This breed’s name (pronounced “bur-bull”) derives from the Afrikaans word for “farmer’s dog.” The Boerboel hails from South Africa and was originally bred as a working farm dog to protect the homestead.
History and Origin of the Boerboel
Many breeds went into the eventual development of the Boerboel, including native African breeds as well as those brought from Dutch, French, and British settlers. Most experts agree that the breed can most accurately be traced back to Jan van Riebeeck, who settled in the Cape in the 1650s. He brought a “Bullenbijter” with him, and his fellow settlers brought their biggest and strongest dogs along as well; these dogs likely interbred to develop the breed known today as the Boerboel.
Appearance and Size of the Boerboel
The Boerboel is mastiff-like in appearance; strong, muscular, and broad-chested with a blocky head. The Boerboel is approximately 24-28 inches and height and weighs 110-220 pounds. The breed has a short, dense, smooth coat which can be brown, fawn, or red. Some have a darker “mask” around their mouth as well.
Personality of the Boerboel
The Boerboel is a loyal, obedient watchdog. Although large and seemingly imposing, they are affectionate towards their family members and will be friendly with strangers after being properly introduced. Would-be burglars would do well to avoid the home protected by a Boerboel, as the breed is known to fiercely protect family members and property. They are gentle and companionable with other household pets. An isolated Boerboel can become destructive, so family bonding with him is important.
Home and Family Relations with the Boerboel
The Boerboel is good with children, a “gentle giant” despite their large size. Their guard dog instincts run deep, and have been known to protect their family members to the death. Due to their large size, Boerboels are generally not suited for apartment or condo life, and need a generous-sized outdoor area in which to roam.
Training of the Boerboel
Providing routine, structure, training, and socialization from a young age can help the Boerboel become a confident, obedient companion. Boerboels benefit from positive reinforcement, as any other type of reinforcement (negative) can cause psychological damage or behavioral issues.
Grooming of the Boerboel
Occasional brushing of the Boerboel’s short coat, monthly bathing, and regular nail trims are all that’s needed for most of the breed’s grooming. Regular tooth brushing and ear cleaning is also recommended.
Special Care of the Boerboel
Although Boerboels can be “couch potatoes” at times, be aware that a bored Boerboel can be highly destructive. A dog of his size could potentially cause a fair amount of damage to a home or property if given the chance. Therefore, regular exercise is recommended.
Common Diseases and Disorders of the Boerboel
Although the Boerboel is a generally healthy breed, the following conditions have been observed:
Life Span of the Boerboel
The life span of the Boerboel is approximately 10 years.