Bullmastiff Or Boerboel, Which Breed Makes The Better Family Pet?

Bullmastiffs and Boerboels are quite similar looking dogs with both breeds being large, powerful and having impressive sized heads. If you just cannot make up your mind whether to share your home with a Bullmastiff or a Boerboel and are wondering which breed would make the better family pet, this article compares the two which might help make up your mind.

Bullmastiff origins

Bullmastiffs are thought to be among one of the oldest breeds around and have always been highly prized throughout the ages for their hunting and guarding abilities. The dogs we see today are different to those seen during the 17th and 18th Centuries because back then the breed looked more like Staffordshire Bull Terriers. The breeds that are thought to be in their lineage includes Bloodhounds, Great Danes and St Bernards. The breed was recognised in 1925 after a lot of effort had been put into creating a breed standard.

Boerboel origins

Just how the Boerboel first came about remains a little unclear although many breed enthusiasts believe they were bred by settlers who went to South Africa having left England, Germany, France and Holland who took their dogs with them. A large mining company also took Bullmastiffs over there to guard their mines and it is thought they could well be in the Boerboels ancestry. To date, the breed has not been recognised by the Kennel Club, although they remain a very popular choice in their native South Africa and are finding a fan base in other countries of the world too.

Bullmastiff appearance

Bullmastiffs are large, powerful and well-muscled dogs with males standing at anything from 64 to 60 cm at the withers with females being slightly shorter. Males can weigh around 50 to 59 kg with females weighing in at 41 to 54 kg.

Boerboel appearance

Boerboels too are powerful looking, large well-muscled dogs with males standing at anything from 64 to 70 cm at the withers with their female counterparts being that much shorter. They can weigh in at 70 to 90 kg and although heavy and powerful to look at, Boerboels are also athletic in appearance being able to show a good turn of speed when needed.

Bullmastiff temperament

Extremely loyal and courageous, Bullmastiffs form strong ties with their owners, but they need to be taught their place in the pack right from the word go. They are better suited to people who are familiar with the needs of such a powerful and large dog and who have the time needed to spend training and socialising their canine companion so they mature into well rounded adult dogs, bearing in mind that they always tend to be wary of people they have never met before which is why the breed has always been so highly prized as watch dogs throughout the ages.

Boerboel Temperament

Self-confident and courageous, a Boerboel takes on the world no matter what which is why they have always been used as watchdogs in their native South Africa. Being intelligent, they are very quick to learn new things, but their education and socialisation must start early when puppies are still young and small so they understand their place in the pack and who is the alpha dog in a household.

Because of their size, they too are better suited to people who are familiar with the breed's specific needs rather than novice dog owners. With this said, they do make good family pets more especially in households where the kids are slightly older rather than toddlers but this is mainly due to the breed's size. They are known to form strong bonds with their families becoming loyal and protective members of a family.

Bullmastiff Shedding

Bullmastiffs are low shedding dogs thanks to the short, close-lying coats. With this said, they shed hair throughout the year which tends to be more so in the spring and then again in the autumn.

Boerboel Shedding

Boerboels too are a low shedding breed because of their short, close-lying coats and like many other dogs, they shed the most in the spring and the autumn when their summer and winter coats start to grow through.

Bullmastiff Training

Bullmastiffs are intelligent dogs, but they are known to have a stubborn streak which in short can make training them more challenging especially as puppies tend to be headstrong. Their education and socialisation must start early and it must be consistent so that Bullmastiffs understand what their owners expect of them.

Boerboel Training

Boerboels too are intelligent and they learn things quickly. However, the need to protect and guard are traits that are deeply embedded in their psyche which need to be gently curbed when Boerboels are still puppies to prevent any problems further down the line. In the right environment and hands, these large dogs are easy to train and they respond well to positive reinforcement training.

Bullmastiff Exercise

Bullmastiffs are not high-energy dogs, but they need to be given a minimum of 60 minutes daily exercise and ideally this should be double that for these dogs to be truly happy. They also need to be given the right amount of mental stimulation to prevent boredom from taking hold which could result in some unwanted behavioural issues.

Boerboel Exercise

Boerboels too are not high-energy dogs, but they need at least 60 + minutes daily exercise to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. They too are intelligent and as such need a lot of mental stimulation to prevent a dog from developing any unwanted behaviours which often sees dogs finding their own way of entertaining themselves.

Bullmastiff Children and Pets

Bullmastiffs are not the best choice for families with younger children because as puppies they are known to be boisterous and their sheer size when adults, means they could easily knock a toddler or younger child over. Because the need to guard and protect their "families", care should be taken when a Bullmastiff is around any visiting children too.

Providing a Bullmastiff is well socialised from a young enough age, they generally get on with other dogs they meet and if they have grown up with a family cat in the home, they usually get on well together. However, care should be taken when Bullmastiffs are around dogs they don't already know as well as smaller animals and pets just to be on the safe side.

Boerboel Children and Pets

Boerboels have long been prized in their native South Africa for being great family pets although they are better suited to households where the children are older thanks to their sheer size. Providing these large dogs have been well enough socialised when young, they generally get on well with other dogs they meet and the same can be said of cats they have grown up with in the home, but care should be taken when Boerboels are around smaller animals and pets.

Bullmastiff Coat

A Bullmastiff has a short and hard very weather-resistant coat that lies close and flat to their body.

Bullmastiff Coat colours

The accepted breed colours are as follows:

  • Brindle
  • Brindle with black muzzle
  • Fawn
  • Fawn with black muzzle
  • Red
  • Red with black muzzle

Boerboel Coat

Boerboels have a very short, dense and smooth coat that boasts a natural sheen to it and they have well-pigmented skin.

Boerboel Coat colours

Boerboels come in a variety of colours which are as follows:

  • Mahogany
  • Red
  • Fawn
  • Brindle
  • Cream
  • Brown
  • Piebald

Bullmastiff health

The health issues most commonly seen in the breed include the following:

Boerboel health

Boerboels are known to suffer from a few hereditary and congenital health issues which includes the following:

Bullmastiff life expectancy

The average life span of a Bullmastiff is between 8 and 10 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.

Boerboel life expectancy

The average life span of a Boerboed is between 10 and 12 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.

Which breed would make the better family pet?

Both the Boerboel and the Mastiff are large, powerful and impressive dogs. They are a great choice for families with older children who know how to behave around them. As such, they are not the best choice for families with very young children. With this said, Boerboels have always been a firm favourite family pet in their native South Africa, more so that the Bullmastiff here in the UK which is mainly due to their sheer size.


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