Your Boxer spends as much as 14 hours a day sleeping, so the type of bed you provide matters.
Choose a dog bed for your Boxer that offers maximum support to her joints.
A quality dog bed will cost more, but will return dividends in terms of your Boxer’s health, now and in her later years.
1. Orthopedic Support
As large, active dogs, Boxers will benefit from as much joint care as you can give them.
Start young with a high quality bed.
This way, time spent asleep can be restorative, rather than another source of wear and tear on her joints.
You may understandably want to wait until your Boxer is through the peeing in the bed and chewing everything stage .. but give her an orthopedic dog bed as soon as you can.
Don’t wait until she’s adult size.
Joint support is just as important during the rapid growth phase of a Boxer pup, and will help ease growing pains.
While you mightn’t notice creaky joints in a your Boxer until she’s older, everything you do now influences the quality of life your Boxer will have as a senior.
By some estimates, as many as 20 per cent of middle aged dogs, and 90 per cent of senior dogs, suffer from osteoarthritis in at least one joint.
The earlier you provide supportive bedding, the more chance your Boxer will have of avoiding this.
There are plenty of orthopedic dog beds on the market that are more comfortable than mattresses for humans!
Having your Boxer lie on orthopedic dog beds rather than hard floors or thin mattresses will also protect her elbows from developing calluses.
Even more importantly, fluid-filled sacs or swellings called hygromas are caused by the pressure on your dog’s joints created by too much lying on cement, tiles, floorboards or other unforgiving surfaces.
The stress on joints and bones from sleeping on the floor, or poor quality bedding, can exacerbate back and hip problems from middle age onwards.
2. Free Of Chemically-Treated Materials
An often overlooked source of toxic exposure for pet dogs is their bedding.
Dogs are constantly exposed to toxins in daily life.
From the herbicide-treated grass they walk on at the park to the household cleaners they inhale when you spray the kitchen bench.
Unfortunately chemical treatments have also been applied to the beds they sleep on.
Unless your dog’s bed explicitly states it is organic and non-toxic, it will have been chemically treated with a flame retardant.
Fire retardants, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are among the Environmental Working Group’s top 12 endocrine-disrupting chemicals which can interfere with hormonal processes in your dog’s body.
The endocrine system is made up of glands including the adrenals, thyroid, pancreas, testicles and ovaries, hypothalamus, thymus and the pituitary and pineal glands.
Integrative veterinarian Dr Karen Becker is one who’s written extensively about the dangers of flame retardant chemicals for pets.
A 2019 study linked PBDEs to a sharp rise in hyperthyroidism in cats. Overactive thyroid is now the most common endocrine disease in cats over 10. (See the third article in the Reference List below.)
The thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine, accelerating the body’s metabolism. Symptoms include increased appetite, weight loss, high blood pressure, rapid breathing and heart rate, vomiting, sudden bursts of energy and eventually eye problems.
It’s thought that cats ingest flame retardant chemicals found in house dust when they groom themselves.
While it can be near impossible to avoid fire retardants, dog beds made from organic, natural materials that are free of harsh chemicals and components that can harm your dog are increasingly available.
Beds filled with cotton, wool or polyester tend to be safer than chemically-treated foam.
You may be able to find products that specifically state they are free of flame retardants.
You can reduce your Boxer’s exposure to harmful PBDEs by:
- investing in an air purifier
- using a vacuum with a HEPA filter to remove contaminated house dust
- keeping the floors regularly cleaned so your dog isn’t walking in dust that she can lick off later or track into her bed
All these measures will create a healthier home for the humans as well.
3. Waterproof Undercovers
Waterproof undercovers can make life easier — and extend the life of your dog’s bed.
They’re also useful when living in an apartment with your Boxer, in that she can chew a raw meaty bone on the undercover.
It contains the mess in one spot and afterwards, you can just throw the cover in the wash.
You’ll be washing your Boxer’s bed covers a lot.
Consider how durable the dog bed’s materials are and how well they’ll wear with frequent washing.
When you do wash your dog’s bed, avoid chemical laundry detergents.
Non-toxic alternatives include:
- Dr Bronner’s unscented baby castille soap
- baking soda and vinegar
- soap berries or soap nuts (harvested from the Nepalese Sapindus Mukorossi tree, the shell of this fruit contains the substance saponin, which produces a foamy effect when agitated in water)
5. Ease Of Assembly
After each wash you’ll have to reassemble the bed, reinserting cushions into covers.
Some dog beds have flimsy construction and finicky assembly.
Look for quality zippers that won’t break or jam with repeated use.
6. Color That Conceals Your Boxer’s Shedding
Boxers shed more than most owners expect of a short-haired dog.
This will be easier to live with if you choose a dog bed that matches your dog’s coat color.
In other words, pale beds for white Boxers and dark tones for brindles. Fawns, somewhere in between.
7. Head Rest
Consider the design of the dog bed.
A Boxer will appreciate a soft head rest and many dog beds come with these built in.
Dog beds with raised bolsters on all four sides are a favorite with dogs of all breeds.
They create a den-like feeling that your Boxer can really nestle into.
Your Boxer will appreciate the added sense of security.
How tough are the materials the dog bed is made from?
A happy, well-adjusted Boxer receiving lots of mental and physical exercise and plenty of raw meaty bones won’t ordinarily engage in destructive chewing.
But if you are working through this problem, you’ll want to think about how well the dog bed will stand up to rough treatment.
There are two considerations here.
Not only do you not want to be replacing destroyed beds every other week.
More importantly, you don’t want your dog tearing her bed up into fragments that can then be swallowed.
These pose a choking hazard and the risk of intestinal obstruction further down the digestive tract.
You want your Boxer’s bed to be large enough that she can lie fully outstretched on her side.
You’re probably looking at a large or extra large in most brands.
At the same time you don’t want it to be overly large — you still want it to feel cosy.
11. Breathable Fabric
Boxers feel extremes of temperature and are prone to both overheating and suffering in the cold.
Choose fabrics that will be warm in winter and cool in summer.
Raised beds that allow air flow underneath can be a good option for daytime lounging outside when it’s hot.
12. Function Over Form: Are Designer Dog Beds Worth It?
Beds that have the above features are often not the beds you would choose purely based on esthetics.
For the sake of your dog’s joints and for healthy senior years, prioritize quality construction, non-toxic materials and orthopedic mattresses.
You can find beds that are both good for your dog’s body and fit in with your style, more or less.
Your Boxer will reap the benefits now and later.
The most important feature of a Boxer’s dog bed is arguably a supportive, orthopedic mattress.
If you can manage to find an orthopedic bed that is made from organic, non-toxic materials and free of fire retardant chemicals, you are on a winner.
Waterproof undercovers and comfort features like bolsters round out the list of must-have features.
Dog Arthritis Cure on the Horizon, Brad Kloza, The Dog Daily
12 Hormone-Altering Chemicals and How to Avoid Them, Environmental Working Group, October 28, 2013
Silcone Pet Tags Associate Tris (1,3-dichloro-2-isopropyl) Phosphate Exposures with Feline Hyperthyroidism, Carolyn M Poutasse et al, American Chemical Society, July 10, 2019
These ‘Dirty Dozen’ Substances Can Seriously Harm Your Pet, Dr Karen Shaw Becker, Mercola Healthy Pets, September 27, 2020