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What Every Boxer Parent Needs To Know About Cancer

Written by: Dina Fantegrossi
Dina Fantegrossi is the Assistant Editor and Head Writer for HomeLife Media. Before her career in writing, Dina was a veterinary technician for more than 15 years.Read more
| Published on December 6, 2016

The number one search phrase suggested by Google when you begin to type “Why are Boxers…” is not “Why are Boxers so cute/sweet/goofy?” Rather, it is “Why are Boxers so prone to cancer?”

Cancer is the number one reported health issue in the breed with an estimated 38.5% of Boxers passing away from some form of the disease according to the UK Kennel Club.

The reasons why Boxers are so prone to cancer are not fully known. Some veterinary scientists suggest that it is purely genetic, while others cite environmental factors like second hand smoke and sun exposure, past injuries leading to osteosarcomas (bone cancer), and even random gene mutations.


Dr. Greg Matinez is a veterinarian with more than 30 years of experience. He operates a YouTube channel with over 45,000 subscribers and his videos have received nearly 20 million views. He believes that tumors in Boxers are a result of external factors like food, chemicals, and environmental elements interacting with their unique genetic makeup.

Whatever the mitigating factors, Boxers are at a drastically increased risk for tumors – both benign and malignant. They have higher rates of brain tumors and mast cell tumors than any other pure breed of dog, and white Boxers are at an increased risk of skin cancers.


There isn’t anything a Boxer parent can do to change their dog’s genetics, but they can help reduce the risk of cancer by controlling outside factors such as diet and lifestyle. Some recommendations include:

  • Minimize sun exposure
  • Do not expose your Boxer to second-hand smoke
  • Spay or neuter your dog to reduce the risk of reproductive cancers
  • Keep dogs on-leash or supervised at all times to reduce the risk of fractures
  • Maintain a healthy diet (ask your vet for recommendations) and provide only filtered water
  • Establish an exercise routine to maintain a healthy weight
  • Check your pet frequently from head to toe for lumps or bumps


Human doctors emphasize the importance of early detection when it comes to cancer and the same is true for our dogs. Here are some warning signs to watch out for in your Boxer. If you notice any of these symptoms, seek veterinary care immediately:

  • New or changing lumps, bumps or skin pigmentation
  • Rapid weight loss or changes in appetite
  • Changes in elimination – diarrhea, vomiting, changes in urination or incontinence
  • Lethargy or exercise intolerance
  • Cold-like symptoms including sneezing, coughing and nasal discharge
  • Swelling of the gums, difficulty eating, bleeding or foul odor from the mouth
  • Stumbling, impaired vision, facial paralysis, behavioral changes (could indicate a brain tumor)


No one knows your dog better than you do. Even if you aren’t seeing these specific signs, if your Boxer “just doesn’t seem right” to you, trust your instincts and play it safe with a trip to the vet.

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