Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
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The Boxerman is a hybrid dog, which is the result of breeding a Doberman with a Boxer. The Boxerman is a large, short coated dog, not suited to extremes of temperature. They are energetic, which means they do need plenty of exercise. However, they have a delightful, almost clownish character and can make for a good family dog (under supervision).

If there is one, the downside of the Boxerman is their health. Unfortunately, both parent breeds carry an increased risk of heart disease, which could be passed onto their pups. In addition, they may suffer from spinal problems related either to slipped discs or poor alignment of the neck vertebrae.

About & History

The story of the Boxerman belongs to that of their august parent breeds.

The Boxer

The Boxer has their roots in Germany. Mastiffs and Bulldogs make up part of their extensive lineage. These first relatives were strong, stocky dogs specifically bred to bring down prey and hold onto it until the hunter caught up with them.

The role of these original dogs changed subtly over time as they gradually took on more of a droving and guarding role. It was the late 19th century that saw a change in breeding practices that created a divergent dog breed that went on to become the modern Boxer dog.

These dogs had a part to play in World War II as messengers and mascots for the allied troops. When the war ended, many of these dogs were repatriated to the US with their military units, sowing the seeds of the popularity outside of Germany of this characterful breed.

The Doberman

The Doberman has a colourful history with credit for the breed’s development going to a 19th tax collector. Louis Dobermann was the local taxman and dog catcher, and the former occupation meant he was unpopular. He set about breeding a dog as an imposing companion to protect him on the tax collection round. The exact ancestry is not known but thought to include Rottweiler, Black and Tan Terrier (now extinct), and German Pinscher blood.

After Dobermann’s death, breeders continued to develop the dog as a guard-dog. Numbers dipped during the World War II when a large dog became too expensive to feed. But in the post war years, the breed soon rose again in popularity with a softened temperament.


The Boxerman can justifiably be described as a handsome dog with something about the willingness in their eyes which is very appealing. That face is well-proportioned with the Boxer’s somewhat fore-shortened muzzle balanced out by the Doberman’s longer snout. They have a broad forehead framed by velvety drop ears.

A large dog, they have long, well-boned legs with a body in proportion, and should always have a definite waistline (to lose this and become barrel-shaped means they are overweight) Topping everything off is a straight, whip-like tail, which is likely to be wagging.

The Boxerman is a short-coated dog and not equipped to deal with harsh weather conditions. The fawn or brindle coat colour of the Boxer often predominates over the black and tan of the Doberman, but any of these coat colours is to be expected.

Character & Temperament

A well-adjusted Boxerman is a lover not a fighter, and what they especially excel at is enthusiasm. This means they put their all into whatever activity is happening at the time, whether than working as a guard dog or playing with the family. The Boxerman is a celebration of life and loves to run just for the sake of it, and therefore needs plenty of exercise.

The Boxerman is for a great match for an active family that can spend lots of time with the dog and provide plenty of exercise. The only downside is their natural exuberance may knock a small child over, so be prepared to supervise them.


Boxermen are eager to please and lap up the encouragement of reward-based training methods. They are an intelligent dog and highly capable of good levels of obedience. However, the Boxer has a talent for being easily distracted and this may show through in the Boxerman. Thus, a prospective Boxerman pet parent needs to commit to daily training and have tactics up their sleeve to keep the dog engaged.


As a hybrid dog, there is little data on specific health conditions to which the Boxerman is prone. However, it is logical that problems prevalent in the parent breeds stand a chance of popping up in their pups.

Heart Disease

Sadly, both parent breeds are over-represented when it comes to certain heart conditions. Unfortunately, there is a strong prevalence amongst Dobermans for dilated cardiomyopathy and the Boxer is prone to a narrowed aorta that can cause an irregular heartbeat, which can result in sudden death.

Be it the Doberman or Boxer heart conditions, these diseases can be ‘silent’ and show few symptoms right up until the dog suddenly declines and goes into a crisis. It is therefore a good idea to get regular six-monthly vet check-ups. Should the vet detect a heart murmur (and sometimes even when one isn’t present), then an ultrasound heart scan is a good idea to check how this vital organ is coping and if supportive medication is indicated.

Disc Disease

Although strong athletic dogs, both the Doberman and Boxer can suffer from the doggy equivalent of slipped discs. The signs of this include sudden onset pain, often with a hunched posture. The most severe cases may even go off their legs.

If you suspect back pain, always rest the dog and seek veterinary advice. Mild cases can be managed with pain relief and strict rest. However, if there is evidence of nerve damage then referral to specialist may be required to have the slipped disc surgically removed.

Von Willebrand’s Disease

This is a clotting disorder where the dog lacks certain blood factors that facilitate clot formation. Again, the seriousness can vary from mild to severe. Mild cases can often lead relatively normal lives but avoiding trauma and unnecessary surgery is essential.

Wobbler Syndrome

This condition is caused by poor alignment of the neck bones (cervical vertebra). These then press on the spinal cord and interfere with how the nerve supply to the legs work. As the name suggests, these dogs often have a wobbly or slightly drunken gait.

Mild cases can be managed with anti-inflammatory drugs, but those more severely affected need corrective surgery to stabilize the neck bones.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The famous Winnie the Pooh character, Tigger, could well have been inspired by a Boxerman. These dogs are energetic, love to be on the move, and need plenty of exercise. Not to meet these needs will result in a bored dog that will divert their energy into other less welcome pursuits, such as barking, digging, chewing, or running off.

A Boxerman is ideally suited to canine sports, such as agility, Flyball, or Canicross. They need at least one to two hours active exercise a day, so the wise owner teaches their dog how to play “Fetch” and also a solid recall so they can spend time off-lead.


The short coat of the Boxerman makes grooming a doddle. For a seal-like shine, simply slick the dog over a couple of times a week with a bristle brush of slicker. This removes any shed hair that might otherwise clog up the coat, and also spreads conditioning oils for a super-glossy hair.

Another aspect of grooming not to overlook is dental care. Dogs require daily tooth brushing, just like us, to keep their teeth plaque free. Not to do so risks plaque hardening into tartar, which then causes gum disease and wobbly teeth.

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