This is a question that comes up fairly often. And worryingly, it often comes up AFTER someone has bought one.
The trend for people to buy large ‘kickass’ dogs to parade around the streets in order to look tough worries me. It actually got so bad in an area near me that the municipality began offering dog training classes for people who were unable to control their dogs. There was one guy who was terrified of his Rottweiler and I saw him once being dragged across the football pitch on his stomach by his dog during one of these lessons.
All dogs have the possibility to hurt someone. Admittedly Chihuahua less than a Doberman. Never leave any dog alone with babies or small children – ever. There is no getting away from the fact that Boerboels are large muscular dogs (extremely large and muscular in some cases) and were bred to guard and protect. They are not lapdogs. They are not a mass-market breed. Because of their working origins, any unstable or aggressive specimens were euthanized immediately so the breed tends to be stable and non-aggressive as a whole but bad breeders and inexperienced owners wanting a ‘trendy’ dog have caused problems, and these problems tend to be perpetuated and increase with time. More and more Boerboels are being sold, but more and more are ending up in shelters because they are badly bred and bought by people who do not understand the breed. This is not a breed for an inexperienced owner with an unsuitable home. Or for unscrupulous ‘greeders’ out to make a buck either. When properly bred and understood though, once you go Boerboel you will never go back. They are THE most wonderful dogs ever.
The Boerboel is a dominant but intelligent breed, with a strong watchdog instinct. The Boerboel should be self-assured and fearless, but responsive to the needs of the family. For the most part, responsibly bred, well socialized Boerboels are even tempered and aim to please their family. Any person interested in making a Boerboel part of their family should be prepared to spend much of the first year training the animal. Obedience classes with a reputable local trainer can greatly reduce the chances of a dog bite in the future. Even so, the Boerboel should never be left unsupervised with young children they don’t know well, or strangers. It is a very rare circumstance that a Boerboel will bite a person, and it should be said that when this (or any large breed) dog attacks, it can easily tear through muscle, tendons and, in some cases, bone. To avoid aggression, the Boerboel should be socialized with many people, children, friends,extended family members and other dogs as a young puppy, as well as throughout their lives. Only dogs of the correct temperament should be selected for breeding and should be temperament tested prior to breeding. These dogs thrive on love and attention and need companionship from their owners. As with many working breeds, they should not be left alone regularly for extended periods as they can become destructive without the opportunity to fulfill a well defined role. Always bear in mind that instinct to guard is very very highly developed in this breed so do not unnecessarily put yourself in situations where the dog feels the need to protect you.
You should choose a reputable breeder who checks the home the pup is going to. Anybody breeding and selling any large powerful dogs should ensure they are going to the right homes. The responsibility for the dog lies with the person who bred it. Boerboels are only recently being exported and are still very close to their working origins. There is still very high same-gender dog aggression and responsible breeders are more careful who they sell to. Your dog needs to be properly socialised and well exercised. They are not generally an ‘apartment’ or a ‘dog daycare’ breed. They have a very strong need to be with their family. Once again, they are an absolutely wonderful dog in the right environment. No one could ever wish for more.
A Boerboel can weigh over 200 lbs and have biting power of over 700lbs per square inch so under the right (or wrong) circumstances that is a really dangerous dog. The question is if you want that on your side or against you.
Here is an excerpt from another article on my site
Due to discrepancies in breeding practices, Boerboels are somewhat variable in temperament, with certain lines being considerably more aggressive than others. However, carefully bred Boerboels usually have fairly predictable temperaments. This breed is known for the intense bonds that it forms with its entire family, whom it cares for greatly. Boerboels were greatly valued by early settlers for their intense loyalty and devotion. Some Boerboels are openly affectionate and come to think that they are lap dogs, while others are considerably more restrained. Almost all of these dogs want to be in the constant presence of their owner, and this breed can suffer from severe separation anxiety and boredom if left alone for long periods on a regular basis. The Boerboel tends to be very dominant, even with those it knows best, and this breed is definitely not recommended for a novice dog owner.
Most breed members are very good with children that they know well. This breed is willing to put up with a great amount of rough play, and can handle a fair amount of a child’s well-meaning “abuse.” When properly socialized and trained this breed is very good with children. However, as is the case with any dog, a Boerboel that has not been exposed to children may have an unpredictable reaction to them.
Boerboels have a very strong protective instinct, and in fact are considered among the most protective of all dogs. With proper training and socialization, most Boerboels become discerning and accepting of strangers, although most always remain reserved and politely aloof. Socialization is extremely important to these dogs as without it they may become aggressive, though overly protective is probably a better description with regards to this breed. Owners must be aware that the severity of even the mildest human aggression is greatly magnified by the massive size and power of this dog. Although relatively slow to make friends, most Boerboels will eventually form bonds with new people such as roommates or spouses.
Not only protective but also highly alert, Boerboels make excellent watch dogs that can frighten almost all wrongdoers with one booming bark. This breed is also generally regarded as one of the world’s top guard dogs. Highly protective and territorial, the vast majority of breed members will not let any intruder enter their territory unchallenged, unless that person is very well-known to them. Although the breed prefers to use intimidation, they are willing to resort to violence if they feel it is required, and this dog is capable of catching and bringing down virtually any target with little to no effort. Although highly skilled as a property guardian, the Boerboel most excels at personal protection. Boerboels will absolutely not allow any physical harm to come to a family member or close friend, and this breed will unflinchingly face down any man or beast to protect its loved ones, unhesitatingly sacrificing its own life if need be.
Bred as working farm dogs for centuries, this breed generally get along well with non-canine animals. When socialized and trained, most of these dogs live in peace with cats, sheep, horses, and other creatures, and often become strongly protective of them. As is the case with any dog, a Boerboel is likely to pursue and potentially attack species with which it is not familiar, which can be very problematic given its size and power. A very large number of Boerboels do have significant issues with other dogs. Boerboel puppies tend to be very adaptable and usually fit in very well with any pack structure that they are raised in, but adult Boerboels are much less agreeable. Boerboels exhibit strong levels of many forms of dog aggression including territoriality and possessiveness, and many have severe issues with same-sex and dominance aggression. Few Boerboels are willing to tolerate any other dog taking a position of dominance over them, and most are unwilling to back down. Some Boerboels do best in a home with either no other dogs or a single dog of the opposite sex, and it is probably inadvisable to take one of these dogs to the dog park unless you are very very confident of your ability to control them. Owners must keep their dogs under control at all times, because a Boerboel is capable of seriously injuring or killing virtually any other dog with ease.
Regarded as being extremely intelligent, Boerboels are considered among the most trainable of all Molossers. Owners willing to take the time to work with these dogs find that they are extraordinarily capable, and excel at a variety of tasks such as agility and especially Schutzhund. This dog is also regarded as among the most obedient Molossers when trained by an experienced handler. However, this is far from the easiest breed to train. Boerboels are extremely dominant, and will absolutely not follow anyone whom they do not consider a true leader. Owners who do not maintain a constant position of dominance are likely to lose control very quickly and can end up with an absolute canine monster. Even the most successfully dominant owners will find that a Boerboel is intelligent enough to figure out exactly what it can and cannot get away with, and will life its life by those rules. Additionally, this breed definitely has a strongly stubborn streak, and often is resistant to some forms of training, particularly if there is something else capturing the dog’s attention. Most fanciers believe that Boerboel puppies train much, much easier than adults, making an early start important.
Extremely athletic and active dogs, this breed requires a substantial amount of exercise. A Boerboel will not be satisfied with a daily walk, unless it is very long and extremely vigorous. These dogs need an opportunity to run on a regular basis, either on a leash or preferably in a large, safely enclosed area. Most of these dogs are also extremely playful, and love to play fetch for long periods. A driven worker, the Boerboel does best when provided with complicated jobs that exercise his intelligent and active mind such as running through an agility course or going through obedience training. It is absolutely imperative that Boerboel owners provide their dogs with an appropriate outlet for their energy, or this breed will find one on its own, one that will probably be anything but appropriate. Bored and restless Boerboels are likely to become destructive (a major problem as possibly no dog has the destructive capacity of this breed), hyperactive, overly excitable, excessively vocal, and potentially even aggressive
Puppies are destructive – they have to be house trained and they will chew and get into things. That’s part of having a pet. As a puppy gets older they will get into a rebellious teenage phase. As in humans, adolescence is a bridge or transition between youth and adulthood. Because all dogs have their own personality and breed-specific traits, adolescence manifests somewhat differently in each. Nonetheless, most dogs exhibit at least some of these common adolescent traits: selective hearing; refusal to do previously learned commands; reversion to puppy behaviors such as mouthiness, destructive chewing, jumping and barking; lapses in housebreaking and just about anything else to drive their guardian insane. With big breeds obedience training is more or less necessary unless you have the skills and experience to do it yourself. Your dog needs stimulation and exercise.
And for me the most important thing is, if you have an animal you need to realize that it is part of your family. It will take time, money and attention and it will live for many many years. My oldest cat lived to be 24 and that was a lot of times I could not drop everything and go on holiday or stay out all night or go for drinks after work. If you want an animal that will fit round your life then maybe you need to reconsider having one at all. It breaks my heart seeing all the animals in shelters or advertised for rehoming because they were more of a responsibility than people realized. It is much harder to find a home for a huge badly bred untrained boerboel than a Maltese poodle, and they often end up being put down.
These are wonderful wonderful dogs but they are not for everyone. As much as you want one, if you feel your circumstances are not right, then it would be best to wait until those circumstances change. If and when they do and you finally get your Boelie, you will be glad you waited until you could offer them what they need to be healthy, happy and loved.