Putting Weight on a Boxer Dog: A Healthy Approach

Boxer owners often worry about their young dogs being too thin and seek ways to fatten them up. It’s important to understand that not all lean Boxers are underweight, and increasing their weight should be done in a healthy manner. In this article, we will explore the right ways to put weight on a Boxer dog while considering their nutritional needs and overall health.

How to Help Your Boxer Gain Weight

You can help your Boxer gain weight in a healthy way by following these tips:

  • Increase the Amount of Lean Meat: Feeding your Boxer more lean meat is an effective way to boost their calorie intake and promote weight gain.
  • Add High-Quality Protein Snacks: Supplement their diet with protein-rich snacks such as whole raw eggs or fresh, raw, whole sardines.
  • Include Nutritious Additions: Adding coconut flakes, chia seeds, quinoa, baked sweet potato, and high-calorie fruits like dates, bananas, mango, and avocado (without pits and skin) can provide additional nutrients.
  • Feed Separately: Make sure to feed plant-based foods and meat separately to optimize digestion, as dogs naturally eat these foods at different times.
  • Avoid Harmful Foods: Steer clear of feeding your Boxer foods that are not biologically appropriate, such as cooked chicken and rice, kibble, fatty cuts of meat, synthetic supplements, dairy products, peanut butter, bread, oatmeal, and “prescription” dog foods.

Remember that every Boxer is unique, so it may take some experimentation to find the right balance of foods and portion sizes that work best for your dog.

Two lean, fit Boxers displaying the hint of ribs you should see in healthy-weight Boxers.

The Wrong Approaches to Fattening Up a Boxer

While there are healthy ways to increase your Boxer’s weight, there are also harmful approaches that can do more harm than good. Here are some common practices to avoid:

  • Feeding Cooked Chicken and Rice: Cooked meat and rice are not biologically appropriate foods for dogs.
  • Relying on Kibble: Highly processed kibble with additives, preservatives, and fillers lacks the essential nutrients your Boxer needs.
  • Feeding Fatty Cuts of Meat: Excessive fat consumption can lead to toxin buildup and an excess of waste in your dog’s body.
  • Feeding Cooked Human Meals: Cooked meat is inappropriate for dogs, even as offcuts from your own meals.
  • Using Synthetic Supplements: Nutrients are best consumed in whole food form rather than isolated supplements.
  • Feeding Dairy Products: Yoghurt, cheese, and other dairy products are not biologically appropriate for dogs.
  • Feeding Peanut Butter, Bread, and Oatmeal: These foods offer little nutritional value to dogs.
  • Opting for “Prescription” Dog Foods: Despite their marketing, these highly processed foods are far from a dog’s optimal diet.
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While there may be some exceptions, it’s generally best to avoid synthetic supplements and focus on providing your Boxer with a balanced and species-appropriate diet.

Keeping Meal Sizes in Check

To prevent the risk of bloat or gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), it’s important not to feed your Boxer enormous amounts of food in one sitting. Instead of feeding a single large meal, consider adding an extra meal to distribute their food intake throughout the day. This can help reduce the likelihood of stomach issues and improve digestion.

Understanding the Boxer Skinny Phase

Boxer puppies often go through a phase where they appear thin, especially as they start to grow and lose their puppy fat. It’s normal for Boxers to be on the lean side, especially between the ages of one and three. Vets who are unfamiliar with the breed may mistakenly recommend diets to “add some meat” to these dogs. However, as long as your Boxer is receiving adequate nutrition, there is no need to rush their weight gain. Allow their body to develop naturally and focus on providing proper nutrition.

Factors That Contribute to Skinny Boxers

There are several reasons why a Boxer dog may appear thin:

  • Underfeeding: If a dog consumes fewer calories than they burn through exercise, weight gain may be a challenge. Raw-fed Boxers typically require three to five percent of their ideal body weight in food, consisting of lean muscle meat, edible bone, and a small amount of organ meat. Adjusting their food intake based on their individual needs is crucial.
  • Worms: Contrary to popular belief, failure to gain weight is not usually due to worms. If you suspect worms, opt for a fecal test to confirm their presence.
  • Illness and Medication: Dogs recovering from illness may experience weight fluctuations. Steroids like prednisone can cause weight gain but may also lead to muscle loss. Certain health conditions, such as Cushing’s disease, can affect a dog’s weight.
  • Malabsorption and Gastrointestinal Problems: Boxers may experience digestive issues, often due to a poor diet consisting of kibble and damage caused by medications. Malabsorption occurs when the gut is unable to properly extract nutrients from food. In such cases, fasting can help the gut heal by providing digestive rest, allowing the body to focus on repair and regeneration.
  • Detox: When dogs undergo detoxification, they may rapidly lose weight as the body eliminates stored toxins. This process requires a significant amount of energy and may temporarily hinder weight gain. However, once the detox is complete, the dog will return to a healthy weight.
  • Human Perception: Many pet owners mistakenly perceive ideal weight dogs as too thin due to their exposure to overweight dogs. Neutering can also affect a dog’s weight and appearance, making them appear stockier than they actually are. It’s important to resist the temptation to overfeed your Boxer based on societal expectations.
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The Importance of Not Overfeeding

It is far healthier for a dog to be slightly lean than to be overfed. Overfeeding can lead to various problems. It won’t override your Boxer’s natural biological program, and excess food will only burden their body with unnecessary waste. Additionally, overfeeding can cause rapid growth in Boxer puppies, potentially leading to bone and joint issues. It’s crucial to allow your Boxer to grow naturally and not impose unrealistic weight expectations on them.

Why Many Boxers Are Overweight

Pet dogs, including Boxers, lead sedentary lives compared to their wild counterparts. Additionally, they are often fed more frequently and consume higher-fat foods. In the wild, dogs eat less frequently, consuming game meats that are lean compared to factory-farmed livestock. The disparity in fat content between a natural diet and commercial dog foods like kibble is significant.

Determining the Correct Weight for a Boxer

While the weight of a Boxer may vary depending on their bloodline, a typical female adult Boxer weighs between 55 and 65 pounds (25-29 kg). Adult males can be larger, weighing between 65 and 80 pounds (29-36 kg). However, these figures are less important than assessing your Boxer’s appearance.

To ensure your Boxer is at a healthy weight, observe their overall physique. From the side, a hint of the last couple of ribs should be visible, and you should be able to feel the rest of the ribs beneath a thin layer of fat. The deep chest should taper into a tucked waist. When viewed from above, you should see a waist rather than a barrel shape. If you observe more than a couple of ribs, the spine, hip bones, or leg bone when a male cocks his leg, your Boxer may be too thin.


Helping a Boxer dog gain weight should focus on providing a balanced, high-quality diet rather than resorting to unhealthy practices. By increasing their intake of lean meat, incorporating nutritious additions, and avoiding harmful foods, you can support their weight gain in a healthy manner. Remember to feed your Boxer in a way that suits their natural feeding habits, and consult with a veterinarian if you have any concerns about their weight or overall health.


  1. Risk Factors for Canine Bloat, Jerold S Bell, DVM, Tufts’ Canine and Feline Breeding and Genetics Conference, 2003
  2. A Way of Life for Wild Canines, This Could Be a Godsend for Your Dog, Dr. Karen Becker, Mercola Healthy Pets, May 27, 2018
  3. Fasting triggers stem cell regeneration of damaged, old immune system, Suzanne Wu, USC News, June 5, 2014