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Info about White Boxers

Posted by Amanda on January 23, 2011 at 9:50 PM

Regrettably, some people still believe that the white Boxeror white Boxer puppy is the least favorable of the Boxer breed. Some will arguethat Boxers born white are more prone to illness or more aggressive than theother more traditionally colored dogs of the breed. For those of us who arelucky enough to love a white Boxer...this couldn't be further from the truth!


There is a lot of misinformation out there…so let’s clear it up by looking atthe facts.


The white boxer will behave exactly like most other, more traditionally colored,Boxers. Most, if not all, Boxers are comical, fun loving, and expressiveanimals with a strong craving to please.


Despite what some may think, a white Boxer is not automatically ill, deaf, blind,or rare.  In fact, 25% of all Boxers born are white! And the majority ofthem (about 70% - 90%, statistics vary) are born healthy.


What Causes White Boxers?


White Boxers are not caused by genetic birth defects.  The white color in Boxersis not a defect at all. Just as human hair color is the product of the combinedgenetics of the human parents, the color of a Boxer puppy’s coat is determinedby the genetics of both the father (sire) and the mother (dam). Also, color canskip a generation and a Boxer may have the color of his or her grandmother orgrandfather.  In some cases, color can go back as far as five generations.


For a Boxer to be white, both of the parents must carry the genetic code for white. In every way the puppy is the same as all of its siblings - with all theliveliness, traits, and spirit that make them Boxers.


A white Boxer is not an albino. A true albino entirely lacks pigment. Any dogbreed will infrequently have an albino, although it is very rare.  When adog is an albino there is no colored pigmentation anywhere on the dog. Theyhave pink eyes, and a complete lack of color anywhere on the body.


Most white Boxers have some spots on their skin (which can be seen due to theirshort hair coats) and have some markings around their nose and mouth. Some whiteBoxers have colored markings on their coat (such as brown spots around an eyeor on the back, etc). The white Boxer will have pigment in their eyes, this alonerules out albinism as the cause of their whiteness.  White Boxers areespecially beautiful and expressive looking, as their eyes stand out very muchand they often have the “puppy dog look” that makes us melt!


Approximately one in four Boxer puppies are white (either all white or having amajority of white hair). Therefore, this is not a rare color. Even so, the AKCBoxer breed standard requires that 2/3's of the body be either fawn or brindlein color. Because of this limitation, white Boxers do not meet the breedstandard for eligibility to show in conformation classes. They are eligible forregistration with the AKC and can compete in obedience or agility classes. Usingthem in breeding programs is frowned upon due to the increased chance of thempassing along either deafness or blindness to their offspring.


Sadly, there are breeders (and people in the general public) who feel thatwhite Boxers are inferior to standard colored Boxers and have more healthproblems than standard colored Boxers.  Fortunately, the American BoxerClub allows for white Boxers to be registered with the AKC on limited privilege.


Recently, there has been more study on white Boxer dogs to either substantiateor dissuade the claims that white Boxers are more prone to problems thanstandard Boxers. The only claims that seem to have merit are:


1) A white Boxer is more likely to sunburn.

2) The white Boxer (like many other breeds with similar lossof pigment problems) are more prone to deafness in one or both ears.


Here are Ten Quick White Boxer Facts for you to consider:


1. They are not rare - approximately 25% of all boxers born are white.


2. They are not albinos - they have pigmented eyes and skin.


3. They can sunburn easily - an owner should take precaution when exposingtheir white Boxer to long periods of time (more than 30 minutes) in the sun.


4. They can be deaf and this is one of the biggest reasons why most breeders donot purposefully breed for the white color. Though percentages vary, approximately10% to 30% of white Boxers will be deaf either in one or both ears.


5. Blindness is a bit more common with the white Boxer.


6. Some people believe that white Boxers develop cancer more easily than themore standard colored Boxers - however, this is still up for debate and has notbeen proven. Boxers in general are more prone to various kinds of cancer thansome other breeds.


7.  If a white Boxers parents are AKC registered, then a white Boxer iseligible to be registered with the AKC.


8. Due to the fact that deafness (and occasional blindness) is more common witha white Boxer, it is highly recommended to have your puppy spayed/neutered -most ethical Boxer breeders will only give limited AKC registration with theirwhite puppies.


9. They have the same temperament and personality as other Boxers. They arehappy, loyal, well adjusted, friendly dogs when raised in a loving, appropriatehome.


10. When a white Boxer has spots of fawn or brindle on them, almost to thepoint of 50/50, the dog is called a “check” or could more appropriately becalled a piebald.


The Difference between White Boxers and Check Boxers


The terms “white” and “check” are often used interchangeably, but this is notcorrect. The two colors are very different. The white Boxer may have pigmentedpatches around the eyes and ears and other limited points on the body, but thecheck Boxer has much more pigment and could be called piebald (50:50).


The white carries two doses of the extreme white spotting gene, s-w (s-w/s-w)and is produced by two “flashy Boxers”. A flashy Boxer is one who carriesone dose of the gene. The term “flashy” is also used to describe a Boxerwho has a full white collar, white chest, white on the face and feet/legs.


Deafness Facts


Regarding deafness, the genetic basis of white in Boxers is the same as inDalmatians, although without the ticking factor to give the spots. In the United States, approximately 8% are bilaterallydeaf and approximately 22% unilateral, the total number is approximately 10% - 30% who are affected either way. 


The cause of the deafness connected with the white color is the absence ofpigment cells in the inner ear resulting in a loss of sensory hair cells atabout 6 - 8 weeks of age.


The shortage or absence of pigment cells is also the cause of the white coatand un-pigmented third eyelids (called the haw). In general the more pigment inthe coat the lower will be the risk of deafness, but all predominantly whitedogs are at risk of being deaf, not just the Boxer breed.


Please note however that not all white dogs are white because of a lack ofpigment cells. Some breeds such as the West Highlands and Poodles just haveextremely diluted pigmentation; they have a full complement of pigment cells,so are not at risk of being deaf.


There are of course many other causes of deafness in dogs.  Not all areattributable to the absence of pigment cells. And deafness can be caused byexternal factors too.

The majority of this information was taken from I did some research of my own and edited a few points that I found to be incorrect. As with anything you do, be sure you do your own research on owning a white Boxer and make sure you are familiar with the risks.

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