What to feed a Boxer and how much to feed are the 2 most asked questions that an owner has.
A puppy will weigh just a few pounds and quickly grow into a massive and strong 60 - 70 pound dog. Feeding excellent, wholesome food is very important. As a puppy, the food that you feed will not only affect the pup's health and growth rate, but behavior as well.
Large adults will eat quite a bit. The food you offer to an adult Boxer will greatly impact the dog's health and studies prove to us that it directly affects life span as well. Food is not to be taken lightly and your budget should plan for this.
On the flip side, overfeeding can make any breed overweight. Even though the dog's general appearance is sleek and powerful, too much food can create a weight problem.
The topics of Dry VS Wet, human food and the best food for Boxer dogs are all discussed.
A properly fed Boxer is a healthy Boxer. Learn just the right amount to feed your dog for optimal health.
Feeding Your Boxer Puppy - 4 Weeks to 8 Weeks Old
Boxer puppies, by law in most regions, are not allowed to be taken from the dam until the age of 8 weeks old. During this time, the puppy will be provided with the most nutritious substance possible: the dam's milk.
At the age of 4 to 5 weeks, solid food should be slowly introduced. This must be done at a slow and steady pace, to allow the Boxer to become used to this new form of nutrition. It is highly recommended to offer homemade food. When using commercial puppy food, you will need to use wet food and it is filled with water and preservatives.
Best is to use a food processor to blend soft cooked white breast chicken meat, soft cooked carrots, baby peas and a bit of soft cooked rice or bite sized pasta such as bow ties. Milk re-placer can then be added, so that the mixture ends up a rather soupy meal. As each week goes by, less and less milk re-placer is used and you can blend the food a bit less until the pup is accustomed to a more chunkier food mixture.
Again, we do not recommend manufactured food, but if you decided to go that route, you will want to choose a high quality puppy food (they do have less fillers than cheaper dog foods) and mix it with milk replacement solution; 1 part to 3 parts.
This will form a rather soupy meal that the puppy will be able to easily digest. Begin slowly, with perhaps a 1/2 cup and work your way up in small increments.
8 Weeks to 6 Months Old
will be rapid during this time and proper feeding is important. By 8 weeks old, the puppy should be used to solid food.
Scheduled feedings should now be done. Free feeding is not recommended. When you have set meal times, this helps with housebreaking. In addition, when a dog has a good, firm schedule, they are better behaved.
You must decide between commercial dog food or home cooked food.
Some things to know about manufactured dog food:
Most contain fillers - many so-called "high quality" brands just contain less fillers than cheaper brands. Fillers are completely empty ingredients with zero nutrients and zero calories. These are put into manufactured dog foods in order to plump up the "food" to make it look as if there is more and to fill up your dog's stomach (while offering no nutrients). They pass right through a dog's body, without being absorbed.
Many contain coloring and additives which can cause allergic reactions
Dogs need to eat meat. They are carnivores by nature. Manufactured dog food labels many things as "meat" including chicken beaks, animal paws, roadkill and animals that have died in transit.
If you do decide to offer a manufactured dog food, we would recommend Blue Buffalo or Orijen. Remember that you get what you pay for, and therefore these brands are priced higher than what you'll find in your local pet supply store or supermarket.
Making food at home is easy and in most cases, less expensive. Many of the ingredients are those that you normally buy. Buying in bulk saves money. For example, if you are purchasing chicken, you can purchase a large bulk package, putting some aside for you and some for your Boxer.
The main ingredient should be fresh, wholesome, real meat. This is what a Boxer needs. 35-45% of the mixture should be one or a combination of:
Lean, white breast chicken
Fish - Tuna, Mackerel
Next are vegetables. This should make up 25-35% of the home-cooked meal. This can include wholesome, fresh veggies which you can mix in raw or steamed including:
Next will be starch in the form of rice (white or brown) and/or pasta. Pasta is fantastic for a Boxer, offering great nutrients and wholesome real food for health and energy.
Finally, a good daily dog vitamin and mineral dog supplement should be mixed into a meal each day or given in tablet form. This should be given whether home cooking or giving commercial food.
How often should you feed your Boxer puppy? From 2 months to 6 months, your dog should be eating 3 meals a day.
Different types of food have varying levels of calorie density; however in general each meal will be 1-2 cups of dog food.
Free feeding is not recommended. This is a method in which a dog's food is left out, so that the dog may eat when the desire. For maintaining good health and avoiding bloat
and other issues, food should be given at allotted times throughout the day; this is best for the dog.
Most owners find it easy to feed their puppy the 3 meals at the same time that they eat their own breakfast, lunch and dinner.
6 Months to 1 Year
During this time, despite appearance, your Boxer is still considered a puppy. During this 6 month time period, work your way down to 2 meals a day; 1 in the morning and 1 in the early evening. At the 1 year mark, your dog should be eating 1 good and healthy meal a day (plus additional healthy snacks).
Snacks and treats will be needed for many training techniques; having your Boxer down to 1 meal will allow room in his or her diet for the extra dog treats.
2 Years Old
Congratulations! Your Boxer is now considered an adult dog. One good meal a day can be given, along with snacks. Your dog is done growing now, so do be careful to not overfeed. Extra calories are not needed, as growth spurts are done.
Free VS Scheduled
It is never recommended to leave out dog food and allow your Boxer to eat whenever they wish. While this may make things a bit easier on the owner, this can cause overeating problems.
Dogs that are given a daily schedule for just about everything...meals, grooming, walks, play time, command training, etc, are found to be much better behaved.
Foods have varying calorie density; wet VS dry and differences in main protein (fish VS lamb, etc.) means that one dog may need 1 cup and another may need 3 cups. A good rule is that a Boxer should eat for 15-20 minutes - This is with a slow-feeding bowl or with a portion pacer placed in a bowl to encourage slow eating.
Anything not eaten within that time should be saved for later. Encouraging slow eating is important because some would otherwise wolf down their food in the blink of an eye. Since this can cause digestion problems, gas and in worst case scenarios, bloat, it is best to obtain a bowl that disperses the food or place a portion pacer in the dish.
The Human Food Issue
Most owners find it hard to resist those pleading "puppy eyes" that dogs can give us when they want our tacos burgers or other human food. While you may think you are gaining love and loyalty by giving your dog some of your food, you may very well be jeopardizing their health.
If you home cook, this is not the same as giving your dog your dinner. Home cooked foods are specific real, wholesome, healthy foods for a Boxer dog. They will receive their food in their dog food dish. Giving your dog little pieces of your dinner is just setting yourself up for a life time of begging behavior.
There are several reasons why giving a dog part of your own dinner is a terrible habit to have:
Once you give in, even once, you will have a dog that begs for your food at all times. Getting them to eat their own food will become a struggle. Your food will not give your dog what they need in regard to optimal nutrition. Stay strong and don't give in, to make your life easier.
Foods and ingredients that we would never think twice about can be so dangerous to dogs. Just about everyone knows about chocolate. But what about: onions, garlic, raisins, grapes, fruit seeds, fruit cores, raw salmon, mushrooms and caffeine? These foods are poison to a dog's digestive system and many can be found in your meals. The coloring, spices and additives in your meals are detrimental to your dog's health.
This can very quickly lead to unwanted weight gain. See also: Weight Issues
Nutritional Needs, Odd Eating Behavior, Salt... Home cooking...High Protein...Organic...???
Looking for Boxer Information that the Pros do not share?
EVERY feeding issue possible
34 Health Issues...in Detail
24 Behavioral Issues...in Detail...With Detailed Training for Each
Information the Pros do not share (But we do)
The most helpful, comprehensive Boxer book that exists