Boerboels Part 2

Waldor - 207 pounds of pure muscle
Avalonia Waldor – 207 pounds of pure muscle

One of my most popular earlier posts is about my favourite dog breed – the Boerboel. I have received some emails asking for more information about them. For a complete index of my Boerboel posts, click here

The Boerboel is a South African breed and is a mastiff. Early on there were (incorrect) beliefs that the Boerboel had been bred from a lion, so great was its size and strength. It was probably originally bred from wild African dogs crossed with the large Molosser dogs brought to South Africa by the Dutch settlers after 1652. Simplistically you can say it was bred as a guard dog – to guard the farm, to guard the family, to guard the livestock, to bring down wounded game and hold down injured livestock. Boer means ‘farmer’ in Afrikaans.

They vary quite a bit in size and weight but are big, muscular dogs. Right from when they are puppies they have an instinct to protect their family and will move between their family and any unknown quantity. Because of their size and their position as a working dog, any aggressive specimens were immediately euthanased so aggressiveness is not a trait which Boerboels are known for – although, as with all dogs, it can happen. They do not try to dominate their humans as Rottweilers can, for example – because their instinct is to protect their human. But they do dominate other dogs and they need to see you as their pack leader. They are wonderful with children. The only downside to them could be that they can be drooly and, because of their devotion to their family, clingy.

In my experience a Boerboel will move into a protective position between you and any unknown human. But once they feel from you that the human is friendly they quickly accept them into your life. There is no escaping that this is a big powerful dog though and good training is absolutely essential. This is no dog for drunken bully gang members trying to look tough by getting their kickass  untrained dog to look vicious and growl at people – well no dog is the dog for those kinds of people but that is another post entirely. Waldor (pictured up top) has legs the width of Coke cans and weighs almost 210 pounds of pure muscle.


Vital Statistics:
Place of Origin: South Africa
Group: Guard Dog
Height: 25-28 in.
Weight: 150-200 lbs.
Life span: 10 yrs.
Trainability: high
Good with children: yes
Good with other pets: yes

What is the origin of the Boerboel?

The Boerboel dates back to the 1600s when Dutch, French and English settlers brought their large dogs with them to Africa. These dogs interbred with the African breeds. In the 1920s the De Beers diamond mining company wanted dogs to guard their mines and imported Bull Mastiffs. These dogs bred with the Boerboels. They can be found worldwide now except in Denmark where in 2010 the Boerboel is outlawed. People there believe the Boerboel to be a fighting dog, possibly due to its appearance.

What does the Boerboel look like?

The Boerboel is a large, powerful dog. Height is 25-28 inches tall. Weight is 150-200 lbs. Ears are folded over and v-shaped. Eyes can be light or dark brown. The nose is black. The muzzle is black and the face sometimes has a black mask. The coat is short and dense, lying close to the body. Colors are cream, tawny, reddish brown, brown and brindle. Occasional brushing is required. They do differ quite a lot in appearance but there is no mistaking a Boerboel once you are familiar with them.

What is the temperament of the Boerboel?

While the Boerboel is an excellent guard dog, it is not actively aggressive unless guided by the owner. However they do need obedience training with a firm but positive hand. The Boerboel needs to know the owner is dominant. They love children and will get along with other dogs and pets, but should be socialized early and (like all dogs) never left alone with small children. The Boerboel is fearless, obedient and loving. They should have daily long walks and a yard for exercise. They are not suited to apartment living.

What is the Boerboel used for?

Once used for big game hunting, the Boerboel will guard its family and property and be a loving companion as well.


Ultra Grigory, known as Grisha and owned by Brink Botha


Tau, owned by Mandy Newman Wakeham
Tau, owned by Mandy Newman Wakeham

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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