Have you long been searching for the best dog food for your Boxer? If so, I empathize with your struggle. It can be really tricky to find the right food for your dog, and Boxers are especially sensitive creatures when it comes to what agrees with them and what doesn't.
Here's the good news: you've come to the right place! Keep reading to find out what I deem to be the top foods for Boxers and why.
My top 4 picks - the best dog food for Boxers in 2018:
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Contents & Quick Navigation
- My top 4 picks - the best dog food for Boxers in 2018:
- How many calories does my Boxer dog need?
- Common health problems in Boxers and how diet can help
- What is the best dog food for Boxers?
How many calories does my Boxer dog need?
According to PetBreeds, the average weight for the adult Boxer is 73lb (33 kg). However, Boxer males typically weigh more than females, so if your dog is a female, these calorie calculations* may be a little less than this.
*All calculations worked out using Train Pet Dog. I advise you to consult with your vet to work out an exact amount for your Boxer.
How many calories should I give my Boxer puppy?
According to the National Research Council of the National Academies, your puppy needs double the calories per pound as an adult of the same breed. So, since a 73lb Boxer needs about 20 calories per pound (1,500 ÷ 73), if the puppy is likely to grow to be 73lb as well, she will need 40 calories per pound per day.
Using this calculation (and rounding up for nice even numbers), along with the average weight for Boxers puppies, gives us these estimations:
2 month-old puppy at 13lb (6kg) needs 520 calories
4 month-old puppy at 36lb (16.5 kg) needs 1,450 calories
6 month-old puppy at 53 lb(24 kg) needs 2,100 calories
Common health problems in Boxers and how diet can help
Although they are usually healthy dogs, Boxers are susceptible to some medical conditions. Below are the main health concerns for Boxers, and how they can be improved through diet.
This condition usually occurs in smaller breeds, but unfortunately, Boxers do suffer from hypothyroidism, too. It happens when there are decreased levels of thyroid hormones; symptoms include lethargy, a dull coat, and weight gain.
Diet can play an important part in improving this condition, as most dogs with hypothyroidism are depleted of basic nutrients and minerals.
First and foremost, your dog should avoid any processed foods, as this can cause a build-up of toxins, which will not help her condition. The mineral iodine is vital for a healthy thyroid, which your dog can get in the form of supplements as well as from dog foods that include fish, kelp or seaweed. Amino acids and omega oils are also beneficial.
If your Boxer suffers from hypothyroidism, you should consult with a veterinarian and design a special diet, which may include supplements. With the right diet and medication, this condition can be managed very well.
Cardiomyopathy is a condition which occurs mainly in Boxers. It is a disease of the ventricle, which is the main pumping chamber of the heart. Usually, it is the right side that is affected - for this reason, its longer name is Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC).
Symptoms include arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat), fainting, coughing, rapid breathing, weakness, accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, and sudden heart failure.
While it is principally a genetic disease, nutritional deficiency can also be a cause. There are three nutrients* that your Boxer should get, just to be on the safe side:
Research has shown that in some cases a deficiency of taurine, an amino acid that helps to regulate the heartbeat, can cause cardiomyopathy.
Found in: salmon, tuna, deboned beef, and lamb, as well as seaweed and brewers yeast.
This amino acid helps the heart muscle cells to contract. Studies have shown that providing this supplement to Boxers afflicted with cardiomyopathy can help to alleviate it (though not cure it).
Found in: red meats like lean beef, pork, and lamb, as well as fish and chicken breast.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to have a positive effect on this condition.
The best source of this fatty acid is fish oils.
Most high-quality dog foods provide at least 0.3% omega-3s, but your Boxer will do well to get more than this - at least 1 or 2%.
*Your Boxer can also get all of these nutrients in the form of supplements.
Bloat is a serious condition that occurs in large breed dogs like Boxers. It can happen when your dog eats too fast, or when she does exercise straight after eating.
Spread out your Boxer's meals into 2 or 3 sittings a day, rather than all in one go. Secondly, make sure she rests for at least half an hour after eating.
Lastly, do not use a raised dog bowl, as this has also been identified as risk factor for bloat.
Poor Boxers are notorious for having allergies. They can develop due to environmental factors, or they can be food-induced. Symptoms often develop in the form of itchy, scaly skin.
While the common allergens when it comes to grains are corn, wheat, soy and yeast, I advise you to stay away from grains altogether.
Since Boxers are so sensitive, it's worth mentioning that some meats can also cause allergies in your Boxer, including:
If you notice your Boxer has an allergic reaction and your dog food is grain-free, but the protein source is from one of the above meats, you should switch to a dog food that sources their protein from fish and see if her condition improves.
The benefits of feeding her a fish-based diet are twofold: she is less likely to come out in an allergic reaction, plus she gets those much-needed omega-3 fatty acids.
Finally, Boxers are prone to hip dysplasia, which is a condition in which the hip joint is malformed. Unfortunately, it is a genetic condition, which is degenerative. However, you can help your Boxer by controlling her weight, as any extra weight puts a strain on your dog's joints.
There are also two nutrients that can help this condition which you can look out for in dog food: chondroitin and glucosamine. These help to rebuild damaged cartilage and alleviate joint pain. Calcium is also particularly important to support your Boxer’s bone and joint health.
According to Pet Education, all adult dogs need at least 18% protein. Most of the commercial dog foods I recommend contain at least 25%, just to make sure your dog gets a healthy dose of the good stuff.
Boxers - being large, muscular (protein is crucial in building those muscles) and highly energetic and playful critters - should get about 30% protein.
The protein you feed your dog should be from high-quality sources. Avoid dog foods that include in their ingredients the word “by-products.”
Likewise, stay away from brands that don't specify the meat source, using words like, “meat meal” or “animal meal.” I can assure you that these terms = low-quality meat ingredients.
It is recommended that adult dogs get between 9 - 15 % fat.
Since dogs use a lot of fat to keep their coat shiny and healthy, and a Boxer's coat is short, she doesn't need a lot of fat like some long-haired dogs.
Some of this fat content should be sourced from fish oil for your Boxer to get those omega-3 fatty acids she needs for thyroid and heart health.
It is best to choose a dog food that focuses on high protein and low carbohydrates, as dogs don't need a high amount of carbs. A low-carb diet is also a good idea to stop your Boxer gaining too much weight and putting a strain on those joints.
Since Boxers are prone to allergies, steer clear of foods that include the common allergens I mentioned before (soy, corn, wheat, and yeast).
You can try your dog on whole grains like barley and brown rice. If she is still sensitive to these foods, you'll be better off opting for a grain-free dog food that uses vegetables like sweet potatoes as a source of carbohydrates.
Lots of veggies
For optimum health in your Boxer, what you want to see in a dog food is a variety of fruit and vegetables to give your dog a good balance of the nutrients she needs.
What is the best dog food for Boxers?
So, we have arrived at the big reveal! Below are what I believe to be the top 4 best dog foods for Boxers*.
*3 of 4 of these recommendations are fish-based dog foods to avoid your Boxer having an allergic reaction, and also because fish is an excellent source of omega-3s, iodine, taurine and l-carnitine.
This brand is a great choice for Boxers. Wellness CORE is dedicated to providing high-quality dog food that is high in protein and grain-free to avoid any allergic reactions.
Containing whitefish, herring, and salmon, it contains a perfect amount of protein for Boxers (34%). The fish also provides a source of omega-3 fatty acids for your Boxer's thyroid and heart function, (though not as much as Orijen or Blue Buffalo Wilderness). It also contains a variety of fruit and veg for a good balance of nutrients.
This brand also throws Chondroitin and Glucosamine into the mix for joint and bone health and contains the highest calcium content of all four foods, at 2.10%. This makes it a good choice for Boxers with joint problems. Moreover, it contains added taurine to support the health of your Boxer's heart.
The fat content is just slightly over at 16%; however, this is still a moderate amount.
High in protein
A variety of fruit and veg
Contains ingredients that support bone and joint health
Contains nutrients that help heart function
Contains omega-3 fatty acids
High in Calcium
- Though not considered high-fat, the fat content is just over the 15% mark
Blue Buffalo Wilderness is another great choice for Boxers. Like Wellness CORE, this Salmon Formula variety provides a good dose of protein, at 34%. While the protein sources are just as high-quality as Wellness and Orijen, there is less variety of protein sources in this recipe, however.
Rather than grains, your Boxer will get her carbs from potatoes and sweet potatoes, and the fat content is only 15%, which is just enough for your Boxer.
Glucosamine and Calcium are included in this recipe to support your Boxer's bones and joints. However, there is no Chondroitin, which makes this recipe less balanced than Wellness and Orijen.
One of the reasons I think this dog food is good for Boxers is that Blue Buffalo Wilderness actually go to the trouble of adding taurine and l-carnitine to their recipe. This makes it a good choice for owners who want a food that will help support their Boxer's heart function. Kelp is also included in the recipe, which is a great source of iodine and can help your Boxer's thyroid function.
The fish-based recipe also gives your Boxer a source of those omega-3 fatty acids, (slightly higher than Wellness CORE at 1%).
There are also fruit and veggies included, though not as much variety as in Orijen. However, there are plenty of vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure proper absorption of nutrients and keep your Boxer's immune system healthy.
Were it not for the price of Orijen, I would put this dog food at #3, as I think Orijen is slightly superior nutritionally.
High in protein
Contains omega-3 fatty acids
Adequate fat content for Boxers
Contains some ingredients that support your Boxer's joint and bone health
Contains added ingredients that can help your Boxer's heart function
Contains an additional source of iodine, which helps your Boxer's thyroid
Contains lots of vitamin and mineral supplements
Doesn't contain a wide variety of protein sources
Doesn't contain chondroitin
Orijen is one of my favorite dog food brands, though it is very costly. They focus on diverse, high-quality ingredients that are often fresh and sourced locally.
This dog food would have made it to #2 if it weren't for the price, which brings its overall rating down. If you want a top quality dog food for your Boxer and you can afford it, I highly recommend Orijen.
Of all four brands, this dog food has:
The most protein, containing 38%, which makes it a brilliant choice for very active or working Boxers.
The highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids, at 2.2%, which are great for your Boxer's heart and thyroid. This is due to the variety of fish, making it a great source of both l-carnitine and taurine - even more support for your Boxer's heart function.
The most Chondroitin and Glucosamine (5 times more than Wellness CORE) making it the best to support your Boxer's joints.
The widest range of fruits and vegetables (including kelp, which helps your Boxer's thyroid function), making it nutrient-rich.
Orijen is, however, moderately high in fat, at 18%, so I do not recommend this brand if your Boxer is overweight.
High in protein (from high quality and varied protein sources)
Great source of nutrients for heart health
High in omega-3 fatty acids
Contains ingredients that support bone and joint health
Contains an additional ingredient that supports thyroid health
Contains a range of fruit and vegetables
Moderately high in fat
Taste of the Wild is another brand I particularly like for their focus on high-quality protein sources, low carbs, and grain-free dog foods. Unfortunately, their fish recipe doesn't contain enough protein for a Boxer, so I opted for this variety, which contains beef, lamb, wild boar and fish meal.
The overall protein content is 29%, which is just below the bracket I recommend for Boxers but does suffice for less active Boxers (under an hour of exercise a day).
One of the reasons I chose this variety is because it also has a lower fat content than some of the other varieties they make, at just 15%. Secondly, it contains beef, which is an excellent source of both taurine and l-carnitine, as well as brewer’s yeast, which adds some extra taurine in the mix.
I wouldn't recommend this brand for dogs with joint problems, as it contains the least omega-3s, at just 0.3%, and it does not add ingredients for bone and joint health as the others do.
I do, however, recommend this brand as an affordable alternative to Orijen if you're looking for a dog food that supports your dog's heart health.
Adequate fat content for Boxers
Good source of nutrients for heart health
Contains a lot of vitamin and mineral supplements
Doesn't include ingredients for bone and joint health
Though still high, it has the least protein of all four brands
Low in omega-3 fatty acids
Contains beef and lamb, which may be potential allergens for some Boxers
Overall, Wellness CORE wins for its quality, its suitability for the Boxer breed regarding the nutrients it provides, as well as its affordability. Orijen is the next best for Boxers, though it has slightly higher fat levels. It is also much higher in price, which brings it down a peg in the overall rating.
I recommend Taste of the Wild for less active Boxers, and both this brand as well as Blue Buffalo Wilderness for a high-quality, high-protein dog food that is lower in fat and focuses on heart health.
What do you feed your Boxer? Leave a comment below!