Skip to content

Boerboel Information

Boerboel History and Characteristics


According to the World Boerboel Breeder Association, the multicultural history of South Africa is what created the Boerboel.

Various settlers from all around the world brought their dogs from their home countries to South Africa. Due to the rough living conditions, the demand for capable dogs was very high. There were no breeding programs or fixing dogs back then, which caused the different dog breeds, to include the native dogs, to crossbreed. After cross breeding with the various dogs, only the strongest survived the harsh environment and extreme heat and cold (not to mention the big predators). Life in South Africa was very taxing and dangerous to both humans and dogs. For this purpose, Boerboels (Farmers dogs) were required to engage in various functions, such as guard family and property, hunt, and protect life stock. Because Boerboels have such genetic diversity, they are now the healthiest and most agile of all the mastiffs.
Actual breeding of Boerboels did not begin until the 1980s. The actual breeding and recording of Boerboels only began in the 1980s in South Africa. A group of farmers who had bred boerboel type dogs on their farms and kept breeding records, decided that the breed needed preserving. They undertook a tour of the country and selected dogs that met the criteria as Boerboels to form the foundation stock. These Boerboels were appraised against the ideal standard for the boerboel, as decided by the group. In 1983 the breed was formalized by the founding members of the South African Boerboel Breeders Association (SABT/SABBA). These dogs from the farms plus other dogs from around the country were registered as the foundation of the breed. The first official breed standard was written in 1987 (World Boerboel Breeder Association).


World Boerboel Breeder Association. History of the Boerboel – World Boerboel Breeders Association

Boerboel Characteristics and Traits

Boerboels are known for their big and blocky heads. They have very muscular bodies and even stronger bite compared to other mastiffs. Boerboels weigh approximately 150–200 pounds and standing as tall as 27 inches. They are very confident animals and are very agile considering their size. Boerboels are also very loving, protective and loyal to their families.

Here are some typical Traits:

  • Very Protective – Boerboels are natural protectors. Their entire job revolves around guarding/protecting you and your family. This is their main job and will not be trained out of them.
  • Stubborn – They are incredibly stubborn. Much like the Rhodesian Ridgebacks, they will do whatever they want. Strong leadership and positive reinforcement works very well for them.
  • High Energy – Unlike most mastiffs, Boerboels need a lot of exercise. They have a lot of energy and can become destructive if bored. They are much faster and agile than you expect them to be!
  • Highly Intelligent – Much like the Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Boerboels are highly intelligent. They are able to figure out complex problems. Boerboels are very easily trained if you know how to properly motivate them.
  • Very Affectionate – Unlike their aloof cousins (Rhodesian Ridgebacks), Boerboels are very sensitive and affectionate. They love to snuggle and getting tons of love.
  • They Drool! – Boerboels are mastiffs. Expect a lot of drooling.
  • Easy to Groom – Their short hairs make grooming very easy.
  • Loyal to a Fault – They will stick by your side through thick or thin.
  • Incredibly Strong – Although they look very big compared to Rhodesian Ridgebacks, they are extremely muscular. They are powerful dogs!

Helpful Links:

Boerboel History: Behind the South African Farm Dog (

History of the Boerboel – World Boerboel Breeders Association

North America Boerboel Breeders Association (NABBA) (

Boerboel | South African Boerboel Breeders Society (