Grooming Your Boxer: The Basics

The Boxer, with its short, smooth coat, is considered a “wash and wear” breed–which is fortunate for Boxer owners, because one thing Boxers love is a long romp through the mud! Grooming your Boxer is usually fast and easy, especially if you lay the groundwork from the start. Regular grooming also incorporates an overall wellness check, and will help keep your Boxer healthy and happy.

Most Boxers keep themselves fairly clean, and brushing or a rub down with a towel or bath wipe will remove much of the dirt that accumulates on a daily basis. For a truly dirty Boxer, a bath may be necessary. Use a shampoo formulated for dogs, and warm–not hot–water. Don’t bathe too often, or you can strip the hair of healthy oils which may lead to dry skin problems. Most Boxers do not need to be bathed more than once a month, if that often.

Trimming nails is an area where training and preparation can make a tremendous difference in the amount of time it takes you to groom your Boxer, and in the stress both you and your dog experience in the process. Start acclimating your Boxer to the nail trimming process as soon as possible, and take it slowly. While pliers-type nail clippers put less pressure on the nail, which means less discomfort for the dog, most Boxers respond better to having their nails ground rather than clipped. Grinders designed specifically for pet nails might not be powerful enough for an adult Boxer; a rotary tool with a sanding band attachment often works better.

Boxer ears are another sensitive area when grooming. As with nails, start young and take it slowly; it will pay off in the long run. Numerous ear cleaners exist, from commercial products to home recipes handed down through the generations. Unless your Boxer has a specific ear problem, look for a product that is gentle and free of harsh chemicals. White or apple cider vinegar, cut 50% with water, make a fine general ear wash, but watch for cuts or scrapes in the ears that might be irritated by the vinegar. Warming up the cleanser before you put it in the ears will make it less objectionable to your Boxer; using a saturated cotton ball rather than dropping the cleanser directly in the ears can also make ear cleaning easier for both of you.

Regular tooth brushing is important for your Boxer’s overall health. With their underbite and shortened jaws, Boxers have in increased tendency toward tartar or hair caught between the teeth. Gum overgrowth is also common in the breed, which can lead to tooth decay and infection. Use a dog toothbrush with dog toothpaste, a commercial product for cleaning teeth such as the Easy Brush, or raw marrow or knuckle bones, which are called “nature’s toothbrush”.

Contrary to popular misconception, Boxers do shed–a lot. Brushing with a rubber curry comb or Zoom Groom will pull out dead hair and keep shedding to a minimum. During the change of seasons, when shedding is at a high point, you may need to brush your Boxer daily. You can finish up with a soft-bristled brush to smooth the coat and pick up any flakes from the currying, if you prefer–but your Boxer will probably give a good all-over body shake as soon as you’re done grooming him! Some Boxer owners, and most conformation show exhibitors, trim the whiskers and excess hair along the ears, underline, and back of the thighs. This is personal preference, but check the hair between the pads of your Boxer’s feet; if this gets too long, it can interfere with the dog’s traction on solid flooring, which may present a risk of injury.

Weekly grooming sessions will help you keep your Boxer clean and provide you with a chance to evaluate your dog’s overall wellness. Consider keeping a journal of your sessions, and write down their condition (too thin, to heavy); any ear, skin or gum issues; the location and size of any lumps or bumps you find; and any other unusual items that you want to watch or consult with your vet on. Getting your Boxer accustomed to grooming before jumping into the full routine will make the process smooth and stress-free for both you and your dog.

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