Information about the Boerboel

The Boerboel is a large, mastiff dog breed from South Africa, bred for the purpose of guarding the homestead. These dogs were often a first line of defense against predators and were valuable in tracking and holding down wounded game. Old farmers tell many tales of the strength, agility, and courage of their Boerboels.

The word “Boerboel” derives from “boer”, the Afrikaans/Dutch word for “farmer”. Boerboel, therefore, translates as either “farmer’s dog” or “Boer’s dog”. The Boerboel is the only South African dog breed created to defend the homestead.

Despite the Boerboel’s long breeding history, there is great uncertainty as to how many and which breeds were used to create it. It is generally believed that the breed was created from interbreeding native African canine species and breeds with breeds brought into South Africa from Dutch, French, and British settlers.

The most likely origins are claimed to date back to Jan van Riebeeck’s arrival to the Cape in 1652. Van Riebeeck brought a Bullenbijter with him. Those with him, and later European settlers, also had large, strong dogs, that almost certainly bred with the indigenous, domestic dog breeds of South Africa.

Later, in 1928, the diamond mining company De Beers imported Bullmastiffs to South Africa to guard the mines. This breed was also crossbred with Boerboels in the region.

Today, Boerboel breeding is both a hobby and an industry in South Africa. These dogs are now exported from South Africa to other parts of the world.

The protective character of the Boerboel is still evident and is much sought after, as is the calm, stable, and confident composure of the breed. The dogs are obedient and intelligent and have strong territorial instincts. The Boerboel remains the guarding breed of choice amongst current day farmers and is very popular for the same reason in urban communities.

The name boerboel is commonly misspelled as boerbul, boerbull, and borbull.

The Boerboel is a large, heavy mastiff breed. The height ranges from 60 to 70 cm (23 to 27 in) when fully grown (24 months), and the weight of an adult varies between 50 to 80 kg (110 to 175 lbs). For comparison purposes, a Boerboel is generally heavier (thicker) than a Rottweiler or a Doberman, although the same weight, but not as tall as a Great Dane.

The Boerboel is an average shedder and an easy to groom. The occasional brushing and a monthly bath and nail trim is all that is needed. The breed has an outer coat that is normally coarse and straight, and an undercoat that is soft and dense.

Its coat is short, dense, smooth, soft, and shiny. Their coat color can be various shades of red, brown, black, or fawn. Many dogs have a black mask around their mouth that sometimes extends to their eyes and ears. The coat patterns that Boerboels can have are piebald, brindle, and Irish markings.

Boerboels are an intelligent and energetic breed. They are loyal, great with kids and tend to be protective of their family and territory.

They are quite charming when not being lazy, and will not hesitate to defend you to the death. This dog is the most protective dog breed that is not aggressive. Boerboels are likely to intimidate intruders, but are unlikely to attack. The combination of their intelligence, protective instincts, large size, physical strength, and sheer stubbornness, make the boerboel breed a great guard dog, but does not indicate aggression.

Boerboels are generally known for their good health. However, Boerboels can suffer from hip or elbow dysplasia, vaginal hyperplasia, ectropion, and entropion. Recently, juvenile epilepsy (with attacks brought on by metabolic changes or stress) has appeared in the boerboel breed. The average life expectancy is 10 years.

Prospective owners must recognize that owning a boerboel requires a significant commitment in time and energy as they need to be trained and properly socialized in order to be happy members of the family.

These dogs require experienced owners because they thrive under strong leadership. Boerboels require human companionship and structure. If left isolated, Boerboels will digress and may become destructive. Owners must be able to control their dogs, through physical strength and social dominance, to prevent the breed’s natural protectiveness from becoming aggression.

If you are considering adding a boerboel to your family or already own a boerboel and are thinking of moving (to a smaller home), remember this: bored boerboels are destructive boerboels and a 150 lbs, lion-fighting dog can do a lot of damage. Although more suitable for large yards, Boerboels are adaptable and can live in small environments as long as they receive regular exercise and a lot of attention. Whatever the amount of space available, they need to have plenty of physical and mental exercise. The Boerboel can be exercised in a large yard with enough space to run and play, but at a minimum this type of dog needs to be taken on a long walk every day.