriously prone to nuisance barking. This makes them a poor choice for owners who need a quiet dog. Apartments and condos are not ideal environments for noisy boxers either.
Barking issues can develop without diligent training. Boxers should be taught proper barking etiquette from an early age using positive reinforcement. You must also address the cause of excessive vocalization, like loneliness or lack of exercise.
Debarking surgery should never be performed on noisy boxers. This procedure only masks symptoms and does nothing to address the root cause. Proper training and fulfillment of the breed’s needs is the humane solution.
5. Not Suited for Homes with Small Children
The rowdy boxer temperament makes them ill-suited for homes with small toddlers and children. Boxers don’t have an “off switch” and can unintentionally knock over and play too rough with little ones.
Boxers love to jump up in play and can topple unsteady young kids. Their whip-like tails can clear coffee tables where children may have food or drinks. Boxers may also play-bite and mouth with excessive force.
Toddlers who shriek and run can become targets for chased “prey.” Some boxers even try to herd yelling children. Constant supervision is needed when boxers interact with young kids. Proper socialization helps curb bad habits.
In general, boxers do better with older, sturdy children who enjoy their lively antics. But parents need to teach kids how to interact properly and never leave them alone unsupervised. Boxers and babies don’t mix well.
6. Tendency for Dog Aggression
Boxers were historically used for bull baiting and dog fighting. This legacy means they often don’t do well with other dogs of the same sex. Boxer males tend to be aggressive toward other males. Females are typically hostile to fellow females.
Extensive socialization from puppyhood is critical to minimize dog aggression issues. But you should never fully trust your boxer not to fight. Supervised interactions and strong obedience skills are a must.
Multi-dog homes are not ideal for boxers. Boxers generally do best as the sole dog in a household. They should also be carefully managed around strange dogs to prevent fighting.
Potential adopters should honestly assess if they are equipped to handle this breed’s pugnacity. Rehoming a boxer due to aggression issues is irresponsible and unfair to the dog.
7. Prone to Costly Health Problems
Unfortunately, the boxer breed suffers from a number of hereditary health conditions that can be painful and expensive to manage. Here are some common issues:
- Cancer – Boxers are prone to various cancers like mast cell tumors, brain tumors, and lymphoma. Lifespans average just 8-10 years.
- Heart Conditions – Many boxers develop cardiomyopathy or subaortic stenosis as young adults. This requires lifelong medication.
- Hip Dysplasia – This crippling joint condition is prevalent in the breed. Surgery often becomes necessary.
- Hypothyroidism – Low thyroid function is common in middle-aged boxers. Daily medication is required.
- Bloat – Boxers’ deep chests put them at risk for this life-threatening stomach twisting.
- Allergies – Environmental and food allergies plague many boxers, causing chronic skin issues and ear infections.
Prospective owners should fully research these common health issues. Treating boxer medical conditions is often emotionally and financially draining. Pet insurance is highly recommended.
8. Special Grooming Requirements
The boxer’s short, shiny coat doesn’t require much brushing but the breed is still considered high maintenance due to their special grooming needs. Those adorable wrinkles and facial folds are problematic.
Boxer wrinkles must be cleaned regularly to prevent painful skin fold infections. Excess moisture and bacteria easily build up. Daily wiping with a damp cloth is ideal, along with weekly deep cleaning.
Keeping boxer wrinkles dry is key. You may need to apply powder too. Left unattended, those facial folds will emit a foul odor and become raw and infected.
Boxers also shed a lot, particularly during spring and fall. Be prepared for dog hair tumbleweeds floating around your home! Invest in a good vacuum if you get a boxer.
9. Not a Good Match for Elderly or Sedentary Owners
When considering a boxer, you must honestly assess your ability to meet this breed’s high activity requirements. Boxers need and demand a lot of exercise and training.
Elderly and sedentary owners will quickly become overwhelmed by a rambunctious young boxer. This breed needs owners who can physically keep up with their needs.
If you lead a mostly quiet life, a mellow adult boxer from a rescue might suit your home better. But even mature boxers require a decent amount of activity daily. This breed is not for couch potatoes!
Prospective owners should consider if their lifestyle and activity levels make them suitable for properly fulfilling a boxer’s needs. These dogs don’t do well in inactive homes.
10. Risk of Accidental Injuries
Between their bull-in-a-china-shop temperament and tendency to jump up, boxers pose a high risk of accidentally injuring people under certain circumstances.
Boxers can knock down elderly individuals or small children in their boisterous play. They may also scratch with their nails or play-bite too hard.
Proper training helps curb these behaviors, but injuries are still a possibility. Boxers don’t always know their own strength and limits. They bowl through life with gusto!
People with mobility issues or unsteady gait could easily be toppled by an excited, jumpy boxer. Even well-meaning boxers sometimes play too rough.
Families need to weigh if their situation puts vulnerable members at risk of accidental injury from a bouncy boxer. They aren’t the right breed for every household.
Key Takeaways on Why Boxers Can Make Bad Dogs
- Boxers have sky-high energy and exercise needs. Bored boxers are destructive.
- Their boisterousness leads to household destruction and injuries.
- Boxers can be extremely stubborn and difficult to obedience train.
- Nuisance barking is common in the breed.
- Not suitable for homes with small, unsteady toddlers.
- Prone to dog aggression, especially with the same sex.
- Numerous hereditary health issues plague the breed.
- Special care of boxer wrinkles is imperative.
- Not a good match for elderly or sedentary owners.
- Their jumping and playing can accidentally injure some people.
Boxers certainly aren’t the right breed for everyone. Their high-octane personality can be overbearing for owners not prepared to fulfill their considerable needs. But in the right homes, boxers make wonderfully lively and fun-loving companions!
Are Well-Raised Boxers Still Good Dogs?
It’s important to note that boxers themselves are not inherently “bad dogs.” Their reputation for being terrible dogs mainly stems from owners who don’t raise and train them properly.
Boxers have some innate traits that require experienced handling:
- Strong instinct to guard and defend
- High prey drive
- Dominant, headstrong personality
- Excessive exuberance
But in the right hands, these traits can be directed positively. With proper leadership, training, and outlets, boxers are delightful family dogs – active, affectionate, and loyal.
The real problem arises when boxers end up with naïve, overwhelmed owners who can’t fulfill their needs. This leads to the destructive, neurotic, and aggressive behaviors that give the breed a bad rap.
No dog is “born bad.” But certain breeds like boxers do require knowledgeable owners who are committed to providing appropriate care.
Tips for Successfully Owning a Boxer
If you have your heart set on a boxer, following these tips will help ensure a good fit:
- Research the breed extensively – Learn the boxer’s temperament, needs, and challenges. Go in fully prepared.
- Choose an ethical breeder who health tests and screens for good temperament. Meet both parents.
- Start training and socialization early – Attend puppy classes for vital life skills. Socialize extensively.
- Provide ample daily exercise – Plan to exercise your boxer vigorously for at least an hour every day.
- Use positive reinforcement training – Be patient yet firm. Never use punishment or dominance tactics.
- Manage interactions with kids – Teach both kid and boxer how to play gently together. Always supervise.
- Crate train – Crates keep boxers out of mischief when you can’t actively supervise.
- Clean wrinkles daily – Keep those facial folds clean and dry to prevent infections.
- Consider pet insurance – Be prepared for common boxer health issues.
With realistic expectations, proper preparation, and committed training, boxers can make wonderfully lively and affectionate companions. But they aren’t the breed for every dog owner. Carefully consider if you can meet a boxer’s needs before bringing one home.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are boxers considered aggressive?
Boxers were historically used for bull-baiting and dog fighting. These origins prime them to be dog-aggressive, especially toward the same sex. Guarding instincts make some boxers human-aggressive too without proper socialization.
Are boxers dangerous dogs?
With their large size and tendency toward dog aggression, boxers can certainly be dangerous in the wrong hands. But most boxers who receive proper training, exercise, and affection are trusted, gentle family companions.
Are boxers good family dogs?
Supervised boxers usually do well with families with older children. But rambunctious young boxers may be too much for homes with babies, toddlers, or frail elderly members. Boxers need handling by someone strong and confident.
Are female or male boxers better?
Both female and male boxers can make great companions when neutered/spayed. Males tend to be slightly larger and more headstrong. Females are often more affectionate. But generalizations don’t always hold true for individuals.
How long do boxers live?
The average lifespan for boxers is 8-10 years, though well cared for dogs may reach 12-15 years. Cancer is a leading cause of premature death in the breed. Following health screening guidelines from a breeder helps get the healthiest puppy possible.
Boxers are a high-maintenance breed best suited for active owners able to provide proper leadership, training, exercise, and care. In the right home, boxers can make exuberant, fun-loving companions. But they tend to do poorly when acquired by novice owners drawn to their good looks without understanding their intense needs.
Do your homework before deciding if a boxer is the right breed for you. Their rowdy ways certainly make them among the worst dogs for many households. But for the properly prepared owner, boxers can be a delightful dog breed with the right handling.