South African Boerboel is a versatile dog breed with a long history as a hunter and guardian, with ancient roots going back to dogs that came with immigrants to South Africa, primarily in the 1600s and 1700s. They definitely have some Mastiff ancestry, but a variety of other breeds were also used.
The South African Boerboel is a large dog breed that stands between 22 and 30 inches tall with a heavy boned muscular body in proportion to her height. The head is broad and muzzle wide, and the ears are dropped. The back is strong and broad, the chest is deep, and the tail is docked. The coat is short and smooth. Acceptable colors include brindle, tawny, brown, and red brown, all with or without white markings; a dark muzzle is preferred. The coat should be brushed weekly.
The South African Boerboel is not an active dog, nor is she a couch potato. This dog breed was bred to be watchful and protective and can spring into motion at the slightest sign of a threat. At other times, she is calm. Puppies can be quite playful. Daily exercise is recommended to keep the dog fit and strong and to prevent obesity. This intelligent working dog is confident and self-assured. Training should begin early to make sure the growing dog understands that the owner is her leader and to build compliance. Training should be firm and structured, yet not harsh.
South African Boerboels like to work and need a job to do; without a sense of purpose, they will find something to do. These dogs do best with an owner who has owned Mastiffs in the past or who understands the working dog temperament. These strong, confident, protective dogs can be too much for a first-time dog owner.
With an owner who understands them, this breed is extremely devoted and fiercely loyal; they will give their lives in protection of their owners. Although South African Boerboel puppies are rowdy, the breed is wonderful with children. Health concerns include bloat, torsion, eye problems, wobbler’s sydrome, and hip and elbow dysplasia.