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Boerboel Breed Characteristics

Purebred Dogs in Richmond, Texas



Breed Characteristics:

  • Adaptability 2stars
  • Affection Level 3stars
  • Apartment Friendly 1star
  • Barking Tendencies 4stars
  • Cat Friendly 2stars
  • Child Friendly 3stars
  • Dog Friendly 3stars
  • Exercise Need 4stars
  • Grooming Needs 2stars
  • Health Issues 2stars
  • Intelligence 4stars
  • Playfulness 4stars

The Boerboel, also called the South African Mastiff, South African Boerboel, Borbull or simply the Bole, is a South African dog whose devotees claim is the only breed in the world specifically bred only to guard and protect. This claim is the subject of substantial controversy. These are large, intelligent, powerful animals that descend from the ancient Boer Dogs and include Bullmastiffs and other large working dogs among their ancestors. “Boerboel” means “farmer’s dog,” referring to the original function of the breed, which was to guard and protect the family farm. Boerboels resemble Mastiffs and are still used for protection. Calm, loyal and loving to their owners, they are highly territorial and extremely suspicious of strangers. They are surprisingly agile for their massive size, which makes them especially intimidating. Their smooth, short thick coats require little grooming. Boerboels do need plenty of exercise to stay physically and mentally sound. They should be socialized properly from early puppyhood to reduce their aggressive tendencies. Boerboels are not a good choice for first-time dog owners or for families with very young children. If raised and trained correctly, they can make lively, impressive, affectionate companions for experienced owners who are comfortable using firm, kind, consistent and repetitive training methods.

General Appearance

The Boerboel is a massive, Mastiff-like breed with a blocky, broad, square head and a flat skull. They have strong necks and shoulders and huge hindquarters. They are longer than they are tall, and when viewed in side profile their elbows should reach to the bottom of their chest. Boerboels are known for their impressive musculature and physical strength, both of which are key elements of correct breed type. They also should be agile, with free-flowing, ground-covering movement. Boerboels have short, smooth coats. A black facial mask covering the muzzle up to the eyes is highly desirable in this breed, especially in show ring competition. Boerboel’s eyes should be brown and as dark as possible. Any other colors may be faulted, and yellow eyes are a serious fault. The Boerboel’s tail is usually docked (surgically shortened) at the third joint shortly after birth, although breeders are increasingly keeping their dogs’ long, slightly curved tails natural.

Size and Weight

Boerboels are big dogs. Adult males ideally stand between 24 and 27 inches at the shoulder. Mature females should be between 22 and 25 inches tall measured at the same place. Adults typically weigh anywhere from 110 to 175 pounds, with females usually weighing a bit less than males. 200 pound Boerboels are not unheard of. Males should look decidedly masculine. To get a sense of their size and proportion, Boerboels are taller, thicker and heavier than Doberman Pinschers and Rottweilers. Their weight range is about the same as that of the Great Dane, but they are not nearly as tall as most members of that breed.

Size and Weight

Boerboels are intelligent and have natural pack instincts. Puppies can be fairly easy to train, as long as their pack instincts are taken into account and training is started before adolescence sets in. Strong leadership by a firm, confident owner is essential. Boerboels need dominant but kind owners who are willing to give them clear commands that are reinforced regularly and consistently. Because of the Boerboel’s size, temperament and intensely-ingrained guarding and protective instincts, it is vitally important for its owner to be absolutely alpha and leader-of-the-pack from day one of their relationship, and every single day thereafter. Due to the Boerboel’s easy-going attitude during pre-adolescence, some people mistakenly think that formal obedience training isn’t necessary. That is a wrong and risky assumption. Puppies should be exposed to as many different sights, sounds, smells, animal species, people, environments and experiences as possible during their formative months, to improve their trainability, manners and ultimate trustworthiness. Boerboel puppies should also be protected from interactions with aggressive dogs, to reduce the chance of their own fearful or aggressive tendencies later in life. As Boerboels mature, they become increasingly confident, strong, dominant, protective and willing to react aggressively. Owners should be sure they can keep their Boerboels under control in any situation, even when distractions, strangers and unfamiliar dogs are part of the mix. Reward-based training works better than harsh punishment.