The Boerboel [burbul] is a large, mastiff dog breed from South Africa, bred for the purpose of guarding the homestead. These dogs were often a first line of defense against predators such as lions, hyenas and other big cats and were valuable in tracking and holding down wounded game. Old farmers tell many tales of the strength, agility, and courage of their Boerboels.
Breed history The word "Boerboel" derives from "boer", the Afrikaans/Dutch word for "farmer". The English word "bull" sounds to Dutch ears like "boel", hence, the name Boerboel. Boerboel, therefore, translates as either "farmer's dog" or "Boer's dog" and should be pronounced somewhat like "burbull". The Boerboel is the only South African dog breed created to defend the homestead. Despite the Boerboel's long breeding history, there is great uncertainty as to how many and which breeds were used to create it. It is generally believed that the breed was created from interbreeding native African canine species with breeds brought into South Africa from Dutch, French, and British settlers. The most likely origins are claimed to date back to Jan van Riebeeck’s arrival to the Cape in 1652. Van Riebeeck brought a "Bullenbijter" with him. Those with him, and later European settlers, also had large, strong dogs, that almost certainly bred with the indigenous, domestic dog breeds of South Africa. Later, in 1928, the diamond mining company De Beers imported Bullmastiffs to South Africa to guard the mines. This breed was also crossbred with Boerboels in the region.
Boerboels today The Boerboel Breeders Association was established in 1983 in the Senekal district of the Free State with the sole objective of ennobling and promoting the Boerboel as a unique South African dog breed. Today, Boerboel breeding is both a hobby and an industry in South Africa. These dogs are now exported from South Africa to other parts of the world. The protective character of the Boerboel is still evident and is much sought after, as is the calm, stable, and confident composure of the breed. The dogs are obedient and intelligent and have strong territorial instincts. The Boerboel remains the guarding breed of choice amongst current day farmers and is very popular for the same reason in urban communities. The name boerboel is commonly misspelled as boerbul, boerbull, and borbull. In 2010, the Boerboel was banned in Denmark for being a fighting dog. There is also a divergence of standards. The Kennel Union of South Africa does not accept the black coat, but the SABT does, so a buyer needs to decide what standard to follow, as if a dog has a black coat they cannot be registered with AKC, KUSA, BI or Ebbasa.
The Boerboel is a large dog, with a strong bone structure and well developed muscles. The head appears blocky, but not overdone. It should look impressive, carrying himself with confidence and powerful movement, which should be buoyant, and unencumbered, despite its size. It should be symmetrical and balanced, following the desired proportions for the breed. Males should be markedly bigger than females, there is a distinct sexual dimorphism between the sexes, with the female less prominently developed.
Coat The Boerboel is an average shedder and easy to groom. The occasional brushing and a monthly bath and nail trim is all that is needed. The breed has an outer coat that is normally coarse and straight, and an undercoat that is soft and dense. Its coat is short, dense, smooth, soft, and shiny. Their coat color can be various shades of red, brown, or fawn. Many dogs have a black mask around their mouth that sometimes extends to their eyes and ears. The Breed Standard colors for the Boerboel is Fawn, Light Fawn, Red all colors of red and Brindle
Temperament Boerboels are an intelligent and energetic breed. They are loyal, great with kids and tend to be protective of their family and territory. They are quite charming when not being lazy, and will not hesitate to defend their loved ones to the death. The Boerboel also requires training and firm handling from an early age.
Health Boerboels are generally known for their good health. However, Boerboels can suffer from hip or elbow dysplasia, vaginal hyperplasia, ectropion, and entropion. Recently, juvenile epilepsy (with attacks brought on by metabolic changes or stress) has appeared in the boerboel breed. The average life expectancy is ten years.
Requirements Prospective owners must recognize that owning a boerboel requires a significant commitment in time and energy as they need to be trained and properly socialized in order to be happy, well-adjusted family members. These dogs thrive under positive reinforcement training techniques and require human companionship and structure. If left isolated, Boerboels will digress and may become destructive. Owners should be wary of trying to forcefully control the dog as it is detrimental to their psychological health and could cause potential behavioral backlash in the future. These dogs benefit from an owner who respects their size and strength but is not fearful of it. If you are considering adding a boerboel to your family or already own a boerboel and are thinking of moving (to a smaller home), remember this – bored boerboels are destructive boerboels and at 150 lbs (68 kg), can do a lot of damage. Although more suitable for large yards, Boerboels are adaptable and can live in small environments as long as they receive regular exercise and a lot of attention. Whatever the amount of space available, they need to have plenty of physical and mental exercise. The Boerboel can be exercised in a large, securely enclosed yard, but at a minimum this type of dog needs to be taken on a long walk every day. According to the vast majority of Boerboel breeders, this dog should only be off leash when on its property.