Boxers have many wonderful traits. They're a loyal, smart, athletic and obedient breed, good with all members of the family. Who can resist that boxer face? Unfortunately, boxers are susceptible to all kinds of genetic diseases, some of them fatal or untreatable.
Inherited arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy causes congestive heart failure or even sudden death in the adult boxer. The disease is also referred to as boxer cardiomyopathy. You can have your boxer tested for the gene causing ARVC, but a positive test does not mean he will develop this heart muscle problem. Dogs who test positive for the gene, however, should not be bred. Another cardiac disease prevalent in the breed is aortic or subaortic valvular stenosis, in which narrowing of the aortic valve can cause ballooning of the aorta.
Also common in other breeds, hip dysplasia often occurs in boxers. This hereditary hip joint malformation means the ball of the thigh bone, or femur, partially slides out of the socket. The joint degrades, causing arthritis and pain. This progressive ailment can't be cured, but medication can provide pain relief. If your dog is affected, don't allow him to become overweight, as this stresses the joint even more.
Eye issues common to boxers include cherry eye, in which the dog's third eyelid covers part or all of the eyeball. Surgery usually corrects the problem, which is called cherry eye because of its red appearance. Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, generally referred to as dry eye, is a very painful condition in which the eye loses lubrication. Eye drops or surgery on the tear duct might improve the situation. The hereditary disease progressive retinal atrophy eventually causes blindness. Another genetic disease, corneal dystrophy, clouds the dog's eyes but does not usually lead to complete vision loss.
Canine allergy symptoms usually manifest themselves in the dog's skin, often as itchiness, hair loss and lesions. Boxers are prone to food allergies, so avoid feeding your dog a diet high in grains and stick to a high-quality meat-based food. Your vet can conduct tests determining what allergens your dog reacts to, and prescribe medications accordingly for symptom relief.
Unfortunately, various cancers are prevalent in boxers. Among the most common types of malignancies are brain tumors, lymphoma and mast cell tumors. If your boxer has white markings or is an actual white boxer, keep him out of the sun as much as possible. Light colored boxers are prone to skin cancer. Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.