Boerboel Dog Breed


The Boerboel (burbul) is a large, mastiff dog that has its origins in South Africa. The term Boerboel came from the word boer which means ‘farmer’ in Afrikaans/Dutch language, this translates as “farmer’s dog” or “Boer’s dog”. This dog is the only South African breed that was developed to guard homes or farmhouses.

These dogs were often entrusted to fight against predators including lions, hyenas and other big cats. Also, the Boerboel dogs were very valuable in tracking and holding down wounded game.

It is said that this breed was created through the crossbreeding of native African canine breeds with the foreign dogs brought into the country by European pioneers (British, French and Dutch). In 1652, Jan van Riebeeck arrived in Cape together with his ‘Bullenbijter’. Later, other settlers came in who also had large, strong dogs that were then interbred with the local dog breeds of South Africa.\


1983 was the year the Boerboel Breeders Association was established in the Free State’s Senekal district which aimed to promote and ennoble the Boerboel as a uniquely South African dog breed.

Traits and Behavior

Boerboel dogs are extremely loyal to their masters and they often create strong bonds with their family. This is an affectionate dog, but it depends upon each dog. When trained and socialized properly, they are good with children.

They are tolerable with rough plays but might get too excited. Therefore, they aren’t recommended for families with very young children.

This is a very protective dog. They are very suspicious around strangers and the most socialized dogs will tolerate strangers at best.

Boerboel walking

If not trained, they are highly protective and may show aggression. However, no record of any serious human aggression has been reported, yet.

Because of their protectiveness and territoriality, they make great guard and watchdogs.

This dog may or may not be aggressive towards other dogs. But, since this dog has been bred to hunt and kill small games, they tend to be aggressive against non-canine animals. But, this instinct can be controlled with proper training and socialization.

Boerboel dogs are very intelligent and great problem solvers. They can be trained to do complex things. However, their stubbornness and independence can be a challenge to trainers.

They like to do things their way and would not respond well when being told what to do. This dominant dog should have a more dominant owner.

Reward-based training works best for this breed since they respond well to corrections. Training a Boerboel requires consistency and firmness.

Pet Care and Diseases

They tend to have high energy. They can live in many environments as long they have daily exercise to release their high energy. They require at least 1 hour of vigorous exercise daily and would prefer more. This is a tireless dog that even with enough exercise; still tend to wander about. If not given the required activity daily, this dog tends to become aggressive and destructive. They are an intelligent dog, challenging and non-repetitive activities may be required.


They are generally a healthy breed. The Boerboel needs less grooming but they shed. And as they get older, they might have eye problems. They can also develop hip and elbow dysplasia, a crippling disease in their hips and elbows.


The typical weight of a Boerboel is about 50 to 80 kg (110 to 175 lbs) while the typical height is approximately 60 to 70 cm (23 to 27 in).

It is a large, muscular dog that is intelligent, confident and strong. It has a distinctive, blocky head – short, broad, deep, and muscular with well-filled cheeks.

The physiognomy should blend symmetrically with the head, which may or may not have a black mask.


The chest is muscular, broad and strong. The straight, short tail is attached high to the body. The thick, loose skin of a Boerboel (with slight wrinkles on its temple) should be dark on his stomach and under his fur, as well as the roof of his mouth, which protects against heat and sun.

The color of its short dense coat may appear cream white, pale tawny, reddish-brown, brown or in any shade of brindle.

General Information

The estimated life expectancy for this breed is about 10 years. The average litter size is approximately 4-10 puppies. Other names include South African Boerboel and South African Mastiff.

Breed Club

Visit these dog club websites dedicated to Boerboel dogs. Click this link:

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