By Macy Gen Veterinary AssistantMacy Gen Last updated: 18th October 2022



Macy Gen Veterinary Assistant Macy Gen
Last updated: 18th October 2022

Boerboel is a large-sized Molosser breed originating in South Africa, primarily used as a guard dog to protect farms. The Boerboel has a fearful look, characterized by a large-sized body, well-defined bone and muscle structure, broad, flat and blocky head, broad and deep jaws, V-shaped ears set proportionately to the head, broad, brown eyes set horizontally, and a straight, short tail attached to its body at a height. Owing to its dominant and protective instinct, it has emerged as a significant working dog, though not an excellent choice for novice owners.

Boerboel Pictures

Quick Information

Other namesSouth African Mastiff, African Boerboel, South African Boerboel
CoatShort, soft, dense, shiny, smooth
ColorBrindle, cream, red, brown, reddish brown, tawny with or without a black mask and Irish markings or shades of white and piebald
GroupWorking, Molossers
Lifespan/ Life Expectancy9-12 years
HeightMale: 25-28 inches; Female: 23-25.5 inches
Weight154-200 pounds
Litter size7-10 puppies
Behavioral Characteristics Obedient, reliable, intelligent, energetic, protective, sometimes aggressive
Good with childrenYes, but parental supervision needed
Climate Compatibility  Suitable for all climates
Shedding (Does it shed)Average
Hypoallergenic No
Competitive Registration Qualification/ InformationAKC, UKC, DRA, APRI,
CountrySouth Africa

Video of Boerboel attacking a bear


Boerboel gets its name from “boer” meaning farmer in Afrikaan and “boel” that is an Afrikaan slang that stands for dog. Being the only South African breed to be created for defending and protecting homestead as early as the 1600s, the Boerboel was even employed for hunting dangerous animals like leopards, hyenas, and baboon. Though it has been indigenous to South Africa for a long time, the breeds used for its creation remains unsure. The common belief that exists is that these dogs were a result of interbreeding the landrace African breeds like Africani with canines that arrived in South Africa along with the British, French and Dutch settlers.

However, the most concrete details date back to 1652 when Jan van Riebeeck, a Dutch navigator reached the Cape bringing along his bullenbeisser or bullenbijter, which was a kind of dog meaning a bull biter. This mastiff-kind of a dog as well as some indigenous African breeds were said to be responsible for the ancestry of these dogs. These robust dogs, capable of bearing harsh climate served as great protectors for farmers, guarding their property also employed in military posts at the beginning of the 1860s.

When diamond mining rose to popularity in South Africa in 1928, a company named De Beers had brought in the Bullmastiffs to safeguard their mines. The latter was also crossed with the Boerboels indigenous to this region.  American anthropologist, Dr. Carl Semencic played a significant role in introducing the Boerboel to the United States by mentioning of them in some of his literary works.

The Boerboel Breeders Association developed in South Africa in the year 1983, with the primary purpose of promoting these dogs. Presently breeding the Boerboel is not just a hobby but even a profession. They are also being transported to other parts of the world, gradually gaining popularity there. Classifying the Boerboel as a working breed, the AKC gave it full recognition in 2015 January.


Certain countries all over the world have restricted or completely banned the import or keeping of the Boerboel dog because of its fighting and attacking instinct.  Romania prohibited the Boerboel’s import in 2002, limiting ownership only to those who were above 18 years of age, had orders from the court and were psychologically stable to own a dog.

Denmark banned Boerboel in 2010 since it was suspected as a fighting dog and even ordered existing breeds to be muzzled as well as leashed when taken out in public.

Russia designated it as a breed which was regarded as an especially dangerous, with its ownership given to those who had the certification for the same.

Other countries banning or prohibiting people from possessing it include Malaysia, France, Qatar, Geneva, Switzerland, Bermuda, Iowa, and Mauritius.


A smart working breed, these dogs always desire some task of the other to remain engaged. In spite of their aggressive nature, they crave to be in the companionship of their loved ones and would resort to boredom as well as depression if left alone for a prolonged period. Because of their protective instinct, they would always safeguard their family and territory from any harm.

Boerboels would be aversive to strangers but can display a friendly gesture with unfamiliar people provided they have been frequenting their household for a long time and have won their trust. They would also not allow anybody to enter the house if they have not been properly introduced to them or consider being a prospective threat. However, owners should take initiatives of attaching a leash and muzzle to them whenever they encounter a stranger.

They even share a good rapport with children, though they may be overprotective at times, resulting in knocking down the little ones in a playful gesture. Moreover, since they have powerful jaws, they may end up biting or destroying toys in the course of play.

Hence parental supervision is always necessary if you have your kids to interact with the Boerboel.  They would also do well with dogs of the family with whom they have been raised, though they may be territorial with unfamiliar canines.



Being strong and athletic, Boerboels require being exercised on a regular basis, sufficing with a long walk, or even a play session in a fenced area. Never allow them without a leash keeping their protective instinct in mind. They would enjoy participation in agility, rally, obedience, and weight pull competitions.


Being moderate shedders, they would need a weekly brushing using a brush with soft bristles. You can also use hound gloves or a rubber grooming mitt for removing loose hair. Other hygiene measures include bathing them, cleaning their eyes and ears, brushing their teeth as well as trimming their nails.

Health Problems

Though regarded as a healthy breed, some of the common problems faced by this dog include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, vaginal hyperplasia, entropion, ectropion, vaginal hyperplasia and juvenile epilepsy.


These breeds need a firm as well as a tactful trainer who would handle it in a matured way.

  • Boerboels have a strong guarding instinct because of which socializing the puppies are a mandate to lessen chances of any untoward incident.
  • Obedience training, mainly teaching them to follow commands is also a must so that the moment they are on an attacking spree, your command would stop them from doing anything destructive.
  • Teaching them to walk on a leash since their puppy days is also of immense importance, as it is not safe to keep these aggressive dogs in the open especially when you are taking them out.


Feeding these active and high-energy dogs good quality dog food is of utmost importance. You can give them a homemade diet simultaneously and even introduce raw food after consulting the vet. Since they are prone to hip dysplasia, overfeeding the Boerboel is not recommended.

Boerboel Attack

  1.  A Boerboel severely injured a child in Melbourne who has lost one of her ears.
  2. A lady named Jane Egle was attacked and killed at her home by her pet dog.

4 responses to “Boerboel”

  1. reggie says:

    and I don’t walk him with a leash. He just turned 3.

  2. Reggie says:

    I have a Boerboel and a very large one. Despite his sometime aloof appearance, they are extremely intelligent. I used to breed Dobermans and I place them on that level. The dog never had mistake in my home. We got him at 5 weeks and he was house broken immediately. They are keenly aware of the alpha’s (me) demeanor. I’m laid back and so he’s laid back; if there’s a dog, even a barking dog or aggressive dog he will not respond, until the dog attacks, then he becomes a different animal. He will defend to the death. He’s great with people and kids. I have trained him to ignore (for the most part) the attention people give him. He doesn’t respond even if they offer a treat. If I stop and speak with someone if they inquire about him,he sits and waits patiently sometimes he get a little silly. They are situational, they look at what’s been introduced as normal to them and they are ok, but you do have to watch them for anything that’s outside of that “normal” behavior to them, and at or above 200 lbs, you gotta be aware.

  3. Lori says:

    I’m looking to buy a puppy. Boerboel can you give me some information on who to contact. I love in Oregon.

  4. J. McD says:

    I live in California and i recently came across a beautiful female puppy. I wasn’t looking for a new dog as my R. Ridgeback\mastiff mix passed on a few months ago. The guy who had the puppies strangly enough had my pit at his house for a week when he ran off. I went there for another reason, but when i saw her she had to come home with me. Now the guy said her daddy was called a Zeus Ruckus and brendal pit, golden lab and his daddy was pure bread from So. Africa. So have you heard of this bread? I looked at alot of pictures and the one with the 2 puppies (1 lying down & 1 standing together) looks just like Blue. She was 8 weeks when i got her weighing 9 1\2 lbs now a month later about 25lbs. She is very smart and fearless wakes up jaws going and steels almost one of every shoe in the house, sneeky. Her mom is a Blue tick hound no pointy ears for her! Lol So i was hoping i could ask for more info. On the breed and more photos. Oh ya and training tips, defiant and stubborn she is, eat everything in her path and starting a bad habit of jumping and snipping at faces, not gonna have either. And do they really have to shit 4-5 piles daily? At least she is making
    It outside now

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