The ancestors of the Boerboel dog breed are said to have been brought to South Africa by the Dutch Boers, when the Dutch expedition led by Jan Van Riebeeck, landed in southern Africa, where Cape Town was to be built. It is said that it was he who brought with him from the mother country a bullenbjitter, a very strong and brave mastiff, nowadays disappeared, which, crossing with other local molossi has been the ancestor of the present boerboel. With other settlers came other important dogs, so the breed was crossed with breeds such as mastiffs, bull terriers, Great Danes, bull mastiffs. To these, however, were added autochthonous dogs that were better adapted to the torrid African climate, unlike the European breeds.
These dogs were put to protect the settlers’ farms and later to guard the diamond mines in South Africa. They are also called the lions of Africa because they are said to be the only animals that can make a lion run away. Its name boerboel is derived from two words: boer meaning condadin and boel meaning dog. So literally translated it is called farmer’s dog.
This dog is not recognised by the major international associations, and in South Africa a club is trying to get this dog recognised by promoting it worldwide. Besides South Africa we can also find this breed in Belgium, Holland and Northern Europe, but they are not very common. In Denmark they are banned, because they are considered dangerous.
Character of the Boerboel dog breed
The Boerboel is the most protective mastiff breed known. If bred as a guard dog, the Boerboel takes its role very seriously. In the presence of a secure guide, it turns into a watchdog eager to learn, loyal to its family, of a cheerful, stable and calm disposition. He is protective and loyal towards his family, is kind to children and accepts the animals that are part of his pack.
Due to its size and territoriality, it is not a dog for everyone. It must be trained and socialised extensively from puppyhood so that it does not become aggressive.
As far as training is concerned, this dog has a great deal of self-confidence and can even make independent decisions in dangerous situations. Fortunately, it is a very intelligent dog, so once it has realised that it will not be able to ‘do its own thing’, it will carry out its commands without too much difficulty or resistance.
The Boerboel à is a calm and unflappable dog. It has the typical character of primitive dogs, not very exuberant, on the contrary, very calm and quiet but always alert. It can also adapt to living in a flat, due to its calm character, but it needs to go out a few times a day to run and relieve itself in the open air. Because of its propensity to guard, it would be ideal to have a garden to watch over, where it can also be involved in family activities, as it does not like to be alone.
Appearance of the Boerboel dog breed
The Boerboel is one of the most massive and imposing mastiffs of all. Both males and females can reach 70 centimetres in height at the withers and a weight of 95 kilograms, females are much less muscular but still remain large in size, compared to other breeds, with little difference in weight compared to males.
The body has a massive and solid structure, the chest is wide and deep, with well developed pectoral muscles. Its paws are firmly anchored to the ground and very muscular. The tail, not long and high attached, is strong and wide at the root but then tapers, without exaggerating. It may be darker than the body.
The head is square, very big, wide, with a marked but not prominent stop, ending with a black and voluminous truffle. The jaws are muscular and strong, the skin is taut all over the body, except on the neck where it forms folds. The eyes are large and brown, well spaced out but not prominent. The ears are in the shape of an inverted V and well adherent to the head.
The coat is short and thick, glossy and soft to the touch. The undercoat is very sparse. The colour of the coat varies from fawn to brown, amber, black or tigerish, but may have white spots. The typical characteristic of this raza is the black mask on the muzzle. When moving, the Boerboel has a regular and loose gait, expressing calmness and power.
Care and health of the Boerboel dog breed
Boerboels are generally known for their good health. However, these dogs may suffer from elbow and hip dysplasia, vaginal hyperplasia, ectropion and entropion. It has a life expectancy of up to 14 years. It should not be over-stimulated in very hot weather, on the other hand, it tolerates the weather well but appreciates the comfort of a home life.
The loss of hair is moderate and, being short, it is sufficient to brush it a couple of times a week.
As far as feeding is concerned, it is good to feed it twice a day to avoid it eating everything in one go. He does not tend to put on weight as long as he has his daily dose of outings and runs.