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The Boerboel is a Mastiff type dog which was bred for guarding duties and originates from South Africa. Derived from the Dutch Afrikaans word 'Boer' meaning farmer, its name translates as 'farmer's dog'.
There is much uncertainty surrounding the origins of the Boerboel, but it is likely that the breed originated from crossbreeding dogs from the native countries of South African settlers from Holland, Germany, France and England with the local guarding and hunting dogs. In the early 1900's, DeBeers, the largest diamond mining company in the area bought over Bullmastiff type dogs to guard the valuable mines which were thought to have contributed to the breed as a whole.
Whatever its origins, the Boerboel was bred to be a strong, physical and heavy breed of dog, suited to the harsh, dry climate and large enough to dissuade thieves and robbers from laying a claim to anything on the homestead that took their fancy. Having strong territorial instincts, this breed remains a popular dog in South Africa today as a multipurpose farm and working dog, but has also grown in popularity as an urban family dog much for the same reason.
Average height to withers: Males up to 27 inches, with females slightly less at around 25 inches.
Average weight: Males weigh in at between 65-80kg with females between 50-65kg.
The Boerboel is a large, muscular and stocky dog which remains fit and athletic despite its bulky appearance. The male dog cuts an impressive and imposing silhouette, while the female does have more feminine and leaner characteristics.
Overall, it is a very well balanced dog with the addition of a rather large head which displays a square shape, well developed cheeks which may or may not be covered by a black mask. The wide spaced eyes can be any shade of brown through to very dark black, with a dark nose and v shaped ears. The skin on the face and head is relatively loose with moderate brow wrinkles. The neck is muscular and well arched, broadening towards the shoulders which are wide and strong. The back and top line is level and straight and overall the legs and hindquarters are fit for purpose being very strong.
The coat is short and sleek yet quite dense to protect it from the hot African sun and in colour it may be brindle, brown or a yellow/fawn colour.
Self confident and fearless, this breed lives up to the expectations that can be put upon it as a guardian of the house and home. That said, if it is to live as a member of the family, the owner must recognise the need for ongoing training, stimulation and socialisation to ensure it is well rounded and suitable for the environment. Despite its somewhat intimidating exterior, the Boerboel is a protective dog and should not be aggressive without good cause. Because of its breed traits, this is not a dog for inexperienced owners and any reputation it gathers or negative behaviours it develops are down to the treatment of its misguided owner, and are not the fault of the dog itself. Living with children and other animals can be achieved harmoniously through hard work and supervision.
This dog requires exercise and mental stimulation to ward off boredom but when its needs are researched, catered for and understood this breed can be a delightful member of the family.
The average life expectancy of this breed is around 10 years and they are well known for being a healthy type of dog. Research has shown that on occasion, stress related Epilepsy has occurred, mainly in younger dogs. Hip Dysplasia is also relatively common in this dog.
The most important aspect of ownership of this breed is to understand its physical and behavioural needs, preferably by an experienced owner. This includes making sure it receives enough exercise and stimulation as a bored Boerboel can be quite destructive! The coat is very low maintenance, but like many large dog, it can be costly to feed and incurs heavier costs such as larger vets bills, insurance, beds, bowls etc.