Also Know as:

South African Mastiff, South African Boerboel


Origin: South Africa

Type: Pure Breed

Height: 23 to 28 inches

Weight: 154 to 200 pounds

Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years


The Boerboels display a confident and domineering attitude, having a graceful movement that is not impeded by its size, they can appear intimidating to strangers but are very mindful of their masters and members of his or her household. They are protective of their pack naturally and would defend their perceived pack members whether at home or outdoors from any perceived threats.

All this does not take away the fact that the Boerboels are bright dogs, very eager to learn and impress their masters.


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A very big dog naturally, the Boerboel breed has well-developed muscles and a strong bone structure. Their head is shaped in a block form and the distance between the stop and their nose is very short. Their coat is short and sleek and their hair dense. Generally, they have a well-balanced and symmetrical shape having the right proportions in the right places.

Their accepted colors can range from brown to brindle to fawn. In South Africa, the color black is very much accepted.



As a large dog, the Boerboel needs to be kept on a well-balanced and proportioned diet. However, the fact that they are large dogs doesn't mean you should overfeed them. This is especially true when it comes to giving them treats. Overfeeding them apart from making them overweight makes them prone to joint problems. Keeping your Boerboel lean and healthy should be your target. Discuss feeding plans with your vet doctor to get the best out of them.
Even though the Boerboel has a short and dense coat, they are still known to shed their hair moderately. Brushing their hair weekly with a soft-bristle brush, a rubber grooming mitt, or a hound glove will help to remove the dead hairs, promote the growth of new hair, and the distribution of its natural skin oil all over its coats, giving them a lustrous and healthy look. They also need to be bathed occasionally, for the Boerboel breed long nails can be a problem for them when walking or running so keeping them properly trimmed regularly is essential.
The training of this breed is not for amateurs, naturally, the Boerboel is a territorial dog. Protective of his or her pack, in temperament they are very intelligent, calm, and loyal. All these attributes make training them only possible in a family-like unit. They respond better to training when it is done within their adopted family or pack. Their protective disposition makes them accept this way of training as part of the way they should behave within their pack. As puppies, the Boerboel is malleable and easy-going, but this changes fast as they get older. That is why socializing them early on is important. Training them consistently from their young age would be more advantageous to you in the long run.Sample Description
The Boerboel is naturally a strong and athletic dog and requires long walks or play sessions in a secure environment with their family or pack members. Their high intelligence makes it important to engage them in physical activities which would challenge them mentally. Because of their territorial nature, it is not advisable to exercise them in an open area like parks where other animals and individual are accessible, more important is to keep them on a leash anytime you want to exercise them as their overprotective instinct can come into play at any time. In all, you will find them excelling in sporting activities that require intelligence like protection sports, stock work, and obedience challenges, they also exhibit strength and athletism in sports like weight pulling and agility competitions.
The Boerboel breed is generally a healthy one, but as with all breeds they are prone to specific types of alignment. According to the National Breed Club, the Boerboels are prone and are supposed to be screened for health conditions like Heart Diseases, Eye problems ectropion or entropion, Hip Dysplasia, and Elbow Dysplasia


Developed by Dutch farmers who were residing in South Africa to guard their homestead against invasion by humans or animals, the name Boerboel literally translated in dutch means the Farmer’s dog. ‘Boer’ meaning farmer and ‘boel’ meaning dog.

The Boerboel was bred to be large and intimidating by the dutch farmers because they needed a dog that could ward of predators from their stock. These predators ranged from lions and leopards to monkeys and baboons. Fortunately for the Dutch farmers then, the Boerboel turned out to be a very good hunting companion for big games. These big games are illegal now but then, they could hunt Lions and more. Their big size and powerful bite force of up to 800 PSI made them a good fit for hunting such big games. It is worth noting that this bite force is the highest in the canine world.

There are even legends about the Boerboel slaying lions and leopards, describing how feracious they can be with these predators.

Sadly for us, there are not many details out there about the initial origin of breeds that led to the creation of the Boerboel. What we have are mainly theories and assumptions based on their temperament and size. One of the speculations widely accepted is that they came from molloser-type dogs, which means that they are likely to have some ancestral link to large dogs in ancient times.

According to the American Kennel Club, mastiff-like dogs, and bulldog-like dogs were imported by farming settlers of Dutch, German, and French origins to South Africa to protect their livestock and guard their properties. As time went on, they interbred them with some infusion of dogs of European origin and the final result was the Boerboel. All these occurred without any form of regulation or documentation of what was being done, all the settlers wanted was a feracious dog that would be loyal to them hence the lack of due process or documentation on how they were created.

It wasn’t until 2006 that the American Kennel Club started the process of recognizing the breed by adding it to their Foundation Stock Service, this was a primary step to officially recognizing the breed, even after being aware of them for hundreds of years. Later in 2015, the Boerboel was officially recognized as a working group dog by the American Kennel Club.