Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
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Also known as the Box-A-Pug, the Poxer is a hybrid dog breed. They are the result of breeding a Boxer female with a Pug male. The result is a charming, funny, lively dog that loves to be around people and has plenty of energy. The Poxer is a medium-sized dog with a short, easy-care coat. They are an ideal dog for active families or someone looking for a canine companion on long walks.

If the upside of the Poxer is their good character, then their downside is the risk of brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome (BOAS). Both the Pug and Boxer err to flat faces, which leads to breathing problems due to their fore-shortened skull anatomy. At the lower end of the scale, they are likely to snore, but more badly affected dogs may struggle to breathe and succumb to heat exhaustion in warm weather.

About & History

As a relative newcomer on the scene, the story of the Poxer is really that of the parent breeds.

The Boxer

The Boxer was developed in 19th century Germany from the now extinct Bullenbeisser dog. Originally bred as bull-baiting dogs, they found a niche working in slaughterhouses to round up and control cattle.

Boxers found popularity outside of Germany after World War I. Their playful way of cuffing with their front paws, is suggested as one reason for the breed name of “Boxer”. However, other people suggest the name has its roots in an old German word for ‘slaughter’ or ‘slaughterhouse’.

The Pug

The Pug breed is older still, going back to two centuries BC in China. They were said to be one of three flat-nosed breeds that found favour back then, with a common ancestor in the Tibetan Mastiff. These early Pugs were greatly cherished, owned by Emperors with some even protected by their own guards.

In the 16th and 17th century, as trade opened up with other countries, the Pug came to the attention of Dutch traders. It is no surprise that this loving and loyal breed soon became the favourite of Kings, Queens, and the aristocracy. There were famous owners of Pugs, including William of Orange, Marie-Antoinette, Josephine Bonaparte, and Queen Victoria. Today, happily anyone who chooses can be fortunate enough to have their life brightened by this charming fellow.


The pups of a hybrid breed, such as the Poxer, can a true blend of both parents or lean heavily to one side of the family tree. There is an argument that both parent breeds share a great deal in common when it comes to their appearance – it’s just a matter of scale. Of course there are differences, such as the Boxer having a slightly longer (but still fore-shortened) snout, and the Pug have larger, more protruding eyes and extra skin folds compared to the Boxer.

For those pups that are a 50:50 mix, the Poxer is medium-sized, with a flattish face, round skull, a profusion of wrinkles, and drop ears. The Poxer may have protruding teeth on the lower jaw, as both parent breeds are prone to an undershot jaw.

They have a square silhouette, being as tall as they are long, with strong legs. The whip-straight Boxer tail may succumb to the Pug curl, resulting in a curved (and waggy) tail to top things off. The Box-a-pug has a short coat, which may be fawn, brindle, and black. The lighter-coloured pups are likely to have a black mask and black-tipped ears.

Character & Temperament

A dog’s character is part made up of genetic traits and part their early life experiences. Thus, regardless of breed, a confident happy adult dog needs to be socialised as a youngster. On the plus side, both the Boxer and Pug have fantastic characters. Their offspring, the Poxer, may be a wonderful blend of both but should they lean toward one parent, they are unlikely to go far wrong.

The Boxer is an exuberant fellow, who loves people and is enthusiastic about their company. Whilst the Pug is a quiet clown, a mischievous chap that is happy to snuggle once worn out by play. This makes an excellent foundation for the Poxer, who is likely to be packed-full of personality and have a cheerful manner.

Any prospective owner should be prepared for canine naughtiness, which may become frustrating at times, however, these high spirits are never malicious and always followed by a lick of apology. This makes them well-suited to family life, as a dog that loves company and will even get along with other pets. Just be sure not to let them push the boundaries too far, and instil some control with regular training sessions.


All the facets that go to make a Poxer so appealing are the same factors that can make them a challenge to train. Think of them as an over-excited toddler, and you can appreciate the difficulty of getting their attention and bringing them in line.

This doesn’t mean training is impossible, but that the owner must be patient, use reward-based methods, and make training sessions as much like a game as possible. Do this, on a regular basis throughout their life, and you will have reasonably well-controlled pet.


There is no data specific to the Poxer about the health conditions they are most likely to experience. However, the parent breeds are linked to several problems, and it is reasonable to assume there is a risk of these showing up in their offspring.

Gastric Dilation & Volvulus (Bloat)

This serious condition is the result of the stomach flipping over on itself to seal off the entrance and exit. The result is a stomach inflated like a giant balloon causing shock, organ failure, and (without emergency correction) death.

Whilst the risk of bloat can never be eliminated, it can be reduced. This includes feeding a good quality diet that is low in fermentable carbohydrate, and never exercising the dog straight after eating.

Corneal Ulcers

Boxers are prone to a specific type of eye ulcer, and this is not helped by the Pug genes for large, round eyes with a larger area of exposed cornea.

Eye ulcers are painful and the signs include squinting, rubbing the eye, redness, and an ocular discharge. If an owner even so much as suspects an eye ulcer, they should contact their vet.

Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (BOAS)

Both parent breeds are renowned for breathing difficulties as a result of their fore-shortened skulls. Sadly, the soft tissue structures, such as the tongue, soft palate, and tonsils, remain the same size. This is like jamming a size 9 foot into a size 5 shoe, and crowds the back of the throat making it difficult to breathe.

Heat Distress

Panting is the dog’s way of cooling themselves on a hot day. Because the Poxer may already pant due to BOAS, this makes it extra difficult to keep cool in the heat. Therefore the Poxer is at high risk of over-heating, sometimes even in only moderately warm weather.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Poxer is the equivalent of a coiled spring in a dog’s body. They have lots of energy, love to bounce around and play, but once they are spent love nothing better than a nice rest.

The Poxer will be happiest with an owner who can provide a regular daily outlet for the energy, such as two good walks a day. This needs to be supplemented by plenty of loving attention at home, and impromptu play sessions. If it were down to the Pug side alone, the Poxer would be a good apartment dog, however, the added factor of the Boxer energy makes this questionable.


As a short-coated breed, the Poxer doesn’t need to visit the grooming parlour, and instead, their coat care can be undertaken at home. They are a moderate shedder, and those wishing to avoid fur on the upholstery would do well to brush their pet daily. This has the added benefit of spreading those natural condition oils and giving the coat a seal-like gloss.

The Poxer’s teeth may be crowded together, which makes daily tooth brushing even more important in order to prevent plaque and tartar formation. Likewise, a Poxer with Pug wrinkles will need daily checks to make sure the deep wrinkles are free from infection.

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