Dogs | Dog Breeds | Boerboel
  • Boerboel

Working Group

Exercise Level:
Barking Level:
Good with Children:
Good with other pets:
Average Height: 61 - 68cm | 55 - 63cm
Average Weight: 68 - 90kg | 68 - 90kg
Average Life Expectancy: 9 - 11 Years

Searching for a Boerboel?

The Boerboel, also commonly known as South African Mastiff, Bole or Boers, is an imposing and powerful looking dog originally bred as working farm dogs. It stands 59 to 70 centimetres and weighs 110 to 175 pounds. Stocky and impressive in appearance, this dog breed is actually gentle as long as it's socialised and adequately trained. The Boerboel is ideal for a person or family who is experienced with dogs. It needs to be given plenty of time for training, playing and exercising. Boerboels have short and smooth coats that are shiny.

Are you looking to own a Boerboel? Here is a brief background of this superimposing but gentle farm dog.

book icon History

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.

comb icon Appearance and Grooming

The Boerboel is a giant-sized, muscular and sturdy dog with a strong bone structure. The head looks like a huge block, broad and square with a flat skull. The Boers have strong necks, shoulders and huge hindquarters, boasting of a powerful, boned back legs and well-developed upper thighs. They also have deep chests that are wide and broad with well-sprung ribs. They have a black facial mask covering the muzzle up to the eyes. They stand 59 to 70 centimetres and weigh 110 to 175 pounds. However, despite their impressive and bulky appearance they are agile and athletic.

When it comes to coat colours, Boerboels sport various shades of red, brown, black, fawn or brindle. Their coats are short, dense, smooth, shiny, and smooth. They may also have white markings on the legs or chest. This dog breed is a moderate shedder, so it is low maintenance. However, Boerboels need to be groomed on a regular basis. Brushing its coat once a week will do to remove dead hair and keep their coats clean. They don't require frequent bathing since too many baths can dry out the dog's skin and make it flaky.

Their ears should be checked and cleaned regularly to prevent a build-up of wax and dirt that may lead to infection. Teeth should regularly be brushed to maintain oral health and avoid accumulation of tartar. Also, check for ticks and fleas especially during warm weather.

bulb icon Temperament and Intelligence

Often described as a gentle giant, Boerboels are affectionate and playful toward their owners. They are incredibly loyal and intelligent with a strong desire for human companionship. Bred as real workers, Boers are obedient but are natural leaders. They are also great with children and tend to be fiercely protective. Still, it would be ill-advised to leave any child unattended around any dog. Boerboels are also very territorial. However, if socialised early, they get along well with other dogs, cats and other non-canine pets they grew up with.

The Boerboels can be dangerously aggressive when provoked or threatened. Their strong watch and guard dog instincts make them fearless when it comes to the safety of its family. Thus, it is important for owners to make sure any person invited is properly introduced so Boers will not perceive them as a potential threat. Boerboels are not the best choice for first-time dog owners because of its massive size, also due to the amount of training required. Since this dog breed is intelligent and active, it needs plenty of mental and physical stimulation to be happy.

food icon Nutrition and Feeding

A typical serving for an adult Boerboel dog is 3 1/8 to 4 1/8 cups of premium quality dry dog food per day, divided into two meals. Feeding amounts vary on the dog's size, activity level and age.

Typical calorie needs of adult Boerboel per day:

  • Senior and less active: up to 2,390 calories daily
  • Typical adults: up to 2,690 calories daily
  • Physically active: up to 2,990 calories daily

The Boerboel is a massive dog and consumes a lot of food. Make sure it is fed with dry food to prevent dental problems. The nutritional requirement of a large dog like Boerboel consists of high-protein. Protein is important to develop a Boer’s muscle and brain, and to replenish its energy. Good protein sources include chicken, fish, beef and lamb. When feeding your Boerboel, as with all dogs, keep a reliable feeding schedule. It's a bad idea to "free-feed" or leave food out all day since this will encourage obesity, even for active breeds like the Boerboel.

stethoscope icon Health and Exercise

Boerboels are generally healthy among dog breeds with a lifespan of 10 – 12 years. As many large breeds do, Boerboels can develop a few health disorders. Some of the diseases common to this breed are Hip and Elbow Dysplasia, Entropion, Ectropion, Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (referred to as Bloat).

The Boerboels require plenty of exercises to keep it healthy and happy. Brisk walks are good, but they also need to run long distances. This dog breed is very active and will enjoy playing ball or fetch but make sure it is within a completely fenced area or else the dog will likely escape. Obedience and agility activities are its favourite to let off steam. As puppies, Boerboels must not be over exercised since they are undergoing bone growth. Over-exercising their joints and bones may well result in health problems as mentioned above.

pound icon Cost of Ownership

Boerboels are rare, so they are quite hard to find. Prepare to be on the waiting list if you are keen to get a well-bred pedigree puppy. Purchasing a Boerboel puppy will cost you £800 to £1200, which is a bit more expensive than most puppy breeds. The cost to insure a Boer will be around £60 a month for a basic cover and over £100 for a lifetime cover. However, that is only an estimate. Pet insurance companies consider different factors to calculate a dog's premium insurance cover.

Food-wise, the Boerboel will cost you around £50 - £60 a month for premium quality dry dog food. Since it's a massive dog, food is also a bit expensive compared to other breeds. Veterinary consultations, health checks and other procedures such as vaccinations, boosters and neutering will cost you well over £1,600 a year. This does not include treatments to health disorders unless insurance covers them.

Is a Boerboel Right for You?

  • Boerboels are very smart and highly trainable.
  • Grooming needs are not demanding due to their short coat.
  • They are great watch and guard dogs; extremely protective.
  • Not ideal for new dog owners because of their training requirement.
  • If not socialised well, they tend to be aggressive to other animals.
Can you handle a Boerboel as a pet dog? If you're not sure, then feel free to take our Pet Finder to find other suitable breed suggestions. Dog Finder
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The information, including measurements, prices and other estimates, on this page is provided for general reference purposes only. Use caution and seek the advice of qualified veterinarians and/or professionals when attempting anything related to buying or caring for a pet.

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