Getting a puppy:

Here at Thistle Boxer Rescue we realise that a rescue boxer is not suitable for everyone.  We would love for all of you to consider adopting one of our dogs but if it’s really not suitable for you or your circumstance we are more than happy to give advice about how to find a happy health puppy.

Things to consider before getting a puppy…

Q: Can I afford a dog?

Being a responsible dog owner can be a costly business.  Beyond the cost of buying a puppy you need to factor in routine vet care (vaccinations, worming, flee & tick treatment), pet insurance, cost of food, cost of neutering & microchipping, the damage to your house that a puppy may cause, the cost of kennels for your dog when on holiday, etc.  It’s really not that cheap!  You will have this cost for up to 14 years, with increasing vet costs and insurance premiums as the dog gets older.

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Q: Do I have the time?

This is a very important consideration when getting a puppy.  We realise that people need to work to make a living but you need to think hard about how it will affect a dog being left at home for long periods of time alone.  Most rescues have a rule where they won’t rehome to a home where the dog will be left for more than four hours a day.  This is a very good rule to bear in mind when thinking about a puppy.  If the dog is going to be left from 8am to 5pm for five days a week, is this really fair on them?  Boxers are very social animals that love human company.  Trust us, if you leave a boxer alone all day when you are out at work you will soon come home to a very stressed out dog and a destroyed house.  It’s just not fair.  Boxers will also need at least two hour-long walks a day as adults.  Do you have the time for this?  Again, this is a commitment that you are taking up which could last up to 14 years.

Q: How well do I know the breed?

As much as we adore boxers, we know they can be a right handful.  Think beyond the cute tiny pup to the large powerful dog bursting with energy that they will become.  Puppies don’t stay puppies for long; within months they will be getting big.  A boxer can weigh anywhere between 24kg and 40kg.  That’s a big strong dog!  Boxers are full of energy and they love nothing better than being out on a long walk.  If you don’t give a boxer the exercise it needs, they can be a right pain to live with.  Boxers are very sociable dogs and love being part of family life.  They will follow you from room to room just to see where you are.  Lay down on the sofa to watch TV and they will creep up to lay on top of you, whether you want them to or not!  A boisterous boxer is not for everyone so please do your research before getting a boxer pup and if possible offer to look after a friend or family member’s boxer for the weekend to see what life is like with a boxer in the house. 

Q: How will my family circumstances change over the course of a dog’s life?

You really should consider how your life will change over the course of a dog’s life.  Are you planning on having children further down the line and do you think you can cope with both the pressure of looking after a new born and a dog?  Are your work commitments likely to change?  We find the vast majority of dogs we get in are due to a change in family circumstances; mainly family members having to work longer hours or a new baby in the family.  Please think about this and how this will affect your ability to care for a dog.

Q: Is a rescue dog a real alternative?

Why not give some consideration to rescuing a boxer?  Most dogs we get in are due to family circumstances changing, not because they are ‘bad’ dogs.  The boxers that come into our care are of all ages and, to be honest, a boxer never really grows up; they are always puppies at heart. You get the added bounce of helping out a dog in need and with a Thistle Boxer Rescue dog you will get lifelong support. 

Where to get your puppy?

This is where things get tricky.  There are a lot of unscrupulous people out there breeding dogs purely for money; these people vastly out number responsible breeders.  As a rescue we won’t recommend individual breeders.  Never buy a puppy from a shop or a puppy farm (which will usually be selling a variety of different breeds of dog).  Be wary of people advertising on the internet or in newspapers who are breeding their family ‘pets’.  You will often find with these people that they haven’t done the vet checks for hereditary conditions and will also lack the proper knowledge for breeding a dog.  If you buy from any of these places you run the risk of a dog that could suffer from any of the numerous conditions that are becoming more and more common in boxers such as heart problems, hip problems, allergies, epilepsy, etc.  You also run the risk of behavioural problems being passed from unstable parents or that can arise from poor early socialisation.

So what does that leave you with?

Reputable breeders.  There are breeders out there who care deeply for the breed and who breed their dogs in a responsible manner. To find them however will take some work on your behalf.  One way could be to ask your vet.  Another is to use a scheme such as the ‘Kennel Club Accredited Breeder’.  Please do not take these breeders at face value; you need to be just as carefully with them as any other breeder.  You will also find breed clubs throughout the UK with information on breeders.

When going to a breeder for a puppy here are some good points to bear in mind:

  • Make sure you see the puppy interacting with the rest of the litter and its mother. A puppy is not ready to leave its mother before it is eight weeks old.
  • Make sure you see the puppy with the rest of the litter. The breeder should allow you to handle the puppies.  Visit the breeder at least twice before making the final collection.  The breeder should allow you to handle the puppies each time you visit.
  • Check that the puppies have regular access to human contact. It is better that the puppies are being raised in a home environment, rather than a kennel, so that they become familiar with everyday sights, smells and sounds.
  • Check whether the facilities appear clean and the puppy seems alert and healthy.
  • There should be no discharge from its eyes or nose or any sores, bald patches or scabs on the skin. The puppy should be alert and show no obvious signs of illness such as coughing.
  • Find out whether the puppy has been wormed and vaccinated. Some breeders will vaccinate puppies at eight weeks of age before releasing them to their new owners.
  • If possible, request a written agreement that the purchase is subject to a satisfactory examination by your vet within 48 hours of purchase. Ask if the puppy will be covered by insurance for any illness during the first few weeks in your care.  Most good breeders subscribe to this scheme.
  • Check that the puppy’s parents have been tested for hereditary diseases. If no certificates are available, go to another breeder.  If you need help understanding the results, ask your vet.
  • Ensure all the relevant paperwork is available for inspection when you visit the puppy. This should include a vaccination certificate, a health check report from a vet and a Pedigree or Kennel Club certificate.  Remember, a Pedigree or Kennel Club certificate does not guarantee a perfect puppy; it’s up to you to carry out the appropriate checks above.  If your puppy appears unwell on collection, do not take it.  Arrange with the breeder to return another day.  If you have any doubts, choose another breeder.

Please stick to the above points.  Any breeder worth talking to will be happy to help you follow the above guidelines.  The breeder should also be interested in your boxer experience, your working hours etc.  They will want to know that their dogs are going to a good home.  If the conversation is simply about how much money they want walk away.

Some words of warning: Just because a breeder is on the Kennel Club Accredited Breeder Scheme, a member of the regional boxer club or has done well at dog shows does not mean that they are a reputable breeder.  Trust us, we have come across many dogs from the biggest show kennels in the country that are racked with health problems.  Vet these breeders as carefully as you would any other breeder.  Please do not settle for the first puppy you see. We know it’s so hard not to fall in love straight away but you really should follow the above advice and walk away if something doesn’t seem right, no matter how cute the puppy is.

A final word: Ok, all the not so nice things out the way…

We really hope that you make the right choices when choosing a puppy and end up with a happy healthy boxer.  We would love it if you and your new addition would become part of the Thistle Boxer Rescue family, whether that is through joining our Facebook supporters’ group, by coming along to events to introduce yourself, becoming a volunteer or rescuing one of our dogs in the future.  First and foremost, we are boxer lovers; we don’t care if you have rescued or if you have bought a puppy. If you have a passion for boxers we would love you to be part of our world.

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Health issues:

All boxer owners know that their dogs are prone to various illnesses including mast cell tumours, histiocytomas, heart issues, allergies, epulis and cruciate ligament rupture.

There is a wealth of information available in the internet about these problems but we would recommend discussing any concerns you might have with your vet. We are always happy to try and answer questions however, either by phone or through our Facebook page. [link]

Neutering & Spaying:

We insist that all dogs adopted from us are neutered / spayed as part of the adoption agreement.

What is Neutering?

Neutering is a simple operation which stops your boxer from breeding by the removal of the sexual organs.  In males this involves the removal of the testicles and is called ‘castration’.  In female boxers it involves the removal of the ovaries and uterus and is called ‘spaying’.

We know it sounds a bit scary and no one wants to put their boxers through an operation if they can help it but neutering your pet does have some massive benefits including:

Behaviour:

  • Neutering encourages calmer, more predictable behaviour making a boxer a more suitable family pet.
  • It can help reduce aggressive and unwanted sexual behaviour, preventing fighting, mounting and being destructive.Boxers that have been neutered are also less likely to mark their territory or stray.
  • Female boxers usually come into season for about three weeks, twice a year. Whilst in season a bitch may act strangely trying to run away in search of a mate and needing to be kept away from male boxers.
  • Male boxers’ behaviour can also change greatly when a local bitch is in season.They may be desperate to escape, even running into busy roads or jumping from high windows.

Health

  • Pregnancy can cause significant health risks to your boxer, causing her discomfort and to behave oddly. Each year many boxers die giving birth.  Neutering your boxer also avoids the inconvenience and mess of having seasons.
  • Early neutering can reduce the risk of some cancers developing in later life for both male (prostate and testicular cancer) and female (uterine, mammary, and ovarian cancers) boxers. It also stops bitches suffering from potentially fatal womb infections (known as pyometras).

Money

  • Neutering prevents the unnecessary costs of unplanned pregnancies and raising puppies.
  • By preventing accidents caused by unruly behaviour, costly vets’ bills can be avoided.
  • It’s cheaper than having to deal with the expense of treating illness that could be avoided by having your boxer neutered.

When should you neuter your boxer?

Most vets will neuter boxers of either sex from the age of about four months, although it can be done at any age.  The sooner it is done the less likely your boxer will be to develop the unwanted behaviour that comes with sexual maturity.  The best way for you to decide at what age is best for you to neuter your boxer is to discuss it with your vet.

It is never too late to have your boxer neutered; your boxer will still benefit from it tremendously no matter their age.

Recovery time

Recovery time is roughly 10 days.  Your boxer may be slightly groggy for a few days due to the general aesthetic.  The biggest problem is keeping your boxer calm.  We know how difficult this can be in order for the wounds to heal properly.  You will find that most boxers are back to their usually selves the day after the operation.  Your vet will give you instructions as to the best care for your boxer during their recovery.

Cost

The cost of having your boxer will vary from vet to vet but it really should be one of the costs that you take into consideration before you get a boxer.  There are also several schemes for those on benefits or low incomes that help with the cost of neutering their pets such as the Boxer Aid Society of Scotland.

Myths

Q: Will my boxer gain weight once neutered?

A: No, your boxers weight is controlled through diet and exercise.  A good healthy diet and regular exercise will keep your neutered boxer as trim as any un-neutered boxer.

Q: Is better to let my boxer either mate or have one litter first?

A: No! This is a major misconception.  This will have no benefit for your boxer whatsoever. In fact, it will most likely have the opposite effect.  Male boxers that are allowed to mate will often suffer a change of temperament which can often make them harder to control.  Female boxers risk many complications, even death, if allowed to breed.  It will often make the operation to spay them more difficult.  Then you need to consider the puppies that YOU have brought into this world.  They are your responsibility for life, regardless if you sell them at eight weeks old.

So please ignore this horrible myth and have your boxer neutered young and don’t allow them to breed.  Here at Thistle Boxer Rescue, we make sure all boxers that come through our care are neutered before or soon after they are rehomed.  We pay for the procedure ourselves if it is done at one of our preferred vets.  We have seen too often the fallout from unplanned litters, unscrupulous breeders and even from litters by people meaning well but not thinking it through properly.  We also have seen the devastating health consequences that could have been avoid by having the boxers neutered.  One of our missions as a charity is promote the benefits of neutering. We hope having read this that you will consider neutering your boxer; it really is for their benefit.

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Microchips:

Here at Thistle Boxer Rescue, we cannot stress the importance of ensuring your pet has a microchip which is up to date with your correct contact details.  Not only is it a legal requirement that your pet wears a collar and identity tag, but it is now also a requirement that your dog is microchipped.  By microchipping your pet, you can be safe in the knowledge that you have done everything in your power to ensure that if they get lost or stray and are found without a collar and tag, they can scanned, identified and returned home safely.

What Is Microchipping?

The microchip is a small device about the size of a grain of rice.  Each microchip contains a unique number which links to the owner’s details and which is stored on a national database.  The microchip is inserted under the skin in the shoulder area of the pet during a quick and simple painless procedure much like an injection.  To read the microchip number a scanner is simple passed over the area where the chip was inserted.  There are no negative side effects of having your pet chipped.

Benefits

If your pet wanders off and is then handed into a dog shelter, vets or police station they will be scanned and if microchipped they will have your contact details within minutes and you will be quickly reunited with your pet.  Also, in a world where theft of pedigree dogs is becoming ever more common, you will always have proof that the dog belongs to you.  If your dog were to be stolen and was not microchipped, it would be very hard to prove that you are the owner.  A microchip can’t be removed and will always be there as a sign of your ownership.

You can expect to pay £25 - £35 to have your dog microchipped at the vet.  Thistle Boxer Rescue microchips all dogs that come into our care before they are rehomed; some of our volunteers are trained and are able to insert microchips themselves.

Responsible ownership:

Getting a dog is a big responsibility and many people do not realise that owning a dog is a huge commitment.  This is one of the many reasons dogs are rehomed as people cannot commit fully to owning a dog.  Being a responsible owner doesn’t just mean providing food and water and taking the dog to the vet when they are sick or injured, it also involves pet insurance, microchipping, neutering and continued vaccinations.

Giving a home to a rescue dog is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have.  However, it is important to know that you are ready to take on the commitment of another life, a life that will be totally dependent on you.

Providing a daily routine

Dogs require regular daily exercise this not only provides an outlet for all that boxer energy but also keeps their minds active which can help stop unwanted destructive behaviour due to boredom.  Regular walks also provide your dog with a chance to meet other dogs.

Both tinned and dried pet food provide a balanced, nutritious diet but remember to provide extra water with dried food.  Water must always be clean and fresh.  Human food is not recommended.  Human chocolate is poisonous to dogs and can be fatal in large quantities.

Your dog’s bed should be in a quiet, draught-free place out of direct sunlight.

Socialisation

Proper socialisation with other dogs and animals is important for both you and your dog it creates a happy and relaxed environment.  Unfortunately, a lot of the boxers we have in our care come to us with no socialisation skills and due to this find it more difficult to find new forever homes. Dog training classes are a great way to learn to socialise and also help the owner with handling and training techniques. 

Pet insurance

Being a responsible owner means providing the proper vet care for your dog from annual vaccinations to flea and worming treatments.  Vet care can be expensive so pet insurance is a very important aspect of owning a dog.  We advise that all pet owners insure their pets. Pet insurance guards against unexpected vet treatments and will allow you to provide your dog with the best healthcare possible.

Children

Many boxers live happily with children if they have lived with them from an early age.  It is important that children are taught to respect animals and are not allowed to treat them as toys.  Pets need their own space so children should not disturb your pet when he / she is sleeping or eating.  Never leave a dog alone with children.  Always supervise interactions to ensure children do not tease or overexcite your pet.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety describes the situation where your dog panics even before you leave the house and remains in this state until you return.  During this stressful time, it is common for your dog to soil the house, chew around areas where you usually come and go, howl in misery or pant, shake and drool.  To put it into perspective, it is similar to the panic attacks experienced by humans; it is a significant emotional problem but one which, with the right type of training, can be curable.  There is no simple answer as to what triggers a dog to develop separation anxiety as each case is entirely unique.  However, it is generally thought that over-attachment and frustration intolerance are two of the most significant factors. Separation anxiety is more common in dogs that have experienced previous trauma related to being alone.  This might explain why rescue dogs can be more susceptible.  Being in kennels or left in an unfamiliar place surrounded by unfamiliar barking dogs who are often scared themselves can be a factor in why a dog becomes scared of being left alone.  The key to treating separation anxiety involves desensitising the dog to the ‘triggers’ it associates with you leaving the house and helping it to develop a tolerance of you being away.  This can be a long process but one you will both be able to manage with the right support and advice.  There is plenty of specific advice on the various techniques you can try in training books or on the internet.  Please feel free to get in touch if you want to discuss this or for further advice.