Boerboel | Dog Breed Information & Facts


South African Boerboel – a dog with great physical abilities. In the past, such a dog was an invincible fighter participating in battles with dogs and predators. Now he can become a faithful companion, guard and protector of his master.

The boerboel has received various names, including African Berboel or South African Mastiff. Its ancestors are the bullmastiff, the Great Dane and the bullensbeisser, the latter an already extinct dog.

The way a boerboel grows up and into whom it turns into a ruthless fighter or a friendly pet, adequately, without undue aggression that responds to external stimuli, depends on education, training. Many admirers of this African breed, but in fairness it is worth noting that there are people who call Boerboel cannibals, bloodthirsty animals. Indeed, in the absence of education, such a dog can become a dangerous weapon.

Boerboel dog
Boerboel dog

Breed history

In the large moloss family, South African boerboel is not the last place. The breed is quite ancient. This is confirmed by engravings and paintings discovered in Egypt by archaeologists, paintings with dogs resembling boerboel depicted on them. Similar products have been preserved on the territory of the African continent.

South Africa is considered the birthplace of Boerboel. Although scientific studies have shown that breed roots can be found in all parts of Africa. The history of these dogs dates back to the mid-seventeenth century.

During this period, Europeans began to settle in the African expanses. They organized the first settlements, colonies. In order to survive, they not only had to maintain farms, but also fight with Aboriginal tribes. In this Europeans were helped by bullenbeysers. These powerful dogs guarded the property of the owners and took part in battles with African tribes.

Bullenbeysers crossed with local mastiffs. The resulting offspring possessed great strength, power, endurance and fearlessness. A new type of dog was called “South African Boerboel.” Representatives of the breed were able to tolerate the African hot climate. Also, they did not retreat even before such an adversary as a lion.

Boerboel dogs were brought to European countries. For some time, African dogs were successful, but in the twentieth century their popularity, and with it the number declined sharply. It got to the point that the breed was on the verge of extinction.

The revival, restoration and improvement of the boerboel occurred at the end of the twentieth century. Enthusiasts traveled all over South Africa to find purebred Boer dogs. These animals were used in breeding work. As a result, in 1990, Boerboel dogs regained popularity. Although in some countries the breed is prohibited not only in breeding and keeping, boerboels cannot even be imported into the territory of certain countries.

In South Africa, Boerboel, like the Rhodesian Ridgeback, is in a special position. These dogs are loved and revered. It is here that the best, world-famous nurseries in which purebred representatives of the breed are grown.

Boerboel dog
Boerboel dog

Physical characteristics of the Boerboel

South African boerboel has a powerful body with highly developed muscles. Despite the large size and heaviness, this dog is maneuverable and high-speed.

Growth of an adult boerboel is 59-70 cm, weight is about 60-90 kg.

A massive head with a rectangular shape rests on a not too long, very wide neck. High set ears wide with rounded tips.

The eyes are oval. The muzzle is voluminous, deep. Skin folds are visible on the forehead if the boerboel is concerned about something. The nose is large with pronounced nostrils.

Note! Boerboel is used as a guard dog, endowed with excellent protective qualities. Natural physical strength, multiplied by the highest intelligence, allows you to trust the Boerboels and protect the house and people.

Jaws powerful with large fangs. Scissor bite.

Build rectangular format, elongated. The back area is slightly convex. The legs are muscular with a strong skeleton. Paws are voluminous, the hind legs are slightly smaller than the front. They have a rounded shape.

The tail is thick, medium length. Cupping is allowed.

The coat of the South African boerboel is short, smooth, shiny. Tight to the body. Hard to the touch.

The color of the Boer mastiff is as follows:

  • Brindle
  • Brown
  • Cream
  • Red
  • Reddish Brown

Tawny The most popular are all shades of brown. On the face in most cases there is a dark mask. White spots on the paws and on the chest are allowed.

Boerboel dog
Boerboel dog

Note! Despite the external strength and massiveness, the Boerboel at heart is a kind and playful dog

Character and temperament of the Boerboel

The Boerboel dog is infinitely devoted to his family. He is ready at any moment to rush to protect the owner or his property. This dog is friendly and affectionate with all members of the family, but its owner must be an unshakable authority for him, whose word is law.

This is a perfect guard dog. If the owners are not at home, he will not let anyone into the protected area. Noticing the approach of strangers or animals, the Boerboel dog begins to bark loudly, alerting households and warning strangers that this is his possession. A well-bred dog must first introduce the guests to the house, show him that they are not dangerous. After such an acquaintance, he calmly perceives strangers and can even respond to an invitation to play.

It gets along with children, but strangers need to be introduced to the dog immediately and only then allow contact. Any communication Boerboel with children should occur under the supervision of adults. Because of his large size, he, not wanting to, can harm kids.

With pets gets along well. Able to be friends even with cats and birds. If you grew up with them, you can let them eat from your plate and let them go on your couch. But in any case, the desire to dominate all is present in the character of the South African Boerboel necessarily.

Important! The desire for domination is especially manifested in males, therefore, for the first experience of keeping a Boerboel, it is better to choose a female.

Boerboel puppies
Boerboel puppies

Basic care

A dog weighing more than fifty kilograms is difficult to keep in an apartment. So, the Boerboel will not feel comfortable living in a limited enclosed space.

Boerboel is recommended to be kept in a large private house or on the territory of a private site, where a spacious aviary with a large insulated booth or with a built house, which is heated in winter, is installed. The fact is that these natives of Africa do not tolerate frosts and cannot be in a very cold for a long time.

It is impossible to put on a boerboel chain. With enclosure, he needs walking in the open. If the dog does not get the opportunity to throw out the accumulated energy, he will turn it in the wrong direction (damage to property, causeless aggression, howling, barking).

If you decide to keep a boerboel in your house or apartment, be sure to provide it with daily walks. Walks should be 2 times a day, each of them lasts at least an hour. At the same time, one cannot limit oneself to a slow step. Boerboel needs jogging, active games, training.

It is advisable to travel out of town with this mastiff at least once a month, where he can frolic without a muzzle and leash. In public places, a dog of such huge size and weight should be walked on a leash and with a muzzle.

Before you bring a Boerboel puppy to your home, buy everything you need to maintain and care for it. The very first thing you need to purchase: bedding, water and food containers, a collar, a leash, toys and tools, and care tools.

Boerboel dog
Boerboel dog

Regarding the care of a smooth-haired South African mastiff, there are no difficulties and problems if you accustom your pet to the procedures described in the list below from a puppy’s age:

We comb out the hair 2-3 times a week, getting rid of dead hairs. This procedure is pleasant for any dog, as the brush massages the skin.

We bathe 2-3 times a year. In the summer, Boerboel bathes with pleasure in natural reservoirs. Frequent bathing with detergents is not recommended, as this can damage the skin.

We cut the nails as they grow back with a nail clipper designed for large breeds.

We brush its teeth once a week with a brush and toothpaste or buy special bones for cleaning fangs.

Ears and eyes are cleaned weekly and examined for evidence of damage, inflammation or excessive accumulation of secretions.


The huge Boerboel needs quite a lot of food. This does not mean that you can feed him large portions of cereal alone. It is necessary to provide a balanced diet, with enough vitamins, minerals.

Boerboel diet includes low-fat meat, offal, cereals, vegetables, fruits, sour-milk non-fat products. It is forbidden to feed: legumes, potatoes, grapes, cabbage, smoking, sweets, fatty, spicy products, leftovers from the master’s table.

If you decide to buy ready-made feed for boerboel, they must be premium. In addition to dry food, it is worth buying canned food. It is important that the dog has the opportunity to drink cool, clean water at any time.

The Boerboel dog becomes less active with age. Because of this, representatives of the breed often suffer from obesity, quickly gaining excess weight. The owner must monitor the calorie content and portion sizes. A veterinarian can create a special diet for your older Boerboel.

Boerboel dog
Boerboel dog


On average, the Boerboel can live 11-15 years.

By nature, Boerboel is awarded with good health. The strong immunity and healthy body of these dogs is partly due to the natural selection that the ancestors of modern boerboels were forced to go through.

Veterinary medicine was not available in South Africa for a long time, so weak puppies and sick adults did not have a chance of survival. As a result, the strongest took part in breeding work.

There are very few diseases characteristic of this breed:

  • Vaginal hyperplasia is a genetic disease in which dogs are not allowed to breed.
  • Dysplasia – intolerable pains in the joints, the dog begins to limp, may at the final stage generally lose the ability to move.
  • Ligament rupture is an injury that is more common in puppies and in older dogs.
  • Allergy – the reaction occurs most often on food.
  • Otitis – the ear mite, infection, etc. are the culprit of the disease.
  • Dysbacteriosis is a violation of the composition of the intestinal microflora.

Be sure to carry out routine vaccination and treatment against parasites. It is also recommended that you visit a veterinary clinic with a boerboel 1-2 times a year for preventive examinations.

Boerboel puppies
Boerboel puppies

Training and education

The boerboel is a large and serious dog with strength and power. As early as 5-6 months, a Boerboel puppy is capable of much, for example, tearing a leash from the hands of an inexperienced owner. So, we start education from an early age.

First, we instil the boerboel puppy with the rules of good behavior in the house and on the street. After vaccination, the pet can be socialized. He must adequately, without aggression, react to passers-by and animals encountered during walks.

We conduct training quite strictly, but without screaming and physical punishment. Recommended as rewards for treats, stroking and praise.

The owner of the boerboel should be prepared for the fact that his ward will not immediately execute commands, even if he has learned them well. This dog first ponders, as if trying to understand why this or that action is required from him, and then makes a decision.

An inexperienced owner can turn his Boerboel into a terrible, uncontrollable weapon, dangerous for people and animals. So, the owner, and not the dog, is guilty of the bloodthirstiness of some representatives of the breed.

In order for the boerboel dog to grow adequate, it is necessary to undergo a general and protective training course with it. It is recommended to conduct training under the guidance of an experienced dog handler.

Note! The choice of a Boerboel puppy must be approached responsibly and with a firm intention to devote a sufficient amount of time to the formidable pet.

Boerboel dog
Boerboel dog

Boerboel Fun Facts

  • Boerboel dogs crossing the protected area tend to expand its borders, subjugating as much space as possible for control.
  • The Boerboel is African and can be translated as “farmer’s dog”.
  • After special training, the Boerboel dog is able to help people with disabilities with mobility impairment.
  • The Boers are European colonists who established farms in Africa, therefore the mastiffs who served them were called the “Boer dogs”.
  • There are many cases when boerboel dogs attacked people. After such attacks, people died or remained disabled. The blame for this behavior lies entirely with the owners, and not with the dogs themselves.

Boerboel dog highlights

  • The breed remains unrecognized by several canine associations, including the FCI.
  • The desire to dominate and play the role of the alpha male in the Boerboel is expressed quite clearly, so the dog needs an experienced owner who will not allow himself to be manipulated.
  • The South African Boerboel is reliable as a rock when it comes to the safety of the owner’s property. If it comes to protecting human life, then the animal does not show selectivity and with the same zeal protects both its owner and his family members.
  • With timely socialization, dogs are able to extinguish their own emotions, but it is very easy to provoke them to aggression. In Russia, there have already been recorded cases of attacks by Boerboels on a person, some of which were fatal.
  • Boerboel dogs perfectly read the mood and feelings of the owner by the expression on his face. Show your own dislike for someone you know or ordinary passers-by – and your pet will hate that person.
  • A properly raised Boerboel is very patient with children and easily forgives the little ones, even not the most pleasant leprosy for him.
  • The dog calmly treats cats and other pets, with which it is forced to share the living space, but will not tolerate another barking creature on its territory.
  • South African Boerboels mature slowly, remaining puppies in thought and habits until the age of two.
  • In training, representatives of this breed demonstrate slight slowness and thoughtfulness. You should not expect from the Boerboel the quick-wittedness of the border collie and the lightning-fast reaction of the German shepherd.
  • Boerboel dogs show excellent results in weight pulling (moving goods). An adult dog is able to move cargo platforms with a total weight of up to 450 kg.
  • It is almost impossible to escape from this breed. Boerboels develop maximum speed already at the start, thereby leaving the enemy no chance of salvation.

Boerboel Breeds Facts

The South African boerboel as a pet is not suitable for a mild, weak character. Such a dog requires control and firm control, along with understanding and care. Like every breed, boerboels have their pros and cons.


  • Devotion.
  • Endurance, fearlessness.
  • Easy care.
  • Good health.
  • Excellent watchdog quality.


  • Requires large physical exertion.
  • The desire for dominance.
  • Needs serious training and control.

Boerboel Video