BaxterBoo Blog
October 23, 2013

Meet the Breed: The Boerboel

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  • Height: 23"- 28”
  • Weight: 154-200 pounds
  • Historical function: Homestead guard
  • Modern function: Guard dog
  • AKC classification: Working Group; AKC recognized in 2015

Physical Characteristics:

The Boerboel is a large working dog. The Boerboel has prominent and well-developed musculature over the entire body with fluid movement – an impressive and imposing figure of strength. The genders are easily discernible with males being distinctly masculine. All parts of the body should be in proportion with each other. The head is short, broad, deep and square. The face may or may not have a black mask. The nose is black with large, widely-spaced nostrils. The jaws are strong, deep and broad, narrowing slightly to the front. The teeth meet in a scissors bite. The eyes are brown. The medium-sized ears are set high and wide. The skin of the muscular neck is loose under the throat. The body narrows slightly toward the loin. The topline is level.The chest and rump are broad, strong and well muscled. The tail is straight and short. The front legs should be perfectly vertical. The big, well-padded paws are rounded with the back ones being slightly smaller than the front ones, and face straight forward. The skin is thick, loose, with moderate wrinkles on the forehead, particularly when the dog is alert. The short, dense coat comes in cream, tawny, reddish brown, brown and various shades of brindle.

History of the Breed:

Although the exact history of the Boerboel is unknown, it known that the “bullenbijter” brought over to South Africa by Jan van Riebeeck from Europe in 1652 was included in the development along with the bull mastiff which was imported to guard diamond mines. Additionally, indigenous African dogs as well as the Rhodesian Ridgeback are included in the mix. These dogs were used by the European settlers of South Africa to guard their homesteads from wild animals and other intruders at night. During the day, they were also used to work on the farm, which included herding, hunting and tracking.  


The Boerboel is reliable and devoted to his family; however, as a dominant breed, this can be challenging. According to the American Boerboel Club, they are "not really suited for the Dog Park." Introduction of new dogs should be done with care. Boerboels do not respond positively to dominant behavior from other large dogs, particularly those of the same gender. Puppies are much more adaptable and this may give owners a false impression that socialization and training can be lax. Be diligent with training and socializing this breed. The more experiences from humans and other well-mannered dogs modeling appropriate behavior, the better. Choose a puppy of the opposite gender of the residing dominant dog for best results. They are very gentle and good with children they know, but children should always be supervised with dogs, especially one so powerful. When raised and treated properly, Boerboels make wonderful family pets. They have a unique combination of gentleness and toughness.

  • Best suited for: Active families with children who are taught to properly lead the dog. Not a dog for the novice dog owner. Every family member must train with positive, firm leadership. 
  • Preferred living conditions: Thrives on human companionship. Does best living with the family full time. 

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: The short, sleek coat requires occasional brushing. 
  • Exercise needs: Daily long walk or jog. Does best with a job.
  • Life expectancy: 10 years.
  • Health concerns: This breed is relatively healthy due to the harsh living conditions that it was developed in, which culled weaker members. Bloat and hip dysplasia are sometimes seen. 

Breed Club Links: American Boerboel Club Perfect Pairings: XXL King Kong Classic Kong hard rubber toy

Have any stories about a Boerboel? Please share!

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


jackie on October 23 at 7:45 PM said:

beautiful like a boxer

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This entry was posted by Mary.

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