While any dog can come down with mange, boxers are prone to a specific type of mange with a hereditary component. Demodetic mange, or demodicosis, often affects puppies, who catch it from their mothers. Adult boxers with compromised immune systems may also suffer from it.
Caused by a mite named Demodex canis, demodetic mange can appear either on a particular part of the boxer's body or all over it. The local form usually affects the dog's head, legs and neck, generally occurring in boxers under the age of 2. Demodectic pododermititis occurs on the boxer's paws, potentially causing serious infections. In all cases, the mites invade the dog's hair follicles and oil glands. Unlike other types of mange, demodetic mange isn't usually contagious with the exception of mother and puppies. These mites often live on adult dogs with no ill effects.
If your boxer has the localized version of the disease, he'll have bald patches of hair on his head and neck. It should be only a few spots. This type of mange usually resolves on its own without treatment. If your boxer has general demodetic mange, that's a different story. He'll lose hair all over his body, with rough, scaly patches of skin. He's prone to skin infections. Your boxer itches like crazy and his skin may stink.
The vet will probably prescribe antibiotics to treat your boxer's skin infections. To kill the mites, she might give your dog high doses of ivermectin, a broad-spectrum anti-parasite medication. Depending on the condition of your boxer's skin, your vet may recommend dips to ease his discomfort. Your boxer should also be on an effective monthly anti-flea product so those little pests don't make his skin even worse. Your vet might suggest certain dietary changes to strengthen his immune system or help his skin.
Because demodetic mange is hereditary, boxers with the disease shouldn't be bred. If your female boxer isn't spayed, you might want to spay her not only to prevent passing on the mange problem but to slow down the problem. The hormonal changes associated with going into heat stress her and give the mites an advantage. Your vet will likely recommend waiting until the disease is under control before performing the spay surgery.
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.