Can A Boxer Dog Live Outside?

Most Boxer owners react with horror to the thought of a Boxer being left outside for long periods. They know the breed and how people-oriented they are.

Boxers are not outside dogs. They are a beloved part of the family. They should never sleep outside at night. Nor should a Boxer be left outside alone during the day.

As one of the many agencies rehoming Boxers given up by people who didn’t understand the breed, Atlanta Boxer Rescue wants prospective owners to understand, “Boxers should NEVER be outside dogs.”

10 Reasons Boxers Are Not Outside Dogs

If you want a happy, healthy, well behaved Boxer, keep him wherever you are.

There are a heap of reasons not to leave a Boxer outside for any length of time. Some relate to your dog’s emotional wellbeing. Others are to do with physical health.

1. Temperament

Boxers love people to the point that it’s cruel to keep them separated from their family.

Your Boxer wants to know what you’re doing as you’re doing it — and ideally, to take part. This breed is playful and fun-motivated and will quickly get bored and lonely if left alone in the backyard.

With a long history as a working dog, the Boxer needs to be busy. Idle Boxers will make up their own tasks — like chew the tires off the car or the door off its hinges — if not given things to do or allowed to participate in family activities.

Sensitive dogs, Boxers are very attuned to their owners and will take it to heart it if they’re not receiving plenty of love and affection.

Highly active both physically and mentally, they will stick their noses into everything which means they can get into trouble if left to their own devices, and need a lot of attention and supervision.

2. Heat Stress

When they’re hot, dogs perspire through their paw pads and by panting.

However, Boxer’s short snouts mean they don’t cope well with warm or humid weather.

Even with drinking water and shade provided, a Boxer should never be left outside for even a short time in anything other than mild weather. Your Boxer probably needs the air con in Summer more than you do.

Prolonged exposure to heat can progress from heat stress to heat exhaustion and then to heat stroke, which can be fatal.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • heavy panting
  • hyperventilation (breathing super fast)
  • hypersalivation progressing to dry gums later
  • weakness
  • confusion / inattention
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • possibly bleeding

Signs of heat stroke include:

  • pale or gray gums
  • slowing breathing
  • vomiting or diarrhea that may be bloody
  • seizures
  • coma

Normal body temperature for a dog is 100.5 – 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Above 105 degrees heat stroke starts to set in. A dog with heat stroke has lost his ability to regulate his own body temperature. At 106-108 degrees, irreversible organ damage occurs, involving the kidneys, liver, gut, heart and brain.

How to avoid overheating your Boxer dog:

  • never have your Boxer outside for long when it’s warm
  • avoid exercise when it’s hot and humid
  • wet your Boxer down before walks in Summer
  • acclimate slowly and reduce exercise as the seasons change
  • retreat to air conditioned areas at first signs of your dog being hot
  • cool your Boxer down by applying cool (but not cold) water to the belly, groin/inguinal region, armpits, neck and other places where blood vessels are close to the surface
  • blow air over your dog with a fan
  • structure your routine so that your Boxer goes on walks and exercises in the cool parts of the day like dawn or dusk
  • wet coats can help keep dogs cool during exercise


3. Cold Sensitivity

Low temperatures can pose almost as much of a threat to Boxers as heat.

With their short coats, and lack of undercoat, they have no insulation from the cold.

Depending on his lifestyle, your Boxer will probably need a jacket for winter.

Even with a jacket, he should always be left inside where it’s comfortably warm but not too stuffy.

4. Escape

A bored and lonely Boxer is creative enough, and motivated enough, to do something to change his predicament.

Their ability to jump and scale even seven foot fences like this one means a Boxer relegated to the backyard may well become a flight risk.

Boxers are prepared to take drastic action to find human company.

Dogs that escape from yards are all too often lost or, worse, hit by cars. Protect your Boxer when you go out by leaving him safely inside where he’s happy to be.

15 Ways to Teach A Boxer To Be Home Alone

5. Bee Stings And Mosquito Bites

The Boxer’s inquisitive nature can get him into trouble.

Bee stings are far too frequently suffered by Boxers left unsupervised outdoors and can be serious. Sometimes Benadryl works to bring down facial swelling, but not all dogs are so lucky. Bee stings can result in an intense allergic reaction known as anaphylactic shock, which can cause breathing difficulties and even kill.

Mosquito bites are also much more likely if a dog is left outdoors for extended periods. The concern here is more than itchy bites. Mosquitoes are how dogs catch heartworm.

The moral of the story is: your Boxer does not belong outdoors on his own.

Boxer dog left in yard pushes head through fence

6. Sunburn

With their lack of pigment, white Boxers are especially prone to sunburn which can lead to canine skin cancer. But even fawn and brindle Boxers frequently have white flashes on their faces.

Muzzles and bellies, where fur is sparse, can easily burn.

A little lying in the sun is fine and healthy, but you need to supervise and limit your Boxer’s sun exposure, particularly during the hot midday hours.

7. Dogs Are Pack Animals

If all dogs are social creatures, Boxers are known for being particularly attached to their human pack.

They crave days filled with interaction and activity. They need to be included in every aspect of the family’s life.

A dog left isolated in the backyard will lack a sense of belonging. Dogs feel safe in their pack. That sense of security is essential for general wellbeing.

In extreme cases, Boxers that are improperly managed at home can develop separation anxiety. This is a clinical condition akin to a human panic attack, which can be associated with destructive behaviors and causes enormous physical and mental distress to the dog.

8. Socialization/Behavior

For purely practical purposes, your life will be a lot easier if your Boxer knows how to behave in the house.

A dog only let inside occasionally will never have enough practice to learn how to deal with things like vacuum cleaners, doorbells, you name it.

Then there are all the undesirable behaviors that can arise outside when a Boxer is left unattended, from digging up the garden to incessant barking. Boxers are quiet dogs, so if yours is barking a lot, there’s a fair chance he’s bored or lonely. Barking can be a way to self soothe or it can be a cry for attention.

9. Theft / Harm

It shouldn’t have to be something you think about, but dogs have been known to be stolen from back yards and even attacked by unhinged individuals.

Purebred Boxers are a very distinctive looking and sought-after breed. They can also be easily befriended by strangers.

10. Poisoning

Poisoning, whether accidental or deliberate, is a threat for a dog left outdoors alone.

Neighbors unhappy about barking can take sometimes criminal action to shut a dog up. Boxers can too easily be poisoned by snail bait or rat bait or even rats that have consumed rat bait. If you share a fence line, it’s not just your own property you need to worry about.

Fertilizers stored in sheds and lawncare chemicals and weedkillers sprayed on grass are highly toxic to dogs. Glyphosate has long been linked to cancer in humans. Toxic accumulation builds over time and can have serious and not-well-understood consequences for your Boxer’s health so it’s well worth minimizing exposures wherever possible.

Boxer dog on couch with baby
Where a Boxer belongs: in the heart of the family

Indoor Hazards For A Boxer

Indoor environments come with their own set of dangers when you’re a Boxer.

Be sure to dog proof your house and beware of:

  • VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) or off-gasses from painted walls and other common household materials — air purifiers can help address these airborne toxins
  • household cleaners and other chemicals
  • scented candles and incense
  • poisoning from medicine cabinets, diet pills
  • electrocution by chewing cords and cables
  • unsecured trash or human leftovers (corn cobs stolen from plates or bins can cause obstructions requiring surgery)
  • counter surfing for inappropriate foods
  • toxic houseplants
  • choking from collars and dog tags getting stuck in air conditioning vents or decking – always keep your Boxer’s collar off when safe at home
  • toilet bowls (close the lid or close the bathroom door)
  • open dishwasher drawers contain sharp knives that might look inviting to lick
  • tiles and polished floorboards can be slippery, with the risk of ligament damage
  • EMFs (electric and magnetic fields) are radiation associated with appliances, power points and wifi — position your Boxer’s bed away from these things and get into the habit of turning off wifi before you go to sleep at night to minimize exposures

Other Places Never To Leave A Boxer

  • cars
  • sheds
  • garages
  • greenhouses
  • too long at beach or dog park or out walking
  • daycares or boarding kennels with lax procedures, high dog to staff ratios, bad ventilation, inexperienced handlers or improper attention to breed-specific risk factors like bloat and overheating are not safe places for Boxers
  • tied up outside shopping centers (theft is real and devastating for dog and owner)
  • tethered on chains (crushing to a Boxer’s spirit)

Final Thoughts On Boxers As Outside Dogs

If your idea of a dog is a guard that stays in the backyard and sleeps in a kennel, then Boxers are not for you.

A Boxer is happiest inside with his people, often right on someone’s lap. Boxers are so lovable and entertaining that most owners don’t want to spend any more time away from their dog than they absolutely must.

Both temperament-wise and for a range of physical health reasons, a Boxer really needs to be with you, not left outside alone.

More Reading

Do Boxers Make Good Guard Dogs?