Making sure that your best friend is happy and healthy is the number one priority for all dog owners, so it might surprise you to find out that a lot of pet animals are technically overweight or obese. If you have a Boxer, you will want to know, are Boxers prone to obesity?
Boxers are one of several breeds that are considered at risk of obesity, due to their need for an active lifestyle and certain health conditions which can lower their metabolism. Boxers have muscular bodies which need a good amount of exercise to be maintained. They are also susceptible to a condition known as hyperthyroidism, which can greatly affect weight gain.
Whatever animal you are bringing into your home, understanding the potential health risks that they can face will equip you to be the best owner you can be. This article will go into detail about what issues Boxers can experience when it comes to obesity and important information about how to manage and monitor your Boxer’s weight.
Are Boxers Prone to Obesity Because of Their Breeding?
The natural metabolism, diet requirements, and exercise needs of a breed are often the biggest contributing factors that influence the likelihood of unhealthy weight gain. Dogs that are larger and naturally more athletic will need more exercise to prevent them from gaining weight, and smaller breeds that are less active can put on the pounds more quickly.
Boxers were originally bred as hunting dogs, and this background is why they have such strong, powerful bodies. This also means that they have a lot of muscle mass compared to other breeds, which has to be maintained through regular exercise.
If Boxers don’t get the exercise that they need, their muscles can turn to fat, and this can have serious consequences for their health. The other side of this coin is that Boxers will want to eat a lot of calories to keep up their strength, so a healthy and balanced diet is also really important.
Another genetic factor is the likelihood of developing hyperthyroidism, which is relatively common among Boxers. It can greatly affect their metabolism, leading to weight gain.
What Are the Risks of Obesity in Boxers?
We all know that excess weight can cause health problems for our pets, but it is important to understand exactly what your Boxer might be at risk of. Overweight or obese Boxers are more likely to face many health issues including, but not limited to:
- Joint problems.
- Metabolic disorders.
- Digestive issues.
- Back pain.
- Heart disease.
Another problem that is distinct to breeds like Boxers comes because they are what is known as “brachycephalic” dogs, which refers to the fact that they have a shortened snout. This means that their airways are more likely to suffer from swelling and they can struggle to breathe when they are overexerted or overheating. Overweight dogs will experience breathing problems much more quickly, and much more often.
Some studies have found that, on average, overweight dogs have a lifespan that is 2.5 years shorter than dogs with a healthy body weight. If you want your Boxer to live a happy life, and you want them to be around as long as possible, maintaining a healthy weight is essential.
Why Do Boxers Become Overweight?
When asking the question “Are Boxers prone to obesity?”, it’s important to note that dogs generally become overweight or obese because of their lifestyle, which is something that their owners have control over.
There are two main factors that influence a dog’s weight: diet and exercise. These are the same things that are at the root of weight gain and weight loss for any animal, including humans. There are, however, certain health conditions and other extenuating factors that may cause a dog to start putting on the pounds as well.
Because Boxers are known to gain excess weight if you are not careful, it is really important that they are given a healthy and balanced diet. High-quality dog food is usually more expensive, but this if because it is not padded with additives, fillers or excess fats and sugars.
A Boxer should be eating a good amount of proteins, healthy fats, vegetables, vitamins and minerals. Natural food is always going to be healthier, including real meat and vegetables, and you should read the packaging very carefully to know exactly what you are giving your dog.
Exactly how much your Boxer needs in a day will depend on their age, size, current weight and metabolism. In general, however, puppies require about 55 calories per day for every pound that they weigh. Adult dogs need a little less because they are no longer growing, at around 40 calories per pound.
Don’t forget that treats and snacks throughout the day will add to your dog’s caloric intake, and some treats can be very high in fat content.
Boxers need between 1 and 2 hours of dedicated physical activity every day, to keep them mentally and physically healthy. You might separate this into a couple of walks, supplemented by other activities that will keep them stimulated.
Because Boxers are more muscular than they are lean, they tend to prefer shorter bursts of high activity with regular rests, or longer sessions of low to medium intensity exercise. Vigorous workouts, like chasing games or active training, are really important to keep up their muscle mass.
There are all kinds of active things that your Boxer can be doing throughout the day, to help to keep them moving and burning off any excess calories, like:
- Jogging. Boxers can quickly learn to run alongside you for a gentle jog, just make sure that they are safe and comfortable on the leash beforehand, and are getting regular water breaks.
- Catching games. Fetch and frisbee are great ways to get your dog moving at top speed while you’re standing still.
- Interactive toys. There are many toys that can occupy your Boxer for hours, including ones that release rewards to keep their attention.
- Hikes. Boxers will enjoy an extended countryside walk, and there’s nothing better than a long day out with your dog.
- Agility training. Setting up tunnels, ramps, hurdles and other obstacles is not only fun for your dog, but very good exercise as well.
There are some health conditions or other issues that may cause weight gain for your Boxer. If you notice unexpected or rapid weight changes, it is important that you consult with your vet to figure out what they need.
Some common issues associated with unexpected weight gain include:
- Heart Disease.
- Prescription Drugs.
- Intestinal Parasites.
Your dog’s metabolism will also change as they get older, so their diet and exercise routine will need to change as well.
How Can You Tell if a Boxer is Overweight or Obese?
The first clue that your Boxer is gaining too much weight is if they are over the expected weight for their age. Some dogs are simply built differently, however, so there are also physical, visual, and behavioral clues that might show you whether your dog is getting a little too heavy.
Healthy Boxer Weight
Every dog is different, so looking at their weight alone will not tell you everything, but it can be an important benchmark to check against. The American Kennel Club suggests that an adult male boxer should weigh up to 80 pounds, and a female should reach a maximum of around 65 pounds.
European Boxers are generally stockier than their American cousins, so take these measurements as an estimate, not a hard rule.
If your dog is heavier than you expect, and they are not noticeably taller than other Boxers their age, you might want to consult your vet and consider adjusting their diet and lifestyle.
Looking at your dog, there are a few things that you should be able to notice if they are at a healthy weight. Boxers should have a wider chest and a skinnier waist, with a noticeable curve into their stomach when viewed from the side and an hourglass shape from above.
You should also be able to just about see the outline of their last few ribs, and the definition of their muscles when they are in motion. If you can’t see your dog’s ribs or muscles at all, and their belly is as wide as their chest, they are probably carrying too much weight.
When you place your hands on either side of your Boxer’s chest, you should be able to feel their ribcage under the skin. If you feel a soft layer of fat instead, it is likely that your Boxer is overweight.
Additionally, you should be able to feel their body curve inwards as you move your hands towards their hips. If there is no definition to your Boxer’s waist, they may be above their healthy weight.
If your Boxer becomes overweight, you will probably notice a change in their behavior first. Your dog should be active, engaged, and enthusiastic about play and exercise. If they are becoming tired and out of breath more quickly, are slower to respond, and are generally showing less interest in physical activities, this may be because of weight problems.
There are also many other reasons why your dog’s behavior might change, so make sure to get in touch with a vet if you have any concerns.
The Verdict: Are Boxers Prone to Obesity?
So, are Boxers prone to obesity? The answer is yes, they are among the breeds which are considered to be at risk of becoming overweight or obese if their diet and lifestyles are not managed appropriately.
Any dog can become obese if they are not properly cared for, and the health implications of this can be very severe. If you want your Boxer to be happy and enjoy their life for as long as possible, you want to make sure that you are providing them with a healthy diet and lots of exercise.
You also want to keep an eye on your dog’s weight as it can be an indicator of other issues that may need addressing. A healthy Boxer is a happy Boxer, and that’s all any owner wants.