Boerboel Dog – Confident, Intelligent, And Calm

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
The Boerboel is a large dog working dog, who is known for its loyal characteristics,. If you want to own the powerful Boerboel, here are some facts that you should know.
Dog Breed Group:
Working Dogs
22 to 28 inches
110 to 200 pounds
Life Span:
10 to 12 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

The Boerboel is a powerful, mastiff-type dog breed originally from South Africa. Initially, this dog was bred for the purpose of guarding the other animals and to work on the farm.

This breed is dominant and confident, and definitely not for new dog owners. If you are interested in this breed, there are a few things that you should know.

Quick Facts

Real name: Boerboel
Origin: South Africa
Breed type: Working Dog
Weight: Male 65–90 kg (143–198 lb), Female 55–70 kg (121–154 lb)
Height: 60–77 cm (24–30 in)
Lifespan: 10 years
Color: Brown, cream brindle, black, fawn, red, and with and without a black mask
Coat: Short and dense

Boerboel – History

The Boerboel has a fascinating name origin. The word Boerboel’ comes from ‘Boer’ meaning farmer in the Afrikaans language.

More precisely, this word is translated as ‘farmer’s dog,’ and if you are interested in pronouncing it right, it should sound as “boo-er-bool.”

This is the only South African dog breed created to defend the homestead.

In the mid-1600s, European settlers, meanly Dutch and Germans started arriving in South Africa.

To protect their remote homesteads from various predators, they started bringing with them large guarding dogs, such as mastiff types and bull types. With time, they started interbreeding these large breeds.

Their breeding resulted in also large Boer Dog, which was used as a protector and a colossal hunter. Thanks to its impeccable ability to protect the farm, this dog was named the farmer’s dog, or Boerboel.

The fantastic Boerboel was ready to fight off lions, not like Basenji, but similar or to fight off packs of baboons.

Today, Boerboel might be used for hunting big game.

They were bred to scare predators away, which means that they are keen to recognize friends from not-so-good friends quickly.

Boerboels are very wary of strangers, making them excellent watchdogs. They are great at weight-pulling, or serving as therapy dogs, due to their loyal and protective nature.

AKC officially accepted the breed to the AKC Working Group on January 1, 2015.

Boerboel – Physical Appearance

Since powerful Boerboel was bred to be a farm dog, it comes as no surprise that this breed is so strong.

Their strong protective character is present even nowadays, next to their calm and observant mind.

They are strongly built, compact, and muscular. This breed always shows power, agility, and willingness to work something, to be active. The head size in this breed is impressive and distinctive.

The head shape is blocky, deep, muscular, and square. This is the most common reason on why this breed is commonly mixed with another powerful and muscular breed – Pit bull.

Moderate wrinkles are present, but not as strong as they are in Shar-Pei. The neck is also powerful, while in females neck is more gentle.

The topline is firm, while the back remains horizontal, while the entire body is blocky and solid. The forelegs are strong-boned, with defined muscles, while the chest is broad and deep.

Shoulders are also powerful, while the toes are well arched and protected by hair in between. Those who are not keen on long grooming sessions will love Boerboel’s coat.

This breed has a short, smooth, shiny and dense coat.

This skin is thick and well pigmented. The hindquarter is also muscular, while the hind legs are strong-boned, next to upper things that are broad and deep.

Boerboel – Temperament

The Boerboel is a highly intelligent dog, with self-assured temperament.

This dog thrives when he has a job to do. He will be happy playing outside, helping you with farm tasks, or even merely babysitting children in the backyard.

They are also fantastic when it comes to competing in dog sports. This dog is devoted to his people, especially children, but it’s still important to teach your children how to behave around dogs.

If you already have a dog, you should introduce Boerboel to your home carefully.

When having a Boerboel around, and you have another dog, it’s best to choose a Boerboel of the opposite sex to help avoid aggression that can occur among dogs of the same sex (this applies to both females and males).

The Boerboel is always eager to please if treated right. Any kind of aggressive training or approach should be avoided to any dog, and especially this breed.

They are playful and intelligent, so again – they are happiest when they have a job to do.

They hate being lazy, so they would choose to follow their owners all day long. To have a well-behaved and social Boerboel, training and exercise are crucial.

Boerboel – Training

The Boerboel is a highly protective breed. As a protective breed, this dog is not for first-time dog owners.

The Boerboel is a calm and highly intelligent breed with a high urge to be active. This breed will ask for intense training and active outdoor life.

Early socialization is a must with this breed, as well as structured training at a young age.

As any puppies, the Boerboel puppies are easy-going and pliant, which can often lead inexperienced owners to believe that they will remain that way.

Puppies grow out this phase very fast, which is why it’s crucial to maintain a good training schedule from day one.

Boerboel – Exercise

Your Boerboel will be happy with prolonged daily exercise, such as play sessions. This dog needs proper mental stimulation to remain happy and healthy. They thrive on physical activity.

Visiting dog parks with this breed is not recommended, because he may easily challenge other dogs – this applies to both males and females.

Because this breed has a strong protective instinct, the powerful Boerboel should never be off-leash.

If you want to nurture Boerboel’s competitive nature, you should think about dog sports, such as weight pull, agility competitions, or rally.

Boerboel – Health

Boerboels are known as healthy dogs. Still, like any other breed, they may have an inherited condition, and accidents may occur.

If your Boerboel suffers from any medical condition, and you want him to be away from pills, think about more natural options.

With that on the mind, try CBD products that might ease the pain. Of course, always talk with your veterinarian about your choice.

This breed may suffer from hip or elbow dysplasia, ectropion, and juvenile epilepsy.

Any responsible breeder would always screen breeding stock for health conditions, such as heart disease, and two disorders that affect the eyelids: ectropion and entropion.

As with all breeds, a Boerboel’s ears should be checked regularly, together with teeth.

Recommended Health Tests for the breed:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Boerboel – Grooming

In terms of grooming, the Boerboel is low-maintenance. This dog has a short and bristly coat that is easy to care for year-round.

Still, brushing is mandatory, at least once on a weekly level, to remove the dead skin.

As with any other dog breed, the Boerboel should be bath only when the occasion requires, and never too often.

Dogs have utterly different skin than humans do, and frequent bathing may lead to skin issues, skin damage, and even skin allergies. You can also try making a homemade dog shampoo.

The rest is very basic care. Learn how to clean a dog’s ears, check for any sign of an eye infection, and clean teeth regularly.

If you choose to brush his teeth, make sure that you only use a vet-approved pet toothpaste.

In the meantime, you can always serve him foods that are good for the dog’s teeth.

Boerboel – Restrictions

Although this breed is a true gentle giant with the right owner, in many countries, this breed is prohibited.

So, if you are planning to move, you should know that these countries have put a ban on Boerboel or have strict regulations:

  • Fairfield, Iowa
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Ukraine
  • France
  • Bermuda
  • Qatar
  • Mauritius
  • Singapore
  • Denmark
  • Tunisia
  • Faroe Islands

For more information on the breed’s standards and regulations, you can visit the South African Boerboel Breeders’ Society.

Boerboel – The Bottom Line

The Boerboel or a farmer’s dog is an important member of the Mastiff family. The breed was developed during the 17th century, and ever since served as a fantastic guard and watchdog.

The breed was developed in South Africa, where it was bred to protect settlers’ families and farms. From there, the breed has come to today’s level – of being a family dog.

Still, this breed is eager to please its owner, as long as you know how to handle this breed.

They are energetic, especially when young, so it’s essential to train them and socialize from an early age.

If you already have experience with dogs, and you are ready to invest your time and energy into training this breed to be an excellent canine citizen than this breed just might be for you.

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