The purchase of a Boxer puppy involves many considerations and is not a decision to be taken lightheartedly. The AKC guide and several books on dog breeds provide descriptions of the Boxer’s breed characteristics, such as size, temperament, personality, and behavior. Assuming that you have decided that the Boxer is the breed you want to own (or to own you), the next question prospective purchasers ask is, “How do I find a reputable breeder?” The Michigan Boxer Club does not recommend specific breeders, but can provide contact information for members of the Club who are breeders and who may have puppies available from time to time. If you are interested in an older dog, occasionally a breeder will have adults available; also please consider a Rescue Boxer.
The future health of a puppy that will grow to be a companion and family member should be foremost in a purchaser’s mind. Purchasers should become educated on the health of the breed and on the health of the dogs in the puppy’s pedigree. Despite a breeder’s best efforts, Boxers do sometimes suffer from conditions to which the breed seems to be predisposed. In addition, purchasers of puppies should be aware that a puppy that exhibits perfect health, as certified by a vet, might develop health problems later in life. To complicate this issue, the genetic forces behind these problems are not well understood. Due to complex genetic interactions, health problems may or may not be evident in the sire, grandsire, dam, or granddam of the puppy. Sometimes, a clue to potential problems may be evident in offspring from previous litters from either of these parents.
The best recourse is to become an educated puppy purchaser. Therefore, the following questions to ask breeders are offered to the puppy purchaser as a guide to develop as complete a picture as possible of the health of this puppy, its parents, and of any dogs produced by these parents.
- Why did you choose to breed these two dogs together?
- Has the American Boxer Club’s recommended health screening been performed on the sire and dam of this puppy? Will you provide a hard copy of the test results to puppy buyers?
- How old are the sire and dam of this puppy? Has either dog experienced any health or other problems?
- How many litters has the dam produced? What do you know about the health or conditions of puppies from these previous litters?
- How old are the oldest puppies produced by the sire or dam? Have these dogs experienced any health or other problems?
- How old are the grandparents of this puppy, or how old were they when they died? What do you know about the health or cause of death of these dogs?
- What do you know about the health, longevity, and cause of death of other dogs within the pedigree of this puppy?
- How are the temperaments of the sire and dam?
- Has the puppy been inspected by a vet and is it current with all shots?
- Has the vet cautioned against any potential health problems at any of the check-ups such as heart murmur, bone structure, teeth, etc.
- Where are the puppies raised? What socialization do you do with them?
- How long have you been breeding Boxers? How many litters have you raised and how many litters do you raise each year?
- What are the terms of your sales contract? Do you require a spay/neuter contract on pet puppies?
- What type of health warranty do you offer on your puppies?
- Do you provide support to puppy buyers after the purchase? Will you take back the dogs if the owners cannot keep them?
Aside from the overarching issues surrounding the welfare of the dogs and the breed as a whole, from a consumer standpoint you are greatly increasing your odds of a quality puppy if you make an informed decision, rather than an impulsive one. Buying a Boxer puppy from a responsible breeder gives you the best odds of a healthy, typey puppy that is temperamentally sound, well-socialized, and long-lived. You also gain access to a knowledge base and support system for the life of your dog and beyond.