150-190 lbs
South Africa
African Boerboel, South African Boerboel, South African Mastiff

The Boerboel dog is a reliable breed, with strong guard dog instincts. They will protect their family and friends with their lives, and will guard the property when their owners are not home, not allowing entry to strangers they do not know. They are a very playful dog, and great with children, loving nothing more than to play, chase,  and run around for ages. They are also very tolerant towards children, allowing them to climb all over them as they just love all the attention. Loving and devoted to their owners, they need a strong authoritative person to manage them so that they obey set rule and respond to orders. They are a strong dog with strong jaws, so need a firm leader when growing up to prevent injury to others. Visitors need an introduction to the dog, who will then accept them.

purpose Purpose
Protection, guarding farm
history Date of Origin
ancestry Ancestry
Mastiff, Rottweiler, Great Dane

Boerboel Health

Average Size
Male Boerboel size stats
Height: 24-28 inches Weight: 154-200 lbs
Female Boerboel size stats
Height: 23-27 inches Weight: 150-190 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Hip Dysplasia
Minor Concerns
  • Ear Infections
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Parasites
Occasional Tests
  • Eye
  • Hip
  • X-Rays
  • Physical Examination
  • Ear

Boerboel Breed History

The name Boerboel is believed to have come about because “boer” is Afrikaans for the farmer, and “bul” is big. In other words, the name simply stands for farm dog. While a lot is not known about the early origins of this breed, they are believed to have developed from dogs that the British, French and Dutch settlers brought with them to South Africa. Dutchman Jan van Riebeeck was confirmed to have bought a bullenbijter to the Cape (this dog is similar to a Mastiff type of dog) and with the arrival of more settlers in 1820 they brought the Bulldog and the Mastiff, along with other dogs. The De Beer mining company imported a Bullmastiff to guard the diamond mines in 1938, and it is acknowledged that they purchased a champion from the Hottentots, who played a part in the development of the Boerboel. The Boer dogs as they were known, were spread out by the Voortrekkers during the Great Trek and the breeding continued with them during this time. The records state that after the Anglo Boer War of 1902 the Boer dogs were cross bred with the English long-legged Bulldog and the Bullmastiff in the 1950s. In Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) the  Boerboels were very popular with the settlers. Because South Africa shares a border with the Zimbabwe state, the dogs became widespread as people moved back and forth. This breed is newly recognised by the American Kennel Club, becoming a member of the working group in 2015.

Boerboel Breed Appearance

The Boerboel is a big dog, built strong with good muscle development and is buoyant in its movements. Well-proportioned throughout, the male dog is more masculine and larger in appearance, with the female showing a more feminine appearance. The head on this breed expresses its character, with its short, square muscular face which is broad and flat at the top of the head. This breed often has a black mask to the face, but not always. The eyes are beautiful, horizontally set and are shades of brown but often darker than the pelt color with well-pigmented eyelids. The muzzle is black with wide large nostrils, and the nasal bone is usually 8 to 10 cm long and is broad and tapers slightly to the front. The upper lip is fleshy but doesn’t hang below than the lower jaw. With very strong jaws and well developed white teeth (a complete set 42 teeth) and they have a scissors bite. The ears are medium in size, v shaped and set high and wide against the head. The neck is strong and muscular. The back is straight, with a muscular chest. The short tail is attached high to the body. With perfectly vertical front legs and hind paws that are slightly smaller than the front paw, this is one powerfully built muscular dog. When alert, the dog has moderate wrinkles on the forehead.

Boerboel Breed Maintenance

The Boerboel breed is fairly easy to groom and will enjoy every minute of the attention it receives. Due to their short, dense, sleek coat, they are easy to brush, and a monthly bath and an occasional dip are all that is needed to keep them looking their best. With regular grooming, they have an average shedding rate. They do love to play with the family, especially fetching a ball, which they will probably end up puncturing with their strong teeth, but not to worry, they will play just as happily with the flat ball as an inflated one. They do need a well fenced yard that will keep them in as they do not respond well to strangers, and will guard the property with their life. Exercise is important, and while your Boerboel will happily sit by your side all day, it needs active exercise to keep it fit and healthy. Due to their size and temperament, they are not apartment dogs; they need a yard to run in. 

Boerboel Temperament

The Boerboel is a great guard dog who will fearlessly defend his family, the home or the business. Gentle and patient with children and other small animals as long as they do not hurt the family, they are very playful and have loads of energy. They are devoted to their owners and love to spend every minute of their time with them. Visitors to the family home will not be allowed entry unless the dog knows them very well. New visitors need to be introduced properly to allow your dog to accept them. The Boerboel is highly intelligent and very trainable, but it does need a strong pack leader (owner) to guide it as it grows from puppyhood to a fully-grown dog. The owner’s authority needs to be so strong that they will not bolt out a door when it is opened. As they were originally bred to guard property and people, they take their duties very seriously and therefore, need to know the rules and boundaries that they are expected to uphold. They are a very solid dog with strong jaws, and need to be trained to respond to orders – it must not be allowed to make its own decisions re friend or foe, or injury could occur. With a strong influential owner, the Boerboel make loving, caring family pets.

Boerboel Owner Experiences

1 Year
I refer to the Boerboel as the "BFG" AKA "The Big Friendly Giant." The one Boerboel I ever walked was named Lulu and he was a magnificently large good natured boy. He loved being pet and getting belly rubs but was not the biggest fan of exercising or walking for that matter. I remember having to coax him out of his house with salmon strips in order to motivate him to go on his walks with me haha. Sometimes it worked, other times it didn't and sometimes he would just lie down on his side and stare at me with big droopy eyes that seemed to say, "How do I make this anymore clear to you with my body language? I don't want to go on your walk with you. More salmon treats, please." Boerboel's look intimidating as they are extremely strong but they are sweet little angels at heart. They just want to relax at home on the couch and chill out. Very friendly, laid back dogs!
6 years, 5 months ago
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