The Boerboel (or South African Boerboel) is a large sized, short coated, muscular dog that was developed in South Africa. A big and skilled Molosser type watch and guard dog.
The Boerboel History
The Boerboel has a long history of breeding in many far flung and different regions of South Africa, regional differences though slight, are considered part of the entire makeup of the breed.
The history of the Boerboel is a fascinating story, which can trace its beginnings way back to ancient times, as his history starts in about 640 BC, in Assyria. Two Assyrian Kings, King Asarhaddon and King Ashurbani-pal, were recorded as having used large dogs to hunt lions and wild horses and as wardogs.
The King of Albania gave Alexander the Great a gift of a large dog. Alexander the Great was suitably impressed by the size of the beast, but was soon greatly disappointed when the dog refused to hunt firstly bears, then wild boars and deer. The poor dog was then killed. On hearing of the tragedy in 326 B.C., the Albanian king quickly replaced the dog, as he gave Alexander the Great a gift of 156 large dogs, that had been specially trained to fight lions and elephants.
This time the king gave explicit instructions not to waste the dog's time, if it was going to be used for hunting, it would need a challenge. The dog was offered both lions and an elephant. Without going into any graphic details, the dog impressed the leader greatly. Alexander the Great was responsible for spreading them to Europe.
In the times of the Roman games, the dogs were know as Canus Molossus. The activities of the Romans resulted in the spreading of the breed throughout Europe, including the British Isles.
The African side of the Boerboel story starts in southern Ethiopia, where a tribe called the Cynomones used dogs described as "Indian Dogs". These dogs had their origin in Babylon. They are described as large, strong dogs, able to fight with lions. The Cynomones used their dogs to protect them from migratory wild animals as well as for hunting. They even used to milk the bitches. Folklore, or maybe just ancient marketing techniques, suggested that these Indian dogs were a cross between a dog and a tiger. As many African tribes migrated southwards, they brought their dogs with them.
As trading between East and West started developing and the trading routes around the Cape of Good Hope started being established. Jan van Riebeeck was sent by the Dutch East India Company to establish a trading post at the southern tip of Africa. For his protection, van Riebeeck brought a "Bullenbijter" with him. Other colonialists brought other large mastiff-type dogs with them.
This is where Europe met Africa in the dog sense. The large European dogs crossed with the strong African bloodlines. These dogs then accompanied the Boers on the Great Trek into the northern parts of South Africa.
The Boerboel developed, from 1652 up to about 1900, in a hard school by tough farmers in South Africa, who were threatened by every kind of dangerous predator, in testing terrain and a challenging climate. Hard-pressed pioneer farmers, however resourceful, didn't have the circumstances which exactly encouraged the conservation of rare breeds of dog. They had a need for brave powerful virile dogs and breed good dog to good dog untill they obtained the desired result. Performance directed every breeding program. Pure-breeding, handsomeness and a respect for heritage doesn't usually feature highly in a pioneer hunter-farmer's priorities.
The Boerboel was developed from the best mastiff-type dogs available in South Africa and brought there by soldiers, colonists and settlers from Europe as well as migrating African tribes.
Since 1980; assisted later with the forming of the SABT and later the HBSA and the EBBASA, selective breeding of the dog has resulted in what we know today as the South African Boerboel. A dog specifically bred to defend the homestead.
Body: the Boerboel is a large, solidly built dog. The back is straight, wide and strong. In countries where it is allowed, the tail is normally couped. The chest is broad. The legs are strong and stand straight, with well-shaped feet. The thick and strong neck is of sufficient length.
Head: the strong and large head is wide between its ears. The broad front muzzle is about 8 to 10 centimeters long, with a slight narrowing towards the tip of the nose. The tip of the nose is straight. The lips are fleshy but may not droop too heavy. The ears are medium in size and they are carried hanging.
Height at Withers: the minimum height at the withers for males is 66 centimeters to about 75 centimeters. Bitches must be at least 61 centimeters high to about 70 centimeters. There is no official upper limit.
Weight: the weight of males is between 66 and 90 kg and for bitches, this is 61 to 85 kg depending on their size.
Coat: the coat is short haired and feels soft.
Colors: the coat colors range from light yellow to dark red, whether or not it's brindle and with a black mask. There also are black Boerboels though they are not yet officially recognised. Preference will be given to animals without white markings. The eye color can vary from light to dark brown. The tip of the nose is always black.
Character: the Boerboel is a stable, confident and usually quiet dog. He is very loyal and attached to the family members and, if necessary, he'll go through fire for them. He is very courageous, sober and very hard on himself. The Boerboel is an obedient and easy going dog to his people, but they can also show their own initiative. He has a very territorial, watchful and protective attitude. People who you have no business there, will get no chance to enter your grounds. A Boerboel guards in a controlled manner. He almost keeps his heavy voice to sound only if there truly is something going on. An owner who keeps a Boerboel as a kennel dog ignores its need for company. Because of their commitment to their people, it is better to a dog of this breed to grow up in the middle of the family. This also benefits in forming of its character.
Social Build: the breed can get along well with all people and animals belonging to one's own family. Children often get their special attention in a positive sense. Dealing with strangers they take a very watchful attitude, especially if they enter your grounds, but if the owner shows to appreciate the presence of thr visitors, the dog is down with that too. A Boerboel usually deals well with other dogs that are part of the family, but compared with unfamiliar dogs, for example on the streets, the breed can be dominant.
Care: the coat care for this breed requires little attention. In the shedding period a massage brush or a rubber glove can serve well to remove the loose hairs from the coat.
Education: Boerboels are intelligent dogs that like to please their owner. In that sense, the breed is not that difficult to educate. You can teach them almost anything. However it certainly is not a breed for everyone, and the owner must be someone who has a natural superiority to dogs and who can educate the dog very consistently and in full harmony. The breed is not suitable for erratic, inexperienced or too tollerant people.
Activity: the Boerboel has average needs for exercise. He is very agile and can run for consecutive hours without getting tired. Playing with a ball and playing fetch is something almost all Boerboels find a fun pastime.
Usability: the Boerboel is carried in South Africa and Namibia by the hands of farm people, where the dog has shown itself more than helpful as a watchdog and protector of the vast farms and the family members. In other countries, the breed is rare, and predominantly held by fans as guarding companion dogs. Given its character and origins a dog like this fits best with people who have a big house and possessing a large, well-fenced garden. For a typical Boerboel a busy residential area is not an ideal living environment.
Boerboel Quotes / Trivia