- This post contains affiliate links. Read more here.
- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Boxers are easy to identify, with their large, muscular bodies and jowly, square snout. These seemingly formidable dogs are some of the friendliest breeds around. They’re patient and loving with children, love spending time with family, and are in general very playful and goofy. As a large-breed energetic dog, boxers need a few key things in their diets. The best dog food for boxers includes a lot of protein and a moderate amount of fat to keep them going and healthy.
A large-breed dog that typically weighs between 50 and 70 pounds at maturity, boxers have a shorter than average lifespan of eight to 10 years. Unfortunately, that can be reduced even more by the prevalence of serious heart problems.
Boxers make excellent watchdogs due to their protective instincts, though they’re by no means aggressive. They have charming, distinct personalities and are fairly intelligent and relatively easy to train. As is true for many large breeds, however, they may be best for experienced dog owners who are able to handle a larger dog with high energy levels.
The Basics of Canine Nutrition
Protein is the foundation of the best food for boxers and a healthy diet for any dog. It supports growth and development in puppies and helps adult dogs maintain lean muscle mass. Fat is a concentrated source of calories and helps your dog absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Your dog has no nutritional requirement for carbohydrates (though healthy sources can provide essential nutrients) and they need a collection of vitamins and minerals as well.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has determined the minimal requirements for key nutrients in dogs, and recommends a minimum of 22% protein for canine growth and reproduction (puppies and lactating females) and an 18% minimum for adult dogs. For fat, these numbers are 8% and 5%, respectively.
To meet these requirements, feed your dog a high-quality food made with real, whole-food sources of these nutrients. Animal protein like meat or poultry should be the focus with higher than average fat and limited carbohydrate content. Keep in mind as well that not all dog foods have the same calorie content, so compare the calories per cup to the feeding recommendations according to your dog’s age and weight.
Remember that AAFCO standards exist to encourage commercial pet food products to adhere to minimum nutritional requirements. You’ll probably agree, however, that your dog deserves more than the bare minimum. Checking for an AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy on the label is a good way to weed out the really bad dog foods, but the statement itself isn’t a wholesale guarantee of quality.
It’s worth putting in the time and research to better understand the world of dog food. Some great educational resources on the topic are:
- Our in-depth guide, Decoding Dog Food: Your Guide to What You’re Really Feeding Your Pet
- How to Read a Dog Food Label, by the American Kennel Club (AKC)
- The Dog Food Project, an online reference with exhaustive information about everything from dog nutrition to common dog food ingredients to avoid
Do Boxer Dogs Have Special Dietary Needs?
Though boxers make wonderful family pets, they’re a highly active breed and prone to a number of serious health problems. Boxers have a higher risk for several heart conditions as well as diet-related issues such as allergies and bloat. The best dog food for boxers is healthy and high-quality. Along with regular veterinary care, a good diet will support their long-term health.
Here are some key things to look for in dog food for boxers:
- Natural, whole-food ingredients. High-quality ingredients are the key to a healthy diet for dogs. Look for a rich source of animal protein as the first ingredient with limited carbohydrates and no artificial additives, byproducts, or fillers.
- High in animal protein. Though your boxer needs a minimum of 18% protein as an adult and 22% as a puppy, more is usually best for this well-muscled breed. Meat, poultry, and seafood are rich sources of animal protein and highly digestible for your dog.
- Moderate healthy fats. Boxers are fairly high-energy dogs, so they may need more than the minimum 5% recommendation. Animal-based fats like chicken fat and salmon oil are preferable but can be combined with plant oils to ensure a balance of omega-3 and omega-6s.
- Complete and balanced. Look for a dog food for boxers that contains the vitamins and minerals they need, in the right amount, by checking the Association of American Feed Control Officials’ (AAFCO) nutrient profiles.
Because boxers are already prone to heart problems, you may want to think twice about feeding your dog a grain-free diet. The FDA has been investigating claims of a link between grain-free foods—particularly those with high concentrations of legumes—and an increased risk for dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs. There’s no conclusive evidence as of yet, but it’s a good idea to check in with your veterinarian before switching your boxer to a grain-free diet.
The Best Dog Food for Boxers
The best dog food for boxers is a large-breed recipe formulated for your dog’s life stage. Boxer puppies need a large-breed formula to prevent them from growing too quickly, which can put stress on the bones and joints and increase the risk for musculoskeletal issues later in life. As adults, boxers need a diet rich in protein with moderate fat content and digestible carbohydrates.
Read on for our best dog food picks for boxers.
Packed with real chicken, this high-protein recipe is formulated specifically for large breeds and fortified with the brand’s LifeSource Bits, a special blend of vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants to round out a complete and balanced nutrition profile.Shop on Chewy
Deboned chicken leads the ingredients list of this recipe, formulated for large-breed puppies. It will help your boxer pup develop strong muscles for a healthy lifetime.Shop on Chewy
Featuring both chicken and salmon as the primary proteins, this large-breed formula is rich in lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA for brain health.Shop on Chewy
Designed to help active puppies grow up into strong adults, this recipe is packed with premium-quality chicken meal, low in carbohydrates, and fortified with essential nutrients.Shop on Chewy
With chicken meal as a concentrated source of premium animal protein, this formula contains 25% protein and 13% fat with beneficial supplements as well.Shop on Chewy
This holistic, natural recipe is high in protein and low in carbohydrates, featuring 41% crude protein that comes from real meat, primarily duck and turkey meal.Shop on Chewy
Premium turkey meal makes up the bulk of the animal protein in this recipe, which also contains optimal levels of calcium and phosphorus for strong bones and adds probiotics for healthy digestion.Shop on Chewy
The best dog food for boxers is formulated for large breeds. Let them take a walk on the wild side with this beef and wild boar recipe. It contains 60% animal ingredients to support strong muscles and optimal digestion.Shop on Chewy
If your boxer suffers from food allergies, this limited ingredient diet (LID) could be the right choice. There’s one protein source, fish—pollock and whitefish meal—and two carbohydrate sources. The limited ingredients can help you avoid your dog’s food sensitivities and keep tabs on what works well.Shop on Chewy
The lean proteins in this recipe—real chicken, turkey, duck, and salmon—along with added beneficial ingredients such as glucosamine, pack in the best nutrients to support healthy body weight and bone strength in your aging boxer.Shop on Chewy
Talk to Your Vet Before Choosing Any New Food for Your Dog
We’ve selected the best dog food for boxers. But before introducing any new foods into your pup’s diet, we suggest consulting with your vet. Your veterinarian can help you understand any health issues your boxer may be experiencing, and can recommend dog food that’s going to best support their specific health needs.