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Top Ten Boxer Bumps

2010 February 28

Boxer Puppy in Pink Collar

Boxer Puppy in Pink

Boxers Grow Lumps and Cancer Better Than Any Other Breed of Dog*

But if you live with a Boxer, you probably already know this! Did you know Boxers used to have a predicted lifespan of 4-6 years? The breed was bogged down with genetic predisposition to cancer, and they passed on an inherited heart condition that shortened their lives.

The breeders got together and agreed to selectively breed healthy dogs so as not to pass on the traits. Now, Boxers can expect to live 8-10 years, sometimes as much as 12-14 years, or longer.

Still, if you see a new growth or lump on your Boxer, have your vet check it urgently.  Here is a rundown of the good, the bad, and the ugly…

Boxer Bumps I’ve Diagnosed:
1. Mast Cell Tumor, the chameleon of lumps, can look like any other lump! (bad, but potentially curable if caught early)
2. Lipoma, fatty lump, this is what you hope every lump turns out to be. (good)
3. Adenoma, a cauliflower-looking skin tumor.(good)
4. Hair follicle tumor, or cyst. Also recently named Subcutaneous Keratinizing Trichoepithelioma. The pathologists love to classify and reclassify.(good)
5. Histiocytoma. Raised, cherry-red lump. Your vet can do a simple test to diagnose this little number. Quite curable!(good)

6. Hemangiosarcoma. A tumor of blood vessel lining cells. No one yet knows if early detection would increase survival from this devastating tumor. Now that ultrasound and computed tomography (CT) are becoming more available for animal patients, perhaps these tumors will be found to be more survivable.(very bad)
7. Lymphoma, inside and out. Treatable.(bad)
8. Acanthamatous Epulis. Lumps on the gums in the mouth. Your vet can diagnose gingival hyperplasia (overgrowth) from these growths that can be invasive and cancerous.(bad, but potentially curable)
9. Osteosarcoma. Bone cancer. If a leg is suddenly super painful, and especially if there is a hard lump at the pain spot, do not delay. Even if you don’t want to hear the bad news, you also don’t want your Boxer to be in pain. Go to the vet and get answers and at the very least, painkillers.(bad)
10. Sometimes a lump is just a lump! Bee sting, skin infection, hair follicle cyst, allergic reaction (boxers get hives.)

Good Luck, Go to Your Vet, Don’t be Afraid, they’re there to help you!

**As of May, 2010, Golden Retrievers have been declared the most likely breed of dog to grow cancer.  Good news for Boxers?  Only if they don’t have a Golden Retriever friend at home!

P.S. May 2010: Check out more “Bump” Stories under the “Bump” Tag.

22 Responses leave one →
  1. Brien permalink
    August 9, 2010

    Thank you so much!!!!!
    You have already told me in less than 10 minutes of reading more than my vet has told me in 4 months!
    Can you tell me just how simple the test for Histiocytoma is?
    Also, how is it determined if it is a Hair follicle tumor? There is no puss involved with this bump.

    • Doc Truli permalink
      August 10, 2010

      Dear Brien,
      Did you read the histiocytoma post? The test for histiocytoma is very simple. These bumps do tend to bleed a bit, so have a gauze pad ready. The histiocytes are also technically tricky to identify via microscopy. A talented veterinarian can identify histiocytes, usually without sending to sample out to the laboratory.
      A hair follicle tumor is usually on the list if the aspirate cytology does not show other tumors, like histiocytomas, mast cells, round cell tumors, purulent exudate (pus). Although, sometimes a hair follicle tumor can become infected and ooze pus. Dermatology is a tricky part of veterinary medicine. I determine hair follicle tumor patly by looks, partly by the aspirate cytology, and partly by performing the surgery, and getting the official results from the pathologist.
      “When in doubt, cut it out!” (Especially for a Boxer!)
      Doc Truli

      • Net permalink
        August 27, 2012

        I have just read your comments about histiocytomas. My 11 and a half years old male boxer was diagnosed with a histiocytoma on the outside of his ear 3 months ago. He was given antibiotic gel as he had scratched it and I was advised to keep an eye on it and that it should go away, but it could possibly get worse before it gets better. It has grown in size and now I am worried. Would you advise another visit to the vets?
        Many thanks for your help,
        Kind regards,

        • JLaw permalink*
          August 29, 2012

          My advice is to have it rechecked if it has not gone away on its own in 2 months. Every few years, I must surgically remove one.

  2. August 30, 2010

    Great post. Thanks. I just added your site to my myspace page.

  3. September 3, 2010

    Kudos for creating this blog post! I truly treasure the free of charge tips.

  4. Chris permalink
    August 25, 2015

    How old is too old for surgery? My pup is almost 11 and I saw a few lumps when I saw him last (my parents take him while I’m in school). I’m going to take him into the vet sometime next week but my mom said surgery is a no no because he had seizures for a few weeks after the last surgery he had a few years ago.

    Thank you for your time


    • Doc Truli permalink*
      September 26, 2015

      Dear Chris,
      There is no set age when a dog is “too old” for surgery. It is a complex decision. Your parents and your veterinarian will work together to decide if the risks of surgery outweigh the benefits of surgery. Sometimes a dog is so miserable without the surgery that the risks are worth it because they may be on pain or suffering without. In that case you take a chance and hope surgery can make their life better. Of course, unfortunately, if the risks are high and the surgery is very expensive, you also have to weigh the family budget into the decision. We wish it weren’t that way, but sometimes surgeries can be so expensive and the outcome so uncertain that it may be better to leave a dog as they are and not start up with surgery.

      Good luck! Keep the lines of communication open with your family.

      Doc Truli

  5. Sara permalink
    November 29, 2015

    My 11 year old female boxer has a hard half tennis ball size lump on the underside of the front leg between that elbow and shoulder. It feels as though it is attached to the muscle. She is in no pain and acting perfectly normal. The vet said it is not attached to the bone and he doesn’t think it is a lymph node b/c the others are not inflamed. He did a biopsy instead of a fine needle aspiration and the wait for the results are making me crazy!!!! All he said to me after the biopsy is it wasn’t black, but red and meaty. He hoped it was just a fibrous tumor. I find very little information on fibrous tumors, when I search the dreaded “cancer” word is all that I find info on. Do you any information on fibrous tumors in boxers?

    • Doc Truli permalink*
      December 5, 2015

      Dear Sara,
      I’m sorry to hear your Boxer dog has a tumor. Unfortunately, Boxers are known to grow tumors more easily than most other breeds. If you live in the Tampa Bay area, feel free to make an appointment with me 877-378-7854. If you do not, then your question is one for textbooks or for your veterinarian to answer. Of course, I took many, many hours of education of fibrous tumors in dogs and Boxers. I cannot begin to tell you anything meaningful or helpful in an internet comment. A quick google search brings up 100’s of interesting articles about fibrous tumors in Boxers, but they are not going to help you decide what to do for your dog. Or even how to care for her or him or what to expect. Those really are valid questions for your veterinarian who knows your dog.

      For my clients, this is a discussion I provide time for. Of course, you must pay the veterinarian for their time and expertise. But I can tell you need answers beyond a few vague words. If you cannot schedule a consult with me, perhaps you can inquire of your trusted veterinarian how much they would charge to give you 30-minute or 60-minute consultation about your dog’s future and your options.

      Good Luck!

      -Doc Truli

  6. Tiffany permalink
    January 19, 2016

    Hi my 3yr old boxer has what appears to be sores/pimple clusters on his mouth that I can pop and ooze and blood with Come out they don’t bother him..but I have been popping and cleaning them for a few days now and they just fill back up as the day goes on. Any idea what these are? And best way to treat it?

    • Doc Truli permalink*
      January 21, 2016

      Dear Tiffany,
      For sure you should see your veterinarian for medical diagnosis and advice.
      Doc Truli

  7. June 26, 2016

    I have a half boxer and Shar Pei dog she’s 6 months old and when I rube her ears they have lumps in them each ear at least 10 lumps in each ear what do I do

    • Doc Truli permalink*
      July 1, 2016

      Have you consulted a veterinarian in person?

  8. Nicole permalink
    August 11, 2016

    Hi, I have a 3.5 yr old boxer girl and I have been trying to fond out how to stop her skin problems. She has very small black growths that pop up on her head (about 20 this last time) then they scab off and she has tiny little bald spots where they were until her fur grows back. She also has had a couple on her legs before, just not as many. We have taken her to the vets for this and the only thing they said was that they are benign skin growths, which is good. My question is could this be Subcutaneous Keratinizing Trichoepithelioma? And would using a medicated shampoo such as malaseb shampoo help prevent these? She is also prone to flank alopecia during winter and right now we are dealing with a paw that is completely raw between her toes(looking to do a apple cider vinegar solution soak soon). Any input would be greatly appreciated!

    • Doc Truli permalink*
      September 3, 2016

      Dear Nicole,
      As a licensed veterinarian, I cannot give health advice over the internet for your doggy. I can tell you normally the subcutaneous keratinizing trichoepitheliomas tend not to go away like your dog’s bumps. Your local veterinarians are your best resources for answers. If they are not providing answers that help you, ask if a referral to a dermatologist for dogs is appropriate. Or seek the counsel of a veterinarian trained in Integrative Medicine, such as herbal medicine, homeopathy or acupuncture.
      Doc Truli

  9. Lisa C permalink
    January 14, 2017

    Hi Doc Truli,
    Thank you for the specifics and particular attention to boxer breed. I am a boxer mom of a 12 YO boy who is lumpy and bumpy here and there, lol and a nearly 10 YO rescued girl who until recently has had no issues other than her patching up from being a calamity Jane. My fur babies are checked regularly as I know the pitfalls of the breed and my boy has not issues that are life threatening. They are both in very good health but my girl has recently tested positive for hystiocytic disease in 2 areas on one hind paw pad. I have had it aspirated, had her abdomen ultrasound, lympnode labs test, bloodwork and X-rays. They have ALL come back negative. She was favoring her rear leg (same as foot) but now favoring the other a bit. The oncologist wants to do a wider biopsy of the paw pad site, but is not suggesting removal. I feel like they want to keep cutting until they find something… Ugh $$$$ what would you do if she were yours. Why haven’t they tried to see also why she is favoring her legs? Any suggestion to ask?

    • Doc Truli permalink*
      January 21, 2017

      Dear Lisa,
      Aren’t Boxers wonderful?
      I hear your frustration about more and more “cutting.” Your intuition about the favoring may be steering you a different direction than the oncologist. It sounds, from your brief description, like the specialists are acting like the histiocytic disease is causing all of the issues. Yet you are feeling, is it???? And ifit is not, why are we cutting??? I get the dilemma.
      If you live in Florida, in the Tampa Bay area, I should come see you. Or if not, you can come here (there are world-famlus beaches, like Honeymoon Island minutes away.) Alternatively, I can tell you that a veterinarian trained in Traditonal Chinese Medicine may be able to tell from tingue and pulse diagnosis, the “Ten Questions,” and an exam, whether it is likely the histiocytic disease is the culprit or another problem.
      Veterinarians are taught that the simplest, most-obvious answer usually is right (“Occam’s Razor”) However, many of my patients are not in the majority and defy those assumptions. Boxers are often in the bizarre, not expected category.
      Good luck, good questions.
      -Dr Truli

  10. sheri permalink
    October 13, 2017

    My 18 month old female boxer has a lump on the outer part of her left ear. It began as a pea size hard lump and now has grown into a grape sized lump. I have had her to the vet for almost 2 months and they keep putting it off. It is so big I don’t let her play with other dogs in fear it will be ripped off. I have booked for surgery. I don’t know what else to do.

    • Doc Truli permalink*
      October 20, 2017

      Dear Sheri-
      Ears bleed like crazy and are vulnerable to injury. Even though I use mostly Traditional Chinese Medicine like acupuncture, herbal medicine, food therapy and medical massage (Tui-na), I refer my patients for surgery in situations like yours. I wish her luck!
      Doc Truli

  11. Ken permalink
    December 1, 2017

    Great info! Doctor Truli I have a 10 year old female Boxer who has a circular ring of bumps around her neck (it’s literally a perfect circle) and patches of bumps on her back. I took her to the vet who took a sample from the bumps but it didn’t show any cancer. What could this be? Thank you so much for any help you can provide. :). Ken

    • Doc Truli permalink*
      December 11, 2017

      Hi Ken,
      Thanks for reading! I cannot provide a list of “what could it be?” without seeing your pet. Your question in doctor-speak is “what is the differential diagnosis?” Given all the symptoms, a doctor can go through a written or mental process of thinking of everything that could cause those signs. For example, drinking and urinating too much can be a sign of 42 different diseases. Then the doctor prioritizes testing recommendations based on likelihood, breed predispositions, knowledge of diseases in your geographic area, lifestyle risks, etc. Then you start working through the differentials, so to speak. It means testing. Usually doctors start with likely, common, inexpensive, and non-painful or non-invasive tests and preferably reliable tests with a good diagnostic yield. But if those tests do not reveal the answer, you must push on for an answer, or resign yourself to not knowing the exact diagnosis. So you see, I cannot responsibly just throw out a list… and it is your dog’s veterinarian’s job to help you with that.
      Best wishes,
      Dr Truli

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