If your beloved boxer is losing hair on his face, there's a good possibility he's suffering from demodectic mange. Don't panic at the idea of a mangy boxer -- it's a common skin problem in the breed, and it has a hereditary component. Your vet can treat him and restore his beauty.
Demodectic mange also is known as red mange or demodicosis. The mites causing this condition live on the skin of virtually all dogs. Dogs with a healthy immune system don't have a problem with these microscopic creatures. However, canines with depressed immune systems or those with a genetic predisposition, such as the boxer, might develop skin disease.
You might have noticed bald spots on your boxer's muzzles, ears and around his eyes. Those bald spots are symptoms of localized demodectic mange, rather than the general type that affects the whole body. This type of mange is quite common in boxer puppies. The bald patches shouldn't make your boxer scratch at them. They eventually heal up on their own, generally within three months.
If your boxer does start scratching, that means bacteria have infected the patches and he should see the vet. If he has more than four bald patches, or if the patches are on other parts of his body, your boxer might have generalized demodicosis.
Localized demodectic mange is not usually contagious, so if your vet confirms the diagnosis you usually don't have to isolate your boxer. But if you have an older, infirm dog in your household, or in a house that your boxer frequently visits, it's wise to separate them until the hair loss clears up or the infection disappears.
People or cats can't catch these species-specific mites. Although localized demodicosis clears up on its own, you might speed up the process with insecticides prescribed by your vet. If the patches are infected, your vet might give you antibacterial ointment for them.
If your boxer develops demodectic mange, think twice about breeding him. There's a good chance he would pass this propensity to the mange on to his offspring. If you subscribe to the idea that the basis of breeding purebred dogs is improvement of the breed in all aspects, then no matter how much you love your dog, he might be better off not passing on his mangy genes. Oops -- that's "his genes predisposed to mange."
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.