The Boerboel Dog, also known as the South
African Mastiff, is believed to be one of the largest dog breeds in the world.
Weighing up to 200 pounds, the Boerboel is a gentle giant while also doubling
as an incredible watchdog or guard dog.
To understand all you need to know about this breed, you need to learn about the very beginnings of this breed. So, let’s start with how the breed came to be what it is today. We’ll also discuss 18 additional interesting facts about this wonderful dog.
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The name “Boerboel” comes from the Afrikaans and Dutch languages. “Boer” translates over to “farmer,” while “boel” means “dog.” In essence, the Boerboel is known as “farmer’s dog.”
The history of the breed traces back to South Africa in the 1800s. In the centuries before that, the European settlers traveling to South Africa brought their own dogs over from Europe. These breeds would then mate with the local African dogs, creating what we know as the Boerboel.
But, this dog isn’t just a cross between
two dog breeds. It’s believed that the breed was really developed in the 1800s when
the dogs living at military bases began to mate with dogs of other breeds.
Since the breed was initially developed, the Boerboel was used as a guard dog or a watchdog. Dutch settlers in South Africa recognized the alertness and courageousness of this breed, especially when it came to defending their property.
The dog was so loyal and protective that it was able to fend off large South African game like leopards and hyenas without much of a struggle. Years later, the Boerboel would eventually be bred with Bullmastiffs.
Today, this dog is most recognized for its
unbeatable loyalty and ability to thrive as a guard dog. It’s safe to say that
the legacy of the Boerboel lives on, even centuries after the breed was
While we don’t know the exact breeds that the Boerboel is made of, we do know some of the breeds that were present at South African military bases in the 1800s. There’s also evidence that suggests that this breed is mixed with dogs native to Africa.
For the most part, the Boerboel seems to be a
mix of Mastiffs, Terriers, Bloodhounds, Greyhounds, Bulldogs, Staghounds,
Foxhounds, and Pointers. Considering the key traits of each, it’s no wonder
that this dog is so agile, great at hunting, and protective.
This is a little tricky. For the most part, there is great potential when it comes to introducing your Boerboel to new family pets like other dogs and cats. It usually is on a case-by-case basis.
The biggest issue is that large breed dogs like the Boerboel are known to be a little aggressive with dogs of the same sex. So, if you really want to bring home another dog, it’s best that you choose one of the opposite sex.
Interestingly enough, this breed seems to do
pretty well with cats. That’s likely due to the fact that this dog was never
trained to hunt small game or rodents.
The Boerboel can be aggressive, especially when it comes to dogs of the same sex. The breed is usually pretty good with cats, children, and adults, so long as they have a proper introduction and are socialized properly.
If a Boerboel is going to be aggressive, it’s most likely going to be with a stranger or a new animal. This dog is known to see strangers and newcomers as threats and might act accordingly based on its instincts.
There have definitely been cases where this
breed has viciously attacked humans. Based on that, it’s best that you always
have your Boerboel secured with a leash or in a fenced-in yard when he spends
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According to the American Kennel Club, the average life expectancy of the Boerboel is about 9 to 11 years. However, that really depends on quite a few factors, including your Boerboel’s health, diet, and activity level.
Large dogs like Boerboels and Mastiffs are extremely prone to joint conditions like hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. These conditions involve a steady wearing away at the joints, which is mostly due to the large frame and weight of your dog.
If you really want to extend your dogs lifespan, take the extra effort to provide him with joint supplements
(chondroitin and glucosamine) and do your best to keep him at a healthy weight.
About an hour of exercise per day is ideal for weight and joint maintenance.
The Boerboel isn’t just a good guard dog. They’re great guard dogs and watchdogs. Just take a quick look at the breed’s history, being bred specifically to protect homesteads and keep mines safe from trespassers.
Your South African Mastiff will 100% do whatever it takes to keep you, your family, and your home safe from strangers and intruders. They’re very devoted dogs and are willing to put their own lives on the line to keep you safe.
What makes these a great guard dog is
the wariness of new people and strangers. If he feels as if your family is
under attack, he might use his 800 PSI of bite force to scare off and injure
One of the best traits of the Boerboel is just how quiet the breed tends to be. They’re definitely not a breed that likes to bark just to hear the sound of their own voice.
So, if your pooch does begin to bark, especially if he’s doing it relentlessly, you might want to take the time to see what he’s barking at. For the most part, this dog only barks when there’s a danger.
That might mean a stranger getting unusually
close to the house or a physical attack on one of his family members. Remember,
the Boerboel is a guard dog, so don’t be surprised if he lets off a bark every
time he thinks there’s a threat.
The good news is, the coat of the Boerboel is rather short and doesn’t shed all that much compared to other breeds. It would be appropriate to say that the Boerboel has an “average” amount of shedding.
But, that doesn’t mean that your pal won’t shed at all. It’s important that you keep up with grooming by brushing your pup once a day (or every few days) and giving him a bath every few months.
We’d definitely say that one of the better
traits is how easy this breed is to groom. Plus, consistent brushing will get
rid of any loose hairs and also allow the coat to grow back even smoother than
First off, the Boerboel definitely isn’t the fastest dog out there. You have to consider the breeds the Boerboel is made of, especially large and bulky dogs like the Mastiff and Bulldog. These two breeds are actually some of the slowest breeds, which does slow this dog down.
But, the Boerboel is also mixed with speedy dogs like the Greyhound and other hounds, which are capable of zooming by at over 45 miles per hour.
So, even though we don’t have any scientific
evidence proving how fast the Boerboel is, we do have an approximate average.
We’re looking at up to 18 miles
per hour on a good day, likely
for only a short distance
Because this dog might weigh close to 200 pounds when full-grown, it’s no surprise that the jumping abilities of this dog are a little lower than other breeds. We’re going to base our answer on the abilities of the Mastiff, a very similar breed in terms of size and traits.
This dog can likely clear a 5-foot fence with relative ease, though likely only if he has a decent running start and something motivating him to get over.
When it comes to buying fencing, you might
want to go a bit higher than 5-feet. Think about it. When standing on his hind
legs, a Boerboel can likely peer over a fence of this size without any effort
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According to the American Kennel Club, the Boerboel can be anywhere between 150 and 200 pounds. That makes it one of the largest dog breeds in the world.
In terms of height, the female Boerboel is usually 22+ inches at the shoulders, while the male Boerboel tends to be a little taller at 24+ inches.
Just how big your dog gets really depends on his diet and activity level. Feeding your Mastiff too much or food with too high of a calorie content can force him to put on a few extra pounds.
So, keeping your pooch active will help him
to stay at a healthy weight and prevent him from getting too large.
The Boerboel is considered to be a very smart breed. They’re known to be rather easy to train and seem to pick up on new commands and rules of the house pretty quickly.
However, be sure to keep training sessions short. The breed tends to get bored somewhat easily, and forcing a training session to last longer than he wants might make him upset or even aggressive.
The intelligence also carries over to the
breed’s ability to be a successful guard dog or watchdog. They’re able to
easily recognize threats, alert their owners, and attack when they feel as if
their family is in danger.
We get that you might be a little nervous about bringing a 200-pound dog home when you have young kids or toddlers, but the Boerboel tends to be a great family dog. They truly are what we call “gentle giants.”
Even though the Boerboel is usually good with kids, you still might want to keep an eye on them when they play. There’s always a chance that your huge pal accidentally knocks your child over when walking or running.
They’re also a great family dog in terms of
training. Once they know the rules of the house, they’re very quick to stick to
them, no matter which family member is giving them the command.
Even though it’s possible to bring your Boerboel to live in an apartment, it’s not the best choice. That’s because this breed needs a ton of room to run around and stretch out, which an apartment just doesn’t provide.
Another issue comes with the actual breeds the Boerboel is made from. Many apartment complexes ban Mastiffs, Bulldogs, and any mixes involving these dogs, meaning a Boerboel might not be allowed.
Most, if not all, apartment complexes also
have size restrictions on the breeds that can live on the property. Since it’s
pretty hard to find an apartment that’ll approve a dog weighing over 150
pounds, you’re going to have to find somewhere else to live.
When a dog is described as “hypoallergenic,” that means that the dog doesn’t shed that much or at all. Since we know that this dog sheds a decent amount, there’s no way that this breed is hypoallergenic.
Even though they’re not hypoallergenic, they aren’t the worst breed when it comes to shedding. Plus, there are some ways to minimize your dog allergies if you really want a Boerboel.
One of the best ways to do this is by keeping
up-to-date on brushing and bathing to get rid of any loose hair or dandruff.
You might also want to vacuum the furniture and carpet daily to pick up any
hair that might’ve been shed during the day.
Boerboels can make good hunting dogs, and the reason comes down to their genetics and ancestry. Two of this breeds ancestors, the Mastiff and the Bulldog, were used for big game hunting in the 1900s.
The Boerboel also comes from several different types of hounds, which are known for their innate ability to hunt. This breed is no different.
This breed is incredible at staying attentive while on a hunt and being able to pinpoint prey from far away. Once given the command, they’ll race over to their target and pounce until they have control.
Keep in mind that you actually have to train a
dog to be a hunting dog, so don’t expect to bring your Boerboel on a hunt and
have him exactly know what to do.
The Boerboel is banned in some locations for the same reason that Pitbulls are banned: They’re seen as “dangerous dogs.” A lot of this comes down to the reputation that the dog has developed and poor training by Boerboel owners.
The greatest issue comes with this breeds tendency to attack strangers. With a bite force of up to 800 PSI, there’s no doubt that an attack by a Boerboel will leave you injured and can possibly even kill you.
Right now, this breed is banned in several
countries worldwide. These countries include France, Switzerland, Denmark,
Malaysia, and even some cities in the U.S.
Like other large breed dogs, the Boerboel needs high-quality food that’s loaded with protein. This will be just enough to get his muscles and joints growing and developing without putting on too much weight.
Since they’re prone to hip dysplasia (which is intensified by obesity), you need to make sure you’re not overfeeding your pooch. According to Purina, you should feed about 4.25 cups for the first 100 pounds and then an additional 0.25 cups for every 10 pounds thereafter.
So, a 200 pound Boerboel might be eating up to
7 or more cups per day. Also, remember that more active dogs need more calories
every day to keep their weight healthy.
The Boerboel Dog is also known as the South African Mastiff. Despite their intimidating size and weighing up to 200 pounds, this dog is a rather docile breed that builds attachments well with his family. Here’s what you need to know about this breed.
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