Help your French Bulldog love life!

Decidedly playful, often mischievous, with – despite their soulful expression –an upbeat take on life, Boxers continue to ride high in the popularity stakes. Find out more about Boxer exercise needs, training your Boxer, Boxer feeding requirements and Boxer grooming…
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11th March 2024

Described by The Kennel Club as “much loved as a family companion”, it’s important to be aware, as the American Kennel Club (AKC) notes, that “this extremely intelligent dog has a mind of their own”, which can prove a tad challenging at times!

According to the AKC, Boxer ancestry can be traced to the ancient Assyrians, as long ago as 2000 BC. For centuries, the ‘Bullenbeisser’, the Boxer’s ancestor, was used as a hunting dog for wild boar, bear, and deer. Experts believe that the modern Boxer, a refined version of the Bullenbeisser, was developed in Germany in the 1800s. By the early 1900s, the breed was well established as a sturdy, but elegant, working dog.

Boxers are big on love

The AKC adds: “In spite of their heritage as powerful and courageous hunters, one of the modern breed’s most appealing traits is a tremendous love for their owners and a need to be loved in return.” Pet Plan comments: “They might come from a hunting background, but their even temperaments make them kind and charismatic pets.”

Your Dog magazine enthuses: “The lovable Boxer has a big heart and bags of personality, so it's no wonder that the breed is the favourite of the working group.”

Understanding what makes your Boxer tick will help you give them everything they need to love life! Read on to discover more about:



“Boxers are entertaining and active dogs who thrive off company,” states veterinary charity PDSA. “They love spending time with their owners and letting their playful and fun characters shine through. They are eager to please and very loyal dogs.”

As they were originally bred to be working dogs, Boxers are bundles of energy who need plenty of exercise. They’re also renowned for their “kind and clownish natures which has made them popular family pets.”

The Boxer is an ideal breed for active families with older children

Describing the breed as playful, energetic and confident, Pet Plan says: “Boxer dogs are loyal, loving and considered a good dog for families, especially if you have an active lifestyle. Because of their loyalty, Boxers can be wary of strangers, but will rarely show aggression. Good socialisation from an early age will help your Boxer take meeting new people and pets in their stride.”

“Generally speaking, Boxers are good around children of all ages given the right training,” advises PDSA. “That said, due to their size and boisterous nature we wouldn’t recommend a Boxer if you have younger children as they could accidentally knock them over. An adult only home or one with teenagers is better for a Boxer.”

Whatever the breed, every dog is unique

While each breed has certain identifiable traits, it’s important to remember that every dog is unique.

Dogs Trust says: “Just like you, every dog is an individual with their own unique personality and prior experiences. So, every Boxer temperament is different. As dogs grow from puppies, they learn all about the world. They develop their own likes and dislikes and learn to respond to situations in different ways. For example, some dogs might like meeting other dogs, and some may not. Some might like new experiences and others may need to go slowly.”

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To create a perfect canine/human partnership, it’s vital to think about what kind of energy and temperament you’d like your four-pawed friend to have so you’re a good match for each other – and that you can provide a suitable environment.

The Kennel Club recommends that Boxers require a large house and garden, while Pet Plan advises: “Boxers can adapt to most environments as long as they get plenty of exercise.”

At the top of the list of Boxer requirements is plenty of time spent with their family. PDSA says: “Boxers love human company so can develop separation anxiety if left alone. If they are alone or bored, they like to chew, which means your furniture and belongings will be at risk! It’s best to have a Boxer if someone is going to be around the house with them all day.”

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Pet Plan adds: “When properly socialised, Boxers are patient and protective making them a good fit for households with children. Boxers are generally friendly with anyone they consider to be part of their ‘pack’ – cats included! Boxer dogs are usually a good fit for multi-pet households, but beware – their boisterous behaviour and playful nature might prove too much for other pets!”

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If you enjoy lots of brisk outdoor walks, then a Boxer could be your perfect canine companion. Pet Plan says: “Boxers are known for their high-energy personalities, so be prepared for plenty of walks and playtime to keep this fun-loving canine out of mischief!”

While growing puppies and older dogs need less exercise, PDSA advises that an adult Boxer “will need day a minimum of two hours exercise every day. This should be split into a few walks with plenty of opportunities for sniffing around and exploring. You should also give your Boxer plenty of time to exercise off lead somewhere secure so they can have a good run around. They will also need lots of playtime and free time in the garden to do what they want.”


Bright and willing to learn, Boxers have been used as military messengers, guide dogs and in rescue operations. They thrive on human interaction and playtime, including running after tennis balls and even swimming.

Source: Pet Plan

Because Boxers are a brachycephalic breed, meaning they have a short snout, they are prone to overheating, especially in hot summer months.

Pet Plan advises: “It’s best to spread walks and exercise out throughout the day. Make sure they have access to plenty of water as well as shady spots to escape the heat. To reduce the risk of gastric problems, it’s best not to feed your Boxer dog immediately before exercise.”

The insurer adds: “Between walks, make sure your Boxer’s brain is getting a workout too – this intelligent breed needs plenty of mental stimulation to stop them from becoming bored.” Try some fun puzzle games along with slow feeders or Kongs stuffed with dry dog food and lick mats for spreading soft treats on to keep your Boxer happily occupied.

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Burgess in-house vet, Dr Suzanne Moyes MVB MRCVS, who oversees recipe development and product production, advises: “When choosing food for Boxers, it’s essential to bear in mind that the optimum diet for your dog is one that supplies the correct number of calories and balance of nutrients for their life stage and lifestyle. This means calculating the nutrient content and dietary components such as protein, fat, carbohydrate and vitamins and minerals required. All Burgess Dog Food is a complete food. This means, whatever kibble variety you choose for your Boxer, it will contain all the nutrients they need in the correct balance.”

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As The Kennel Club notes, some brachycephalic dogs, such as Boxers, may have an excess of skin, which creates folds, especially around the front of the face, which is perfect for bacteria and yeast to grow, leading to infection and severe itching. Because Boxers can sometimes suffer from itchy skin, choosing a hypoallergenic recipe that’s designed for dogs with sensitivities may help.

“Dogs with sensitivities can benefit from hypoallergenic dog food that’s made without many of the typical ingredients known to cause upset tummies or skin problems,” explains Dr Moyes. “These ingredients can include beef, eggs, dairy, wheat, maize, and soya. For many dogs, switching to a sensitive dog food (which means it’s relatively unlikely to cause an intolerant reaction) can be really helpful, although you should always ask your vet for advice.”

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Your Boxer’s diet will vary depending on their age. Feed them good quality, commercially available, complete dog food, splitting their daily allowance into two meals. If you give your dog the occasional treat, reduce their daily allowance to keep them slim and healthy. Treats shouldn’t make up more than 10% of their daily calorie intake.

Source: PDSA

In addition, dogs with a shortened skull often have a shortened jaw, but the number and size of teeth will stay the same. This can mean that the teeth become overcrowded, causing dental and gum problems.

Choosing to feed a dry kibble food over wet canned food can help. The RSPCA stresses the importance of feeding your dog the right food, stating: “Some owners favour wet foods for their dog over dry. However, dry dog food may have the added benefit of exercising their chewing muscles and provide a mild cleaning effect on the teeth.”

Pet Plan adds: “Crunchy biscuits will help to maintain good dental health, as Boxers can sometimes suffer from bad breath.”

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If you’re looking for a dog that doesn’t need much grooming to look smart and slick, then a Boxer will meet the brief!

PDSA says: “Boxers are fairly low maintenance when it comes to grooming. They have short fur which only needs a weekly brush to keep it in good condition. As with any dog, you should expect your Boxer to shed throughout the year, more so in spring and autumn. A regular hoover should be enough to keep on top of it.”

The folds of skin on their face and their ears do, however, require special attention. PDSA adds: “Due to the excess skin around their faces, Boxers are at risk of developing a condition called skin fold dermatitis. It’s important to make sure the folds of skin are kept clean and dry, so they don’t get infected.”

Pet Plan adds: “Grooming sessions are a good time to check your Boxer’s ears for signs of infection such as black or brown wax or a strange smell.”

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When it comes to training any dog, it’s all about positive learning.

PDSA says: “Boxers are clever dogs but can be boisterous, so positive, reward-based training from a young age is really important. Boxers mature a lot slower than other breeds, so having a large amount of puppy energy in such a big dog can be challenging for some owners. For this reason, we wouldn’t recommend a Boxer if you are a first-time owner. You need to handle your Boxer with a firm but fair attitude and make sure you are patient and consistent. If you need any help with training, we’d recommend taking them to accredited training classes.”

Dogs Trust advises: “Find out what your dog loves so you can use this to reward them after a success. Whether it’s treats, toys or lots of praise, training with rewards is the best way for your dog to learn. As dogs are clever animals, they need suitable mental and physical exercise so that they don't get bored. Learning useful life skills such as recall, loose lead walking and settling are just as important. This ensures that you and your dog can spend enjoyable time together, both at home and out and about.”


Since Boxers are stocky, muscular dogs, early lead training is essential, before they get too strong to manage.

Source: Pet Plan

“As their trainer, you must be patient, consistent, and creative,” says AKC. “A Boxer becomes bored with repetition and may, given their sense of humour, invent their own idea of obedience or agility during training!”

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Socialisation – essentially the method by which puppies learn how to cope with their world as they grow – is also key.

PDSA adds: “Boxers are friendly dogs but do have a natural guarding instinct and can be protective, so it’s important to socialise your Boxer from a young age with lots of different people, dogs and experiences so they grow into happy and confident adults.”

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PDSA advises: “Do plenty of research before getting a Boxer. These playful and lively dogs keep their puppy ways well into their adult years so need an understanding owner with plenty of time and patience! Boxers can be really loving in the right household and will love spending time with you.”

Be aware that, like many purebred dogs, Boxers are prone to certain health problems. These include brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS), which can cause severe breathing problems, hip dysplasia, epilepsy, skin issues and eye problems such as corneal ulcers due to the shape of their skulls and prominence of the eyes.

PDSA adds “If you are thinking of buying a Boxer puppy, make sure the parents of your puppy have had the relevant health screening to reduce the chances of your puppy being affected by certain conditions. We’d recommend looking for a Kennel Club Assured Breeder as they meet extra requirements which will benefit your puppy’s health.

Dogs Trust recommends: “Whatever the breed, all dogs need basic preventative health care like vaccinations and flea and worming treatments. You’ll also need insurance to help cover the cost of vet bills.”

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Alternatively, there are a number of rescue organisations around the country, including Boxer Rescue Southern, Boxer Dog Rescue, Notts and Yorkshire Boxer Rescue, Home Counties Boxer Welfare and Dogs Trust that would love to hear from you. Staff will seek to match you with the right dog for your home and lifestyle and provide you with support and useful information about the breed. By choosing a rescue Boxer, you’ll be giving one of these loyal and loving dogs a second chance at a happy and fulfilling life.

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Need more advice?

If you’re at all unsure about the best way of feeding your dog or have any concerns about specific nutritional requirements, ask your local veterinary practice for advice. You can also call our expert team, available 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday, on +44 (0)1405 862241 who’ll be happy to help. Alternatively, use our online contact form to get in touch.

CARE MORE Find lots of useful advice on caring for your dog from Burgess, the pet experts. Training, nutrition, grooming and general care. It's all here >>


Burgess Sensitive dog food range caters for your dog at every stage of their life – all the way through from puppy to senior. Sensitive stomach puppy food is suitable for both puppies from 6 weeks to 12 months old and nursing mothers. Sensitive adult dog food is designed for dogs over the age of 12 months – choose from lambturkey and salmon. For dogs over the age of 7, sensitive senior dog food is a perfect option.

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