by Ken Alden
Originally bred to protect homesteads and farms in South Africa, the Boerboel mastiff is a strong, loyal, and protective dog. It’s always a good idea to research some key facts about any new pet you’re planning on bringing home, but given their size, it’s essential to learn as much as you can about this particular breed.
The Boerboel mastiff emerged in the 1800s in South Africa as a guard dog for large properties, and it remains an excellent protection dog today. With lots of training and socialization, they can become a very loyal, confident, and loving pet who loves working and serving their families.
To learn more about these dogs’ temperaments, health, and care requirements, keep reading. We’ll cover everything you need to know about the Boerboel mastiff from their activity levels and barking habits, to their lifespans and eating requirements.
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The Boerboel can be a superb family dog depending on the size of your family and if you have any other pets in the home.
Because of their intense loyalty towards their families, they make great pets and protectors for the home. They are also great with children of all ages, though they should be monitored closely around small children due to their size.
Though they would never intentionally hurt a small child, as with most dogs of their size, they don’t always understand just how big they are. As a result, it’s not uncommon to see big dogs knocking small children down as they run around and play. It’s not done in a dangerous or aggressive way, but it can happen.
Unfortunately, Boerboels aren’t nearly as friendly and agreeable towards other animals, especially cats and dogs. With that in mind, it’s best to avoid bringing a Boerboel home if you have other pets unless you can dedicate lots of time and effort to socializing them properly.
In rare cases, you could get lucky and end up with a Boerboel that doesn’t mind being around other animals. In fact, some individuals even enjoy the company of other dogs and cats, but this is an exception rather than the rule.
The Boerboel breed initially emerged in South Africa sometime in the mid-1800s.
The name Boerboel means “farmer’s dog” in Afrikaans. This is a testament to the fact that these dogs were initially bred to protect farms, mines, and other properties from burglars and wild animals like lions, baboons, boars, and other fearsome beasts.
These dogs’ immense strength, intimidating appearance, and large size made them ideal as guard dogs, and even hundreds of years later, they are most commonly used for that purpose.
While most mastiffs are notorious for excessive drooling, Boerboels don’t drool very much.
Because they drool less than other dogs in the mastiff family, they are an ideal choice for dog lovers who don’t want to deal with their pet’s saliva all over their clothing and belongings.
Still, it’s a good idea to keep a “drool rag” around whenever you’re interacting with your Boerboel, as you will still encounter a fair amount of drool, particularly when they eat, drink, or physically exert themselves.
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As with any large breeds, the Boerboel has a similarly large appetite. Remember, these dogs can grow to up to 200 pounds (90.72kg) in some cases, so they require plenty of food to maintain their strong, muscular frame.
Like with any purebred dog, you should opt for high-quality foods and avoid giving them table scraps or too many treats.
Mastiffs, including Boerboels, are prone to becoming overweight, so you will need to monitor their food intake and growth closely and regularly.
Thanks to the breed’s short, dense coat, its grooming requirements are minimal. You can keep bath times to once or twice per month, but be sure to give their coat a thorough brushing every few days to remove any loose or shedding hair.
The Boerboel is an excellent dog for people who don’t want to spend too much time grooming aside from the occasional bath, nail trims, and brief brushings.
While any dog’s coat requires a small amount of maintenance, aside from rare hairless breeds, the Boerboel’s grooming needs aren’t very demanding or complex.
Boerboel puppies are pretty energetic and need lots of physical and mental stimulation to stay occupied. They can become destructive if left to their own devices for extended periods, so giving your Boerboel lots of toys and playtime to burn off their excess energy will help prevent them from tearing up your couch, clothes, shoes, and more.
However, puppies also tend to sleep a lot, and the Boerboel is no exception. Boerboel puppies usually alternate between short bursts of energy and long naps.
Like all dogs in the mastiff group, Boerboels are enormous, muscular dogs that grow to be very tall and heavy. Don’t be fooled by your Boerboel puppy’s small size, as they will grow very rapidly and exponentially in their first couple of years of life.
The average size of a South African Boerboel is anywhere from 100 (45.36kg) to as much as 200 pounds (90.72kg), and they grow to a height of around 22 to 27 inches (55.88 to 68.59 centimeters), making them among the largest mastiffs and largest dog breeds in general.
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Most large purebred dogs tend to have shorter lifespans because of their breed-specific health issues, and the Boerboel mastiff is no exception. Generally, these dogs live anywhere from 8 to 12 years, depending on their quality of care and genetics. In exceptional cases, some Boerboels can live longer.
Thankfully, with regular vet checkups, high-quality food and care, and a diligent, responsible owner, Boerboels can live just as long as many smaller mixed breed dogs.
Owning such a substantial purebred dog is a huge responsibility, and it is up to you to ensure a high quality of life for your pet.
When adequately trained for protection, a Boerboel mastiff will not hesitate to attack any intruders or strangers who might approach your home.
Therefore, you will need to clearly communicate to your dog who belongs in your home so they won’t attack or be aggressive towards others in your household or new visitors.
Usually, the Boerboel is quite aloof and standoffish towards strangers until they are provoked or upset.
The good news is that even the most hardened and determined intruders will instantly bolt at the very sight of a Boerboel mastiff in their midst. Thanks to their powerful jaws, muscular bodies, and enormous frames, the Boerboel is a very intimidating guard dog to any dangerous individuals encroaching on your property.
They are also great for protecting farms and gardens from wild animals.
Rest assured, though: if an intruder does manage to get close enough to your home to interact with your Boerboel mastiff, your dog will quickly jump into action and attack them.
Because of its aggressive, overconfident nature, the Boerboel can be pretty dangerous if not trained and socialized properly. However, it is rare for a Boerboel to snap at or bite their owner or family members completely unprovoked. Instead, it’s more often than not when they feel threatened or very uncomfortable.
It is essential to learn the meanings of your dog’s body language and watch for signs of aggression to prevent such violent outbursts or biting incidents.
Usually, dogs show several warning signs before snapping or biting; it is unusual for any dog, including Boerboels, to bite someone entirely out of nowhere.
You will need to be stern and consistent with your training to remind your Boerboel that you are the one in charge, not them. At the same time, though, you don’t want to rudely order your dog around like a servant; show them respect, and they will usually do the same.
Yes, your Boerboel will protect you, your family, and your home!
The Boerboel was explicitly bred to defend farms, mines, and other properties for their owners, so even today, they have a strong instinctual sense of responsibility to protect their families. These dogs find it very gratifying to guard the people they love.
As far as guard dogs go, the Boerboel is an excellent choice. Of course, like with any protection dog, they’ll first need plenty of costly and extensive obedience training, but it’s a worthwhile investment.
These dogs genuinely live to protect the people they love, despite occasionally being a bit headstrong and stubborn.
The Boerboel breed originated in South Africa in the 1800s as a result of breeding many different types of mastiffs together. As the breed became more refined, they became known as the Boerboel, meaning “farmer’s dog” in Afrikaans.
The Boerboel has a long and rich history of defending farms from intruders as well as wild animals like baboons, lions, tigers, boars, and more.
Over the years, the Boerboel has been exported to countries all over the world and is now a very popular and well-known mastiff.
Interestingly, Boerboels are generally relatively quiet dogs and are usually gentle giants towards their families. However, they will not hesitate to bark loudly at intruders or strangers.
The Boerboel has a loud, deep, ferocious bark that complements their rather menacing appearance. Their frightening bark also works well to ward off intruders and wild animals.
Despite being excellent family dogs that love to interact with and protect the people they love, Boerboels generally do not get along well with cats. They can be pretty aggressive towards them without consistent and strict training.
Because the Boerboel is so large and powerful, they can be dangerous towards small animals like cats if they aren’t socialized correctly.
If you have cats in your home, it probably isn’t a good idea to allow your Boerboel to interact with them. If you’re able to keep them separated, then great! Otherwise, the Boerboel might not be the best breed for your particular household.
Like we mentioned earlier, Boerboels can be very unpredictable around other animals like dogs and cats.
Boerboels are confident, headstrong dogs that don’t particularly enjoy competing with other pets in the home for attention, meaning they can become pretty aggressive and combative towards them.
If you plan to bring a Boerboel into a household with other dogs, it’s best to begin thorough socialization from a young age. If possible, start socializing them together as puppies, so they will learn that they’re family.
Otherwise, you’re in for a long and challenging ordeal, as getting your Boerboel to get along with other dogs can be very frustrating and costly.
In rare cases, you could end up with a Boerboel that doesn’t mind being around other dogs. They might even enjoy their presence!
Unfortunately, personalities can vary significantly from dog to dog, and in general, their competitive, stubborn nature makes them best suited to being the only animal in the home.
As with any purebred dog, the demand for them is high. As a result, Boerboel puppies can be very costly. Buying a Boerboel can run you anywhere from $800 to $2,500, with the average price being around $1,500 per dog.
Older Boerboels are a bit cheaper, and in rare cases, you might be lucky enough to find a rescue to adopt at a low cost. However, without papers and a documented background of their family history, it can be hard to predict how your dog’s temperament will end up later in their life.
If you’re planning to adopt a Boerboel mastiff, you should be prepared for both the initial investment and the cost of care as the dog ages.
In reality, you’ll be spending quite a bit more than the initial $1,500 or so for your puppy, as their vet visits, food, toys, and other necessities will also end up racking up a lot of additional costs.
The Boerboel has a moderately high energy level and needs daily exercise and regular obedience training to stay happy, healthy, and even-tempered. Unfortunately, they don’t fare very well in small spaces like apartments, as they quickly become bored and frustrated without regular physical and mental stimulation.
Boerboels also don’t particularly enjoy being left outdoors all day by themselves, either; frequent interaction and play are crucial to keeping them happy and fulfilled.
They are reasonably independent dogs, but they thrive with an owner willing to involve them in their daily routine and make them feel wanted.
These dogs are certainly not lazy by any means, though they aren’t among the most energetic dogs, either. Daily walks and playtime for enrichment will keep your Boerboel occupied and satisfied as well as and prevent them from becoming destructive or restless.
Because they are part of the working group of dogs, Boerboels are highly trainable and immensely enjoy serving their families.
However, keep in mind that the breed is characterized by a confident and sometimes even arrogant demeanor, so they may try to challenge you or test your boundaries to see what they can get away with.
Generally, Boerboels take well to obedience training. Some individuals may be more resistant to training than others, but overall, they live to serve their owners and enjoy learning new tricks and performing complex tasks.
Just be prepared to be firm and consistent in your direction. Remember, you’re the one in charge!
The Boerboel was bred initially for protecting South African farms from invaders, wild animals, and thieves. As a result, the breed has unfortunately acquired a negative reputation for being excessively aggressive.
However, this isn’t always the case. While these dogs do have the capacity for being overly fierce and sometimes even hostile, they are also incredibly loyal to the people they love.
Usually, they are aloof and standoffish towards strangers until provoked, which can be said of many dog breeds.
Boerboels need plenty of obedience training and early socialization to be as well-behaved as possible and prevent them from acting on their aggressive impulses.
It is crucial to curb any signs of aggression early and train your dog only to become aggressive when defending their home or family. Without diligent training, Boerboels can become fiercely combative and hostile.
This breed certainly can be dangerous, as we touched on above, without the proper training and socialization.
Boerboels are large, muscular working dogs with powerful jaws capable of delivering a painful bite. Plus, since they can grow to a whopping 200 pounds (90.72kg) or more, they can be a formidable opponent for any intruder or stranger that decides to challenge them.
Thankfully, they are also very loyal and compassionate towards the people they love and will typically only become dangerous if encouraged to act on their aggressive tendencies.
Be sure to interact with your dog in positive ways and only use positive reinforcement when training. That includes lots of treats and words of encouragement.
As a result, you won’t need to worry about your Boerboel suddenly snapping or turning on you.
The act of cutting a dog’s tail is known as docking, and it is generally used with working dogs such as Boerboels to prevent them from injuring their tails while performing specific tasks such as defending your home.
It’s a controversial practice, to be sure, and many people see it as unnecessarily cruel. If your Boerboel isn’t going to be doing any physically strenuous work on a regular basis, it’s best to avoid tail docking altogether.
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About the Author...
Ken Alden, a dedicated Mastiff owner for over eight
years, is acclaimed for his expertise in care, grooming, and training. Read more About Me and my dog Shadow.