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Built with a large frame, well chiseled muscles, and possessing a strong sense of loyalty, it is no surprise that the magnificent Boerboel is the national dog of South Africa. Also known as the South African Mastiff, they were originally bred to live with their families on the farm as guardians, they were reared to withstand the harsh terrain and temperatures of South Africa. With a strong bone structure and massive build, the Boerboel strikes an imposing figure. They stand at anywhere from 24-28 inches tall and can weigh up to 220 lbs. depending on their height. There is a slight differences between the sexes, with males being larger and more developed. This breed carries large, blocky heads complete with intelligent eyes and floppy, pendulant ears. They have a short, slightly coarse outer coat and soft, dense undercoats. Their coats range in color from red, brown, brindle, cream, and tawny with different variations of markings. Some are piebald, Irish marked, have a black mask or white markings. On average, these lovable dogs live to be 10-12 years old with proper attention and care.
A short coat with an average amount of shedding makes the Boerboel an easy dog to maintain. Regular brushing with a hound glove or soft bristle brush will help to eliminate loose, dead hair and to avoid fur matting or tangling. An occasional bath will keep them feeling fresh and stop any unpleasant dog odors from lingering in the coat. A quick wipe down with a damp cloth or pet wipe will help keep them clean between baths. Their adorably floppy ears should be given a regular wipe down as well to clear any wax or build up that could turn into a painful infection. If daily activities don’t keep their fast-growing nails at a reasonable length, trim or file them down regularly to prevent nail breakage or splitting. Historically, these dogs have had their tails docked to prevent attackers or even other animals from capturing them by the tail. This practice has no real benefit for today’s Boerboel and is continued for purely aesthetic reasons.
Used to working hard, long days on the farm with their families, the Boerboel are an energetic and loving breed who thrive with experienced owners as well as large homes. They don’t adjust well to apartment living and need space to roam, but don’t usually stray too far from their owners. They also don’t enjoy long lengths of alone time and need to be included in daily family activities. These dogs are fiercely loyal and protective of their family and territory. While the Boerboel get along great with children, supervising playtime is always recommended, especially with very young children who may play too rough or even antagonize the dog. They’ll also usually get along with other animals, especially when raised with them. However, they can display aggression when not properly socialized and trained; obedience training and early socialization is key in raising a happy, well-balanced dog. While they may seem wary of strangers, they’ll quickly warm up to people who’ve been invited inside their family’s home. An intruder who trespasses will not meet such a friendly dog. Greatly devoted to their family, this breed will stop at nothing to defend them.
As long as training begins early on in puppyhood, most dogs will take to training pretty well. Obedience training can be a great bonding experience for both dog and owner and should be treated as such. Consistent, positive training coupled with a set of tasks that keep the Boergoel mentally and physically stimulated will yield the best results. Dogs who are bored will quickly turn to their own devices for entertainment, and a dog the size of a full grown Boerboel can wreak havoc on any home. Socialization should also begin early in order to establish acceptable behavior. It is important for the Boerboel to learn how to successfully interact with other dogs and people to prevent them from developing overly aggressive reactions. Learning that others aren’t always to be feared will greatly benefit them their whole life long.
This breed’s name describes them perfectly; “boer” is the Afrikaans/Dutch term for farmer and “boel” is a slang word for dog. Literally translating into “farmer’s dog,” the Boerboel descends from a cross breeding of dogs imported by Dutch, French, and British settlers with native African dogs. The goal was to create a powerful breed that would protect the family, homestead and be able to survive in the challenging terrain of Africa. One of the newest breeds to join the ranks of the American Kennel Club, the Boerboel was officially recognized by the AKC in 2015. They aren’t commonly utilized as working farm dogs today; this breed makes a great companion to an experienced family who are up to the task.
South African Boerboel, South African Mastiff