(aka: African Boerboel, South African Boerboel)
The Boerboel is a very large, muscular and impressive looking breed. They are often confused for a cross between a Mastiff and a Bulldog, however they are a unique breed that has been developed in Africa as a protection and working dog. In this breed males are distinctly masculine in appearance as the females are smaller, slighter and should be definitely female in all aspects.
The Boerboel is very distinctive with a large, square head and thick muzzle. Their triangular ears are folded and close to the head. The skin around their eyes are dark, regardless of eye color. The dog may or may not have a dark mask that covers the muzzle and top lip, their nose is always black. Their head is one of the African Boerboels most distinguishing features.
These dogs are very muscular, especially through their arched neck and shoulders. The chest is deep and broad, and well proportioned to the rest of their body. Their front legs are completely straight when viewed from the side.
Their back is quite straight and relatively long, there is only a very slight slope towards the high set tail. The tail is traditionally docked after the third joint, though may be left long and natural. Their back legs are very powerful and strong. The back legs are well bent, not straight like the front.
The African Boerboel moves with a purpose and buoyant step. Despite their size, they have a fluid and athletic gait.
The Boerboel is an intelligent and energetic breed. They are very loyal to their owners and very protective, making them a great watch dog. They will bark and loudly announce strangers and strange animals in the area, however they will quickly learn who is friend and welcome them into the house when they have been introduced. The Boerboel's protective tendency makes them a very good guard dog, using their size and strength to defend their property and family with as much aggression and physical action as required. Because of their protective natures, these dogs should be kept securely in a fenced yard. If not, they will expand the area that they protect.
The African Boerboel is a very loving family dog. They absolutely enjoy spending time with the family. Despite their aggression towards strangers the African Boerboel will play and romp with everyone in the family and are especially good with children. They are very tolerant of even rough play with kids and their large size makes them great companions for kids of all ages. The African Boerboel is exceptionally gentle with younger children. They also tend to be very accepting of other pets including dogs, cats and even other small pets and livestock. These dogs are very sensitive and will reflect their owners mood. Proper socialization is key for these dogs to help them learn how to differentiate between potential dangers and friendly visitors. If you are going out or town, make sure that this breed has time to get to know their caregiver before leaving.
Because of the high demand nature of these dogs, they are not suitable for first time (or inexperienced) dog owners. They require companionship and structure, they need to know who is boss (and it is not them!)
Having a short, thick coat, African Boerboels are easy to care for, a good brushing once or twice a week will usually suffice. These dogs do have very hard and durable nails, so if not exercised on a hard surface, they will need to be trimmed occasionally.
The Boerboel has developed from several different breeds being crossed with the large Molusses type dogs brought by the Dutch throughout different areas in Africa. The original breed of dog brought to the Cape of Africa by Jan van Riebeeck in 1652 was known as a bullenbijter, and is considered to be a Mastiff type dog although not as large as some of the Mastiffs now seen. This dog then bred with the local dogs, producing several different types of hardy and strong dogs that virtually had to survive on their own.
In 1820 when the English came to Africa they also brought large, mastiff type dogs as well as bulldogs. These dogs were bred with the already existing mastiff types. It is known that De Beers mining company brought champion line Mastiffs to Africa to work as guard dogs in the diamond mines, and they were crossed with the best of the local breeds. The English Bulldog and Bull Mastiff are considered key bloodlines in the development of the breed.
Currently the African Boerboel is bred worldwide. They have to pass health tests as well as be vet checked before they can be registered with the South African Boerboel Breeders Association. This Association was formed in the 1980s to prevent the continued crossbreeding of the African Boerboel that was resulting in a decrease in the number of actual African Boerboels, even in Africa.
These dogs are very smart and work eagerly with their owners. However, they may initially try to dominate their owner until hierarchy is determined. It is important that they learn when they are very young who is the boss, or you may end up with a very large and dominating dog later who can be quite destructive. This does not mean being mean or harsh, but firm and consistent. Dogs are pack animals, and knowing who their alpha leader is necessary.
Because of the size and the protective nature of these dogs, it is important that they be under control at all times, or they can be dangerous. Socialization is extra important component of their training.
These dogs will bark to notify you of a visitor, but otherwise are not problems barkers. They will put up with being in a kennel for a short time, but may become destructive (chewing, digging etc.) if left in a small area for long.
The best type of training for these dogs is a combination of exercises and training methods instead of a set time and the same set of exercises every day. Play time and fun during training goes a long way to help you bond with your African Boerboel, as well has breading the need for your dog to focus for shorter, more concentrated times.
Boerboels are generally known for their good health, this is primarily due to selective breeding and the need to survive in a country with little specialize veterinary care. The two main problems that the African Boerboels can suffer from is hip or elbow dysplasia, and vaginal hyperplasia. This second problem is genetic, and can be avoided by not breeding a female Boerboel with any abnormal tissue in the vaginal area.