The South African Mastiff

By Claudia Bensimoun


The 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.


 Facial Features

Image Credits: Wiki

Woofs & Wags







Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: