You’re in love with the Boxer breed, and suddenly you happen upon something that seems rather remarkable – the white Boxer.
Is it a different breed? Or, more sinister than that, is it an albino dog, and are white Boxers deaf as so many people seem to say they are?
Before we dig down into facts and figures, let’s get the elephant out of the room. White boxers are not necessarily deaf – most of them aren’t.
In this article, we’ll look at white Boxers in general, the differences and similarities between this type of Boxer and the more common fawn or brindle Boxer, and, (in case you need this info) how to live with a deaf dog.
Are White Boxers A Breed By Themselves?
Boxers aren’t bred to be white. In fact, most breeders go out of their way to try to improve their chances of not breeding white boxers.
All the same, about a quarter of all Boxers are born white. They may be all-white, but more often, they have fawn or brindle markings.
The reason why breeders don’t like producing white Boxers comes down to the AKC “breed standard” which says that a Boxer can have: “White markings … not exceeding one-third of ground color”
Since many pet owners buy pedigree dogs in the hope of winning prizes at dog shows, or for breeding purposes, white Boxers aren’t exactly popular with breeders.
However, it’s safe to say that white Boxers are not a breed by themselves – just an “underdog” color variation.
In fairness, white Boxers may need a little more care and nurturing from their owners, but they aren’t albino, and there’s a greater than 75 percent chance they won’t have hearing issues.
All the same, white Boxers are simply Boxers of a different color. Their temperaments are the same winning combination of affection, intelligence, and playfulness that has made the Boxer breed so popular.
Why Are We Only Noticing White Boxers In Recent Times?
Hold onto your hat! This is a bit of a rough point to stomach. Because white Boxers don’t really match our ideas of how a Boxer ought to look and don’t match breed standards, they used to be destroyed in puppyhood.
Thank goodness, most breeders these days don’t like the idea of killing perfectly healthy puppies just because they’re white – but it’s rumored that a few still do.
After all, dog breeding is a business, and it’s great to be able to say you’re a breeder of champions. And with that breed standard in place, no white Boxer is going to be “best of breed.”
But, with more and more dog breeders genuinely loving their dogs, we’re seeing more of them being willing to allow white boxer puppies to survive and thrive.
At the same time, it’s generally recommended that white Boxers shouldn’t be used in breeding programs, and we’ll look at the reasons why real soon.
Can A White Boxer Be Competitive In The Dog Show Arena?
Taking your dog to shows, socializing with other dog owners, and maybe even winning prizes can be a lot of fun.
The bad news for white Boxer owners is that “best of breed” will elude them. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up enrolling in competitions.
Obedience and agility contests remain open to contenders who own white Boxers, and your beautiful white Boxer can be a strong competitor in these fields. What’s more, your dog is likely to love the experience.
Would you rather be the owner of a dog who is just another “pretty face” or one who wins on “personal” merit? I know where I stand on this one!
Besides that, a spayed or neutered Boxer can’t compete in the breed category – and I have to say, owning a spayed or neutered dog is a whole lot easier.
Plus, you’ll skip a whole bunch of cancer risks for your dog if you give your pet the “snip.”
What’s Wrong With White Boxers? Why Aren’t They Accepted?
Greater Chance Of Deafness
This is the point that makes so many people ask:: “Are white Boxers deaf?” To set the record straight, only 18 percent of white Boxers are born deaf.
As a result, it’s understandable that ethical breeders are trying to reduce the number of white Boxer births.
5 to 10 percent of all dogs are deaf. 18 percent is on the high side! All the same, deafness isn’t something your dog can’t live with, and you can work around it. More on this shortly.
White Boxers Are More Sun-Sensitive
White Boxers aren’t usually albinos. That means they skip many of the health problems that go with albino genes.
All the same, they do have less pigmentation than other Boxers, and that means you have to be careful about sun exposure.
That short coat doesn’t give much protection against the sun, so sunburn, and even skin cancer, can occur.
If you own a mostly-white Boxer, you can use doggie sunscreen and keep your dog out of sun exposure that’s too harsh for you.
After all, you wouldn’t sit around in the midday sun for fear of sunburn, so why do that to your Boxer?
Boxers in general (not just white ones) can get sunburn, so this concern isn’t unique to the owners of white Boxers, although it is a little more pressing when you own a dog with less skin pigmentation.
White Boxers Have More Health Issues Than Fawn or Brindle Boxers
Did that headline grab your attention? It’s a misconception! Apart from deafness, which doesn’t really affect their overall health, and a greater need for caution in the sun, white Boxers don’t have any unique health problems.
Other skin problems including allergies? Fawns and brindles don’t seem to be less prone to them than whites. It goes with the territory.
It’s Just Not Traditional
Looking for a headline that nails it? This one is the real humdinger. White Boxers simply aren’t traditionally accepted.
And, as we’ve noted, there’s a history of culling (killing off) white Boxer puppies. The further back we go, the more frequently this occurred.
White Boxers are beautiful animals, but they don’t fit the tradition of what a Boxer ought to look like. Kennel clubs love tradition.
So much so that they’ve only recently come to accept that a Boxer’s ears needn’t be cropped. And, despite it not having any benefits for the dog, they still support tail docking for the same reason: tradition.
Living With A Deaf Boxer: Tips And Tricks
There’s a chance that your white Boxer will be deaf. What should you do? The good news is that there’s no reason to put your dog down.
They will be their happy selves despite their deafness, but you may have to make some adaptations.
I recently read about a dog owner who trained her dog for deafness even though it wasn’t deaf simply because up to 10 percent of older dogs (all breeds) go deaf. Food for thought!
Here’s how to adapt to doggie deafness:
- Know that your dog can’t hear approaching danger such as traffic. Keep them leashed when outside your yard.
- Teach your dog hand signals. Your deaf Boxer can see you, but not hear you. I wasn’t thinking about deafness at the time, but I trained my young dog to identify a hand signal along with a command. Now, I can get away with using the hand signal only – and he isn’t deaf. As long as your deaf dog can see you, they will obey the hand signal – whether they can hear you or not!
- Add a bell to the collar. A deaf Boxer can’t hear you call, but you can hear a bell attached to a collar and find him in your yard. It won’t work if he’s sleeping, but it’s a help.
- Use a flashlight. Most effective at night, a flashlight can show your deaf dog that you’re looking for them. And, with Boxers being extremely attached to their owners, you can be sure to get a response as long as your dog is able to see the light.
- Wake your dog carefully. Any dog that is startled awake might instinctively lash out in defense. Try placing a food bowl or a treat near your Boxer’s nose. If you do have to touch your dog, do so gently, carefully, and in an area away from the face. Be sure to teach your children to let sleeping dogs lie!
- Be patient with barking. Dogs, including deaf ones, always bark for a reason. Deaf dogs are just less likely to realize that their barking is disruptive. Trying to discipline your deaf dog for barking will only confuse him. Try to figure out why he’s barking instead. Is he cold? Does he need attention? Has he noticed something he thinks doesn’t belong?
- Let your deaf Boxer know when you’re going out. Almost all Boxers are prone to separation anxiety. Don’t just vanish mysteriously. Let your deaf dog know you’re going out, and try not to leave any Boxer alone at home for longer than 4 hours at first. If he can handle that as part of his routine, you can try stretching that time.
- Tell others your Boxer dog is deaf. Some people react badly when a dog won’t listen to them – even if it isn’t their own pet. Make sure that friends and family know the hand signals you’ve taught your dog. In case he escapes, have a tag indicating that your dog is deaf on his collar.
Should You Keep A White Boxer?
Boxers of all colors are adorable! Without exception, Boxers love attention and care. White Boxers aren’t all that much higher-maintenance than other Boxer colors are.
If well-raised and trained, they’ll be charming, gentle companions who are nevertheless protective, rather than aggressive.
And, although we’ve devoted a section of this article to how you can deal with a deaf dog, most white Boxers aren’t deaf.
With all of these things in mind, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy keeping a white Boxer as well as you’ll love having a Boxer of any other color.
Thinking of breeding? White isn’t necessarily a limitation for producing puppies that conform to breed standards – as long as you breed a white with another color rather than another white.
In fact, the Norwegian Kennel Club was actively lobbied to allow for breeding with white dogs, and given current knowledge of Boxer genetics, that’s been accepted as long as the white is bred with another color.
The Bottom Line: White Boxers Are As Cool As Any Other Boxer Dog
Do you have an opportunity to adopt a white Boxer dog? Go ahead! White boxers generally share the same strengths, weaknesses, delights, and downsides of all Boxers.
In short, there’s nothing wrong with owning a white Boxer. Chances are, your fur friend will live as long, and be as healthy, as any other Boxer.
As for you, who can own a Boxer and not be happy? Just be sure you’re ready for a high-energy dog who loves your company more than anything else.