How much a Boxer needs to eat depends on his weight, life stage and activity levels.
As a rough guide, a Boxer will consume 3 to 5 per cent of his ideal bodyweight in fresh, raw food.
So, an 18-month-old Boxer with an ideal weight of 31kg might eat about 1.2kg worth of meat, bones and offal in a day, which is 4 per cent of his bodyweight.
This post is for general informational and educational purposes only. I encourage readers to see my full disclaimer here.
Do Boxer Dogs Eat A Lot?
As energetic, medium-sized dogs, Boxers have decent appetites.
They are enthusiastic eaters and will yum up as much as you put in front of them.
Because your Boxer is unlikely to say no or be a finicky eater, it’s doubly important not to offer too much.
Of course, a highly active Boxer that competes in agility or is performing tasks as a working dog will need more calories.
But if your Boxer spends most of the day snoozing on the couch, then you should feed less.
Reduce amounts even further if your Boxer needs to lose weight.
Better To Slightly Underfeed A Boxer Than Overfeed
Australian vet and raw feeding pioneer Dr Ian Billinghurst explains in his groundbreaking book Give Your Dog a Bone, that it’s always better to err on the side of slightly underfeeding a dog, than to give too much.
As a Rottweiler and Great Dane breeder, Dr Billinghurst has consistently seen puppies do better when their growth is slightly “held back” by limiting calories.
After all, this is what happens in nature, where dogs are rarely presented with an overabundance of food.
Overeating is unique to pet dogs.
And it does them a world of harm.
As a result of the conditions in which they evolved, dogs are adapted to do better on less, rather than more.
In large breed dogs, it is especially important that growth not be too rapid.
Overly fast growth spurred by an oversupply of nutrition can produce joint problems and can play a role in causing growth defects like knuckling.
How Much Do Boxer Dogs Eat?
If you are giving your dog kibble, then you might look on the back of the packet for how many cups to feed.
But let’s hope you are not feeding your Boxer a highly processed diet of commercially manufactured dog food.
Despite the marketing of these products to dog owners, and the involvement of vets in recommending them, kibble is not appropriate food for a Boxer and will not create an optimally healthy dog.
Let’s assume you are providing your Boxer with a natural canine diet consisting of fresh, real food.
In other words, a raw meaty bone-based diet with three main components: edible bone, muscle meat and offal.
When raw feeding your Boxer, the rule of thumb is to give in the range of 3 to 5 per cent of your dog’s ideal bodyweight.
To calculate how much fresh food your Boxer needs, you first need to weigh him.
Then, work out 3 and 5 per cent of this figure.
In other words, plug into a calculator: 0.03 x your boxer’s weight and 0.05 x your Boxer’s weight.
This will give you a ballpark for the upper and lower limits of how much you might feed your Boxer.
About 60 per cent of that figure ought be raw meaty bones (chicken carcasses make great sized edible bone for Boxers), the rest lean muscle meat (like lean diced beef) with some organ meat (liver or another secreting organ) thrown in once or twice a week at about 10% of the total food.
Keep in mind this is just a starting point. Each dog will be different.
See how your Boxer does and adjust amounts up or down.
Importantly, the meat should be fed with skin removed and all visible fat trimmed.
If you don’t cut off the fat, you will be feeding your Boxer a diet unnaturally high in fat.
Remember, dogs are designed to eat lean game meats.
The products of human agriculture are deliberately fattened for slaughter.
Removing excess fat restores the muscle:bone:fat ratio in factory-farmed meats to something closer to natural.
How To Tell If You Are Feeding Your Boxer Too Much
Most owners don’t know how to recognize the signs of overfeeding in their dog.
Signs of overfeeding, or fat overconsumption, in Boxers include:
- scooting (often misunderstood as “worms”, this can signal anal sac issues but is more likely indicative of a diet too high in fat, so fix this first)
- itching, especially chins (overfeeding creates excess metabolic waste which is excreted via the skin, causing irritation of hair follicles)
- paw licking or gnawing (as above, the skin is expelling waste that has exceeded the capacity of the primary eliminative organs — kidneys and bowels — to excrete)
- begging (this can seem a little counterintuitive, but a dog fed the right amount will be content, whereas a dog fed too much can become food obsessed; this can be confusing because a dog fed too little will also be seeking food)
Any commercially-manufactured dog food will, by definition, be too high in fat for your Boxer.
Fat levels are concealed by misleading labelling practices that express fat content by weight, rather than by calorie, in order to print a smaller number on the box.
Do the conversion and you will discover the true fat content of the product.
What it boils down to is this.
It is not profitable for dog food companies to remove the fat, so they don’t.
It’s more expensive to provide calories in the form of high quality protein (lean muscle meat) than fat .. not an expense they’re interested in since their overriding motivation is not your dog’s health, but their own profit.
What this means is that owners wanting to feed their Boxers properly need to source whole meats, from any butcher or supermarket, and trim the fat themselves.
It takes just a few minutes.
What A Healthy-Weight Boxer Looks Like
With more than half of all pet dogs in the US overweight or obese, many of us have lost touch with what a healthy dog looks like.
We frequently think fat dogs are normal and healthy dogs are “ribby” or too thin.
A healthy-weight Boxer should look lean and ripple with muscle, with a definite tuck at the waist.
The last few ribs will usually be visible in a fit Boxer.
From above, you should see an hourglass shape, with clear tapering to the waist.
If your Boxer is a straight barrel from front to back, he’s overweight.
It’s time to feed less until he gets his lithe figure back.
How do you work out your Boxer’s ideal weight?
It’s not an exact science.
Assess whether your dog is carrying too much weight and, if so, subtract from his current weight by how much you reckon he could afford to lose.
Feed this amount for a month or so and see how your dog’s body responds.
Reduce amounts further if you’re not seeing the weight come off.
But … I Feel Bad Feeding My Dog Less
Unlike humans, dogs don’t have emotional attachments to food.
By feeding your Boxer less you are not depriving him.
Be clear that keeping your dog fat is a fast-track to disease.
Obese dogs are at higher risk of:
- joint problems like osteoarthritis
- many types of cancer
- heart disease, and
- bladder stones.
How Many Times A Day Should You Feed A Boxer?
Feed your Boxer twice a day, ideally with the two meals not longer than six hours apart.
Here’s the rationale.
Unlike sheep and cattle, dogs are not grazing animals.
The canine body is designed to ingest a lot at once, and then go for quite some time before eating again.
In nature, wolves gorge themselves when they make a kill, capable of consuming as much as 20 per cent of their bodyweight.
Afterwards they fall into a meat coma and then usually don’t eat again for several days to a week.
When prey is scarce, wolves can go even longer without meat.
The point is, dogs are physiologically adapted to cope with cycles of feast and famine.
Eating this way has all kinds of health benefits.
To understand why, you need to know that digestion is one of the most energy-intensive things a body does.
It takes a lot of work to break down the fat and protein that makes up a carnivore’s diet.
Digestive rest allows energy that would have been expended on digestion to be diverted to processes of cellular repair and regeneration.
This is what happens during fasting, in a process called autophagy.
The fact that regular periods of fasting are built in to a dog’s natural existence offers protective benefits against disease.
It’s one of the reasons wild dogs are so much healthier than pet ones.
The upshot of all this is that your Boxer will do best if you feed him in a way that mirrors how dogs naturally eat.
On this basis, most dog breeds should eat a single meal per day, in the late afternoon.
Boxers are a little different.
Bred to have deep chests, Boxers are prone to a deadly condition called bloat or gastric dilatation-volvulus, the causes of which are not well understood.
Since eating a single large meal has been associated with an increased incidence of bloat, it’s good practice to split your Boxer’s daily food intake into two smaller portions.
Ideally, see if you can keep both these meals at the same end of the day.
This way, you minimize bloat risk but still maximize digestive rest between periods of eating.
Otherwise, your dog’s belly will be almost always full of food, and his body constantly occupied with the task of digestion.
You will have turned him into a grazer.
Feed your boxer 3 to 5 per cent of his ideal bodyweight in fresh, real food.
Adjust quantities based on your dog’s individual weight, age and lifestyle.
Gauge whether you’re feeding the right amount based on your dog’s appearance, which should be lean with a defined waist and a hint of ribs.
A Way of Life for Wild Canines, This Could Be A Godsend for Your Dog, Dr Karen Shaw Becker, Mercola Healthy Pets, May 27 2018
Obesity in Dogs, Krista Williams DVM, VCA Hospitals