The amount of exercise a Boxer requires (and the type of exercise) is important to understand before deciding the breed is right for you.
Boxers are active dogs and need daily opportunities to go for brisk walks, but also to engage in a variety of activities including running free off leash, exercising their minds and exploring new environments.
Exactly how much exercise a Boxer needs will vary depending on factors including age, which is perhaps the most significant determinant of a Boxer’s requirements.
It comes as a surprise to most new Boxer owners to hear that they must limit the amount of exercise a Boxer does before the age of two.
Preventing joint damage means avoiding long walks until a Boxer’s development is complete.
I am not a vet. This article is intended for general informational and educational purposes. I invite readers to view my full disclaimer.
How Much Walking Does a Boxer Dog Need?
Daily exercise is key for a happy, healthy and well adjusted Boxer.
There is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all answer to how much exercise or how many walks a Boxer needs a day.
A Boxer might require less walking than you’d expect — as long as he’s getting enough mental stimulation.
For an adult Boxer, a brisk 20 to 30 minute walk once or twice a day is plenty as part of an active lifestyle that incorporates lots of attention, as well as short training and play sessions interspersed throughout the rest of the day.
Multiple, shorter exercise sessions are often better than a single long one, particular during puppyhood when a Boxer’s attention span is short and he’s doing a lot of sleeping.
Just as important, and perhaps even moreso, than physical exercise is to make sure your Boxer is being challenged to think and use his brain.
A mental challenge will tire a Boxer out faster than pure physical exertion alone.
Boredom, and insufficient physical exercise, is how behavior problems arise.
Signs Your Boxer Needs More Exercise
Your Boxer may be telling you he needs more more exercise, both mental and physical, if you notice:
- Misbehavior e.g. digging, destructive chewing
- Nuisance barking
- An uptick in the zoomies, which release pent-up energy or frustration
How Much Exercise Does A Boxer Puppy Need?
Overexercising a Boxer puppy is an easy mistake for enthusiastic owners to make, as a Boxer will rarely say no.
If you only stop when a Boxer shows signs of being tired, you will almost certainly go too long.
In order to protect a Boxer’s joints, be sure to avoid:
- Taking Boxers younger than two years old for long walks
- Running or jogging with Boxers under two years of age
- Causing a Boxer of any age to do acrobatic leaps high in the air
The two year mark is significant because this is when Boxers, as a slow maturing breed, complete development.
Up until this point, their bone plates aren’t yet sealed and the joints, with all their associated ligaments, are particularly susceptible to damage.
Overdoing the exercise during the early months and years can set a Boxer up for problems in mid to later life such as:
- Arthritis and other joint problems
- Mobility issues
So how much exercise is right for a growing Boxer puppy?
A short, 15 to 20 minute walk is fine.
Opt instead for play sessions as exercise.
This way your Boxer can choose when to stop and have a rest.
The type of movement will also be more natural and varied.
The relentless, jarring motion of long walks is where the damage will be done.
While enough exercise is essential to muscle development and body conditioning, do not worry if your young Boxer seems skinny — he will muscle up and fill out after he reaches maturity.
Boxers are lean dogs at any rate and are known for experiencing a skinny phase that can last until even three or four years old.
In a right-weight Boxer you will be able to see a hint of the last few ribs from the side, and a definite taper at the waist from above.
How Much Exercise Does A Boxer Need A Day?
Boxers are athletic dogs, but an adult Boxer’s exact exercise need will depend on a range of factors including:
- Age — as explained above, young dogs should not overdo it and senior Boxers will slow down
- Weather/Time of year — Boxers’ brachycephalic heads make them prone to overheating in hot, humid weather and during the change of season. In very cold weather, Boxers will appreciate a coat or vest until they’re warmed up (Here are some good choices for Boxer wear)
- What kind of exercise it is — as above, play sessions are preferable to long walks
- How much mental stimulation your Boxer gets — mental exercise is a major requirement and reduces the need for physical exertion
- Health status — Boxers will need more rest when young, old, ill or recovering from surgery
- Whether a female Boxer is in heat — mood and activity levels may fluctuate
Note that sudden exercise intolerance can indicate illness.
An overlooked cause of a reluctance to move about can be overgrown nails which interfere with posture, gait and just plain hurt!
Nails will quickly become too long after a period of inactivity due, for instance, to illness or incapacitation.
Your Boxer’s nails will need weekly grinding (a Dremel tool is perfect) and should not touch the ground when standing.
How To Exercise A Boxer
A fitting exercise routine for a Boxer is one that provides variety.
Good options for Boxers include:
- Short, brisk walks
- Off leash romps in secure areas
- “Sniffing tours” — slow wanders where you get to sip a coffee and your Boxer gets to stop and smell the everything
- Swimming and digging and playing at the beach is wonderful, low-impact exercise
- Nose work games that exercise your Boxer’s keen sense of smell
- Agility exercises involving obstacles, jumps and balance beams (No jumping prior to 2 years old)
- Ball/frisbee chasing and tug games that give your Boxer’s prey drive a constructive release — tugging activates just about every muscle in your Boxer’s body
- Raw meaty bones — ripping and tearing is great exercise. Puppies never given raw meaty bones can be prone to underdeveloped neck musculature, according to vet Dr Ian Billinghurst
These are just a few suggestions.
Socialization outings take a lot of energy as your Boxer grapples with new, unfamiliar and potentially scary situations, and can take the place of some exercise slots.
Get creative — if you’re enjoying yourself, your Boxer probably is too.
Anything where you’re interacting and involving your Boxer in your daily life and activities counts and will help make his life full and interesting.
Precautions When Exercising Boxer Dogs
As well as avoiding hot, humid weather and excessive exercise during puppyhood, be sure not to exercise a Boxer close to mealtimes — particularly after eating.
A short, slow stroll is fine, but vigorous exercise or overexcitement close to eating, especially on a full stomach, is associated with an increased risk of deadly torsion or bloat.
Wait two to three hours after a meal before engaging your Boxer in strenuous exercise.
Ideally feed him at the end of the day, after all exercise is done and where he can rest overnight.
Boxers are already at increased risk of bloat, also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) due to being a deep-chested breed.
Kibble feeding also increases the risk of bloat.
Boxers should always eat out of slow feeders and floor-level bowls only.
Raised platforms create an unnatural eating posture and area associated with an increased incidence of bloat.
How To Tire A Boxer Out When You Can’t Exercise A Lot
Sometimes you just can’t get out for as much exercise as you’d like with your Boxer, whether due to illness or inclement weather.
Ideas for keeping your Boxer entertained — and both mentally and physically active — even when stuck indoors, include:
- Teaching tricks like these 5 Boxer-Friendly Tricks
- Practicing obedience commands like sit, stay, come and down
- Working on clicker training
- Playing with toys like these 10 Best Ever Toys For Boxers
- Games like “Find it” where you hide an object and your Boxer has to find it and bring it back
One thing’s for sure, Boxers do not make suitable outside dogs, relegated to the back yard while the family is in the house.
With the right arrangements, a Boxer can stay home alone for the average-length work day when necessary, but you would not want to confine a Boxer to a crate for this long.
You also would not want to leave a Boxer without access to somewhere to go potty if you’re away this long — pee pads can be helpful.
This is a sure recipe for behavior problems.
A Boxer, as well as exercise and something to apply his mind to, needs to be with his people.
Useful Equipment For Exercising Your Boxer
Some basic gear will make exercising your Boxer easier, including: https://boxerdogdiaries.com/best-leash-for-boxer-dogs/
- Well-made leash — here are our top 5 leash recommendations for Boxers
- Properly-fitted front-attaching harness
- Long line
- Toys to chase and play tug with
Leash pulling can ruin walks for both of you.
Boxers need a fair amount of exercise, every day.
But it’s important not to:
- Overexercise a young Boxer
- Exercise a Boxer close to mealtimes
- Exercise a Boxer when it’s hot and humid
- Neglect mental exercise
- Only provide one kind of exercise — walks alone are not enough to keep a Boxer enthused
Bilinghurst, Ian, DVM, Give Your Dog a Bone, Warragul Press, 1993