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Boxers look like athletes, as well as being named for one. Naturally, you may wonder if they have the running ability to match their athletic appearance.
So are boxers good running dogs?
In many ways, Boxers are great running dogs due to their athleticism, energy level, trainability, and willingness to protect their owners which many people will find very useful in a jogging companion. However, they may also have some health concerns and potential behavioral issues that may affect how well they can keep up with you.
We’ll cover everything you need to know about why Boxers can be wonderful running dogs, as well as some reasons why you may want to think twice before choosing this breed as your running companion.
We’ll also go over some tips on how to prepare your Boxer to be an ideal running dog.
Let’s get started!
Why Boxers May be a Good Running Dog for You
If you are looking for an ideal running companion, The Boxer may be the perfect match for a number of key reasons. If you already have a Boxer and are looking for ways to provide exercise, you may find that running is a great solution.
Here are the reasons why:
Fast and Athletic
At first glance, the Boxer looks like they would run well, and in this case, appearances are not the least bit deceiving. Boxers are extremely muscular dogs, with a big chest with plenty of room for heart and lungs along with a narrow waist that keeps the dog’s overall weight down.
All traits that are common amongst the fastest dogs on the planet.
In motion, the Boxer is truly a stunning sight to behold, with powerful muscles rippling under a short single coat. This is a dog made for activity, including running. They tend to be quite fast and agile and have a smooth trot that can keep going for a very long time.
Check out this Boxer who is enjoying a run very much:
The average Boxer is a very energetic dog. While they can be couch potatoes at home when properly exercised, they need plenty of time to work out their considerable energy if they are to be expected to be calm house companions.
This energy level is a huge plus if you’re looking for a jogging companion. There’s no question that your Boxer will be happy to join you out on a jog whenever you feel like it. If your Boxer doesn’t feel like running, a trip to the veterinarian may be in order as these dogs are well known for their abundant energy.
Boxers are extremely intelligent dogs, able to be trained in a wide range of disciplines. They have a diverse history of being big game hunters, cattle dogs, police dogs, service dogs, and more.
Considering the number of things they have been trained to do, it should come as no surprise that they can learn to run alongside you without any trouble at all. You’ll likely find that your Boxer soon learns how to stay out from underneath your feet, avoid crossing ahead of you, and manages to keep pace with you quite easily.
If you want a jogging companion that will make it less likely that you will be targeted for attack, the Boxer may be one of the best options. At between 65 and 80 lb, they are a good size for even a smaller jogger to control when properly trained and using the right equipment, but it is very unlikely that anyone would choose to take on a fight with a Boxer.
If somebody does choose to mess with you and your Boxer, there is a good chance your Boxer will stand up to protect you.
Historically, Boxers have been guard dogs as well as police and military dogs, and you should not be surprised to find that a Boxer may be very willing to take on a fight if you are attacked. They tend to be very vigilant about any intruder into your space, and why likely let you know that somebody is following you before you realize it yourself.
Why Boxers May Not be a Good Running Dog
There are all kinds of good reasons that Boxers are superb running dogs, but there are also some reasons that they are not the best choice as a jogging companion, particularly under certain conditions and for particular owners.
Here are some things to consider about why you may not want to choose a Boxer as a running dog:
One of the most distinct characteristics of Boxers is their shorter nose, wrinkled face, and forward-facing eyes. These characteristics make them decidedly adorable and charming, but the short nose comes with some negative side effects as well which can also affect your Boxer’s suitability as a jogging companion.
Different Boxers and different lines of Boxers have short noses to varying degrees. However, dogs with the shortest noses are most likely to have difficulty breathing, also known as Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome.
Heat often exasperates the difficulties faced by brachycephalic dogs. Obese dogs are also much more likely to suffer from the negative effects of this condition. Any Boxer with a short snout could suffer from exercise intolerance and have trouble breathing when they are running and runners in hot climates may want to choose a different breed as their jogging companion.
Unfortunately, Boxers may be more likely than some other breeds to suffer from heart conditions. Aortic Stenosis and Cardiomyopathy are both more common in the breed. Not every Boxer will be afflicted, but for those that are, these conditions can be very serious, especially in a Boxer that exercises regularly by running. Running can stress the heart, which can bring heart conditions to a crisis. Heatstroke can also result in cardiomyopathy bringing about arrhythmia and serious consequences for your dog.
Thankfully, these conditions can be tested for by your veterinarian. It is very wise to have your Boxer examined before you begin an exercise regimen with them.
If you want your Boxer to be your running companion throughout their life, this condition is worth taking into account. Degenerative myelopathy is a heartbreaking condition in which a dog slowly loses feeling in their hind end and becomes incontinent.
While it does not cause any pain directly, this neurologic disease has no treatment and will eventually prevent your dog from going with you on runs as well as affecting many other areas of their life. There is a blood test to determine whether your Boxer is likely to develop the condition.
Hip dysplasia is fairly common in a number of different breeds, one of which is the Boxer. Signs of the disease can come out quite early in your dog’s life, often between four months and a year of age. The thigh bone and hip socket do not work together properly, causing pain and lameness.
Your dog will have trouble running or refuse to run when suffering from this condition. Surgery may be considered to treat it, and drugs and physical therapy can also be helpful. However, a dog suffering from hip dysplasia will not be a great running companion and it could even be cruel to ask them to do so.
Possible Aggression with Strange People and Dogs
The tendency of Boxers to be protective of their owners can be a great advantage for many people in a jogging companion. However, some Boxers can be prone to an inappropriate level of aggression that can make them unpleasant or even dangerous jogging companions.
Many Boxers display some level of intolerance of other dogs, especially strange dogs of the same gender. While most Boxers that are properly socialized do not show so much aggression as to make jogging with them difficult, some Boxers do show this level of aggression even after training.
High Prey Drive
Boxers are descended from hunting dogs. While most Boxers haven’t been used for hunting in many generations, the instinct is often still found in this breed. It is perfectly normal for a Boxer to want to chase cats, wild animals like deer, squirrels, and rabbits, and even moving vehicles like bicycles and cars. Because they were originally used for large game hunting, their prey drive could be triggered by larger things as well as small animals.
Boxers vary a lot in how much prey drive they display, but a boxer that happens to have very high prey drive can sometimes be difficult to control on a jog. Self-control training from the time your Boxer is young can be very helpful, but it won’t be enough to completely eliminate prey drive in many dogs.
How to Set Yourself up for Success With a Boxer as a Jogging Companion
If you want to run with your Boxer, there are a few things that you can do from the very beginning to make it more likely that you will have a great running companion:
Because of the Boxer’s energy level and size and because these dogs are among those that may be chosen more for their looks than because a prospective owner has an understanding of the breed, there are often Boxers of all ages available for adoption. Boxers can often be found at municipal shelters, and breed-specific rescues organizations are widely available as well.
By adopting a mature Boxer, you can rule out many of the issues that may keep them from being good jogging companions. A Boxer of two or three years of age will already be showing signs of aggression, hip dysplasia, or issues related to being brachycephalic.
Ideally, you may be able to rescue a dog without any health or behavioral concerns that will be a superb jogging companion for you for the rest of its life.
The better socialized your Boxer is from the time you bring them home, the more likely they will be to be non-reactive to people and other dogs on runs. That said, any Boxer can develop aggression, even when they are extremely well socialized.
However, without socialization, it is much more likely for a Boxer to behave aggressively inappropriately. Make sure your dog meets plenty of different people and other dogs of a wide variety and manage interactions so that they are positive for your Boxer and your dog is much more likely to grow into a pleasant jogging companion.
Don’t Start Running Too Early
If you start your Boxer running too early in life, they can suffer from a variety of health problems. Therefore, it is very important to gradually increase their exercise in a way that is age-appropriate and not expect them to join you on a serious jog until they are physically mature, typically at about two years of age. Talk to your veterinarian about what level of exercise is appropriate for your Boxer.
Teach Basic Obedience
A Boxer that has learned self-control from an early age is much more likely to be a pleasant jogging companion. Boxers can be strong-willed, and they may use their intelligence to challenge their owners rather than cooperate at times, so teaching obedience and self-control early on is a very good idea.
Self-control games like asking your Boxer to stay before they get rewards, playtime, and food is a great way to teach them to maintain control on a jog as well. Most Boxers will understand the basics of jogging quite easily, but they may struggle more to control their impulses if they see something they want to chase, so self-control training from the beginning is a great way to develop a great runner in your Boxer.
Train With the Right Equipment
Choosing the right equipment to train your Boxer to run can make a very big difference in how successful they are at this activity with you.
While a proper collar for your boxer is a good starting point, introducing a head halter can make a big difference in controlling your Boxer, especially if you are on the smaller side and struggle to maintain control of this powerful breed. The Coastal Pet – Walk ‘n Train is a good option for a short-snouted breed like the Boxer because it has extra padding and an adjustable strap that work well to fit the shorter nose.
A no pull harness with a Martingale attachment is also a great way to train your Boxer not to pull on the lead when you are jogging. The Martingale attachment does a great job of telling your Boxer when they are pulling, which can assist in training. This is the best choice if your dog ever struggles to breathe and is a good option for most dogs that don’t pull very hard or for owners who don’t struggle too much to control them.
How Fast Can Boxers Run?
We’ve covered everything that makes boxers fast and everything that makes them not-so-fast but how does this all play out in the real world?
How fast can boxers really run?
There will of course be variation between individual boxers, but on average boxers can run up to 38 miles per hour making them one of the faster dog breeds. There will of course be slower boxers but with some trainer and natural canine talent, you can expect them to reach their top speed.
While that might sound surprisingly fast, it makes sense when you consider that one of the prey animals that boxers were originally bred to chase was deer.
Enjoy Jogging With Your Boxer
Your Boxer can be a superb running companion, but it is important to keep in mind behavioral and health concerns that may interfere with your dog’s ability to run with you.
Still, there’s a lot in control when it comes to setting your boxer up for success on the road!