By Claudia Bensimoun


Image credit: Wiki

The South African Mastiff – Boerboel 

This breed is popular in South Africa.  The word ” Boer” comes from the Afrikaans word for a “farmer’. The word ‘Boel” is a very old Afrikaans slang word for “dog”. The Boerboel was bred  in South Africa specifically for the protection of farmers and their families on farms in the Eastern Transvaal, the Free State and other parts of South Africa.This breed used to protect farmers and their families from lions and other wildlife.

In the early 1900’s the Englishmen brought Bulldogs and Mastiffs into South Africa and some of these dogs were bred into the Boerboel population. In the early 80’s a serious search started again for the original Boer dog which covered large parts of Southern Africa. Two hundred and fifty “Boer” dogs were found and only seventy – two selected to be registered. Selective breeding started and finally the dog of the old South African pioneers was ready to be registered as a pure breed. These dogs are now registered with the South African Boerboel Association.

South African Mastiff

Big strong breed

Well- balanced dog with good strong muscle development

Swift in movement

Reliable, obedient and intelligent

Strong watch- dog instinct

Self- assured, fearless and perceptive to the needs of the family

Weight: 110-176 lb

Height: 24-28 inches (males)  22-25 (females)

Life Expectancy: 9-11 years

Coloring: With or without a black mask, fawns, blacks, reds, brown, brindle, piebald and Irish markings.

“His pioneer owner required him to be a friend of the family, a worker, and to provide protection. They could not afford to have a disobedient, moody, finicky, sickly dog – they had to be able to rely on him to protect the family and to work.”

Excerpt from the history of the breed from Molosser world’s website.

Health: This breed has good health, nonetheless they may suffer from hip dysplasia, vaginal hyperplasia, ectropion and entropion. Epilepsy affects this breed if they are very stressed out, and is also caused by metabolic changes. Unfortunately, this breed’s life expectancy is only around ten years.

Like any Mastiff, the Boerboel requires plenty of consistent positive training and socialization. They do not do well being left alone and thrive on being part of the family. Boerboel’s also need large areas in which to run and play. They don’t thrive being cooped up in an apartment or small home. This may lead to aggressiveness.

The Boerboel as a breed is very intelligent and needs to be mentally stimulated and exercised vigorously every day. Although this breed is known to be sensitive and good with children, as with any dog breed, it’s advised that all small children be supervised when around the Boerboel.

I grew up with at least 6 Boerboel’s on our farm in Nelspruit, South Africa and have never had a problem with any these wonderful and courageous dogs.

Unfortunately the Boerboel has been banned from the following countries:

France, Iowa, USA, Malaysia, Qatar, Geneva, Switzerland, Mauritius and Bermuda.




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Image Credits: Wiki


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  10 comments for “THE SOUTH AFRICAN MASTIFF! BOERBOEL. Dog Breeds

  1. February 13, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    What an incredible looking dog 😉 Were they bred as guard dogs or are they too small?

  2. March 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    They were bred to be protectors of the farms in South Africa. They protected the homes and livestock. It is their size that makes them superior guard dogs to some of the other mastiff breeds. They are large, but also very balanced, unlike some of the extremely bulky and overdone mastiffs. I have a boerboel that is 120 lbs, and can jump over my 4 ft fence with ease. Very athletic and the best dog I have owned.

  3. Caroline
    June 2, 2012 at 5:11 am

    Great blog abouth the greatest dog.
    We have one, my best friend, the best protector, friend of the family and especially for kids.
    Good learner with a lot of respect, patience and fearless.
    Just treat him right, be the boss from day 1 and you will have an unbelievable dog!!

  4. September 6, 2012 at 2:20 am

    WE always had boerboele as our dogs in South Africa. They are really good pets and also very protective. Lovely description!

  5. November 9, 2012 at 2:27 am

    WOW! Great post!:)

  6. December 10, 2012 at 1:35 am

    Such a gorgeous, wonderful dog if raised right. Perfect for where I live!

  7. December 11, 2012 at 2:26 am

    Gorgeous, amazing dogs! I’ve never heard of this breed, so learning a bit about them was fun.

  8. December 11, 2012 at 5:01 am

    Very attractive dog. Are there any in the US?

  9. February 2, 2013 at 4:40 am


    Thanks much for the like. Whoever that dog is featured on the sides of your blog could be the cutest shepherd I have ever seen.

    With Warm Aloha,

  10. Bill
    April 15, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    I LOVE MY little girl. She is going on 13 and still as active as ever. I am glad the breed is finally recognized. They are incredible! She is the most protection anyone family will ever need

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