Boerboel At a Glance

Country of Origin:

South Africa

Breed Group: AKC, Working

Giant. Weight: 70–90 lbs; Height: 23–28 inches


Short, dense, and smooth


Brindle, Cream, Red, Brown, Piebald, Mahogany

Life Span:

10 to 12 years

Breed Profile

Affection Level – 60
Barking Tendencies – 40
Cat Friendly – 40
Cold Weather Tolerance – 50
Exercise Needs – 80
General Health – 60
Grooming Needs – 10
Hot Weather Tolerance – 70
Intelligence – 80
Kid Friendly – 80
Playfulness – 60
Shedding Level – 60
Social Needs – 60
Watchdog Ability – 100

Did You Know?

In the 1900’s the Boerboel was crossbred with Bullmastiffs and used by the De Beers Company to guard their diamond mines.

Boerboel Overview

The Boerboel, also called the Boel, is a uniquely South African breed. The name is derived from ‘Boer’, meaning ‘Farmer’ in Dutch and Afrikaans. This makes the Boerboel, the boer’s dog or the farmer’s dog.

The South African Boerboel is a Molosser type of dog with an unclear breeding history. The origins of the Boerboel are most probably indigenous African dog breeds and European breeds that arrived with the Dutch, British and French settlers in the 1800’s or maybe even in 1652 with Jan van Riebeeck, the Dutch colonial founder of Cape Town.  In the 1900’s the Boerboel was crossbred with Bullmastiffs and used by the De Beers Company to guard their diamond mines. This amazing defender and protector of home and farm could also have been cross-bred with Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and even Great Danes.

The Boerboel is still very popular with farmers and in urban areas for its intelligence and guarding instinct. Nowadays South African breeders export Boerboels all over the world. The Boerboel Breeders Association has promoted this exceptional South African dog breed since 1983.

Boerboel Characteristics

The Boerboel is a guard dog with an imposing build and excellent muscle development. This dog breed has an extremely strong neck and shoulders. The head is flat with a broad top, and a black facial mask covering the muzzle up to the eyes. Boerboels have strong jaws, well-filled cheeks, and should have a complete set of white teeth. The ears are medium-sized and in proportion to his head and the eyes should preferably be dark brown. This breed’s skin is thick and loose, but should not hang in folds.

Boerboel Temperament

They are intelligent, extremely protective, obedient and calm. This dog breed is famous for their courage, strength, agility, territorial instinct and confidence. But, the Boerboel’s most admirable trait is their even temperament.

Boerboels have a definite sixth sense: they sense and share your feelings. This dog breed will instinctively detect when you feel threatened and if necessary, will fight to defend you without thought for their own safety. This dog will be loyal to you and your loved ones and will protect all the members of his or her family, with their life.

The Boerboel guarded families, cattle and possessions as a ‘Voortrekker dog’ during the Great Trek out of the Cape Colony in the 1830s and 1840s. This breed can instinctively distinguish friend from foe. With a powerful appearance, the Boerboel does not need to be aggressive, his presence is sufficient.

Because of their protective nature, the Boerboel makes an excellent watch dog and is very good with children. These dogs are both friends and playmates to the children in their family. However, like with any other dog, it is necessary to take precautions when children interact with dogs. Do not leave small children unsupervised with any dog. They trustworthy, but he is still a large dog.

They can make an excellent dog breed for experienced dog owners.

Boerboel Care

The Boerboels are a large carnivore and needs more protein, vitamins and fiber than other domesticated dog breeds. It is recommended to feed an adult a premium quality dog food and a serving of meat once a week. Cook the meat medium rare to kill any harmful germs and parasites. This breed enjoys raw meaty bones, but remember that cooked bones are harmful for dogs.

The diseases most prevalent in Boerboels are:

  • Vaginal Hyperplasia
  • Entropion and Ectroprion
  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Boerboel Coat

The coat of the Boerboel is short, dense, shiny, and smooth. This dog breed is a light shedder, but will benefit from a weekly brushing and an occasional bath. Only bathe the Boerboel when very dirty or smelly. Brush the teeth regularly to prevent tartar and plaque. Start trimming his nails when your Boerboel is a puppy and he will cooperate with you when he is big and strong.

Common colors for this breed are: red, shades of brown, and fawn. Other colors are: piebald, brindle, white, yellow, grey and Irish marked. Black is considered an unacceptable color for this breed.

A dose of vegetable oil or an egg yolk in food will keep their coat shiny.

Boerboel Training

This dog breed needs to be trained from puppyhood. For a Boerboel puppy his family is his ‘pack’.  They are dominant by nature and need an assertive alpha human. If you allow it, this breed will assume the position of alpha dog. Your dog needs to know who is boss. Firm and consistent training will help establish you as the pack leader.

A socializing program should be included in this breed’s obedience training. Boerboel’s are intelligent and learn quickly and it is a good idea to involve children in this dog’s training.

Boerboel Activity

This breed needs to engage with his family through play and work. They need to belong to a pack and crave the companionship of their humans. This dog breed loves physical contact and they will do anything to please their family.

Because of their size and energy, this breed needs space to move around. This dog breed requires a fenced yard that is sturdy enough to prevent this powerful breed from escaping. The fence should be at least 8 to 10 feet high and it is important to teach your dog to stay within the fenced area.

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