Boerboel – different body types

Hound Type

  • Many Boerboels can be tall with a pronounced tuck up underneath, these dogs are often narrower in the chest, they have flatter sides, they have well constructed fronts that are straight, nicely shaped feet and have good rear angulation.  They have longer ears and muzzles which taper inwards towards the end.  The circumference of the male’s head is usually 2 to 3 inches less than the height at the shoulder; this type of Boerboel is displaying a lot of the hound influence.  I owned a bitch like this and I used her for hunting Boar.  I found her to have a good nose on the ground and good stamina and speed for her size.  Quite a few dogs of this type have been widely used in modern times eg. Piona Rampai, Caberet Klein Buks.
Piona Rampai
Piona Rampai
  • Caberet Klein Buks

Bulldog Type

  • The opposite of the hound type is the Bulldog type.  These dogs are shorter and broader; they have more concave lines showing more spring or roundness to the ribs, this also carries to the front of the dog as they usually have bigger chests so the elbows are sometimes slightly out to accommodate the chest.  The front legs move slightly towards the centre line and pasterns and front feet turn slightly out to balance this heavier front.  The front feet are often large and open, the Bulldog type tends to have a lot of volume in the body, shorter muzzles and are undershot.  The head is usually equal to or greater in circumference than the height at the shoulders up to 3 inches greater in some cases.  The ear set is high in this type, examples of this type of Boerboel are Avalonia Waldor (RIP) and Driefontien Grootpraat.
Avalonia Waldor
  • Avalonia Waldor
Driefontein Grootpraat
Driefontein Groot praat

Terrier Type

  • Next type is the Terrier type.  Most likely Bull Terrier influence as I have seen stud book entries from 1950 that shows the Bull Terrier being bred into the Boerboel.  The Terrier type has thinner legs and is shorter in back length.  Can be hyper-active and more prey-driven than most other Boerboels.  They have tight feet and the musculature can appear more prominent because of the smaller bone, shorter coat and tighter fitting skin.  The head is usually clean of wrinkles, they have scissor bite and good teeth, and they are usually long lived.  Examples that have been used a lot are Ysterberg Storm and Mouzer Adolf/Adolph.
Ysterberg Storm
Ysterberg Storm
  • Mouzer Adolph

Mastiff Type

  • The last type is the Mastiff type Boerboel.  These dogs have thick legs, broad muzzles, usually an excess of lip and wrinkle.  The head is large and usually equal to the height of the dog at the shoulder or a little more.  They are quite heavy dogs; the Mastiff type has thicker skin.  It is tall and flat sided and usually doesn’t live as long as the other body types.  Modern examples are Dandaloo Mack (RIP) and Ysterberg Troffel.
  • Dandaloo Mack

    Dandaloo Mack. Pic in centre shows him at 7 weeks
    Dandaloo Mack. Pic in centre shows him at 7 weeks
Ysterberg Troffel
Ysterberg Troffel
Ysterberg Troffel
Ysterberg Troffel

These are all extremes that have been talked about; most dogs are a combination of the types, just as human bodies are a mix of Endomorphic, Mesomorphic and Ectomorphic body types.

If we keep moving towards unifying the Boerboel’s body type and conformation, which of the extremes of variation do you think we should cull?  By limiting the diversity within the breed we lessen its appeal and its range of functions in the community.  How in the future do you increase volume in your dogs if nobody has the Bulldog Boerboel type anymore? And if you only have the Bulldog type Boerboel how do you straighten your fronts and get rear angulation without Terrier or Hound type?  Where will you bone and muzzle thickness come from without the Mastiff type?  The farmer who wants a dog that can cover ground has no need for a big 80kg bucket head; he needs a Terrier or a Hound type.  Every type has its place and they are all of equal importance, sometimes I breed combinations that will produce large Mastiff Bulldog type Boerboels, the males are prized for their imposing structures and are bred on with, the bitches can sometimes be too masculine and are often poor mothers.  I also breed Terrier/Hound type combinations, the females are great athletes and have good construction, and both the males and females have drive and are good for working pursuits as long as they don’t get too much over 55kgs.

The original source for the above text (not photos) is the now defunct but there is a new site here.

For a complete list of my Boerboel posts, click here

Author: Janet Carr

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

9 thoughts

  1. Yes, breeders tend to breed the type they like. One exception would probably be Boerboel Greece who has the stunning Crespo who really breaks the mould, and is unlike Boerboel Greece’s other dogs. I have articles on Crespo on my blog. Some of my favorite kennels are Mizpah, Linga-Longa, Blygedacht, Linjo and Coomore. My article on the History of the Boerboel comes with permission of the wonderful Johan Swart of Linjo Boerboels.

    When I grew up, our Boerboels were much smaller than most of the ones you see today. They were always reddish brown, had no mask and were medium to large hound/terrier types, rather than the extra large Mastiff/Bulldog types you see nowadays. They had to be able to work all day every day. This was before they were recognized as a breed. Nowadays the breed has grown and developed so much but many of the dogs you see today would not be able to run mile after mile, patrol fence lines or chase wounded game for hours in order to bring them down. Having said that, I love a dog like Odi (also on my blog) who is enormous! I also adored Avalonia Waldor and Dandaloo Mack. My new favorites (apart from Crespo) are Crazy Wolf and Whoza King Arthur from Blygedacht. (pics of all of these are on my blog)

      1. He is pure Boerboel with a brilliant pedigree back generation after generation. He is unusual looking though – his ears are high.

  2. I have a Boerboel whose parents came directly from South Africa. Unfortunately, I do no have his registration papers from the US. I love his shape and size and, if I decide to breed Boerboels, would like to have them look like him. If I sent you pictures, could you tell me which type he is? He has a head more like a Great Dane – a big, very heavy Dane.

    1. That would probably be more a mastiff type. Though the different body types is not a hard and fast rule and you often have mixtures of several of them. It is just a useful reference because people are often confused because different Boerboels can look so different.

      1. Oh okay. Do you find that breeders tend to like one “type” and stick with that?

        Thank you for sharing your live of the breed. Your descriptions fit our boy almost exactly.

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