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The boxer dog is an enduringly popular dog breed that has a special place in the hearts of many dog lovers, and boxers are in fact the 33rd most popular dog breed in the UK overall. Whilst there are a number of breeds ahead of the boxer in the rankings, boxers have long been one of our favourite large dog breeds, and demand for boxers has remained consistently high over the course of several decades.
Those of us of a certain age will remember a time when boxer dogs commonly had their tails docked in the UK, in contrast to the strong, powerful tails that dogs of the breed usually exhibit today. Aside from this change in the appearance of the modern breed, the boxer appearance is one that has remained fairly consistent over the last few decades, and boxers are instantly recognisable to most dog lovers that spot them out and about.
Boxer dogs can be found in a wide range of different colour and pattern combination which means that there is a lot of choice for prospective boxer puppy buyers who have their heart set on owning a dog of the breed. However, one of the boxer’s potential coat colours can come accompanied by an elevated risk of certain specific health issues, and this applies to white boxer dogs, or boxers with an all or mainly white coat.
White boxers are very distinctive looking dogs that certainly turn heads, and if you are looking for a boxer that is a little different to the norm, you might be thinking of buying a white boxer.
It is really important to do lots of research into the breed as a whole before committing to purchase a dog of any type, but if you’re thinking of picking a white boxer as your next pet, you also need to learn about the specific implications that come along with that signature white coat.
In this article we will tell you everything you need to know about white boxer dogs, including whether or not they can be Kennel Club registered, how the white colour occurs in the breed, and if white boxers have health problems. Read on to find out what you need to know about white boxers.
The boxer is a large and distinctive-looking dog breed that falls within the Kennel Club’s working dog group, but that today is far removed from its historical working roles and now they are kept almost exclusively as pets and companions.
Boxers have deep chests and an otherwise lean but muscular build, as well as shortened muzzles and flat-looking faces, which is one of the breed’s most recognisable traits.
The boxer coat is short, single-layered and relatively low maintenance, and can be found in a wide range of different colour and pattern combinations.
Boxers tend to be very loving and loyal pets that have a natural tendency to make good watchdogs, and that form strong bonds with their families and the people they love. They’re also a smart dog breed with bags of energy, and so they need a significant amount of mental stimulation and physical activity in order to keep them happy and fulfilled.
A white boxer dog is a standard dog of the breed just like any other, and as the name implies, the only obvious difference is that they have all white or mainly white coats.
There are a large number of different colours that appear within the boxer dog breed, and white is just one of them. Some boxers carry the genes for white colouration and can pass these on to their offspring and so, increase the chances of a white puppy being born, and white boxers can be born to parents that are both another colour but that carry the white genes, due to the variable nature of gene expression.
The genes that result in white colouration in boxers occur naturally within the breed, and have not knowingly been introduced from outcrossing or the introduction of other dog breeds into breeding programmes.
All of the physical traits that a dog possesses are inherited through their genes, and different combinations of genes from both sides of a dog’s parentage dictate a dog’s eventual colour when they are born.
In many dog breeds, white colouration occurs as the result of introducing other breeds that carry the colour into breeding programmes, or as the result of a naturally occurring genetic mutation, but this is not thought to be the case within the recent history of the boxer breed, within which the colour appears naturally.
Despite the fact that boxers are recognised as coming in a wide range of different coat colours, the breed only has two true base colours, which are brindle and fawn respectively. The other boxer dog colours occur as variations of these shades that manifest in various different way depending on the gene combinations inherited – and white boxers are no different.
For a boxer to be born with white colouring, they need to inherit the gene that causes this from their parents. Dogs can carry the gene that results in a white coat even if they don’t display it themselves, so two boxers of another colour can viably produce a litter that contains one or more white puppies, if their parents passed on these specific genes.
Few white boxer dogs are actually pure white, and a white boxer is genetically a fawn or brindle boxer that simply has such an excess of white markings overlying their base coat colour so as to appear white in colour. Most white boxers will have some spots of colour either on their coat or visible on their skin, and/or darker markings around their eyes and muzzle.
Generally, boxers are classed a being white if 30% or more of their coat appears white, although most people only class a boxer as being white at a glance if most of their coat displays this shade.
The Kennel Club dictates what traits of individual pedigree dogs are considered to fall within the breed standard for dogs in the UK, and all dogs that possess the appropriate pedigree lineage and that are not disqualified from eligibility due to another cause can be registered and recognised within their breed group.
White boxer dogs are no exception, and the process for registering a white boxer with the Kennel Club is no different than it is for any other colour dog of the breed.
Whilst the two core boxer dog colours are fawn and brindle respectively, today there are a wide range of different colour and pattern variations that are recognised and accepted within the boxer breed standard in the UK.
As you can see, this is quite a variety of different colour, shade and pattern combinations, and white is included within the list of acceptable colours for pedigree boxers in the UK. However, the boxer breed standard cites fawn or brindle as the breed’s desirable colours, which may include white markings amounting to not more than a third of the dog’s base coat colour.
Dogs with more than a third white on their bodies are generally registered as white.
If you wish to show a boxer or breed from a boxer to produce show-standard puppies, the Kennel Club advises breeders and buyers to refer to the breed standard rather than the acceptable colours list, as dogs that are colours other than fawn and brindle are unlikely to be rewarded in the show ring.
The “colour not recognised” designation can be used to register pedigree boxer dogs that display other colours that do not fall within the list, to enable them to be recognised for their pedigree status despite their non-standard colouration.
A pedigree white boxer dog that has the appropriate paperwork that reflects their Kennel Club registration can theoretically be entered in the appropriate classes that they are eligible to compete in within Kennel Club dog shows, and Kennel Club affiliated shows.
However, the boxer breed is quite interesting in terms of the disconnect between the two colours that are listed within the breed standard as “desirable,” and the remaining and much longer list of colours that are acceptable for pedigree boxer registration.
Whilst boxers of any colour on the accepted colours list are eligible for Kennel Club registration, colours other than fawn or brindle are considered to fall outside of the boxer breed standard.
What this means in reality is that only fawn or brindle boxers are likely to be, or should be, rewarded in the show ring, and boxers of other colours (including white boxers) theoretically should not be placed in competition.
For this reason, white boxers (and those of any other colours other than fawn or brindle) don’t tend to be shown in Kennel Club dog shows. If you do wish to show your dog or want to breed boxers for the show ring, you are advised to concentrate on brindle or fawn boxers, otherwise you are likely to fall at the first hurdle!
White boxers can of course enter non-breed classes at Kennel Club shows, such as agility, heelwork and other canine sports. They can also enter fun local dog shows, and other informal events that are not run or organised by or in conjunction with the Kennel Club as breed shows.
There is a reasonable amount of confusion amongst many dog owners regarding the difference between white colouration and albinism, and many people assume that white boxers are also albinos.
An albino animal is one that has a congenital disorder that results in a total absence of pigment, or colouration, within their skin. This results in more than a white coloured coat, but also causes pink skin and eyes, as well as very pale paw and nose pads.
Albino dogs can and do appear occasionally within virtually all breeds, as a result of a random genetic misfire that results in this congenital anomaly developing, but this does not mean that all white dogs are albinos; and true albino dogs of any breed are very rare.
Whilst a white boxer may also be albino, this is once again very unusual, and generally when we talk about regular white boxers, we are not talking about albinos.
White boxer colouration isn’t really a true white, because the colour develops within a coat of another defined base colour instead of being caused by an absence of pigmentation, which is the case for albino dogs. As mentioned, many white boxers also have obvious patches or markings of colours other than white (which does not occur in albino dogs) and most will have noticeable areas of skin pigmentation or signs of the base colour and pattern under the white if you look hard enough.
White boxer dogs also have normal coloured eyes and not pink or red eyes, although they may also have blue eyes or odd-coloured eyes of which one is blue, which don’t otherwise commonly occur in boxers of other colours. The boxer breed standard dictates that a boxer’s eyes should be dark brown, and so blue eyes and eyes of other colours are not considered to be optimum within the breed, and will not be rewarded in the show ring.
A white coat is a common colour in many dog breeds, and for some breeds, it is the only or main colour that dogs of the breed can be found in. However, in some breeds of dog the colour is rather less common, and may come accompanied by additional health complications that can occur due to or as a result of the heredity of the white coat.
Boxer dogs as a whole (regardless of colour) are known to have elevated risk factors for a number of hereditary health conditions that are passed on from parent dogs to their young, and these include bloat, aortic stenosis, degenerative myelopathy and hip dysplasia. They also sometimes have a heightened sensitivity to a common veterinary sedative called acepromazine, which means that this medication should not be used on dogs of the breed.
The average lifespan of boxer dogs as a whole in the UK is 10-12 years, which is in the low to average age range across the board for dogs of a similar size and type. You can read more about general boxer dog health and health conditions within this article.
When it comes to white boxer dogs specifically, the white coat colour in and of itself can actually increase the risk factors for the dog in question having certain health conditions and congenital defects that are either inherited alongside of the white colouration, or as a result of the genes that cause the white coat in the boxer.
Perhaps the best well-known of these is deafness, and white coated boxers have much higher chances of being deaf in either one or both ears, or of having less than perfect hearing as a result.
This is a type of congenital sensorineural deafness, which is present from birth in affected dogs. Research into deafness in white boxer dogs indicates that around 18% of white boxers are deaf in either one ear or both, which is of course a significant number.
Correlations have also been made between blindness or partial blindness in one or both eyes with the white boxer coat colour too, although there are no firm statistics to back this up and the only information available on this is anecdotal.
Whether or not the white boxer coat does actually increase the chances of vision problems in dogs is unclear, but when considering buying or adopting any dog or puppy, it is wise to check their eyesight first, just to make sure!
The white boxer coat, combined with the fact that their fur is short and not overly dense, also means that white boxer dogs are more at risk of sunburn and skin damage due to sun exposure than boxers of other colours.
Care needs to be taken to protect white boxers in the sun and prevent them from burning, which may mean using t-shirts and coverups on your dog when it is sunny and also, applying sunscreen to the most vulnerable areas, such as the tips of the dog’s ears, their noses, and anywhere else where the fur is very fine or the skin itself is visible.
White boxers are commonly associated with congenital deafness, and as mentioned, almost one in five white boxers is apt to be fully or partially deaf. This means that an affected white boxer will be deaf from birth, although whether this is full or partial deafness and whether it affects just one or both ears can be very variable.
If you are thinking of buying a white boxer, one of the first tasks on your agenda should be determining whether or not they have any hearing issues. The breeder or seller of the dog in question should tell you this, although it is also important to check for yourself by seeing how responsive the dog is to sounds, and whether or not they seem to miss cues or be unable to hear in one ear.
Whilst caring for a deaf dog is rather different from caring for a hearing dog – you will have to use visual commands, make allowances for your dog’s inability to hear, and plan training, walks and your dog’s lifestyle around your dog’s hearing limitations, this is not necessarily cause to rule out buying a white boxer dog.
Deaf and partially deaf dogs of all types can and usually do lead full, happy lives, particularly when the dog in question has always been deaf and so, doesn’t know any different.
However, taking on a deaf dog is not for everyone, so before you start looking around for a white boxer with a willingness to consider a deaf one, make sure you have a good understanding of what this involves and that you are up to meeting the challenge. You can find out more about caring for a deaf dog within this article.
As mentioned, the white boxer coat increases the risks of such dogs burning in the sun, and also from developing more serious and long-term conditions, such as skin cancer.
Dogs (and people) with light hair and fair skin are more vulnerable to sun burn and sun damage than dogs or people with darker skin and hair, which means that the owners of white boxers need to be able to predict and mitigate such problems in order to keep the dog happy and safe.
Any area of the dog’s skin can burn in the sun, and this can often happen much faster than we imagine – but the tips of the ears and any other areas of the skin where the coat is very fine are likely to be most vulnerable to sunburn. Sunburn is of course painful and uncomfortable for your dog, and will be quite distressing for them.
Sore, inflamed skin and scabs on the skin caused by sunburn also increase the risk of infections setting in, particularly if your dog licks, scratches or bothers at the areas in question.
As well as the problem of sunburn in the short term, regular or repeated sunburns and general overexposure to sun in dogs with white coats and fair skin increases the risk of the dog developing skin cancers and tumours later on, even if the dog has never suffered from sunburn.
If you own a white boxer dog, protecting them from the sun by providing shade, coverups and regularly applying an appropriate dog-safe sunblock is really important.
White boxers can and do appear naturally within litters of boxers bred from parents of other colours, and it is not necessary to choose white parent dogs in order to potentially produce white puppies. Breeding one white boxer with one of another colour and particularly, breeding two white boxers with each other increases the chances of producing white pups in the litter, but as white is not a desirable breed standard colour for showing, breeders don’t tend to concentrate on producing white boxer dogs deliberately.
Some breeders actively try to avoid breeding colours other than the breed standard’s fawn or brindle shades, and some specifically try to avoid breeding white boxers, due to their potential hearing problems and other issues.
Whether or not deliberately breeding white boxers is ethical is something of a polarising subject. However, the issue is not one that is widely discussed within the breed, as few people deliberately set out to produce white boxers.
Assuming that this is the case, breeders tend to remove dogs (of any colour) that have produced white puppies (and so, that carry the genes that result in a white coat) from their breeding programmes, and won’t breed from pups from litters that contained white pups either, as they may have inherited the same genes for white.
Theoretically, deliberately breeding white boxers increases the risk of producing deaf puppies, or those with hearing issues, as around 18% of white boxers are deaf in one or both ears. This means that this practice is often frowned upon.
Knowingly breeding a white boxer (or any other boxer) that is deaf, partially deaf, or that has any other known health issue or congenital defect is considered to be irresponsible full stop, due to the greatly increased risk of passing on this known hereditary deafness to the puppies in the subsequent litter.
At one stage in the history of the boxer dog breed, puppies that fell outside of the breed standard or that were otherwise considered to have inherited undesirable traits like a white coat, were often euthanised shortly after birth, and at one point this was a widely accepted practice.
This is thankfully no longer the case, and puppies that don’t live up the breeder’s quality expectations now tend to be sold as pets only, rather than used to breed from.
Because white boxers are quite distinctive and eye-catching to look at, people tend to remember them when they’ve seen one – particularly if the dog in question was all or largely white in colour.
This then results in unconscious comparisons with the number of dogs of the breed of other colours, which leads many people to assume that white boxers are rare or uncommon, particularly among people that mistakenly believe that white boxers are also albino.
However, white boxers aren’t really as unusual or rare as many people assume, and in fact, some estimates state that up to a quarter of all boxers are white. That said, because dogs with more than a third of their coat white are technically classed as white, many dogs that are technically classed as white boxers may not be fully or even mainly white, so the number of truly white boxers with little to no markings of other colours is rather lower.
Even taking that into account, white boxers are not particularly rare in the UK, and it is not usually hard to find a white boxer offered for sale in most areas of the country.
At the time of writing (February 2019) there were a total of 40 boxer dogs and boxer dog litters offered for sale in the UK on Pets4Homes, of which 6 were described as white or partially white, and three of these were all or mainly white.
Whilst this is not a huge number of dogs in total, given the reasonably small number of adverts for dogs of the breed at this time altogether, it represents a reasonable if minority percentage of dogs of the breed.
The sale price of any dog can vary hugely, depending on their breed, quality, demand, and even factors like the area they live in and the trends of the time.
Within the boxer dog breed as a whole, the average advertised price according to our Pets4Homes Boxer Dog Statistics (in 2018) for a KC registered pedigree dog of the breed is £1,066, and for a non-pedigree or unregistered dog, £990.
This is towards the higher end of the average price spectrum for pedigree dog breeds of all types, but still falls within normal parameters for large dog breeds.
White boxers tend to fall within the normal price parameters for boxer dogs of other colours, although as mentioned, there is a natural degree of variance in the prices asked for different dogs in general that are not necessarily determined by one specific trait like colour.
White boxers that have known health issues are likely to cost less, particularly if those health issues relate directly to the dog’s colour, like deafness. However, you may not be made aware of such issues prior to making a purchase, and should not automatically assume that a more expensive dog is healthier or of a better quality.
Boxer dogs of all colours that have been health tested clear for common boxer dog health problems tend to command higher prices than others, as do show-standard dogs and those that are considered to be particularly good examples of the breed.
As white is an accepted colour within the breed but not within the breed standard (which effectively rules out showing white boxers) white boxers are not usually priced higher based on quality or show potential, even if they are very handsome.
However, it is largely demand for puppies that incentivises breeders to produce certain types of dogs, and to set a higher price point, and so a white boxer that is very good looking, that has interesting or unusual markings within their white colour, or that gets a lot of attention, may be priced accordingly.
Pedigree dogs of all breeds and types can be targeted by dog thieves, and boxers of all colours are no exception. There is no theoretical reason why a white boxer might be a more appealing target to thieves than a boxer of any other colour, but if your dog happens to catch the eye of a thief, they may still of course be targeted.
Boxers tend to make for good watchdogs that will bark and put out the alert if they feel threatened or see someone encroaching on their territory, and they are also generally very loyal to their owners and handlers. This means that they are not one of the dog breeds that make for hugely easy targets, as they tend to be a little speculative around people that they don’t know, and are not usually the type of dogs that will happily go off with a stranger.
That said, a determined thief will usually find a way to get their hands on a dog that they want if the dog’s owners make this easy for them, even if the dog in question has other ideas! However, boxers aren’t amongst the most commonly stolen dog breeds in the UK, which is partially due to the fact that while they are very loving and affectionate, they’re also no pushovers!
Professional dog thieves that plan their thefts with the intention of making a profit usually target high value dogs that will be easy to sell on due to a waiting demand, or less commonly, stolen to use within unscrupulous breeding programmes.
In these instances, white boxers aren’t likely to be in great demand due to their colour, although there are always potential exceptions.
Additionally, opportunistic thieves or people who spot a dog that they like the look of and decide to steal it might potentially target any dog that they find appealing, and this is just as much of a risk for owners of white boxers as it is to dogs of any other type or colour.
This means that you should always take care to ensure that your dog’s yard or garden is sufficiently enclosed to prevent roaming or straying (or making it easy for a trespasser to enter your garden), and that you don’t leave your dog unsupervised or out of sight when you take them out, such as by tying them up outside of a shop or leaving them alone in the car.
All dogs in the UK must be microchipped with up-to-date details on their owners, and it is also the law that dogs must wear an identification tag when out in public too. Ensuring that your white boxer is microchipped and wears ID will not necessarily put off a thief, but it will make it easier for your dog to be returned to you if they are found, or if you need to prove ownership using the microchip details.
Making a decision about what type of dog to buy solely on the basis of their colour isn’t really a good approach to dog ownership, and you should first decide on the type of dog you wish to own, assess how well it would fit in with your lifestyle, and then do plenty of research to make sure you’ve chosen a good fit.
Only at this point should you start considering your preferences on appearance in terms of traits like colour and pattern.
Whether you are determined to buy a white boxer specifically or are just wondering if you should include them in your considerations of appropriate dogs of the breed for your next pet, here are the main things that you need to think about and bear in mind.
Boxers of all shades and patterns can make for great pets for owners that are a good fit for them, and white boxers are no different. However, the risk of hearing problems within white dogs of the breed means that you should think carefully before committing to buy a white boxer, and even more carefully if you plan on breeding them.
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