Boxer Health Considerations

To be eligible to be added to the waiting list for a PR Boxer puppy the reading below and on the Puppy Application page is required, as is a telephone conversation. The information below is likely to be very enlightening depending on your outlook and contains information that I used to go over with everyone by phone. However, our customer base has grown to the level that there is not enough time to verbally go over all this info with each person and still have the time we need to spend with these amazing dogs. It is a culmination of years of hands on experience, observation and research resulting from over 15 years in animal rescue, 10 years as a Vet tech, and over 15 years breeding Boxers. So, to simplify and free up time I have put all the information here for you to read at your leisure, after which we will have a phone conversation to answer any questions you may have or provide more details. It is a long read but please endure to the end, it may even save you thousands in vet bills and precious extra time with your beloved pets.

Here at PR Boxers, we strive to raise the most Mentally and Physically healthy puppies possible. In doing so we have spent countless hours educating ourselves on all the aspects of canine health, Boxers in particular.  We raise our own females here, so we know what we have Health and Temperament wise from generation to generation and are currently 5-6 generations out. And next to Health nothing is more important than Temperament. Our puppies are well known for calm, amazing, respectful, loving and intelligent temperaments. We have several puppies working in the Therapy, Service dog, Search & Rescue, Herding, Retrieving, Protection, and ES capacities.


Health Issues we have identified……


  1. Hereditary and Genetic Components


The Boxer Breed, like all breeds, can suffer from a number of Breed specific Hereditary issues. Three of these are Heart related. Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)/Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC) (Both terms used interchangeably in Boxers) is an electrical disturbance in the heart rate causing arrythmias and sudden collapse. While Sub Aortic Stenosis (SAS)- a thickening just below the aortic valve, can cause murmurs, collapse and sudden death. Other symptoms include exercise intolerance, coughing, fatigue, and fainting.

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) – is a late onset, neurologic condition causing hind end paralysis. Thyroid issues (T) – again, late onset, is of low incidence (less than 10%). While if untreated it can affect multiple body systems, it is not considered serious or life threatening and is easily treated/controlled with affordable medications. Hip (HD), Elbow (ED) and Spine issues (SPO) are orthopedic in nature. While the latter two could be exclusively considered Hereditary/Genetic, the first, Hip Dysplasia can actually have a high incidence of environmental causes in addition. The first step is always to choose wisely for our breeding stock by researching pedigrees for known hereditary issues. For those identified Hereditary Diseases that have available screening tests, we utilize all recommended testing that is considered accurate or helpful.  


    a . For the above-mentioned DCM, SAS, and ARVC heart conditions we have all our dogs appropriately checked by Board Certified Cardiologist via Echocardiogram and perform periodic Holter Tests. DCM can also in some cases be caused by Diet Deficiencies, commonly associated with Grain Free Diets or diets utilizing a high percentage of plant protein ingredients versus meat proteins. (We have strict standards for the food we feed here and I have taken Canine Nutrition/Diet courses. We educate and arm all new families with the latest facts and recommendations to make Healthy Diet Choices for their Boxers.) More on diet below.

The blood test for ARVC is controversial pertaining to accuracy and usefulness and is not one we regularly seek to perform but include where applicable when we don’t have enough pedigree Health information behind a new line or dog. The Holter Tests are a more useful ARVC tool but in no way definitive and only give you an in-time result for that moment. They can pass it numerous times/years in a row and then fail the next time. But it’s the best tool we have at this time. We purchased our own Professional Digital Holter Monitor and can perform these tests from home. The results are sent to ALBA Medical where every report is professionally analyzed by canine scanning technicians that are under the supervision of a Board Certified Veterinary Cardiologist. Results are analyzed for Ventricular Analysis, Supraventricular Analysis, Pause Analysis and Heart Rate Analysis. All Holters sent in, whether by Breeders, Vets or Cardiologists are all read the same.


b. For DM, a neurologic-spinal issue that causes rear end paralysis, our dogs will either be tested directly by Laboratory Blood Test or be clear by parentage through testing on the parents/grandparents. NO puppies produced by PR Boxers will ever be at risk of DM. There is NO excuse for Boxers to be bred without being screened for this devastating disease as testing is affordable, easy, and definitively accurate.


c. For Orthopedic/joint conditions all dogs will have at minimum Xray/OFA clearance for Hip Dysplasia. And in some cases where necessary Elbow and Spinal xray/clearance as well. Research has proven that up to 65% of Hip Dysplasia can be caused by a multitude of environmental factors such as whelping box configuration, slick flooring/footing exposure during the first 2 years of life, early age activity level/exercise type or frequency, early age injury/overuse and diet. The biggest factor being damage or injury to bone, joints and growth plates that are immature. Our rearing practices control all of the above and we educate new families as to the proper precautions needed and diets to feed. Puppies under 2 years of age should be kept on footing that has abundant traction, throw rugs should be firmly anchored and spaced to adequately cover all slick surfaces or access to non-carpeted areas should be restricted. Forced exercise such as leisurely leash walking should be avoided. Short leash sessions for training purposes are safe. Free play should be supervised to ensure the pup is not jumping on or off surfaces higher than the pups back. Play sessions should be restricted time wise to prevent over tiring, especially when it involves fetch type games or play with another pet or child where the pup could be enticed to play beyond their safe limitations when they would otherwise have quit if playing alone. Climbing or access to stairs should be prohibited or limited to only necessary infrequent instances and should always be supervised and controlled. Puppies should be on appropriate food for their age, breed and developmental stage. Strenuous activities can be safely added gradually after maturity.


 d . Thyroid blood panels are performed exclusively when there is either a known familiar/symptomatic reason to do so or will be added if blood work is being performed for another reason. It is fairly rare in Boxers (less than 10%), is a mild and easily treated condition. It also can be a secondary complication (caused by) other NTI (non thyroidal illness) issues such as infection, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.


 Poor, Inadequate, or Toxic Diets 
A quality diet is an essential first stepping stone to a healthy Boxer. There is a huge general lack of knowledge about dog food/treat ingredients, origins/sources, manufacturing process risks and the possible toxic effects on the canine system. This lack of consumer knowledge is shamefully perpetuated by the dog food industry and false/misleading advertising is abundantly common. By means of intensive personal research and courses in Canine Nutrition/Ingredient profile education, I learned a few very important things that the majority of the big name dog foods, don’t want you to know.  Most of the front of the bag labeling is misleading or outright false, ingredient names/labels are intentionally designed to be misleading, inaccurate or downright false. Ingredient origins or sources are suspect, false or un-disclosed. Ingredient quality control/inspections are lax, overlooked or absent. Manufacturing process safety inspections and cleaning protocols are ignored, corners cut, reporting discouraged, and issues covered up. We will break these down one by one below.



     INGREDIENTS-definitions, origins, quality and safety

For a balanced diet a dog needs a certain amount of “digestible” protein, ideally from meat sources, and should encompass up to 75% of the diet to maintain health. So, in their marketing, pet food companies try to emphasize the protein content of their foods as a selling point. However, unbeknownst to the consumer, shoe leather and chicken feet and beaks are 26% protein, but totally not digestible for the canine. However, the inclusion of those very ingredients would be legal to use and their advertising claim of 26% protein legal as well, even though in reality, upon consumption, the amount of bio available protein to the animal would be much less than the 26% advertised. In short, an advertising claim or gimmick need only be slightly true to be legal. The bag may say “sweet potatoes” but it does not have to say those sweet potatoes are actually the leftover, rotten, waste products from processing sweet potatoes for other uses, swept off the floor and unusable for any other purpose. Most low, entry and even some mid-level brands use this level of acceptable ingredients. The same manner of deception is used when it comes to ingredient definitions as well. Another truth to ponder is that the same ingredient can be listed on two different brands but not mean the same thing at all in terms of quality. A cheaper grocery store dog food may list the same ingredient as a high-priced brand, but I can assure you the ingredient in the cheaper food will be of even less quality than the ingredient in the higher priced food.

        a. Protein Sources- Meat based proteins are the only historically safe and studied protein sources. You want your meat/protein sources named specifically, as terms such as Poultry and Meat are broad and deceiving and can mean the food contains any number or combination of unnamed ingredients that has been known to include roadkill and diseased/downed slaughterhouse animals unfit for other consumption. The term Meal in an ingredient list, as in Chicken Meal, Beef Meal, Lamb Meal is actually better than just Chicken, Beef, or Lamb as the latter, raw base ingredient naturally contains a significant amount (65%) water, so what’s left after they process it for adding to kibble is minimal, while Chicken (or other specific named meat) MEAL is essentially the product left after cooking out the water and is a more dense and nutritious (365%) than the beginning raw product.

My mantra for years had been, “No Corn, Wheat, Soy, or By-Products”. Recently we have had to add NO Peas or other Legumes, Lentils, Nightshades (potatoes). I explain below.

      b.  By-Products – The term “by-product” is likewise usually a mix of unappetizing ingredients derived from, or leftover from processing other ingredients. Usually no more than filler and likely not digestible.  The true definition and purpose of the reputable term “by-product” in a dog food, would be organ meats, which are extremely nutritious, but unfortunately this is rarely the case. This is an ingredient to avoid at all costs when possible, unless proven to be authentic. (The brand Bil-Jac uses actual clean organ meats in their foods listed as by-products on the label, they are typically the exception)

       c. Corn – My opinion on corn in general, (as proven by firsthand conversations with those truck drivers delivering these ingredients to the plants, and lifelong residence in farming communities), and its use in pet foods, is that it is bottom of the barrel/silo, molded waste that they can’t sell for any other purpose, so it gets slated for use in our pet foods. Corn is an in-expensive filler, plain and simple, that has the side effect of increased energy and provides a small amount of protein making it a cheap ingredient that allows the manufacturer to use less actual meat to meet the protein requirements. This is evident in the fact that, regardless of what species ingests it, or in what form, it passes out the other end in essentially the same form it entered. Corn also has the dangerous and very common possibility of containing Aflatoxin, a type of mold that can grow on corn and other grains, that is very potent and dangerous causing many deadly side effects including Liver Failure. Aflotoxins, among many others, are dangerous form of mold that grows easily on most grains but mostly corn. It is so deadly that it only takes a fraction of one kernel crushed into several pieces of kibble in a bag to cause liver failure and death in your dog and will show NO symptoms til after the the damage is done. And if the product line previously ran something with corn and was not adequately cleaned that microscopic trace of Aflotoxin can make its way into your bag of food even if that bag is not supposed to contain corn at all. We have personally experienced the loss of 3 amazing girls as a result of Aflotoxin poisoning. And I was feeding a corn free food at the time. I am amazed that some of the most Vet recommended and infamous, canine foods are entirely based on corn and other fillers, some of which literally are no different than ground cardboard, but perhaps not so surprised when considering the large commissions rumored to be awarded to the vet offices in exchange.  I refuse to use a food containing corn after watching 3 of our beloved girls die a painful death from a toxin common to this ingredient.

       d . Wheat – Wheat is high in gluten and while a good majority of dogs can tolerate it, it tends to be high on the list of ingredients that are likely culprits when a dog is showing signs of allergies. Whether or not the gluten is to blame there is the more sinister fact that Wheat is harvested using Round Up (Glyphosate) to facilitate a more bountiful wheat crop when a field has an un even maturity at harvest time. This means they are purposefully spraying poison on your wheat to kill and dry the seed, which is then used to produce hundreds of products we consume on a daily basis. As with corn there is no real benefit to the ingredient so why take the very real and evident risk?

       e . Soy is another head shaking no brainer. Soy is antigenic (meaning it can stimulate the production of antibodies), Soy denatures during high temperature processing causing formation of toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines, Soy contains trypsin inhibitors (which have caused stunted growth in test animals), Soy is high in phytic acid, which reduces the digestion of key nutrients, Eating soybean products is linked to seizures in dogs, Soy is GMO and also has high levels of Glyphosate, Soy (and other Legumes) contain lectins which have “antinutrient” effects that block absorption of vitamins and minerals and cause gas, diarreah, bloating and lead to “Leaky gut syndrome” which in turn causes allergies, arthritis and auto immune disease. So again, why go there?

       f . Peas, Legumes, Potatoes – As touched briefly on above and in case you didn’t catch it. A very dangerous marketing scheme overtook the pet food industry in early 2000, comprising 43% of the market by 2018. It sought to market Grain Free pet foods to health conscious consumers citing the need to return their canine pets to an ancesteral meat based diet. Ironically, a mostly meat based ancestral diet product would be out of reach price wise for 85% of pet owners. So to make it affordable and profitable they replaced the meat with plant based proteins and called it a meat based “grain free” diet. The most profitable plant based proteins used were primarily peas in several forms along with other legumes, lentils and potatoes. Plant based proteins to include Legumes (Peas, peanuts, lentils, and beans) etc. are an un-natural and less bio available protein source to canines. They are processed differently by the canine than the more natural meat-based proteins. Plant based proteins (sometimes called PULSE ingredients) can actually block the absorption of very important and necessary anti-oxidants and amino acids, among others, creating dangerous dietary deficiencies. In addition some of them, peas, soy beans and flaxseed for instance are actually phyto-estrogens and can alter the hormonal balance in the canine potentially causing infertility and other issues. Manufacturers will commonly have several versions/types of these ingredients listed on the ingredient label separately allowing them to remain listed farther down the list instead of their ranking much higher up if collectively listed i.e. peas, pea flour, pea isolate, pea protein, pea starch, pea fiber. This practice is called “Ingredient splitting”, which is breaking down one lower quality item into its various components, with each listed separately on the pet food label.  The result is that a smaller quantity of “meat” now appears higher on the list even though there is actually less of it in the dog food.  If you put all the smaller quantities of peas together, they would actually weigh more than the “meat”. This keeps consumers from noticing how much of the food, especially protein, comes from peas and not meat. The last few years after the introduction of the current Grain Free diet fad, saw a phenomenon called Diet Related Cardiomyopathy, which hundreds of dogs died from due to being fed these diets. This was proven to be caused by the diet as they saw several affected dogs, that were early enough in the illness, actually reverse the damage and condition when removed from the grain free diet. While the FDA has made no conclusive statement as to a cause, other scientific data and studies support the theory that the unusual and untested high levels of plant based proteins and legumes were to blame by means of their “antinutrient” effect of phytic acid and lectins, that effectively block the absorption of important and vital nutrients, antioxidants and amino acids. This leads to dangerous deficiencies that can cause a host of Health issues. In our sad but current state of morality in this country, the truth and facts are commonly buried, falsified or prevented from being disclosed by means of the lure of the almighty dollar freely thrown around by large corporations to sway the narrative to their advantage. So even though numerous studies have been conducted since and before this devastating development of Diet Related DCM proving the likely cause being the plant based proteins and current formulations using them, these products are still on the shelves, with no warnings to the consumer of the possible risk of death or irreversible cardiac harm. Undoubtedly causing numerous untimely, undiagnosed deaths in beloved pets. Some manufacturers have taken the initiative to add additional sources of ingredients to prevent possible deficiencies, but in my opinion until the entire formulation of substituting un proven, un natural to the canine and untested plant based proteins has under gone extensive un biased testing, they are still playing with fire. And its all in the name of not wanting to admit the mistake and see a hugely profitable marketing scheme crumble.

      g. Potatoes – Raw Potatoes and potato skins contain oxalates and solanine which are poisonous compounds that affect the kidneys and digestive system. Cooking renders these poisons safe when consumed in normal moderation. However, the fact remains that potatoes are a starch and have a high glycemic index and are not a required part of the canine diet. Therefore, while the inclusion of potatoes in an ingredient list in a moderate amount will do no harm, there is no justification for a formula to be relying heavily on potatoes as listed any further up on the list than position 5/6. And given they are listed 3rd or 4th on the list of probable suspect ingredients in the foods that caused heart issues via “grain free diets” I prefer to stay clear until more is known.


A side note regarding Veterinary Specialty Diets –  


When I learned several years ago that I was losing 3 of my beloved females to liver failure from Aflatoxin contaminated kibble and had several other young dogs exhibiting kidney and liver symptoms, I was forced to do a deep dive into researching the pet food industry and the risk its products contain while trying to find a safe alternative option for the ones I was trying to save. Ironically, the majority of Vet clinics when faced with a patient with liver or kidney issues that make it even harder for that pets system to process kibble, will highly and adamantly recommend, you guessed it, another kibble. “Veterinary Specialty Diets” have become a fad of their own, and a highly profitable one at that. There are always 2 sides to every issue and those who support these diets will tell you that the science is there behind the recipe making it the ultimate option for your pets condition but having always relied on a hefty dose of common sense, one look at the ingredient list for one of these diets had me running the other way. They are comprised of the most inexpensive and unhealthy ingredients that actually ranked worse than grocery store brands. In fact, a panel of 5 high profile Vets were given 4 different anonymous ingredients lists, one of which was a prescription diet. Here are some quotes of their assessment of the prescription diet – “Dr Jodie Gruenstern: This food was the lowest quality in the list. It contains GMO corn, soy (lots of it!), which is a common allergen, synthetic vitamins/minerals, shavings (if you didn’t know, the ingredient cellulose is literally sawdust), natural flavors, which usually mean MSG.

Dr Jean Dodds: Poor quality food: the first ingredients are corn, which is often GMO, and chicken by-product meal rather than whole chicken. Flax and soy are phytoestrogens.

Dr Judy Morgan: This is a Pet Store Food. Corn is the first ingredient, no muscle meat used, only by-product meal, synthetic vitamin/mineral supplement, corn and soybean are GMO, waste fillers are abundant. Overpriced in my opinion, considering the poor quality, cheap ingredients used).

Dr Dee Blanco: This one starts with corn to increase inflammation, then adds lighter fluid to it with soybean products and poor quality protein. Then it tries to make up for the poor quality foundational ingredients by adding synthetic supplements of the poorest quality, such as calcium carbonate, folic acid, ‘generic Vit E supplement’, etc. Looks like they added l-tryptophan to calm the nervous system down after putting the body into overdrive inflammation. Natural flavors?? Could be an entire cadre of carcinogens, allergens and toxins. Argh!

Dr Peter Dobias: The worst recipe – first ingredient is corn, then by-product, then flavors, wood chips. It may not be supermarket food but a veterinary diet right?!

So, as you can see, our vets didn’t exactly think the ingredients in the prescription diet were high quality.

Ironically, they thought many of them would be harmful.



As deep as that dive was to explore the ingredients in pet foods, it was just the tip of the iceberg of important considerations needed to ensure the diet your pet is eating is safe. Now that we are able to recognize what the terms and ingredients listed on the bag potentially mean there are a few other important questions we need to be asking. Knowing the origins, quality and safety of the ingredients themselves and the process by which they are manufactured/produced can be as/if not more important. In a world where we import unimaginable things instead of producing them ourselves it should come as no surprise that some of these dog food companies actually import a good amount of the ingredients in your dogs food from overseas, mostly China. Some even importing a slime like product that they use as a protein source and call it “meat”. A good number of companies import the nutritional “vita-pac” of vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients from overseas citing costs. It’s not a stretch to imagine any of these imported ingredients come with a lot of unkown and obviously unavoidable safety issues. I look for companies that locally source their ingredients and in doing so support their local communities. I also insist on companies that own their own manufacturing facilities and do not outsource production. I also insist on verbally speaking with a representative and having their safety practices and guidelines personally explained. The importance of privately owned manufacturing facilities cannot be overlooked. There are numerous Generic Pet food manufacturing sites spread across the United States that MOST of your Major Brand Pet Foods, found in  Big Box Pet stores are manufactured in. The problem with this is that these facilities may also be producing feeds for other animals such as livestock. And even if they they are strictly manufacturing pet foods, the chance for cross contamination is very high. FDA/USDA regulations require each production line to be shut down, disassembled and thoroughly cleaned if even one ingredient is changed in the formula currently running. That process takes days to even a week to perform, and time is money. More money in fact than it costs to just roll the dice, risk getting caught not doing so, and paying the fine on a failed inspection. There is also the fact that the facilities do not have as much invested in the final product, as it isn’t their brand or reputation that will be damaged in the event of an issue. Tracing an issue originating from one of these plants, that don’t follow or care to adhere to safety regulations is next to impossible considering the vast volume of products flowing through them. So I look for and recommend Companies that own their own processing plants and have a moral and ethical stake in the quality and safety of their product. These more reputable companies will usually avoid having to use outside resources for manufacturing due to the inability to fully control the variables and guarantee the safety of the product. Ethical companies also will likely control distribution of their products to assure safe handling practices from the time the product leaves their facility to the time the consumer  carries it out the door. This means making sure all the middlemen are taking storage precautions, so it will usually be unavailable through online sources such as Amazon unless the individual Amazon seller has been inspected and approved. This means they must prove they have the ability to provide climate controlled storage options for the product. You also won’t likely find the product in Big Box pet stores or grocery and chain stores because they won’t have the ability to produce enough product to cover every store in America if using only their own manufacturing facilities. A plus side to that is not having surplus product sitting on shelves across America getting close to expirations dates, thus product is usually fresher. Another common advantage to these ethical small companies is that they usually commit to sourcing their feed ingredients locally. Enabling fresher, safer ingredients and supporting other small businesses in local communities. Our Country suffers when the average local citizen cannot compete as a small privately owned business because huge corporations have cornered the market and forced them out of business. That happens to be a hill I’m willing to die on and support, so it is also a requirement I have for a company I’m about to trust with the lives of my precious Boxers. As you can probably imagine, this severely limits the choices for safe pet foods, but surprisingly doesn’t really raise the expense. And the slight inconvenience of not having it available in every store you walk into is worth the safety and peace of mind I get knowing I’ve done everything possible to ensure that what I’m forcing these amazing individuals of a very special, one of a kind Breed to eat, is as safe as possible, and the best I can afford.

 You get out what you put in and I truly believe that feeding them better quality food from a reputable company goes a long way to help prevent cancers and auto immune issues as well as obesity and bone and joint issues. You will likely be able to feed less of the better foods than you would the cheaper food as well as making clean up easier also.


The next question I’m usually asked after reading this is “So what do you feed?” or “What do you recommend?” The main options for feeding your canine, in the order of most to least desirable to their system, is Raw, Cooked or Kibble. While Raw may be closest to the natural wild canine diet, most pet owners don’t have the time, knowledge, ability or comfort level to tackle this option. It brings with it numerous health risks if mishandled or not properly balanced, it is expensive, messy, and difficult to source, store and prepare. For those that can overcome all those aspects I commend and encourage you. There are companies out there that now provide a processed raw product that makes it more convenient and safe but they come with a very large price tag. Cooked diets may sound as daunting as Raw but really are not and are my favorite option for those able to devote the additional time and don’t mind the slightly increased price tag. Cooked diets provide known, safe, fresh ingredients in a form that is easily digestible to the canine system meaning less stress on important organs such as the liver, which has to work super hard to digest kibble comparatively. You have the ability to control the variety, source, and safety of all the ingredients. Again, there are companies out there that will provide a ready made cooked “non-Kibble” diet, sometimes specific to your pets needs, but it still comes with a very high price tag for convenience. While it isn’t as easy as throwing some hamburger and rice together, it is also not as difficult as it sounds to put together a balanced Cooked diet from ingredients most likely already in your pantry. After researching the cooked diet options I was Impressed with the protocol put forth on a Facebook Group called Home Cooked Diets for Dogs. Instead of putting forth various diet recipes they provide facts and guidelines to help you develop your own recipes with the use of Guideline sheets that list the foods or ingredients that qualify as either Proteins, Carbohydrates,  or provide certain necessary vitamins, minerals or antioxidants. All you have to do is choose the components from each list you want to use in the recommended amounts for your dogs weight, add a multi vitamin supplement and get to cooking! A quick example diet I have used for a normal healthy dog required 75% Protein and 25% Carbs. So, on the proteins list, instead choosing one protein I chose 3 and 1 from the carb list. So I would be using one part of each of the 4 choices which were chicken, cottage cheese, and a hard boiled large egg for my proteins and I chose Oatmeal for my carb. Then from the nutrients list for my calcium and Omega 3 & 6 requirements, I saved the eggshells from each egg, dried, baked and crushed them. Then used the required amount of crushed eggshell and canned salmon. There were tons of possibilities on each list to choose from and with the help of an instant pot I was able to prepare all ingredients in half a day to last a week or so for 3 grown dogs. It made an immediate and amazing difference in the dogs I used it on for 18 months  (in a slightly varied version to accommodate dogs in liver failure) If I had the resources and time, cooked diets would be my number one go to choice. Doing so with the number of dogs we carry for our program makes it prohibitive unfortunately on many fronts.

Kibble – we’ve already discussed all I learned about kibble and the criteria I feel it needs to meet. The brand we settled on was NutriSource original. I have raised my puppies on their small/medium breed puppy for over 15 years. All of my dogs in fact eat the same puppy version through most of their lives due to the higher metabolic requirements of the Boxer breed. Exceptions would be the aging or easy keeper individuals who would then use the adult versions, which come in many variations. As well as 3 other upper level lines, the “Pure Vita” line caters to limited ingredient, single protein source needs, and the “Choice” line is a nutrient dense grain inclusive version at a very affordable price point, and the Elements Series is a heavy 83% Animal protein rich, true ancestral diet version without substituting plant proteins to cut costs. (NutriSource does also produce Grain-free versions that I do NOT recommend.) In addition to great quality products, they are a family owned company where compassion, integrity and a sense of community guide their decisions and goals. You won’t find their foods in mega pet stores because they believe innovation thrives in independent stores, where the focus is on health and nutrition. A quick look at their website will cement the decision after seeing their commitment to community, they even built an entire facility to produce, an entire line of treats, that they have pledged to forever donate all proceeds from to community causes. There are other foods or brands out there that may qualify for approval under our requirements, ingredient list and manufacturing wise but I haven’t found one as impressive company wise. There is not one brand that I can say is safe to feed any product in their line, as they all seem to have those controversial Grain free lines and other versions including suspect ingredients, so it becomes a matter of finding specific products, instead of specific brands.  

       3. Environmental Toxins

  Environmental toxins come in many forms. There are natural ones such as pollen, dust, mold, grasses and insect bites to name a few but the more dangerous ones are man made. Coal tar driveway sealants, Ice Melt, Laundry soaps, Air fresheners, New Carpets, Floor cleaning products, Synthetic Pesticides, Harsh Cleaning products, BPA in plastic food storage, feed bowls and even toys, Synthetic Fragrances, Rodent poisons, Xylitol artificial Sweeteners, are just a few we subject our dogs to. Its recommended to go natural and organic whenever possible. But there will be instances where contact with Environmental or other Toxins is unavoidable. In that case making sure your pet has a strong Immune System is paramount. To help naturally boost their immune systems, a product called NU-Vet fit the bill. Not just an ordinary vitamin/mineral supplement but an immune system supplement that works on a cellular level with years of research behind it, numerous patents and state of the art processing procedures. Seeking out the free radicals that we have subjected them to in their environment and the food we feed them and destroying them. All you have to do is read the hundreds of testimonials on their website from happy pet owners everywhere telling how numerous ailments have been cured or controlled by this supplement to agree that there is more reasons to try it than there are not to try it. Tumors reduced or eliminated, thyroid issues gone, shedding cured, old arthritic pets able to walk again, pets the vet sent home to die living another several months to years longer. The list goes on. See some preliminary info on our Nu-Vet page and visit their website for hundreds of testimonials. We use this supplement and recommend it to our puppy buyers. We will extend the one year Health Guarantee to a total of 3 years if the buyers will keep their pet on the program during that time. That’s how much we believe in it. Though it is NOT required.

So, a quality, safe diet and Immune Supplements were a great start BUT I was still hearing story after story of Boxers passing from cancer and other ailments even in families that did feed quality food. I then stumbled upon dozens of studies and statistics, stating that only 25% of our pets common ailments are genetic or hereditary, the rest are caused by environmental influences. The discovery of recent research led us to stumble on some of the biggest findings in decades that totally bucks tradition and the way things have been done for years.  And in my opinion explains why we are seeing an increase of issues in our companion animals that time wise correlates back to when we began early routine Spay/Neuter, annual vaccinations and heavy preventive measures.


 4. Preventive Veterinary Treatment Consequences – Toxic effects of un-necessary vaccines, early spay/Neuter, un-necessary preventive products, i.e. flea, parasite and heartworm prevention to name a few……

        Dangerous Effects of Early Spay/Neuter
  1. Let’s tackle the Spay/Neuter issue first.  I’m including a short summary in my words of an article from Canine Sport Productions by Chris Zink DVM, PhD, DACVP titled Early Spay Neuter Considerations for the Canine Athlete: Orthopedic Considerations. It seems through15 cited studies from 1991 to present, in this article alone, (there are many more) that we are NOT doing our dogs any favors by Spaying and Neutering and that Spaying/Neutering too early before puberty or maturity is detrimental to their health in a number of ways. Early Spay/Neuter done before maturity/puberty causes significantly delayed closure of growth plates, so bones continue to grow when the hormones that regulate growth are absent. This results in abnormal angles in stifles, longer heavier lower leg bones resulting in stress on the Cranial Cruciate ligament, among others, leading to ruptures of these ligaments. A dog subjected to early Spay/Neuter is frequently easily identified by a taller appearance due to the longer limbs, lighter bone structure than the breed may carry, narrow chests and skulls and general unbalanced conformational appearance. Increased CCL/ACL ruptures is just one finding followed by higher incidence of Hip Dysplasia, 5 X’s greater risk of hemangiosarcoma, now one of the 3 most common types of cancer in canines, (wonder why since the majority of our pets are spayed/neutered), higher chance of Bone Cancer, undesirable behaviors such as sexual, aggression, phobias, behavioral, stress, and separation anxiety to name a few. There is a higher incidence of cognitive impairment in old age, urinary incontinence in females and urethral sphincter incontinence in males. Spaying/Neutering is considered the most significant risk factor for Hypothyroidism as well. A higher incidence of vaccine and medication reactions in spayed/neutered dogs surely relates to the belief that the immune system is dependent on hormones to work properly. The above research along with personal experience and observation has led us to alter our stand on Spay/Neuter and our Health Guarantee to include the requirement that you do NOT Spay/Neuter your pet before the age of one year/or before first heat for females, and we prefer 18 months to two years. You will void your guarantee by doing so. Maturation of the Reproductive system produces estrogen and testosterone and other hormones, which are critical not only for the development of muscles, bones, and mental acuity, but also the immune system! These hormones, starting at the peak of puberty, can virtually supercharge the immune system, turning it on full blast and decreasing suseptibility to many infectious diseases among other things. Not only can delayed Spaying and Neutering for 2-3 years be protective against all sorts of ailments, it can also help to fully mature the immune system for a lifetime.
  2. Un-Necessary and Dangerous Annual Vaccinations –

  Speaking of the immune system brings me to the next big injustice the veterinary profession is perpetuating on our pets. AAHA, AVMA is the organization relied upon by vets for the most current up to date research and guidelines considering vaccinations and how long they last, when to repeat, which ones are neccessary and which ones are safe or un-safe in certain circumstances. The AAHA has done its job, the guidelines and research are there in black and white, and have been since 1995 for those who care to look for it, but the Veterinary profession appears to be ignoring these findings and are NOT following the guidelines. It states that our core vaccines such as Distemper, Parvo, Adendovirus and others provide sufficient immunity for at least 5-11 years! That’s right..5-11 years or possibly the dogs lifetime. So yearly, annual vaccinations are NOT needed and are a major source of attack on our pets immune systems causing a whole host of issues including every major auto-immune issue known among a long list of other maladies including the big one…cancer! Specialty vaccines, while beneficial in very specific high risk circumstances, are rarely effective and highly dangerous in terms of reactivity and side effects, causing more issues than they prevent. And others are just plain not needed or not recommended at all by the AAHA. You can read this report yourself at
 These statistics have been known to be true since 1995 and were published by the Vaccine Manufacturers. Though they are infrequently reviewed, I found it ironic that just recently in 2015 they changed the recommendation from 5 years to 3 years. But there is NO new studies to base that change on that I have found and most recent research studies done still adhere to the 5-7 year immunity statistic. AAHA does not force Veterinarians to adhere to the guidelines because they are funded in part by 4 major vaccine companies. And here is where I believe the pressure to revise the document came from. Vaccines make up 15% of a vets practice income but 65% is treating the vaccine induced lifelong illnesses. Some are probably just un-informed or un-educated on the facts and statistics, others follow the status quo of those who go before them, and others, not liking change, most likely are just protecting the bottom line. It doesn’t help that the Universities they get their Veterinary degree from are sponsored and backed by the companies that manufacture the thousands of products that they teach them to use in their practice to treat the symptoms and supposedly prevent illness. It’s essentially what they were taught to do.

Maternal Antibodies Delete Vaccine Antibodies

When a puppy is born it receives maternal antibodies that circulate through the puppies bloodstream. The amount of antibodies depends on the immunity level of the dam and is also different for each puppy and changes as the puppy gets older. These maternal antibodies
actually negate the effects of the vaccines we give them when they are present. Hence the reason they have to be repeated every 3-4 weeks. So this means that we never really know when a puppy is really protected due to varying levels of either antibodies or vaccines. Studies show that at the age of 16-18 weeks there are no longer any maternal antibodies present to interfere with vaccine immunity. So the most important shot your puppy will ever receive is the one given at or after 16 weeks of age. If you remember the cited study above this vaccination could protect your puppy for 5-7 years or possibly even your dogs entire life. But back to those first 16 weeks- this time frame is the most critical for your puppy’s health. During this time frame your puppy needs to be protected from exposure to contagions. This
means do NOT take your puppy to the dog park or any other outdoor area that other dogs frequent. When traveling with your puppy look for places to potty your puppy that are not obviously going to be attractive to everyone else looking to potty their dog. If you take your
puppy to the pet store, carry them and do not let anyone else pet your puppy or let it sniff noses with any other pets. When you take your puppy to the Vet do NOT let them walk in, carry them in. And take a towel from home to lay on the scale that they will invariably ask you
to place your puppy on. Anyone ever seen them clean the scale after each pet? Me neither. I also use my home towel on the exam table. Though early socialization and training is important it needs to be done with the puppy’s health in mind. Have trusted friends visit your
home in these early weeks for that purpose and leave the group training sessions for 2 weeks after that 16 week vaccination. Its not commonly followed but it could be a good idea, and one we practice, to carry cleaning wipes with bleach in your vehicle to wipe the bottom
of your shoes with upon re entry to your vehicle or have a bleach bath, consisting of a catbox sized tub with paper towels in the bottom soaked with a bleach solution near your entry door to step in before entering your house. 
It is only for those 8 weeks after leaving our care that they will need that extra protection and here are 2 scenarios that will make you think… First one is a true story I read in a dog magazine once. A guy who lived in one state and his mother in another state wrote about his experience with the devastating degree of contagious abilities of parvo. He had a neighbor who had a new puppy. Un-benownst to him this puppy had contracted parvo, It was fall and the leaves were blowing everywhere. The man left his townhome to head to the airport to go visit his mother who had recently acquired a new puppy as well, 7 days after his visit his mothers puppy came down with parvo. And these two pups were separated by several states but brought together on the bottom of one mans shoe. The second scenario, if someone has a puppy come down with bloody diarrhea all over their house where do you think the first place they will go other than the vet will be? Walmart, to get supplies to clean up the mess, and you just happened to need a gallon of milk from that very same Walmart. It is THAT easy to expose your puppy. And again, it is only for 8-10 weeks that you need to be extra cautious. It will be worth the money you WONT spend in vet bills, I assure you.

So what comes after the first 16 weeks?  

As mentioned above, the core vaccinations do NOT need to be repeated annually. In fact, the above cited study (and remember this study was conducted by the vaccine manufacturer themselves) does NOT recommend the 1 year booster frequently pushed by most clinics if the last vaccine was given at or after 16 wks of age. It recommends boostering no earlier than every ≥3yrs.  Our recommendation is to do a Titer test at one year of age, or a few weeks after getting the first Rabies vaccine. (which should be given no earlier than 6 months of age) A Titer test is a blood test that will tell you the immunity levels of your pet to all of the core vaccines including Rabies. If there is any response at all it means your pet has immunity and does NOT need to be vaccinated again. Titer tests can be run as often as you want but every three years should be sufficient. Some state and city entities are now allowing and accepting Titer test results instead of vaccinating. I will end the vaccine rant on Rabies and Lepto, though there are several others I strongly feel are un necessary and dangerous. Rabies is one of the MOST dangerous of all and can cause lifelong personality changes in your pet, especially if given too young to an immature immune system, or too frequently administered. It can cause Rabies Miasm (do a google search or use the search option on dogsnaturallymagazine .com) either early on or as an accumalative effect from each subsequent Rabies shot. Our guarantee states that you will NOT vaccinate for Rabies before 6 months of age and preferably not before 12-14 months. Other Non-CORE vaccines are considered specialty vaccines are usually not recommended as their benefits in most cases do not outweigh the risks. Lepto is one of them in that there is a greater risk of an adverse reaction to the vaccine than there is for contracting the disease itself. The vaccine commonly causes seizures in young puppies and is another one I our contract you will be required NOT to administer.  I strongly urge you to delve deeper and use the search option on the below link for more detailed info on each vaccine, heartworm prevention, and so much more.  Details in the link above and below on vaccines.

 3.  Un-necessary Toxic and Dangerous preventive products, i.e. flea, parasite and heartworm prevention to name a few……


We have all become accustomed to and led to believe that the relentless and routine application of preventive medications and vaccines is normal and necessary. That we are doing the right thing and protecting our pets by routinely administering toxic and dangerous chemicals to our pets. This includes flea meds, heartworm prevention, monthly antiparasitic, and more. All of which their natural immune system was not meant to have to deal with and causes a continuous forced reaction from the immune system. While I am not saying some of these products don’t have their place in certain circumstances, I do NOT believe they are safe for monthly application when not needed. Don’t treat for fleas if you don’t have them. There are safer ways to deal with occasional contact with fleas than monthly, just in case, scenarios. (Dawn dish soap kills adult fleas, and CapStar is a safe medication that kills adult fleas for 24 hours and can be given for several days in a row if needed without subjecting the animal to 30 days of chemical) In the cases where there is a real need for these products, going with one that has been around for at least 5 years is a safer option. Topicals are usually safer than oral due to the fact that you can bathe the pet if it appears to be having a reaction when using a topical but have no such options with an oral medication. The safest flea options are Advantage and Frontline topicals. And there are a number of Natural product options as well such as Wondercide. For Heartworm prevention, new research shows monthly application unnecessary as well and actually testing or administering preventive every 4 months is just as cost effective as and safer for your dog than monthly administration. The newer combination products offered by Vets are far more dangerous than single products and are usually “preventing” something that isn’t likely to happen anyway, especially regarding intestinal parasites. Parasites are naturally occurring in the environment and a majority of the time are handled well and kept in check by your pets healthy immune system. When we administer regular medications in the name of prevention we create drug resistance. Making those drugs less effective in the instances they are truly needed most. This goes for flea prevention as well. The bottom line is, trying to fix a problem that hasn’t even occurred yet by poisoning your pet makes no sense. I’d be happy to discuss alternative options personally. A good source for info on all these things and more is This is a holistic canine website that is devoted to uncovering the truth about canine health and wellness. Articles are backed up by credits and links to studies used to garner the information. Its search function is an invaluable tool to finding the truth about vaccines, heartworm prevention/treatment, specialty vaccines info, early spay/neuter and so much more.


We have added Euro lines to our program to improve the health, longevity and quality. There is a huge problem in the US as far as the quality of the Boxer breed is concerned and we are essentially the laughingstock of other countries in that regard. Too many people are breeding in-discriminately without thought or regard to health, quality, temperament or integrity of the lines. If you research the Boxer standard and then look around on the internet you will find that American Boxers are no longer even looking like Boxers in most cases. Long noses, fly away ears, broken down feet, light bones, bad bites are just a few traits you will find in most advertised puppies not being bred by reputable dedicated breeders. I also feel that some show breeders are just as guilty at ignoring or covering up issues in return for a chance at a win in the show ring. Therefore, finding a delicate balance is hard, but is where we try to fit in. The Europeans take great pride in their Boxers and most have to prove their worth in the show ring or as a working dog before they are bred. Crossing the two often brings the best of both worlds and types together into a nice, well balanced Boxer. The extensive testing we do on every dog before breeding is expensive and in some cases must be performed on an ongoing basis. For the breeders, including us, who raise their own stock it means you will have 2 years invested in the dog before it is old enough to test and breed. The hardest part of that is the emotional investment for most of us, financial investment aside. This along with pedigree differences and time and effort expended to produce an all around physically and mentally well balanced puppy will help explain the reason for the price difference between a $400-800 puppy and the $1500-2500 puppy. Our goal is to continue testing all our adult dogs before including them in our program and add that to all the rest of the efforts taken here at PR Boxers to produce an affordable, physically and mentally, well balanced, healthy, properly socialized puppy. After Health, the next most important quality is Temperament. And Here at PR Boxers our puppies and our program are most well known for their amazing temperaments. Our puppies are whelped in the house, underfoot where they are a part of and exposed to daily life. We are home based in our business so we are most always home, resulting in the ability to spend plenty of time with the pups. They are supplemented from birth, along with the dams, to prevent any chance of malnourishment and to keep the dams in top condition. Their environment is kept clean and climate controlled so our puppies are not expending extra calories trying to stay warm or cool. They are started on Nu-Vet Immune supplements and dewormed and vaccinated in a holistic manner. They are fed the best possible diet of high quality kibble that we can afford. Special attention is paid to introduce outside stimuli at the proper age and in the proper way to ensure a mentally balanced and well socialized puppy. We have made the effort and taken the time to choose our breeding stock carefully and include some of the best pedigrees and bloodlines possible and/or chosen the best possible representative of the breed to include in our program. We are constantly striving to better the breed with each litter. We also offer Lifetime Breeder Support. If at any time in each puppy’s life they are in need of a home they are required, and welcomed, to be returned to us for placement support. We are always, no matter how long it has been, available to our buyers to answer any questions or lend any support needed. We also are one of very few breeders who offer LIVE puppy Cameras (depends on Internet availability) for deposit holders, which allows you to watch the puppies grow from birth to 8 weeks, 24/7 live on your smart phone. So no worrying about whether your puppy is being raised in a clean healthy environment or not as you get a ringside seat! Please visit the Nu-Vet page here and the Nu-Vet website for further information on those products. And if you don’t buy a puppy from us, please be careful in your search and ask the right questions to ensure you are supporting responsible breeding. We will help you in any way we can whether or not you buy a puppy from us. Thanks for visiting and considering a PR Boxer puppy!!