boerboel Image courtesy of CESAR A RAMIREZ V TRAPHITHO

Welcome to another informative article, where we delve into the fascinating world of dog breeds. In this edition, we will be exploring the majestic and powerful Boerboel. If you are a fan of strong and loyal dogs, then this breed is sure to capture your attention.

The Boerboel, also known as the South African Mastiff, is a breed that has a rich history and a unique set of characteristics. From its origins in South Africa to its impressive size and appearance, there is much to uncover about this remarkable breed.

In this article, we will explore the history and origins of the Boerboel, shedding light on its roots and how it came to be. We will also take a closer look at its size and appearance characteristics, giving you a clear picture of what to expect when encountering a Boerboel.

Furthermore, we will discuss the life expectancy of the breed, as well as its temperament. Understanding the Boerboel’s nature and disposition is crucial for potential owners, as it helps determine whether this breed is the right fit for their lifestyle.

Trainability and adaptability are also important factors to consider when choosing a dog, and the Boerboel is no exception. We will explore the breed’s trainability and how well it adapts to different environments.

Exercise requirements and energy levels play a vital role in a dog’s overall well-being, and the Boerboel is known for its high energy and need for regular exercise. We will delve into these requirements and give you insights on how to keep your Boerboel happy and healthy.

Grooming is another aspect that needs to be taken into account when considering any breed. We will discuss the grooming requirements of the Boerboel and provide you with tips on how to maintain its beautiful coat.

Like any other breed, the Boerboel can be prone to specific health issues. We will outline these concerns and provide guidance on how to best care for your Boerboel’s health.

To provide a well-rounded perspective, we will also compare the Boerboel to other similar breeds, allowing you to better understand its unique attributes.

Lastly, we will highlight notable dogs from this breed, showcasing their achievements and contributions to the Boerboel community.

Join us on this exciting journey as we uncover the world of the Boerboel and discover what makes this breed so special. Whether you are a current Boerboel owner or simply interested in learning more about this magnificent breed, this article is sure to provide you with valuable insights and information.


History and Origins of the Breed

The history and origins of the Boerboel are deeply rooted in South Africa, where they were originally bred for various purposes. Let’s explore the fascinating journey of this breed and how it came to be.

Early Beginnings

The roots of the Boerboel can be traced back to the 17th century when European settlers, particularly Dutch, German, and French Huguenots, arrived in South Africa. These settlers brought with them various breeds of dogs, including Bullmastiffs, Bulldogs, and possibly even indigenous African breeds.

Purpose and Development

The Boerboel was primarily developed for guarding and protecting farms and settlers’ properties against predators, such as lions, hyenas, and other dangerous wildlife. These dogs needed to be strong, fearless, and capable of withstanding the harsh conditions of the African terrain.

Over time, the Boerboel breed began to take shape through careful breeding and crossbreeding. The breeders aimed to create a powerful and agile dog that possessed both the size and temperament required for its protective duties.

Influence of Various Breeds

The Boerboel’s development involved the infusion of several breeds. It is believed that Bullmastiffs, Bulldogs, and even indigenous African dogs played a significant role in shaping the breed’s characteristics. These influences contributed to the Boerboel’s distinctive appearance and temperament.

Official Recognition

The Boerboel’s recognition as a distinct breed came relatively late compared to other breeds. It was only in 1983 that the South African Boerboel Breeders Association (SABT) was formed to establish breed standards and promote responsible breeding practices.

Today, the Boerboel is recognized by various kennel clubs and breed organizations worldwide, including the American Kennel Club (AKC), United Kennel Club (UKC), and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI).

Preservation and Popularity

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the Boerboel breed, both in South Africa and around the world. Dedicated breeders and enthusiasts have worked tirelessly to preserve the breed’s original purpose and maintain its distinctive characteristics.

The Boerboel’s popularity has grown steadily, attracting dog lovers who appreciate its protective nature, loyalty, and imposing presence. However, it is important to note that owning a Boerboel comes with responsibilities, as this breed requires proper socialization, training, and a committed owner who can fulfill its needs.

Understanding the history and origins of the Boerboel provides valuable insight into the breed’s purpose and development. By appreciating its heritage, we can better understand and appreciate the remarkable qualities that make the Boerboel a truly exceptional breed.



Image courtesy of vlaaitje


Size and Appearance Characteristics

When it comes to size and appearance, the Boerboel is an impressive and powerful breed. Let’s delve into the specific characteristics that define the physical attributes of the Boerboel.


Boerboels are large, muscular dogs with a strong and solid build. Males typically stand between 24 to 27 inches (61 to 69 cm) at the shoulder, while females are slightly smaller, measuring between 22 to 25 inches (56 to 64 cm). When it comes to weight, males can range from 150 to 200 pounds (68 to 91 kg), while females typically weigh between 110 to 154 pounds (50 to 70 kg).

Head and Face

One of the most distinguishing features of the Boerboel is its head and face. They have a broad and square-shaped head, with a well-defined stop. The muzzle is wide and deep, with a black nose and slightly pendulous lips. The Boerboel’s face exudes strength and alertness, with dark, expressive eyes that are usually brown in color.


The Boerboel’s ears are medium-sized, set high, and can either be left natural or cropped. Natural ears are typically V-shaped, while cropped ears are more erect and triangular in shape. The decision to crop or leave the ears natural is a personal choice, but it’s important to note that ear cropping should only be done by a qualified professional.

Body and Musculature

The Boerboel has a balanced and well-muscled body, with a broad chest and strong, well-sprung ribs. The back is straight and level, leading to a muscular hindquarters. The tail is usually docked to a medium length, creating a squared-off appearance.

Coat and Colors

The Boerboel has a short, dense, and sleek coat that lies close to the body. The coat provides protection against the elements and requires minimal grooming. Boerboels come in various colors, including shades of brindle, fawn, and black. Some individuals may have small white markings on the chest or toes, but excessive white is discouraged in the breed standard.

Overall Impression

The Boerboel’s size and appearance give it a commanding presence. Its robust build, coupled with its confident and alert expression, portrays a dog that is both imposing and dignified. The Boerboel’s physical attributes are a reflection of its heritage as a guardian and protector, showcasing its strength and capability.

Understanding the size and appearance characteristics of the Boerboel is essential for potential owners to ensure they are prepared for the demands of owning such a substantial and striking breed. However, it’s important to remember that true beauty lies not just in the physical attributes, but also in the breed’s temperament and personality, which we will explore in the next section.


Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of a Boerboel can vary depending on several factors, including genetics, overall health, and lifestyle. Let’s take a closer look at the average life span of a Boerboel and what factors can influence their longevity.

Average Life Span

On average, a Boerboel has a life expectancy of around 10 to 12 years. However, it’s important to note that this is just an estimate, and individual dogs may live longer or shorter lives. Proper care, nutrition, and regular veterinary check-ups can contribute to a Boerboel’s overall well-being and potentially extend their lifespan.

Factors Influencing Life Expectancy

Several factors can influence the life expectancy of a Boerboel:

Genetics and Breed Health

Genetics play a significant role in a dog’s overall health and can influence their life expectancy. Responsible breeders focus on breeding from healthy bloodlines to reduce the risk of hereditary health issues. It is essential to obtain a Boerboel puppy from a reputable breeder who conducts health screenings and tests on their breeding dogs.

Diet and Nutrition

A balanced and nutritious diet is crucial for a Boerboel’s overall health and longevity. Providing high-quality dog food that meets their specific nutritional needs, as well as avoiding excessive weight gain, can help prevent obesity-related health problems and promote a longer life.

Exercise and Weight Management

Regular exercise is essential for a Boerboel’s physical and mental well-being. Adequate exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, promotes cardiovascular health, and reduces the risk of joint problems. However, it’s important to strike a balance and avoid excessive exercise that could potentially strain their joints and muscles.

Veterinary Care and Preventive Measures

Regular veterinary check-ups, vaccinations, and preventive treatments can significantly impact a Boerboel’s overall health and life expectancy. Routine examinations allow for early detection and treatment of any potential health issues, ensuring that they receive appropriate care and necessary vaccinations.

Environmental Factors

The environment in which a Boerboel lives can also impact their life expectancy. Providing a safe and secure living space, protecting them from extreme temperatures, and minimizing exposure to harmful substances or toxic plants can help prevent accidents and promote their well-being.

Enhancing Life Quality

While life expectancy is an important consideration, providing a high-quality life for your Boerboel is equally crucial. Alongside the factors mentioned above, ensuring they receive mental stimulation, love, and a safe environment can contribute to their overall happiness and well-being.

Remember, every dog is unique, and there are always exceptions to the average life expectancy. By providing a loving and caring home, along with proper health care and attention, you can help your Boerboel live a long, healthy, and fulfilling life.



Image courtesy of vlaaitje



The temperament of a Boerboel is a significant aspect to consider when deciding if this breed is the right fit for your lifestyle. Let’s explore the typical temperament traits of Boerboels and what it’s like to live with one.

Protective and Loyal

Boerboels are renowned for their protective nature. They have a strong instinct to guard and protect their family and property. This inherent protective instinct makes them excellent watchdogs and deterrence against potential threats. They are known to be loyal and devoted to their owners, forming deep bonds with their family members.

Confident and Fearless

Boerboels exhibit confidence and fearlessness. They possess a self-assured nature, which can be attributed to their long history as working dogs. This confidence makes them reliable and courageous in challenging situations. However, it’s essential to provide proper socialization and training to ensure that their confidence is well-balanced and they respond appropriately to different environments.

Gentle and Affectionate

Despite their size and protective instincts, Boerboels can also be gentle and affectionate with their family members. They often form strong attachments and enjoy spending quality time with their loved ones. Boerboels are known to be good with children when properly socialized and raised in a loving environment.

Reserved with Strangers

While Boerboels are loyal and loving with their family, they can be reserved and cautious around strangers. This reserved nature is part of their protective instinct and makes them excellent guard dogs. Early socialization is crucial to ensure that they can differentiate between genuine threats and harmless situations.

Training and Socialization

Proper training and socialization are essential for Boerboels to develop into well-rounded dogs. Early socialization exposes them to various people, animals, and environments, helping them become more adaptable and comfortable in different situations. Positive reinforcement training methods work well with Boerboels, as they respond best to gentle guidance and consistency.

Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Boerboels require regular exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and well-balanced. Engaging in activities such as daily walks, interactive play sessions, and obedience training can help channel their energy and intelligence in a positive way. Providing them with appropriate outlets for their physical and mental needs is crucial to prevent boredom and potential behavioral issues.

Considerations for Ownership

Owning a Boerboel requires responsible ownership and dedication. Their protective nature and size mean that they need a firm, confident, and experienced owner who can provide consistent training and guidance. They thrive in homes with secure yards and ample space to roam. Additionally, their exercise and mental stimulation needs must be met to ensure they remain content and fulfilled.

Understanding the temperament of a Boerboel is vital in determining if this breed aligns with your lifestyle and expectations. With proper training, socialization, and a loving environment, Boerboels can make loyal, affectionate, and protective companions for those who appreciate their unique qualities.



Image courtesy of 825545


Trainability and Adaptability

Trainability and adaptability are important factors to consider when bringing a Boerboel into your home. Let’s explore the trainability and adaptability of this breed to understand how they respond to training and adjust to different environments.


Boerboels are intelligent dogs that possess a strong desire to please their owners. With proper training and positive reinforcement techniques, they can be highly trainable. However, it’s important to note that Boerboels have a natural independent streak, which can sometimes make training a bit challenging.

Early socialization and consistent, positive training methods are crucial for Boerboels. Starting training from a young age helps them develop good manners, understand boundaries, and become well-adjusted adults. Basic obedience commands, such as sit, stay, and come, should be a part of their training regimen.

Boerboels thrive with a firm yet gentle approach to training, as they respond well to positive reinforcement and rewards. Harsh training methods or heavy-handed techniques should be avoided, as they can lead to fear or resistance.

It’s also important to establish clear leadership and maintain consistent rules and boundaries. Boerboels are more likely to respond positively to a confident and consistent owner who provides clear guidance and structure.


Boerboels are known for their adaptability to various environments, but it’s important to provide them with the appropriate conditions for their well-being. They can adapt to different living situations, including apartments or houses, as long as their exercise and mental stimulation needs are met.

While Boerboels are adaptable, they prefer a stable and secure environment. They thrive in homes where they have access to a secure yard where they can safely roam and exercise. Living in an urban or suburban setting requires diligent supervision and leash walking to ensure their safety and the safety of others.

When introducing a Boerboel to new environments or situations, proper socialization is essential. Gradual exposure to different people, animals, and environments from a young age will help them adjust and remain calm and confident in new situations.

It’s worth noting that Boerboels can be sensitive to extreme temperatures. They may struggle in very hot or cold climates, so it’s important to provide appropriate shelter, access to fresh water, and consider their exercise routines during extreme weather conditions.

Time and Commitment

Training and adapting a Boerboel require time, commitment, and consistency. As with any dog, patience and perseverance are key. Investing the necessary time and effort into their training and socialization will yield rewarding results and help them become well-adjusted and obedient companions.

Understanding the trainability and adaptability of a Boerboel is crucial when considering this breed for your family. With proper training, socialization, and a loving environment, Boerboels can become well-behaved and adaptable members of your household.


Exercise Requirements and Energy Level

The Boerboel is a breed known for its high energy level and requires regular exercise to maintain its physical and mental well-being. Let’s explore the exercise requirements of a Boerboel and how to meet their energy needs.

Daily Exercise Needs

Boerboels are active dogs that thrive with daily exercise. They require a minimum of 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity each day to help release their energy and prevent boredom. This exercise can be a combination of walks, jogs, play sessions, and interactive games.

Mental Stimulation

In addition to physical exercise, Boerboels also need mental stimulation to keep their minds sharp and engaged. Incorporating activities such as puzzle toys, obedience training, and interactive play can help satisfy their mental needs.

Off-Leash Exercise

Boerboels should have access to a safe and secure area where they can exercise off-leash. This can be a fenced yard or a designated dog park. Off-leash exercise allows them to run and explore freely, which is beneficial for their overall well-being.

Obedience Training

Training sessions can also serve as a form of exercise for Boerboels. Engaging their minds through obedience training not only helps reinforce good behavior but also provides mental stimulation. Training sessions should be positive, rewarding, and consistent to keep them motivated and focused.

Avoid Overexertion

While Boerboels have high energy levels, it’s important to avoid overexertion, especially in hot weather. Boerboels are prone to overheating as they have a shorter muzzle, which can make it difficult for them to cool down efficiently. Exercise should be adjusted accordingly during extreme temperatures to prevent heat-related issues.

Tailor Exercise to Age and Health

The exercise requirements of a Boerboel may vary depending on their age and overall health. Puppies have growing bodies and should not engage in high-impact exercise or strenuous activities that could potentially harm their developing joints and bones. As they mature, gradually increase the intensity and duration of exercise.

For older Boerboels or those with health issues, exercise routines may need modifications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate exercise regimen based on their specific needs.

Bonding Opportunities

Exercise provides an excellent opportunity to bond with your Boerboel. Participating in activities together helps strengthen the bond between you and your dog, while also providing an outlet for their energy. Whether it’s a long walk, a game of fetch, or a hike in the great outdoors, these shared experiences contribute to a strong and healthy relationship.

Understanding the exercise requirements and energy level of a Boerboel is essential for their overall well-being. Providing them with regular physical exercise, mental stimulation, and opportunities for off-leash activities helps keep them happy, healthy, and satisfied.



Image courtesy of Lucas Pezeta


Grooming Requirements

The Boerboel has relatively low grooming needs compared to some other breeds. However, they still require regular care to keep their coat and overall appearance in good condition. Let’s explore the grooming requirements of a Boerboel.

Coat Type

The Boerboel has a short, dense, and sleek coat that lies close to the body. This coat type is relatively easy to maintain and does not require extensive grooming. Their coat serves as protection against the elements and does not mat easily.


Boerboels benefit from regular brushing to remove loose hair and distribute natural oils throughout their coat. A weekly brushing session with a grooming mitt or a soft-bristle brush is usually sufficient. This helps keep their coat clean, reduces shedding, and promotes a healthy shine.


Boerboels generally do not require frequent baths unless they become particularly dirty or develop an odor. Bathing them every 2 to 3 months or as needed using a gentle dog shampoo is usually enough to keep them clean. Over-bathing can strip their coat of natural oils and cause dryness, so it’s important not to overdo it.

Nail Care

Regular nail trimming is essential for Boerboels to prevent overgrowth and discomfort. Long nails can cause issues with their gait and potentially lead to injuries. Trimming their nails every 4 to 6 weeks, or as needed, using a dog nail clipper or grinder helps maintain their paw health.

Ear Cleaning

Boerboels have floppy ears that can trap moisture and debris, making them prone to ear infections. Regular ear cleaning is necessary to prevent these issues. Check their ears weekly for any signs of redness, discharge, or foul odor. Gently clean their ears using a veterinarian-approved ear cleaning solution and cotton balls, being careful not to insert anything deep into the ear canal.

Dental Care

Just like any other breed, dental care is important for Boerboels. Regular teeth brushing using a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste is recommended to prevent dental issues such as tartar buildup and gum disease. Additionally, providing appropriate dental chews and toys can help maintain their oral health.

Routine Check-ups

Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial for Boerboels to monitor their overall health and detect any potential issues early on. During these visits, the veterinarian can also perform routine grooming tasks such as anal gland expression and teeth cleaning.


Boerboels are moderate shedders, and their short coat means that shedding is usually manageable. Regular brushing helps remove loose hair and minimizes the amount of hair around the house. However, during shedding seasons, they may require more frequent brushing to keep shedding under control.

By following a regular grooming routine, you can keep your Boerboel looking and feeling their best. Remember that grooming sessions also provide an opportunity for bonding and can be a positive experience for both you and your dog.


Health Issues

While the Boerboel is generally a healthy and robust breed, like any other dog, they may be prone to certain health issues. Understanding these potential health concerns can help you take proactive measures to ensure the well-being of your Boerboel. Let’s explore some common health issues that can affect this breed.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition that affects the hip joints. It occurs when the hip joint does not develop properly, leading to joint instability and potential arthritis. Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and responsible breeding practices that focus on hip health can help reduce the risk of hip dysplasia in Boerboels.

Elbow Dysplasia

Similar to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is a developmental condition that affects the elbow joints. It occurs when the components of the elbow joint, including the bones, cartilage, and ligaments, do not fit together properly. Elbow dysplasia can cause pain, lameness, and arthritis. Responsible breeding practices and regular veterinary check-ups can help identify and manage elbow dysplasia in Boerboels.

Bloat (Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus)

Bloat is a serious condition that can affect deep-chested breeds like the Boerboel. It occurs when the stomach fills with gas or fluid, causing it to twist and trap the contents. Bloat is a medical emergency that requires immediate veterinary attention. Feeding multiple smaller meals throughout the day, avoiding vigorous exercise after meals, and using elevated feeding bowls can help reduce the risk of bloat.

Heart Disease

Boerboels may be susceptible to certain heart conditions such as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and aortic stenosis. Regular cardiac screenings and consultations with a veterinarian can help detect and manage any heart-related issues in Boerboels. Responsible breeding practices that prioritize heart health can also help reduce the risk of these conditions.

Eye Problems

Some Boerboels may be prone to certain eye conditions, including entropion (eyelid rolling inward), ectropion (eyelid rolling outward), and cherry eye (prolapsed tear gland). Regular eye examinations by a veterinary ophthalmologist can help identify and address any eye issues in Boerboels.

Other Considerations

While the aforementioned health issues are common in Boerboels, it’s important to note that not every individual will develop these conditions. Responsible breeding practices, routine veterinary care, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help minimize the risk of these health concerns.

Regular exercise, a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and providing a loving and stimulating environment are all important in promoting overall health and well-being in Boerboels. Additionally, working with a reputable breeder who conducts health screenings and genetic testing can help ensure that you are getting a healthy puppy.

Remember, early detection, regular veterinary check-ups, and open communication with your veterinarian are key to addressing any health concerns and providing the best care for your Boerboel.


Comparable Breeds

While the Boerboel is a unique breed with its own distinct characteristics, there are several other breeds that share similar traits or serve similar purposes. Let’s explore some comparable breeds to the Boerboel and highlight their similarities and differences.


The Bullmastiff is a breed that shares a common ancestry with the Boerboel. Both breeds were developed for similar purposes, such as guarding and protection. Bullmastiffs are slightly larger than Boerboels, with a more laid-back temperament. They are also known for their loyalty, protective nature, and gentle disposition.

Cane Corso

`The Cane Corso is another powerful and large breed that shares similarities with the Boerboel. They both have a strong protective instinct and make excellent guard dogs. Cane Corsos are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and versatility. They require firm and consistent training and socialization to ensure they become well-behaved and balanced dogs.

Dogo Argentino

The Dogo Argentino is a breed that, like the Boerboel, was developed for hunting and guarding. They are strong and athletic dogs with a high energy level. Dogo Argentinos are known for their loyalty, intelligence, and protective nature. They require a confident and experienced owner who can provide consistent training and socialization.

Rhodesian Ridgeback

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a breed that shares some physical similarities with the Boerboel, particularly in their muscular build and imposing presence. Both breeds have a protective instinct and are known for their loyalty and affection towards their families. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are renowned for their endurance, speed, and hunting abilities.

Presa Canario

The Presa Canario is a large and powerful breed that shares some similarities with the Boerboel. Both breeds were originally developed for guarding and protection purposes. Presa Canarios are known for their strong protective instinct, loyalty, and intelligence. They require early socialization and consistent training to ensure they become well-adjusted and obedient companions.

While these breeds share some similarities with the Boerboel, it’s important to note that each breed has its own unique characteristics, temperaments, and care requirements. When considering a comparable breed, it’s crucial to thoroughly research and understand the specific needs and traits of that breed to determine if it aligns with your lifestyle and preferences.


Notable Dogs from This Breed

The Boerboel breed has produced many remarkable and notable dogs throughout its history. Let’s explore some of the most notable Boerboels that have made an impact in various fields.


Maximus is a renowned Boerboel who gained recognition for his exceptional protection and guarding abilities. He served as a faithful and dedicated companion to his owner, showcasing the breed’s loyalty and protective nature. Maximus’s unwavering devotion and natural instinct for guarding have made him a beloved representative of the Boerboel breed.


Tess is a Boerboel who excelled in the world of dog sports and competitions. With her intelligence, athleticism, and strong work ethic, she achieved great success in obedience trials, agility competitions, and even in the sport of Schutzhund. Tess’s accomplishments highlight the breed’s trainability and versatility, proving that Boerboels can excel in various activities with the right training and guidance.


Cleo is a Boerboel who has made a significant impact as a therapy dog. With her calm and gentle demeanor, she brings comfort and joy to those in need, particularly in hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. Cleo’s role as a therapy dog showcases the breed’s gentle and affectionate side, demonstrating their ability to provide emotional support and make a positive difference in people’s lives.


Titan is a Boerboel who has gained recognition in the world of show competitions. With his impressive structure, movement, and breed type, he has won numerous titles and accolades in conformation shows. Titan’s success highlights the breed’s adherence to breed standards and their ability to excel in the competitive show ring.

These notable Boerboels represent the breed’s exceptional qualities and contributions in various fields. Whether it’s their protective instincts, working abilities, therapy work, or show achievements, these dogs exemplify the diverse talents and strengths that Boerboels possess.

It’s important to remember that while these dogs have achieved greatness, every Boerboel is unique and has the potential to excel in their own way. Whether they become beloved family pets, working dogs, or achieve recognition in competitions, Boerboels continue to leave a lasting impact and demonstrate the remarkable qualities of their breed.

The Boerboel, also known as the South African Mastiff, originated in South Africa to its impressive size and appearance, there is much to uncover about this remarkable breed.

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