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Like many breeds of dogs, Boxers are subject to heart ailments. These include congenital anomalies as well as acquired disease later in life. Boxer heart disease usually falls into two important categories: aortic stenosis and cardiomyopathy.

Aortic Stenosis

This is a congenital condition, a narrowing or constriction of the outflow tract from the left ventricle to the aorta. It can be detected as a systolic murmur by your veterinarian in young puppies and older dogs. Sometimes the murmur will not show up until the dog reaches enough physical size for the constriction to become evident.

This murmur must be distinguished from other types of murmurs, often so-called innocent flow murmurs that disappear as the puppy grows. There is no practical surgical treatment, and if the condition results in arrhythmias, antiarrhythmic therapy is usually instituted. Mild forms of the anomaly may go undetected and are not incompatible with a normal life span.

Cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy is an electrical-conduction disturbance (sometimes referred to as ARVC — Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy), an adult onset disease of the heart muscle itself causing abnormal electrical impulses to disrupt the heart’s normal rhythm. This arrhythmia may lead to sudden death or heart failure. Symptoms include weakness and/or collapse. Arrhythmias can be brought on by certain poisons, infections (notably parvovirus), severe uremia, diabetes, and heatstroke. However, in the Boxer they are most often hereditary in nature. A simple blood test is available to determine whether or not your dog is carrying the genes that may make him most susceptible to this disease. A 24 hour Holter monitor, recording the heart’s activity for this period of time, may be needed to diagnose potentially life threatening arrhythmias. It is advised to begin Holters in the young adult and repeat annually thereafter.