If boxers aren't in line to get evaluated, I'd like to put them there... No hurry. :)
Ah, Boxers. Clowning cancer factories. They’re such an interesting breed and frequent visitors to the vet clinic. They’re also one of the addictive breeds, meaning that despite their flaws there are a lot of people that once they own one, are never without one ever again. You might want to sit down and have a cup of tea.
Disclaimer: These posts are about the breed from a veterinary viewpoint as
seen in clinical practice, i.e. the problems we are faced with. It’s not
the be-all and end-all of the breed and is not to make a judgement
about whether the breed is right for you. If you are asking for an
opinion about these animals in a veterinary setting, that is what you
will get. It’s not going to be all sunshine and cupcakes, and is not
intended as a personal insult against your favorite breed. This is
general advice for what is common, often with a scientific consensus but
sometimes based on personal experiences, and is not a guarantee of what
your dog is going to encounter in their life.
So, the number one thing that Boxers as a breed are known for in veterinary medicine, if there one one solitary defining feature that was the reason most veterinary professionals decide against owning a boxer, a breed they would otherwise like, then at the risk of being insensitive, (since you like sparkly gifs) its…
Boxers are prone to cancer like no other breed I know, closely followed by Golden Retrievers. They develop all sorts with great ease, at unfortunately young ages with great regularity.
Mast Cell Tumors are the bane of the boxer breed. These tumors can
develop anywhere on the body, including in organs like the spleen, and
in any layer of the skin. These tumors are sometimes called the Great
Pretenders because they can look like lots of different things. They’re
easily mistaken for benign lipomas by feel, and can be misdiagnosed if
they’re growing under a lipoma by FNA as it’s easy to miss a small lump
with a small needle.
While a low grade MCT has a chance to be cured with surgery of detected early, a high grade one is all kinds of trouble even with modern chemotherapy options. It’s fear of these tumors that cause many vets, including myself, to be highly suspicious of every single lump on a boxer or boxer cross.
Boxers also seem highly prone to other cancers too, lymphoma being high on the list. Individuals with a white belly also get squamous cell carcinomas and cutaneous haemangiomas.
They are one of the very few breeds known to develop malignant histiocytomas, which is especially unfortunate considering that in most dogs a histiocytoma goes away all on its own in a few months, but in Boxers it will potentially kill them.
So while any lump on any dog can be a malignant cancer, Boxer’s have the added ‘fun’ of developing lumps that probably would have been fine on an other dog and look benign but sometimes actually aren’t. Can you understand my paranoia?
Their facial conformation leaves their eyes prone to numerous Eye Conditions, including but not limited to cherry eye, entropion, exposure keratopathy and corneal ulcers. They also get a particularly difficult to treat eye ulcer called ‘indolent ulcers’ which are sometimes just called ‘Boxer dog ulcers’. They also get progressive retinal atrophy which is probably more genetic than anything else.
Speaking of diseases that are names after the breed (rarely a good sign), this breed also gets an unusual gastrointestinal disease called Histiocytic Ulcerative Collitis, which is also called Boxer Dog Collitis. For brevity’s sake, think of it a bit like a type of IBD of Chron’s disease.
And while we’re still on the topic of diseases named after this breed, Boxer Cardiomyopathy, which is really a
arrhythmogenic right ventricular
cardiomyopathy that’s primarily identified in boxers, also afflicts this breed. It’s not their only heart condition though, Dilated cardiomyopathy, atrial-septal defect, subaortic stenosis and sick sinus syndrome also occur.
This is turning into a long post, isn’t it. Do you want a break? How about another gif?
Okay, let’s talk some more about Boxers from a veterinary standpoint.
Boxers are prone to a couple of neurological disorders, Wobbler Syndrome is more common in larger males but degenerative myelopathy can occur in any boxer, is they live long enough to get it.
Possibly related to an interesting immune system, the breed is prone to allergies and atopy. This is a day to day annoyance on top of he life threatening/shortening conditions this breed is likely to develop.
Speaking of life threatening, the boxer dog is certainly deep chested enough to develop Gastric Dilatation Volvulus and need a trip to the emergency clinic.
Gosh, a long list never looks good, especially when three conditions are named after the breed.
Boxer’s also have a reputation for anaesthetic sensitivity. This is often exaggerated in breed circles, assuming the boxer in question doesn’t have one of the aforementioned heart conditions, but because they are brachephalic they have a higher vagal tone and are more sensitive to the common sedative acepromazine.
This doesn’t mean you can’t use acepromazine in boxers, only that you have to be careful with it. I will often use it at a tenth to a quarter the dose in young, nutty individuals before surgery, but some vets wont use it at all.
Can you see how living with one of these dogs would drive me nuts from a medical paranoia standpoint?