The Boerboel: Appearance, Personality, History, and More!

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Are you looking for extra protection? Do you need a family dog too? Well, the Boerboel breed is exactly what you need! Well-built, athletic, protective, friendly, and easy to maintain are the traits of these furry beings that make them a great pet choice.

Nevertheless, they are one of the large dog breeds and need effective disciplining at in young age to keep unwanted aggression at bay. Boerboel is not one of the dog breeds for first-time dog owners; you should familiarize yourself with the breed and adopt only if it would make a great fit for you.

Let us begin!

Boerboel Breed Overview

Breed Overview

Other Name:South African Mastiff

Height: 22 to 27 inches

Weight: 150 to 200 pounds

Lifespan: 9 to 11 years

Colors: Brindle, cream, brown, red, reddish-brown, tawny

Country of Origin: South Africa  







The Boerboel, also known as South African Mastiff, is an African dog breed known for its protective nature. Now that we have had an overview of the breed, let’s get to know the breed in depth.


The Boerboels are amongst the most powerful canines in large dog breeds. These dogs are sturdy and broad. Deep and blocky, their head is square. Giving intelligent expression, the eyes are brown while the ears are v-shaped, rounded at tips.

Their muzzle is long and black in color. Additionally, a black mask on the face is also common among this dog breed.

Their coat is short, dense, and smooth and comes in several colors. Dogs with a variety of different markings are common, such as the black Boerboel with reverse brindle.

Varying in looks, there are four main types of Boerboel dogs, namely, the Hound type, the Bulldog type, the Terrier type, and the Mastiff type.

Female Boerboels are usually several inches shorter than their male counterparts.

Personality and Temperament

Although the Boerboel is a working dog breed, these dogs can be very loyal and gentle – but there is a caveat attached: they need effective training. If Boerboel puppies are properly socialized, they will easily get along with children. They also do well with other pets if raised together from a young age. Still, it is strongly advised that you never leave your small children and pets unsupervised with your Boerboel.

Boerboel canines are very pleasing and quick at executing the tasks at hand – be it guarding or the preparation of competition they are going to participate in.

They are very soft underneath their heavily muscled skin – it is difficult for them to live without a human companion; that is why they do not like to be left alone for a long period of time.

Moreover, the Boerboel breed is known to be very intelligent and sharp and can easily learn to distinguish between a friend and a stranger after some guard dog training, making them one of the great guard dog breeds.


The Boerboel history dates back to the 7th century. Their ancestors came to South Africa along with the European Settlers in 1652. Large European and African dog breeds, specifically the Rhodesian Ridgeback, the Bluffmastiff, and the Bulldog, were mixed to develop the daunting Boerboel dog.

The Boerboel breed started becoming distinct due to their muscular appearance, bravery, and guarding abilities. They were primarily used for protection, especially on farms, as well as for hunting dangerous wildlife.

As they started gaining popularity even outside South Africa, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized it in 2015.

Did You Know?

The name Boerboel comes from Afrikaans words ‘boer’ meaning farmer and ‘boel’ meaning large dog. Thus, it means farmer’s dog

Boerboel Care

The Boerboel dogs are well suited for experienced owners, mainly because of their very confident nature. However, to take the proper care of your Boerboel pooch, consider managing the followings:


Owing to the fact that the Boerboel dogs are quite big and muscular, they need an ample amount of calories. The food should be high in protein and should contain other essential nutrients as well.

A nutritious diet becomes especially important if you have a Boerboel puppy since he will grow swiftly, requiring a large portion of proteins other nutritional components. For this purpose, you can add Healthy Breeds Multivitamin Daily Dietary Supplement into your pup’s daily diet. It is a vet-recommended dietary complex that tastes great and would meet all the nutritional requirements of your furry friend.


Since the Boerboel coat does not shed much, brushing it only once a week would be enough. It will keep the coat looking nice and clean while loose hair strands will be taken out. Moreover, it will also distribute the natural oil all over the skin. Le Salon Essentials Rubber Curry Grooming Brush is helpful in this regard: it removes the shed hair and is easy to clean afterward.

In addition to coat brushing, you will also have to bathe your Boerboel every month. That said, if he is good at making a mess by rolling in poop or a muddy puddle, you might have to bathe him more often.

The rest of the grooming is basic. Trim their nails every month, keep their teeth neat and clean by brushing them every other day using dog toothpaste, and check the ears regularly to avoid the buildup of any infectious material.


Although the Boerboel dogs are not so active physically, they do need some amount of workouts on a daily basis to stay fit and healthy. You don’t necessarily have to take them out for long walks; a big yard would suffice, where your furry friend can play and wander around. That said, if you decide to take him on walks, you should first leash-train him. Given their protective nature, you should never unleash your Boerboel on his walks with you.

Exercising Boerboel dogs is really fun because of their penchant for some specific activities like going hiking and swimming. They also like participating in pulling and agility competitions.

In case your Boerboel is not getting ample daily exercise, he will develop behavioral issues, and to expend his pent-up energy would either be barking at nothing or engaging in other destructive tendencies like chewing on blankets or destroying the bedroom. Mental stimulation activities can also be very helpful in this regard. Use puzzles such as Amazon Basics Pet Activity Center and Feeder, which, besides being a fun activity, reward your dog with a treat for playing.


The Boerboels are highly intelligent and incredibly pliant at a young age; therefore, training them is quite an easy task. However, a setback can occur due to their confident nature: they might end up leading themselves during training sessions instead of following the trainer’s commands. If you are starting with socialization training and obedience training at a young age, you don’t really have to worry about this issue.

Hence, for effective and efficient training, adhere to the following recommendations:

  1. You must start socialization training and obedience training at an early age.
  2. Likewise, as patience is a prerequisite of effective training, the trainer should be calm and consistent.
  3. Since they do not enjoy the time alone, crate training should also be done at a young age.
  4. Always use positive reinforcements to keep your dog motivated.
  5. To make the training easy, consider enrolling your dog in a pup training course at a young age.


Make no mistake! Boerboel dogs can be fiercely aggressive if they are not well-trained. In fact, Boerboel attacks are notoriously famous. It is, thus, in the best interest of yours and the community near you to ensure up to the mark socialization training of your dog.


Boerboels are generally healthy dogs with a good lifespan of 9 to 11 years. However, they do suffer from some health complications, which are elaborated in the table below:

Health IssueDescriptionSymptomTreatment
Hip DysplasiaIt causes the hip joint to loosen up, which results in pain and difficulty walking.Bunny hopping gait
Thigh muscle loss
Proper management and care
BloatingThe stomach saturates with gas, food, or fluid – causing it to expand.Swollen stomach
Vaginal HyperplasiaVaginal linings get enlarged and inflamed.Bulging in vagina
Extreme licking of the genital area

Boerboel Price

Because of specific breeding, a Boerboel puppy can bear a hefty price tag. He may, hence, cost you between the U.S. $ 1,500 and 2,000. Because of the dietary and nutrition requirements, factor in the cost of quality food you will have to spend on every month as well.

Some Facts About the Boerboel Breed

Here are some cool facts about the Boerboel dog breed:

  • Jan van Riebeeck, a Dutch navigator and the founder of Cape Town, introduced the Boerboel breed in South Africa. The motive was to protect Dutch farms from predators.
  • They are the only South African dogs created for farm protection.
  • They were introduced to the enthusiasts of pure dog breeds throughout the world by Carl Semencic, the writer of Gladiator Dogs.
  • In 2016, Bilo the Dog became the first Boerboel to participate in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
  • The skin beneath their fur is dark, which helps protect them from the African climate.

Boerboel FAQs

Here are answers to some common questions:

Are Berboels Hypoallergenic?

No. Boerboels are not one of the hypoallergenic dog breeds. Though Boerboels have a short, dense coat and shed very moderately, they do leave some pet dander, which is primarily responsible for triggering pet allergies.

At What Age Does a Boerboel Become Aggressive?

Boerboel dogs might become aggressive even before reaching adulthood (one year of age) if not properly trained and socialized, as in the case of the Pitbulls, which starts showing the signs of aggression as early as during the first eight months of age.

Is Boerboel a Family Dog?

Yes. However, families and children can have a great time with Boerboel dogs only if they are well-trained and properly socialized. But still, you should never leave your children and small pets unsupervised with your Boerboel.

Moreover, children should be taught not to be mischievous with the dog as, sometimes, the latter can take the expression of playfulness as aggression.

Do Boerboels Drool?

Yes, they drool moderately – quite less when compared to other mastiff dog breeds. Therefore, to keep the face of your pet and the furniture at your home clean, always consider carrying a towel in hand.

Why You Should or Should Not Have a Boerboel Dog?

Here are the pros and cons:


    Great Family Dog: They get along with people and children very well if properly trained.

    Protective: They are awesome at guarding.

    Low Grooming Requirements: You do not have to spend much on keeping your pooch neat and dapper.


    Aggression: Bad-trained Boerboels are notorious for aggression.

    Ban: They are banned in some countries.

    Behavioral issue: When left alone for a long time, they can develop behavioral issues and separation anxiety.


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