A little uncertainty shrouds the real history of the Boerboel. However, it is believed that the breed first came about in the mid 1600s when settlers from Holland, Germany, France, and England took their dogs with them to South Africa. There they started to cross breeding their dogs with the native Africa landrace dogs, such as the Africanis.
According to reports, a Dutchman named Jan van Riebeeck came to Cape Horn in South Africa in 1652, with him was a dog to protect his family. This Dutch dog was called "Bullenbither," which roughly translates to "bull biter." It was a huge, muscular, Mastiff-type dog with guarding and protective instincts that was bred to various local dogs. This breed was the early origin of the Boerboel.
In the early 1900's, Bullmastiffs were also brought to South Africa by a large diamond mining company, DeBeers, to guard their valuable mines. These dogs were also crossbred to the Boerboels of that time, thus contributing to its evolution.
In 2015, the American Kennel Club had classified the Boerboel as a working dog and was granted full recognition. However, this dog breed has yet to be recognised by The Kennel Club despite its growing popularity in the UK.