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Book Review
Living with a Boxer
Edited by Sharon Hannibal

Review by: Kate Connick, August 2003

Living with a Boxer is a colorful, simple guide to boxer ownership. As editor, Sharon Hannibal writes six of the book's seven chapters. British veterinarian, Trevor Turner, writes the remaining, health-related chapter. Highlight boxes feature contributions from others, including Karla Spitzer's thoughts on training boxers for competitive obedience, and Cathy & George Markos's input on boxers as schutzhund and working police dogs.

The book is colorful and inviting with a nice assortment of color photos that show boxers of various ages in various poses, including stacked conformation shots, couch potato poses, and action scenes.

Information is very basic and is geared primarily towards the first-time dog owner. Because of the handsome photography and simple writing, this book would probably be well received by a child.

Hannibal begins with a brief history of the breed, then explores boxer care by life stages (puppy, adolescent, adult). She introduces activities that a boxer might participate in, and she discusses conformation showing and breeding. The final chapter is an overview of preventative health care, as well as breed-related health concerns.

In some respects, the book isn't a bad introduction to boxers, but its superficiality limits its usefulness as a meaningful resource in other areas. Saying that "pedigrees must be thoroughly investigated to ensure that there are no inherited health conditions," is a safe, generic remark but a weak alternative to explaining Holter monitors, hip x-rays, and blood tests to measure thyroid function, for example.

Some information is dubious, such as the author's assertion that boxer life expectancy is in the 12-14 year range. That seems unrealistically optimistic, as boxers more typically appear to live closer to 9-10 years.

Other information is vexing. Although she says that white boxers "certainly make first-rate companions," she also remarks that they "do not resemble the typical, smart Boxer that most people imagine," and she cautions that one should "think carefully before taking one on." In fairness, she does give white boxers their historical due, and she includes a highlight box on their behalf. But she never explains that deafness, even in very young puppies, can be readily determined or ruled out with a BAER test, demystifying the one thing that might worry someone considering white boxer ownership.

The book has a decidedly British flavor, as well as a mood tipped towards being overly impressed with showing and titles. Nonetheless, it offers a rather comprehensive introduction to boxer ownership in a palatable package. It would make a nice gift for a new boxer owner. In the end, this is a good book that attempts to cover a lot of ground, perhaps occasionally at the expense of necessary depth. One will find plenty of attractive photos, as well as basic tips on care. If you have a boxer, go ahead and add this book to your collection.

Living with a Boxer, edited by Sharon Hannibal.
Published by Barron's Educational Series, 2002. ISBN: 0764154303

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