Boerboel: Unveiling the Majesty of the South African Mastiff

The Boerboel, known as the South African Mastiff, is a powerful and imposing breed, revered for its strength and protective instincts. This breed boasts a confident demeanor and a muscular build, making it a popular choice for those seeking both a loyal companion and a dependable guardian for their home. If you’re looking to learn more about Boerboels, it’s important to understand their history and characteristics to appreciate what makes them unique. Their commanding presence is matched by a surprisingly affectionate and gentle personality towards their families, which often surprises those unfamiliar with the breed.

When talking about Boerboels, you’ll quickly learn their name is pronounced “boo-r-bull,” and they have an incredibly strong bond with their human counterparts. Boerboel puppies exude curiosity and energy, requiring proper training and socialization from a young age to ensure they grow into well-behaved adults. As you explore the world of Boerboels, you might come across experienced breeders like Kyle from Rocky Acres Kennel, who has extensive knowledge about these majestic dogs. Kyle’s insights will be referred to throughout this article to give you a well-rounded understanding of what to expect when considering a Boerboel as your new four-legged family member.

So, What Is a Boerboel? Breed Overview

The Boerboel is a large, Mastiff-type breed from South Africa, renowned for its strength, protective instincts, and loyalty. Bred to guard homes and farms, this breed exhibits confidence, intelligence, and a calm demeanor. With a robust build and a commanding presence, Boerboels are dependable family protectors and companions.

Boerboel History and Origin

The Boerboel, a robust breed developed in South Africa, is often considered a symbol of strength and vigilance. This Mastiff’s history is deeply rooted in South African tradition, serving both as a loyal farm protector and as an adept hunter.

Ancestral Breeds: What Breeds Make a Boerboel Dog?

The term “Boerboel” marries the Afrikaans words for farmer (“boer”) and Bulldog (“boel”), emphasizing the breed’s agrarian background. The Boerboel is a robust dog with a lineage infused with strength and resilience. Its ancestry is a tapestry of the resilient Mastiffs and the tenacious Bulldogs of old, the latter widely known for both their farming utility and companionship. These formidable breeds were instrumental in creating the Boerboel, a dog adept at guarding and hunting within the challenging South African landscape.

Historical Significance

Originally bred for guarding remote farms and estates, the Boerboel’s presence was a formidable deterrent. Not only were they effective in protecting livestock and properties, but their prowess in hunting big game is well-documented, with some historical accounts highlighting their skill in taking down leopards and baboons. The breed’s aptitude for protection and combat earned them a noble standing among dogs.

The Breed Today

As a recognized landrace in South Africa, the Boerboel has been honed into today’s standard by the dedicated efforts of the South African Boerboel Breeders’ Society (SABBS). This organization stands as the official custodian of the breed, ensuring that the Boerboel continues to meet the high standards of identification, recording, and breed betterment. As guardians of this remarkable dog, SABBS embraces roles that span from the registration to the global promotion of the breed.

Kennel Club Recognition

Indeed, the Kennel Union of Southern Africa acknowledges the Boerboel, a clear testament to the breed’s established status. This recognition underscores the Boerboel’s well-deserved place amongst other esteemed breeds, solidifying its identity within the canine community.

In essence, the Boerboel is more than just a loyal guardian; it is a symbol of heritage and pride, standing as a vigilant protector with an enduring legacy that continues to evolve through the conscientious efforts of breeders and organizations committed to its preservation.

For more detailed insight into their roles on farms and historical background, you can explore accounts that showcase the Boerboel’s guard duties and interactions with children and livestock. These canines have evolved from their early roots as utilitarian farm dogs into beloved companions, demonstrating adaptability and strength across generations.

Physical Characteristics

You’ll notice the Boerboel has a distinctive structure, a well-muscled build, and a coat that comes in various shades. Every aspect of their physicality signifies the breed’s heritage and functionality.

Size and Build

Boerboels are large and robust, exhibiting a strong bone structure indicative of the breed’s Mastiff lineage. The males, especially, have a larger and more solid build compared to the females, which while also strongly built, display a more feminine appearance. Below is a table detailing the size measurements for both genders:

GenderIdeal Height (cm)Minimum Height (cm)Ideal Height (in)Minimum Height (in)


Your Boerboel’s head is one of its most defining features — broad, deep, and cube-shaped, providing a noble and distinct appearance. Males possess a markedly masculine look, while females are unmistakably feminine yet without any frailty in their form. They are balanced and well-proportioned, projecting an impressive and imposing stance.

Coat and Color

The coat of a Boerboel is sleek and manageable, requiring minimal grooming. It comes in various colors, including shades of brown, brindle, and fawn, and at times, a Boerboel may have a black mask which adds to their distinct facial features. Their well-pigmented eyes range from shades of yellow to brown, complementing the coat color strikingly.

Temperament and Personality

When you consider a Boerboel as your potential pet, it’s crucial to understand their temperament and personality which are marked by a blend of confidence, calmness, and a strong guardian instinct. They are both affectionate with their families and somewhat aloof with strangers, making them complex but rewarding companions.

General Disposition

Boerboels are confident and calm, known for their even temperament when well-socialized. They possess a dignified demeanor which is often seen as intimidating, yet they can be quite affectionate and docile within the family environment.

Interaction with Children and Other Pets

Boerboels are typically good with children, often protective and gentle during playtime. However, due to their size and dominant nature, early socialization is vital. As for other pets, Boerboels can coexist peacefully if they are raised together, but their strong guardian instincts mean they might be more aloof or dominant towards unfamiliar animals.

Common Behavioral Traits

You’ll find Boerboels to be loyal protectors of their families, exhibiting both a watchful nature and a playful side within their home environment. They seek regular interaction and are happiest when made part of daily activities, although they can have a stubborn streak and require consistent, firm training.

Guardian Instinct

As massive and muscular dogs, Boerboels are natural guardians. They not only protect their own but also the territory they consider theirs. While their presence alone can deter unwelcome visitors, it’s important they understand who is friend and who is foe, a distinction honed through careful and continual socialization.

Are Boerboels Aggressive?

Contrary to what some may think, Boerboels are not inherently aggressive. But their imposing presence and formidable bark can be intimidating to strangers. With proper training and socialization, they learn to discern actual threats, being calm and well-mannered unless a real danger to their family arises, showcasing their protector instincts.

Health and Lifespan

When considering a Boerboel, or South African Mastiff, your awareness of their health and typical lifespan is crucial for their wellbeing.

Average Lifespan

Boerboels are known to be robust dogs with a lifespan that generally ranges from 8 to 12 years. Factors like genetics, environment, and health care play a significant role in determining how long they live. For instance, the Boerboel has a lifespan that is on the higher side for large breeds, with some reaching or even surpassing their expected years.

Common Health Issues

Boerboels, like any other breed, have their share of breed-specific health issues. Being vigilant about these can help your dog lead a healthier life:

  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: These are common genetic conditions where the joint doesn’t fit together perfectly, which can lead to arthritis or lameness.
  • Bloat (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus): A life-threatening condition that affects large, deep-chested breeds like Boerboels, where the stomach dilates and twists on itself.
  • Ectropion and Entropion: These conditions affect the eyelids, which either roll outward (ectropion) or inward (entropion), possibly leading to irritation or infection.
  • Vaginal Hyperplasia: Typically occurring in females during heat, this condition involves the vaginal tissue becoming swollen and exposed.

Boerboels are also known for their heavy drooling, especially in hot weather or after drinking water.

Preventative Care Tips

Taking proactive steps in caring for your Boerboel can mitigate health risks:

  1. Regular Veterinary Checks: Ensure your Boerboel gets routine check-ups to catch any signs of common health problems early.
  2. Appropriate Diet and Exercise: Keep your dog at a healthy weight to reduce the strain on their joints and decrease the likelihood of bloat.
  3. Monitoring: Always observe your Boerboel for any signs of discomfort or illness, especially related to their eyes and drooling patterns, as these can be indicators of underlying health issues.
  4. Education: Educate yourself about symptoms of serious conditions like bloat which can be fatal without immediate veterinary care.

By acknowledging the unique health considerations of Boerboels, you can create a supportive environment that promotes a long and healthy life for your canine companion.

Exercise and Housing Needs

Daily Exercise Requirements

Your Boerboel is a robust and active breed that needs daily physical activity to stay healthy and happy. Aim for at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day. This can include walks, jogs, or playtime in a secure area. Remember, Boerboels thrive on interaction, so activities that involve both physical and mental stimulation — like obedience training or fetch — are excellent choices.

Space Requirements

Boerboels are large dogs, so space is important. They do best in homes with a large, fenced yard where they can roam and explore safely. If you’re living in an apartment or a home without a yard, you need to ensure your Boerboel gets plenty of outdoor time at parks or open spaces.

Suitable Living Conditions

To keep your Boerboel content, provide a comfortable living area that includes a warm and cozy spot for sleeping inside. Remember, Boerboels are family-oriented dogs that should live indoors with their human companions rather than alone outside. Their size doesn’t diminish their need for love, companionship, and security that a proper home environment offers.

When setting up your home for a Boerboel, consider the following:

  • A sturdy, comfortable bed that supports their large frame.
  • Easy access to clean, fresh water and a balanced diet.
  • Plenty of toys and bones that can withstand strong jaws and vigorous play.

By addressing the exercise and housing needs of your Boerboel, you’ll have a healthier and more well-adjusted furry member of your family.

Training and Socialization

Training and socialization is absolutely vital if you are considering getting a dog with this much power and strength.


Boerboels are known for their intelligence and are quite trainable with the right approach. You’ll find they respond best to positive reinforcement techniques. When training your Boerboel, be clear and consistent with commands to harness their natural smartness. Although they have an energy level that may lead to bouts of playfulness, they are also capable of great agility and obedience during structured activities.

Socialization Needs

Early and ongoing socialization is crucial for Boerboels. You want to expose them to different people, environments, and situations to develop a well-rounded temperament. Without proper socialization, they can become overly protective or wary of strangers due to their guarding instincts.

Behavioral Training Tips

  • Use short training sessions to keep their attention.
  • Mix up activities to cater to their energy level and agility.
  • They can be stubborn. Patience is key when they exhibit such behavior.
  • Enrolling them in puppy socialization classes can be highly beneficial.
  • Always reward good behavior to reinforce their learning.

Remember, the goal is to build a trusting and respectful relationship with your Boerboel. With time and dedication, you should see a loving and obedient companion in your dog.

Diet and Nutrition

So what is the best diet for a South African Mastiff?

Dietary Needs

Your Boerboel needs a balanced diet that supports their large size and active lifestyle. Typically, high-quality dry kibble, specifically formulated for large breeds, provides the necessary nutrients. Make sure the main ingredients include lean proteins, such as chicken or lamb, to help maintain their muscle mass. Also, incorporate complex carbohydrates like brown rice for energy, and fatty acids, found in fish oils, to keep their coat shiny.

Feeding Schedule

Divide your Boerboel’s meals into two servings a day — once in the morning and once at night. This routine helps to prevent overeating and promotes better digestion. The amount of food largely depends on their age, weight, and activity level, but on average, an adult Boerboel may require about 4-6 cups of dry food per day. Always ensure fresh water is available to aid in digestion and overall health.

Special Dietary Considerations

Due to their sizable build, Boerboels are prone to obesity, which can strain their joints. Monitor their calorie intake, avoiding human food scraps and excessive treats. Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids can support joint health, particularly important for this breed. As Boerboels grow older, you might need to adjust their diet to accommodate lowered energy levels, ensuring they maintain a healthy weight. If your Boerboel has any specific health issues, consult with your vet to tailor their diet more precisely for their needs.

Grooming Needs

Grooming Frequency

Your Boerboel won’t need daily hair brushing because they have a short coat. However, weekly brushing is recommended to remove dead hair and distribute skin oils, contributing to a shiny coat. During shedding seasons, you’ll want to brush them more frequently, like a few times a week, to manage the extra hair.

Grooming Tools

For your Boerboel, you’ll need a firm bristle brush or a rubber grooming mitt to help keep their coat in tip-top shape. An occasional rub-down with a grooming mitt can help remove loose hair easily. You’ll also want to have nail clippers and ear cleaning solution on hand for regular maintenance.

Grooming Tips

When you’re grooming your Boerboel, check their ears regularly for dirt, bad odor, or redness which could indicate an infection. Keep their nails trimmed to prevent any difficulty walking — if you can hear their nails on the floor, they’re too long. Also, don’t forget to brush their teeth several times a week to ensure good oral health. For an added sparkle and to maintain eye health, a soft, damp cloth can be used to gently wipe around your Boerboel’s eyes and face.

Cost of Ownership

So, how much does a Boerboel cost?

Initial Cost (Boerboel Puppy Price)

When you decide to get a Boerboel puppy, you’re looking at an initial cost that can vary quite a bit. Generally, the price tag for a Boerboel pup ranges from $1,500 to $2,000. This cost can increase if you’re eyeing a dog from a distinguished breeding line.

  • Purchase Price: $1,500 – $2,000 on average
  • Initial Vet Visits: ~$100 – $200
  • Accessories (crate, collar, leash, food bowls): ~$200 – $300

Remember, reputable breeders will charge more but that often comes with the peace of mind that your puppy is healthy and well-bred.

Ongoing Cost

Owning a Boerboel involves consistent expenses that you’ll need to budget for. Considering their size, food will be one of the major recurring costs. They need high-quality food to support their growth and overall health.

  • Food: ~$50 – $80 per month
  • Routine Vet Care: ~$200 – $400 per year
  • Preventative Medications: ~$200 – $300 per year
  • Pet Insurance: ~$30 – $50 per month

Additionally, training sessions can be beneficial for this strong and dominant breed, adding to your expenses.

You’ll need to set aside funds for unexpected healthcare costs as well. For example, Boerboels are predisposed to certain genetic conditions that might require veterinary care. While these costs can vary, it’s wise to have a financial cushion for any surprises down the line.

Adoption and Buying Tips

Where to Adopt/Buy

When considering adding a Boerboel to your family, you have the option to adopt or purchase. Adoption through rescue organizations gives homes to dogs who need them. Buying from a breeder offers you the chance to raise a Boerboel from puppyhood.

What to Look for in a Breeder

If you’re set on buying a Boerboel, ensure the breeder is reputable. They should:

  • Have comprehensive knowledge of the breed.
  • Show genuine concern for the dogs’ welfare.
  • Offer a health guarantee and medical records.

Choosing the Right Puppy/Dog

Selecting a Boerboel that fits your lifestyle is crucial:

  • Personality: Look for a temperament that suits your household.
  • Activity Levels: Match the dog’s energy with yours.
  • Health: Check for vaccinations and any hereditary conditions.

Ethical Breeding Practices

Ethical breeders will:

  • Be transparent about their breeding practices.
  • Prioritize the physical and mental health of their dogs.
  • Avoid inbreeding and strive for genetic diversity.

In your quest for a Boerboel, remember to prioritize the animal’s well-being above all. Whether through adoption or a trustworthy breeder, ensure your future companion is healthy, happy, and a good fit for your home.

Breed-Specific Considerations

What else do you need to consider before you look for a Boerboel Breeder.

Climate Suitability

Boerboels are well-adapted to the warm climate of South Africa, their country of origin. However, if you live in a place with extreme temperatures, it’s important to take proper measures to keep your Boerboel comfortable. In hot weather, ensure they have shade and water, and in cold climates, they may need a jacket or indoor living arrangements.

Compatibility with Lifestyle

Your lifestyle should accommodate a Boerboel’s need for physical activity and companionship. These dogs are energetic and require daily exercise to remain healthy and happy. If you lead an active lifestyle, a Boerboel could be a good match. Remember, Boerboels need a secure space to roam and play, which means a well-fenced yard is ideal.

Special Needs (if any)

Boerboels are known for their strength and size, which can lead to certain health issues. Regular visits to the vet, a proper diet, and exercise are key to managing their well-being. Some potential hereditary conditions to be aware of include hip dysplasia and heart problems, which are particularly important to monitor with this breed.

Breed-Specific Legislation

Be aware of your local laws, as some regions have breed-specific legislation that may affect Boerboel ownership. These laws can include restrictions or requirements for owning certain dog breeds considered to be more dangerous or aggressive. It’s your responsibility to know and comply with these regulations.

In summary, when considering a Boerboel, take into account their fit with your climate, lifestyle, any special health needs, and the legal implications of owning this robust breed.

50 Best Names For A Boerboel Puppy

Choosing the perfect name for your Boerboel puppy can be a fun but challenging task. You’ll want a name that reflects their strong and protective nature as well as their friendly demeanor. Below is a list of 50 names to consider for your new furry friend:

Male NamesFemale NamesUnisex Names
1. Titan26. Bella51. Blaze
2. Maximus27. Nala52. Scout
3. Duke28. Cleo53. Bailey
4. Thor29. Zara54. Morgan
5. Apollo30. Ivy55. Dakota
6. Leo31. Willow56. Harley
7. Brutus32. Daisy57. Alex
8. King33. Luna58. Casey
9. Odin34. Ruby59. Jordan
10. Rex35. Zoe60. Riley
11. Ace36. Sadie61. Taylor
12. Jasper37. Mia62. Sam
13. Samson38. Amber63. Jamie
14. Bruno39. Stella64. Quinn
15. Bear40. Athena65. Parker
16. Ranger41. Layla66. Peyton
17. Tank42. Jasmine67. Cameron
18. Jax43. Penny68. Sky
19. Caesar44. Rosie69. Finley
20. Ghost45. Gypsy70. Dakota
21. Moose46. Misty71. River
22. Rocky47. Sassy72. Stevie
23. Chief48. Tessa73. Frankie
24. Buster49. Kira74. Sage
25. Marley50. Pepper75. Reese

Remember, when naming your Boerboel puppy, it’s important to consider a name that’ll suit them as they grow into strong, confident dogs. Choosing a name from this list can help strengthen the bond between you and your new puppy. Have fun picking a name that’s just as unique and vibrant as your boerboel’s personality!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

In navigating the world of Boerboels, you may have some questions about their growth, temperament, uniqueness, adaptability, and factors to consider before bringing one into your home. Here are the answers to some frequently asked queries.

How do Boerboel puppies differ from full-grown Boerboels?

As puppies, Boerboels exhibit rapid growth, a trait common among large breed dogs. They are playful and curious but lack the physical strength and mature temperament of an adult Boerboel, which can weigh between 110 to 200 pounds and showcases a more settled and protective nature.

What is the temperament of a Boerboel, and are they suitable as family pets?

Boerboels are known for being confident, intelligent, and calm. They develop strong bonds with their families and are protective, making them suitable family pets when trained and socialized properly from a young age.

What distinguishes Boerboels from other Mastiff breeds?

Boerboels are a working breed, originally bred for the protection of homesteads. They differ from other Mastiff breeds through their agility, more muscular build, and distinctive South African lineage which can be seen in the social history of Southern African dog breeds.

Can Boerboels adapt to living indoors as house pets?

Yes, Boerboels can adapt to indoor living provided they receive sufficient exercise and mental stimulation. It’s critical that they have space to move around and regular outdoor activities due to their large size and energy levels.

What should potential owners know when considering a Boerboel for purchase?

Before committing to a Boerboel, understand that they require consistent training, firm boundaries, and socialization. Due to their protective nature, proper behavior management is essential to ensure they are well-adjusted.

Is there a truth to the claim that Boerboels are one of the strongest dog breeds?

Boerboels are indeed powerful dogs with a solid build and strong bite force. They have a history of being farm dogs capable of defending against large predators, which speaks to their strength and resilience.

Final Thoughts

When you consider adding a Boerboel to your family, think about the unique traits this breed brings to the table. Remember, these dogs are known for their loyalty and strength, and they need an owner who can provide firm training and clear boundaries.

  • Size: Boerboels are large dogs; ensure you have enough space for them to move freely.
  • Exercise: They require regular exercise to stay healthy and happy.
  • Socialization: Introduce your Boerboel to various people and environments early on to foster a well-rounded temperament.

Keep in mind the Boerboel’s protective nature, making them excellent watchdogs. However, without proper training and socialization, this trait can become problematic. They are best suited for experienced dog owners who can handle a strong-willed canine.

Remember to check local regulations, as this breed faces restrictions in some areas due to its size and strength. Always adopt from reputable breeders or rescues to ensure your Boerboel has a healthy start in life.

Lastly, cherish your time with your loyal companion. A Boerboel by your side means you’ll have a devoted friend for life.

Tamsin de la Harpe

Tamsin de la Harpe, with a lively spirit and 15 years of experience in dog training and behavior, brings a unique flair to the team. Based in South Africa, she is deeply engaged in rehabilitating dogs, focusing on their mental and nutritional health. Tamsin's approach to dog behavior is hands-on and heartfelt, shaped by her life with her own dogs and horses. Her journey in canine behavior is ongoing, as she continues advanced studies in this field.

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