Boerboel Dog Breed Caring and Family, Social Life, Physical Traits, Diet Information

Boerboel Dog Breed Caring and Family, Social Life, Physical Traits, Diet Information

The Boerboel is a large, muscular, extremely strong, and incredibly loyal dog with origins in South Africa. This gigantic dog was initially bred for guarding and protecting the farmer’s lands, livestock, and family from deadly wildlife such as the lions and hyenas, while also providing companionship.

Boerboel, which is pronounced as ‘’boo-r-bull’’ is derived from an Afrikaan word that loosely translates to ‘’farmer’s dog.’’ This dog also goes by other names such as Borebull, Bole, South African Mastiff, and South African Boerboel.

Despite its huge size, which makes it appear intimidating, this dog is incredibly loving and protective of its family members. They are affectionate and very playful, making them excellent playmates for children. They are gentle and tolerant of young children, even allowing them to ride on their backs. 

Boerboels are ferociously protective of their families and will protect them to death if threatened. Although this quality makes them excellent watch/guard dogs, it can also make them fiercely territorial and aggressive, especially towards strangers and other dogs. They thus require proper and early training and socialization.

Being intelligent dogs, Boerboels are easy to train. However, they require an assertive trainer capable of establishing himself as the alpha leader of the pack. Otherwise, they can become dominant and push boundaries. These dogs may not be suitable for novice owners.

Although Boerboels are not superly active and have moderate energy levels, they still need a great deal of routine exercise to stay fit and healthy. An ideal environment would be a home with a large fenced yard. Long daily walks, ball games, and interactive toys are a great way of keeping these dogs active.

Boerboels are large breed dogs, standing at 23-28 inches in height and weighing up to 200 pounds. They have an average lifespan of 9-13 years and a litter size of 7-10 puppies.

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What is the History of Boerboel Dog? 

The Boerboel’s history dates back to the 17th century in South Africa. These dogs were originally bred by Dutch settlers in South Africa to be protective dogs, guarding the farmer’s land, livestock, and homestead against dangerous wildlife like lions, big cats, leopards, and hyenas. 

The large and strong dogs that were brought by the European settlers were bred with the indigenous dogs in South Africa and other breeds. Although the exact breeds that produced Boerboels remain unknown, it’s believed that they are a mix of two or three breeds, including Mastiff-type dogs from Europe and English breeds like Bull Terriers and Bulldogs.

In the 1800s, the colonists began to protest the British rule in South Africa, moving inland in the process. This led to the Boerboel becoming scattered all over South Africa and finding homes with various settlers, including the European and English settlers.

However, the two world wars almost brought this breed to near extinction until the 1980s when a group called the South African Breeders’ Association (SABBA) began making deliberate efforts to save the dogs. With careful breeding and concerted effort to find original Boerboel stock across the country, their efforts bore fruits and the breed was successfully saved. In 1990, this group documented and distributed the Boerboel’s rich history in the Africas’ unforgiving terrain, which captured the world’s attention and generated a lot of interest overseas.

In 2014, the American Kennel Club recognized this dog breed and classified it as a working breed in 2015. Today, Boerboels can be found in many countries across the world.

What are the Breed Traits and Characteristics of Boerboel Dog? 

Boerboels are considered very large dogs with males standing at 24-28 inches and females at 22-25 inches and a weight of between 150-200 pounds. These dogs have a muscular body with broad and blocky heads, powerful jaws, and thick muscles from the neck which marks them a descendant of the ancient molloser dog family. They have flat muzzles and fleshy upper lips, plus black widely spaced nostrils and dark eyes with tight eyelids.

This dog breed has a short, smooth, and sleek coat that comes in several colors including brown, fawn, red, and brindle. It also has a black mask and piebald or white markings. The Boerboel is extremely loyal, affectionate, and protective of its family. They love being with their family and are thus prone to separation anxiety if left alone for long hours. It’s however aloof with strangers and can become aggressive without proper socialization and training. These dogs will go to any length to defend their family from any perceived threat.  When socialized early enough, Boerboels can relate well with children and other dogs or pets.

Boerboels are intelligent and smart, hence easy to train. However, they need a firm trainer who is capable of taking charge, otherwise, they will dominate. Just like other dogs, Boerboels respond well to positive reinforcement techniques and not harsh methods. With their fairly high energy levels, these dogs require a great deal of exercise to keep them happy and active. While they love joining their families in activities like hiking and running, they also love to curl up on the couch next to them and share affection.

Boerboel Dog Features

Breeds characteristics


Boerboels are playful, loyal, affectionate, and very eager to please. These highly intelligent dogs have a smart work-ethic and self-assured temperament. They are happiest when given some work to do, whether it’s farm work, guarding duties, or dog competitive sports.

This dog breed is extremely devoted and protective of its family and territory. This makes it an excellent watch/guard dog as well as a great family companion. When well socialized and properly trained, Boerboels are great with and make fantastic companions for children.  While they are loving and friendly to their families, these dogs are a bit standoffish to strangers. 

The Boerboel dog is extremely intelligent and easy to train. It thus requires adequate mental stimulation.

Adaptability level

The Boerboel dog is highly adaptable. It’s capable of adapting to changes in the environment and lifestyle with ease. This dog can do well in both hot and cold environments.

Due to its huge size and moderate energy levels, a Boerboel is not suited for apartment living. It does best in homes with large fenced yards where they are able to run and play around. It is capable of coping with changes in routine.

Sensitivity level

The Boerboel is a fairly sensitive dog. Just like other dogs, Boerboels don’t respond well to punitive or harsh correction techniques, as these can make them aggressive.

Affection level

Boerboels are highly affectionate with their families. This dog breed loves its family members and can go any length to protect them. It has a strong desire for human company and is the happiest spending time with them.  They constantly crave their families’ attention. 

As a result of this attachment, Boerboels can’t cope with loneliness and are thus prone to separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time.


Boerboels are extremely friendly with their family, including children. They like being with them at all times. However, they are wary of strangers and visitors and get aggressive if not properly trained and socialized. To curb this behavior, the dog should be introduced to as many people as possible in its puppy stage.


The Boerboel dog is gentle and very tolerant with kids. It is patient enough to allow kids to ride on its back like a horse. With early socialization and proper training, this dog is able to relate very well with kids.

However, very young children should not be left unsupervised with this dog as its huge size can be overwhelming for them. Boerboels are best suited for families with older kids.


The Boerboel dog does well with other dogs or pets if properly socialized. They also tend to relate well with other pets if they are introduced to them early and raised together. 

If you are keeping other dogs, it’s best to go for those of the opposite sex to avoid intersex aggression.

Exercise needs

Although they are not among the most energetic dogs around, Boerboels still need a great deal of exercise to remain active and healthy. Vigorous play sessions, daily long walks, and puzzle toys are great ways of keeping your dog active. You can also take them along for hiking or jogging sessions. Between 60-120 minutes of exercise daily is recommended for these dogs.


The Boerboel dogs are highly playful. Being large dogs with moderate energy levels, Boerboels are best suited for homes with large fenced yards that give them large spaces to run and play around.  This dog breed is not ideal for apartment living.

Energy Level

Being working dogs, Boerboels have fairly high energy levels. They are thus happiest when given tasks to complete. As such, they should always be provided with ways in which they can put their energy into use. If left idle for long, these dogs easily get bored and can engage in destructive activities like chewing and barking.


Boerboels are easy to train due to their high intelligence levels. These dogs can quickly learn commands very easily. However, they require a firm trainer as they have an independent mind and tend to dominate if given the chance.  Just like any other dog breed, the use of positive reinforcement and reward-based methods work best for Boerboels. These dogs don’t respond well to harsh and punitive techniques.


Boerboel dogs have high intelligence levels. They thus require lots of physical and mental stimulation. Puzzle toys and competitive games are a great way of keeping up with the mental needs of these dogs. Boerboels are smart enough to differentiate between threats and simple strangers.

Tendency to bark

Boerboel dogs have low barking tendencies. They only bark when they perceive a threat to their families or when a stranger is unusually close. Since they are naturally born as guard dogs, it’s not unusual to witness occasional barking from these dogs 

Amount of shedding

The Boerboel dog has a short coat that sheds averagely. It’s easy to maintain as it requires weekly brushing to keep loose hairs at bay. These dogs only need occasional baths, usually not more than once every two months.

What are the Boerboel Dog Physical Traits? 

The Boerboel is a large, muscular, and extremely powerful dog bred as a watch or guard dog as well as a family companion. This is a well-muscled dog that stands at 27 inches in height and weighs as much as 200 pounds in weight. 

Boerboels have a deep square head with a flat skull and a short muzzle. This dog breed stands out for its blocky head, large and muscular body, and short thick coat that comes in red, brown, fawn, brindle, and sometimes a black mask. Their wrinkled face is a show of their true heritage as Mastiffs.

The table below is a summary of the Boerboel dog’s physical characteristics:

Boerboel Dog Feature

Breeds characteristics


The Boerboel is classified as a large breed dog


Male: 24-27 inches

Female: 22-25 inches


Males: 150-200 pounds

Females: 110-150 pounds

Coat type

Short thick double coat consisting of a dense outer cover and a soft undercoat

Coat color

Boerboels come in white, brown, red, fawn, or brindle colors


Some have black masks, white markings, or piebalds.

Strength and agility

Boerboels are powerful and very agile for their size. They are considered the most agile among all mastiff dogs.

Muscle structure

Boerboels are muscular, powerful, and Balanced

What are the Social Traits of Boerboel Dog Breed? 

The Boerboels are generally a very social dog breed. This dog is extremely affectionate and loving to all its family members, including children and elderly people. However, it is wary of strangers and can be aggressive towards them and other pets.

Boerboel Dog Feature

Breeds characteristics

Relationship with family

Boerboels are incredibly affectionate and loyal to their families. These dogs enjoy their family’s company more than anything else. They relate well with all members of the family, children included. These dogs will protect their families to death if need be.

Relationship with strangers

Boerboels are wary of strangers and can be aggressive if not well socialized.  To curb this, Boerboels should be introduced to as many people as possible in their puppyhood. 

Relationship with other dogs

If properly trained and socialized early enough, Boerboels can get along quite well with other dogs, especially if they were introduced early and raised together. However, it’s best to go for other dogs of the opposite sex to avoid intermale or interfemale aggression

Relationship with children

Boerboels are gentle and patient, making them excellent companions for children. However, they do better with older children who know how to respect boundaries. However, proper socialization is necessary to foster proper behavior in these dogs.

What are the Personality Traits of Boerboel Dog? 

The following table summarizes the personality traits of a Boerboel dog;

Boerboel Dog Feature

Breeds characteristics

Trainability level

Boerboel dogs are extremely intelligent and thus have high trainability levels. They are obedient and sufficiently smart to understand commands. These dogs can get very aggressive and dominant due to their huge size. Proper socialization training is thus important in helping control these behaviors and strikes a good balance between their intelligence and dominance. 

Barking level

Boerboels have low barking levels. However, being guard dogs, you can expect occasional barks from these dogs. They will bark on noticing strangers or suspicious activities as a way of informing their owners of imminent danger.

Energy level

These dogs have moderate energy levels and therefore thrive in homes with large yards to run and play around. Additionally,  they need to be mentally and physically occupied as a way to channel their energy

Mental needs

Boerboels are smart dogs with high mental needs. They thus require a lot of mental stimulation to keep pace with their energy. Puzzle games and other challenging games are a great way of keeping them mentally stimulated.


Boerboels are intelligent, confident, loving, affectionate, and extremely loyal dogs. When properly trained, these dogs are very friendly to humans, including children. They also get along well with other dogs and pets when socialized early.

Adaptability level

Boerboels are moderately adaptable. They are capable of coping well with changes in the routine, environment, and lifestyle. These dogs can tolerate both hot and cold environments without any problems.

Playfulness level

Boerboels are highly playful and thus need large spaces to run and play around. Apartment living is thus not ideal for them. Their playfulness and gentle nature make them good playmates for children.

Protectiveness level

The South African Mastiff is highly protective of its family. These dogs will protect their loved ones with their lives if need be. They can get extremely aggressive if they sense a threat to their family.

Danger level

Due to their huge size and natural guarding instincts, Boerboels may pose some danger to the public or strangers. 


Boerboels can get aggressive and attack. However, they do not just attack for no reason. They will do so if they perceive a threat to their family or when they are really provoked.


These dogs can get very aggressive to strangers and other dogs, especially those of the same sex. They see strangers as potential threats and act on natural instincts. 

Smartness level

Boerboels are highly smart and can distinguish between threats and strangers very easily. They are also capable of learning commands very fast, making them easy to train.

Compassion level

Boerboels have compassion levels for their family members. However, this compassion does not extend to strangers and other dogs.

What is the Average Lifespan of a Boerboel Dog? 

Generally, how long a dog can live depends on how well taken care of it is. Factors like the type and quality of diet, health condition, and general maintenance level play critical roles in determining the lifespan of a dog. When properly taken care of and with the right diet plus adequate exercise, dogs can live well past their average lifespans. A dog that’s properly maintained and well taken care of can live a long, healthy, and happy life.

Boerboel dogs are considered a generally healthy breed with few health issues. These dogs are expected to live for between 9-13 years on average.

However, you can prolong your Boerboel’s life by feeding it a proper diet, regular medical checkups, sufficient exercise, and a peaceful living environment.

What is the Average Maintenance Cost for Boerboel Dog? 

The Boerboel dog is not a high-maintenance breed. In terms of grooming, this breed will not cost you much. The dog has a short, thick double coat with moderate shedding levels. It thus requires weekly brushing to keep the loose hairs at bay and occasional baths, usually, not more than twice every two months. You can make use of a soft-bristled brush or a grooming mitt to help in taking out any loose hairs and to keep the natural oils well distributed for a healthy and glossy-looking coat.

While Boerboels are not known to be super droolers, keeping a clean towel will come in handy in wiping out their drool when it happens and maintaining good hygiene. You should also regularly check this dog’s ears for debris and wax build-up and clean them as needed. Regular vet checks are also essential, as Boerboels can be prone to ear and eye infections. You can also trim their nails whenever necessary.

It is essential to keep a dental routine for your dog to avoid dental issues. You can brush them daily. Generally, you should introduce grooming habits to your dog as a puppy so that they get accustomed to it as they get older.

Other costs associated with Boerboels include food costs, vet and medical costs, and acquisition costs. Owning a Boerboel puppy will cost you $1200-$3200 depending on the breeder. The costs will be higher in the first year, after which they will go down. Generally, Boerboels have low maintenance costs, as they require no special care.

What is the best diet for Boerboel Dog? 

The right kind of diet is essential for the optimal health and proper functioning of dogs, Boerboels included. Being gigantic dogs, Boerboels need a lot of food to maintain their muscular structure. However, like any other large breed dog, Boerboels can be prone to obesity if overfed. This can harm their skeleton and result in many health problems. Because Boerboels grow so quickly, their skeletons are typically weaker. It’s thus crucial to keep an eye on the quantity of food fed to these dogs in order to help them maintain a healthy weight.

The ideal diet for Boerboels should consist of high-quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. Look out for dog food specially formulated for large-breed dogs, as this will ensure that they are getting all the nutrients they need to remain strong and healthy. The food should be high in protein to support its growth, energy requirements, and muscle tone. It should also be easily digestible and loaded with all essential vitamins and other nutrients.

Boerboels should be fed on a diet that’s appropriate for their size, age, and activity level. Veterinarians recommend feeding high-quality kibble, as this is nutritionally balanced and easy to feed.

The amount of food a dog should eat depends on its size, age, health condition, and weight. A dog’s nutritional needs vary depending on its life stage. A puppy’s nutritional needs are thus different from those of adult dogs. Generally, an adult Boerboel dog requires about 2000 calories daily. 

The following is a Boerboel dog feeding guide:

  • Adult dogs: Should eat between 5-7 cups of food formulated for large breed adult dogs daily, spread into two meals.
  • Boerboel puppies: Puppies grow fast and thus need adequate food to support their growth. They should be fed on puppy food specifically formulated for large breed puppies, split into 3-4 meals daily.
  • Senior dogs: Aging dogs should be given a formulation for large breed senior dogs that will adequately cater to their needs.

What are the common health problems of Boerboel Dog?

Although Boerboels are generally very healthy dogs, they can be prone to some health issues due to their genetic disposition. These include:

Bloating: This is a potentially fatal illness that occurs when a dog’s stomach expands with gas and then flips over on itself. This condition is also called Gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV) and results in shock, severe electrolyte abnormalities, circulatory collapse, or even death. The condition is prevalent in deep-chested dog breeds like the Boerboel. Early treatment which includes vigorous intravenous fluid therapy and surgical correction is necessary to save the affected dog.

Hip dysplasia: This is a common condition among large breed dogs, including Boerboels. This degenerative condition occurs when the thighbone doesn’t fit properly into the hip joint. This causes it to deteriorate with time, resulting in debilitating pain, dysfunction, or incapacitation. It also causes muscular atrophy, immobility, and lameness. The affected dog may require surgery if its movement is affected, or it’s in extreme pain.

Symptoms of hip dysplasia include:

  • Occasional or chronic lameness
  • Popping sounds from the joints
  • Difficulty walking or getting up
  • Unusual sitting posture

Elbow dysplasia: Like hip dysplasia, this condition occurs due to the malformation of the elbow joint, causing it to rub and resulting in a lot of pain. The symptoms of elbow dysplasia include swollen elbows or stiffness and limping. It also requires surgery for treatment.

Eyelid Issues: Boerboels are prone to eyelid issues like ectropion which is the rolling out or sagging of the eyelid exposing the eye to infections, and entropion which is the condition in which is the rolling in of the eyelid causing irritation or injuring the eyeball.

Cervical Spondylopathy: This is also known as the Wobbler syndrome and is marked by the narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck, which causes pressure on the spinal cord and its nerve roots. This affects the dog’s strides, resulting in unusual movement.

What are the Nutritional Needs of a Boerboel Dog?

Boerboels, just like any other dog breed, require a well-balanced diet that includes all the essential elements for healthy growth and functioning. The following nutrients should be included in the diet for Boerboels:

  • Proteins: These are necessary for supplying essential amino acids that Boerboels need to build and maintain healthy cells, muscles, and tissues. Proteins are also important sources of energy that fuel the activity of dogs.
  • Carbohydrates: Despite these not being a nutritional requirement in dog food, carbohydrates make important sources of energy for dogs, Boerboels included. This is necessary for fueling their activities and keeping them moving. Carbs can also aid in protein absorption, helping Boerboels to build lean muscles.
  • Fats: Animal fats provide excellent sources of additional energy for Boerboels. They also help to insulate their bodies and keep dogs warm. Fats are also essential for aiding metabolism in dogs. However, high amounts of fat can lead to pancreatitis, obesity, or heart issues in dogs. They should thus be given in moderation.
  • Minerals: The diet for Boerboels should include a good balance of essential minerals like potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and calcium. Others like selenium, zinc, and copper are required in trace amounts. These minerals play important bodily functions including promoting metabolism, nerve functions, and proper organ functioning, among others.
  • Micronutrients: Boerboels need micronutrients such as glucosamine and chondroitin to promote their joint health. Taurine can also help boost their heart health.
  • DHA: These  Omega-3 fatty acids components can help promote eye and cognitive health in Boerboel dogs. It can help slow down cognitive decline in aging Boerboels. This component can also help enhance coat and skin health, as well as aid in the treatment of chronic diseases. 

Where to Buy or Adopt Boerboel Dogs? 

Boerboels make wonderful family companions. Although they are not extremely rare, it may still be challenging to get one outside their native land in South Africa may still be challenging. However, there are still good breeders in various countries. Boerboel puppies are extremely costly to buy, ranging between $1200-$3200. This high price ensures that these dogs get genuine hands only. 

While looking to buy or adopt a Boerboel dog, it’s important to exercise caution and go for breeders with good reputations and avoid puppy mills. This will ensure that you acquire a dog that’s free from any potential health issues in the future.

Once you’ve identified a breeder, you should make a point of meeting the breeder in person. This will give you a chance to assess the living conditions and health status of the puppies. Check out the cleanliness of the environment where the puppies are raised. While at it, request to meet both parents of the puppy to have a feel of their temperament. This will give you insights into how the puppy will turn out as an adult dog. You can also ask as many questions as you would like to help you understand your dog and its needs some more.

Any good dog breeder will have all the documentation necessary plus proof of successful healthy puppies with him.

Before purchasing a Boerboel dog, ensure you are fully aware of the dog’s needs in terms of energy, training, and space. This large dog requires a lot of space to run around, hence it may not be suitable if you live in an apartment.

If you are unable to find a reputable breeder or adoption facility in your location, you can reach out to registered dog kennels like ACK and UCK for guidance.

What are the Rescue Clubs for Boerboel Dogs? 

Rescue clubs are organizations that are dedicated to helping dogs find homes. They identify abandoned, neglected, mistreated, stray, unwanted, and lost dogs and help them find new homes.

Adopting from rescue clubs is very rewarding as you will be satisfied knowing you are offering a needy dog a home. Besides, it’s cheaper as they offer great discounts for adopting a dog. The best way to get these rescue clubs is by reaching out to registered kennel clubs like United Kennel Club (UKC), Austrian Kennel Club (AKC), and the Federation Cynologique Internationale( FCI) to direct you to rescue centers.

You can also check out the following:

  • American Boerboel Club

How to Name a Boerboel Dog? 

Although naming a Boerboel may not seem to be a difficult task, it’s not as straightforward as many new or prospective dog owners may imagine. Besides the name, the way and manner in which it’s pronounced are crucial in provoking a response from the dog. It is thus crucial to be keen while selecting a name for your beloved Boel.

The tone and syllables form necessary building blocks in naming a Boerboel dog. Names may have specific inspirations and meanings to humans, but to dogs, only the tone matters. The following are some important guidelines that you can follow in naming your dog;

  • Two-syllable names that are neither too short to be confused with single-syllable command words such as come, sit or stay, nor too long to be perplexing work best for Boerboels.
  • Dogs, Boerboels included, respond better to names that are called in a sing-songy manner
  • Generally, dogs are likely to be more responsive to high-pitched, happy sounds when calling them but prefer soothing, quiet sounds when they are anxious or nervous.
  • Go for a name that sounds different in everyday situations than when calling your dog
  • You can try calling out several names that you like and observe your Boerboel’s reaction to see if he likes it. Be creative by using a different tone for each syllable.
  • Try several names and if a name is too long or too short, add or delete bits until you come up with a perfect one-of-a-kind sound that your dog will recognize from far. Don’t rush anything, just be patient.

Being a South African dog breed, the most popular names for Boerboel dogs are indigenous to the country. These include:

  • Nuru -light
  • Zuberi-powerful
  • Simba – lion
  • Chike- the power of God
  • Aasir-Captivating personality
  • Lesedi-woman of light
  • Daisha- who is alive
  • Zalika- well-born child

What are the Similar Dog Breeds for Boerboel Dog? 

The following dogs are similar to Boerboel in various aspects. This may be in terms of energy level, temperament, intelligence, physical traits, or playfulness.

  1. Cane Corso: These dogs are similar to Boerboels in their appearances. They both have short, dense coats that come in fawn, brown, red, or brindle colors. They are both muscular with square-shaped heads and deep, broad muzzles, thick necks, and well-proportioned bodies. Both dogs were bred as working dogs. They are also extremely affectionate and protective of their families. learn more about Cane Corso Social life, care & diet information.
  2. Bullmastiffs: Just like Boerboels, the bullmastiffs were created by mixing mastiff-type dogs and bull-type dog breeds. Both breeds make excellent family companions and wonderful protectors of property as well as home. They are also both very large dogs with dominating tendencies, hence not suitable for novice owners. These breeds can get aggressive if not properly socialized. The Bullmastiff and the Boerboel dogs are both highly energetic, playful, and intelligent, thus requiring lots of exercise, mental stimulation, and large yards to run about.
  3. Rottweilers: Rottweilers are similar to Boerboel dogs, as both are working dogs. They are intelligent and playful, making them great with children. Both dogs are not suited for apartment living but can tolerate hot weather. Both Rottweiler and Boerboel dogs require a firm trainer who is capable of establishing himself as the alpha.

Michael Brady

Michael is an animal-lover who specializes in marketing. He started running Dog Food Care with his mother, Sarah, after leaving his office job. Michael gained enough flexibility in his schedule to be able to adopt a dog of his own and welcomed Emmie the dachshund into his home in 2020.