The South African Boerboel
The Boerboel (often referred to as the South African Mastiff) is a large, strong and intelligent dog that is loyal to a fault. The Boerboel is an extremely tough breed, bred for guarding the homesteads in South Africa, being able to deal with the harsh African environment with its ever-changing and unforgiving conditions.
The Boerboel originates in South Africa. The word “Boer” translated from the Afrikaans word, means farmer and therefore the breed is commonly referred to as the farmer's dog in South Africa.
But what are the origins of the breed?
It is difficult to pinpoint just what breeds were mated to produce the first Boerboels but it is understood that a number of dogs native to Africa were in the mix. When the Dutch East India Company sent Jan van Riebeeck to establish a trading post at the southern tip of Africa in 1652. He arrived in the Cape with his trusty Bullenbijter at his side. The colonists that followed Van Riebeeck to the Cape also brought their biggest and strongest dogs with them, and over time only the toughest of these survived in this new, harsh rugged land and interbred.
With the arrival of the British Settlers in 1820, the Bulldog and another Mastiff-type dog were also introduced.
The Boerboel has therefore been bred from large and strong dogs with good characteristics. South Africans for generations have kept Boerboels as watchdogs, as friends, as playmates for their children and as loyal protectors – a dog that will not retreat from any form of danger when their loved ones are threatened.
Boerboels are very independent but extremely affectionate dogs that require a good deal of attention from their owners. They are good companions, affectionate with children and other animals. They are extremely loyal but do tend to be a bit stubborn at times. Training and socialization from an early age are very important for this breed, they are large dogs and first-time owners may find the Boerboel a bit of a challenge.
They are very calm and relaxed dogs, however getting them outside at least once a day for a long walk is essential to the dog’s health. It makes a huge impact in developing mutual trust and respect between dog and owner. An intelligent dog like a Boerboel needs to have stimulation so as not to become unmanageable. The more time and energy one puts in to properly socializing and training one's puppy the tenfold one will get out in the future.
This is a breed that needs human companionship, when not tamed it can be reckless and destructive. The Boerboel is a large dog breed with a strong bone structure and well-developed muscles. It has a big square-shaped head, usually a trademark black mask and short fur. The males measuring between 64 and 70cm and weighing in at between 70 to 90 kgs, females measuring between 59 and 65cm and weighing in at between 50 and 65kg. A healthy Boerboel will live to between 9 and 13 years of age.