Humans Say Boxers Are ‘Cute,’ but Can They Breathe?


Did you know that boxers are genetically predisposed to 76 different health conditions, according to research compiled by the Royal Veterinary College in London? Boxers descend from two types of “bull biter” breeds who were used to chase, catch, and hold large wild animals, like deer and boars until hunters arrived to kill them. These dogs were crossed with mastiff-type dogs to give them a recessed nose and more powerful jaws so that they could hang on longer to the large animals they’d caught. Eventually, butchers used the dogs to herd cattle in slaughter yards, and the breed was recognized (and codified) by breed clubs in the early 20th century. As a result of this exploitation and inbreeding to maintain an appearance that was originally manipulated for the sake of violence, boxers inherited a number of problematic traits, including poorly formed skulls that can cause multiple health issues. Read on to discover the many reasons you should never buy a boxer, boxer mix, or any other dog:

  1. Boxers Suffer From Respiratory Problems Because of Their Flat Faces

For boxers and boxer mixes, even light exercise can be a struggle because of their flattened faces and skull shape. Some of their favorite activities, such as chasing a ball, going on a walk, or playing with other dogs, can be life-threatening for them and other breathing-impaired breeds.

Not only do a boxers’ misshapen skulls and distorted airways impair their ability to run and play freely, these traits also make them more prone to suffering from heatstroke, which means high temperatures can be deadly for them.

  1. Boxers and Boxer Mixes Are Prone to Heart Problems

Heart disease is common in boxers and boxer mixes, and the symptoms can significantly impact the dogs’ quality of life.

The most common heart issue for boxers is cardiomyopathy, a disease that plagues the breed. Nearly 40% of boxers carry the genetic mutation that causes this condition, which can bring on fainting, coughing, rapid breathing, and even sudden death in dogs as young as 2. Cardiomyopathy can lead to congestive heart failure (CHF) as the heart loses its ability to pump enough blood to supply the dog’s organs with oxygen. CHF causes fluid to build up in the body, and dogs often experience severe swelling of the legs, abdominal distention, coughing, difficulty breathing, and muscle wasting. CHF can kill in a matter of months, even with treatment.

  1. They’re at High Risk for Many Types of Cancer

According to multiple studies, cancer is the number-one cause of boxer deaths. Brain tumors are more common in boxers and other breathing-impaired breeds than in other dogs, possibly due to their malformed skulls.

Boxers are also more prone to mast cell tumors and lymphoma of varying degrees of severity, which can be fatal. Although some types of cancer can be treated with surgery if they’re caught early enough, others will likely shorten the dog’s life.

  1. Bone and Joint Problems

Boxers tend to have a lot of energy, but because of their large, stocky build, they’re prone to joint problems. Musculoskeletal issues like hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament ruptures in the knees, and degenerative myelopathy (a progressive neurological disease similar to ALS in humans) impair movement and can cause severe pain, which compromises the dogs’ ability to play as energetically as they want.

  1. They Are Vulnerable to Stomach Issues

Because of their deep chests, boxers are highly prone to a life-threatening disorder commonly called “bloat” (gastric dilatation-volvulus). In the condition’s early stage, the stomach fills with gas from digested food, and if it progresses further, the gas-filled stomach twists on itself and requires emergency surgery. If it’s not caught in time, bloat is fatal.

  1. Many Other Health Issues

Boxers may also suffer from terrible allergies, irritable bowel disease, and other health conditions, thanks to centuries of inbreeding and exploitation.

Boxers and other breathing-impaired breeds are also predisposed to eye ulcers, which are extremely painful and can require surgery. Shallow eye sockets cause the dogs’ eyes to protrude from their head, which can sometimes restrict their ability to blink and increases the likelihood of eye injuries.

Boxers Have It Rough From the Start

Boxers are more likely to have difficult births. Studies show that roughly 30% of boxers require veterinary treatment during birth, often c-sections. Nearly 20% of boxer puppies die within a week after birth. Although most of these deaths are due to delivery complications and overbreeding, some ruthless breeders kill puppies who don’t meet the breed’s color standards set by the exploitative American Kennel Club. Other standards include cropped ears and a docked tail, both of which are unnatural and have to be created through painful procedures that puppies are often forced to endure without painkillers.

Health issues aside, when you buy any dog, you rob a dog waiting in a shelter of a happy ending to their story and add to the animal homelessness and overpopulation crises. Buying dogs, no matter which breed, perpetuates the cruel cycle of breeding and purchasing animals as if they were unfeeling objects. It also perpetuates the abuse of countless mother dogs. Females dogs used for breeding are forced to give birth repeatedly—until their bodies give out—and they’re discarded once a breeder can’t profit off them. Breeding dogs is abusive, and the only way to end it is to stop buying them.

If you’re ready for the long-term monetary and emotional responsibilities of caring for an animal companion, instead of lining the pockets of some greedy animal exploiter, adopt an animal from your local shelter.

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