• boerboel
    AfricaImages/E+ via Getty Images
  • boerboel
    EstrellaBuena/iStock/Getty Images Plus
  • boerboel
    AfricaImages/E+ via Getty Images
  • boerboel
    AlexanderKondakov/iStock/Getty Images Plus
  • boerboel
    alex_skp/iStock/Getty Images Plus
  • boerboel
  • boerboel
  • boerboel
  • boerboel
  • boerboel
Connect with a Vet

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

9 to 11 years


Extra Large

Maintenance Level:


Shed Level:




Coat Color:

BrownRedCreamBrindleTawnyReddish Brown
Blue Ribbon

Best For

An interesting fact about the Boerboel? This large breed used to guard the diamond mines in South Africa. So, if you're looking for an ultra-loyal and highly intelligent pup, look no further than the Boerboel. But don't be fooled; they can be super affectionate, too!

Boerboel Traits

Boerboel Temperament

Because the Boerboel was bred to be a guard dog, these giant pups are fiercely loyal to their loved ones. Their loyalty to their family means they will put themselves in harm’s way to keep you safe.

They’re also often described as being a great playmate for kids; they’ll let children they know well crawl all over them. Even with their playful nature, these are powerful dogs, so all interactions with kids need to be supervised. That goes double when neighborhood kids are in the mix. If your dog misinterprets a friend’s actions as a threat instead of play, they will protect your child. So, not only is it important to train and socialize your dog early, but it’s also important to teach kids how to interact with dogs.

Boerboels are on guard duty 24/7. Even when playing with you, they’ve got one eye looking for trouble. They are wary with strangers and will not let someone they don’t know into your home. You’ll always need to make proper introductions between new guests and your pup when meeting for the first time. (Emily Post would be so proud.) But once your dog knows you consider them a friend, they’ll consider them one, too.

This mastiff-type dog does best in a home where they’re your one and only, but may do OK with other dogs or cats if raised with them from puppyhood. As with all interactions, proper socialization, starting when they’re a puppy, is important to get them used to meeting new people, dogs and situations.

Boerboels are strong dogs with a high level of intelligence, and they need a confident and calm pup parent to show them the ropes. The strength and size of the Boerboel is often intimidating to people looking for their first pet, so these dogs are best suited to someone who’s had a dog before.

How to Care for a Boerboel

The Boerboel is a short-haired pup, but they’re not entirely low maintenance. While their grooming needs are the bare minimum, these strong dogs will need a lot of time spent in training and exercising—so get ready to spend oodles of time building a deep bond with your pup.

Boerboel Health

Boerboels live 9-11 years and, like all breeds, are prone to a few health issues. Understanding these health conditions can help your pup live the longest life possible. 

  • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is the condition where the hip joint is malformed and rubs, causing the dog pain. Symptoms include limping or “bunny hopping,” decreased activity and difficulty getting up. Treatment ranges from weight management to physical therapy to surgery, depending on the severity. 
  • Elbow Dysplasia: Like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is caused when the elbow joint is malformed and rubs, causing pain. Symptoms include limping or stiffness and swollen elbows. Surgery is most often recommended. 
  • Eyelid Issues: There are two common eyelid concerns of the breed: ectropion (eyelid turning outward) and entropion (eyelid turning inward). Boerboels should be monitored by your veterinarian and see an ophthalmologist if noted. Treatment includes specialized ointments and eye drops or, in many cases, corrective surgery. 
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM): Typically seen in large or giant breed dogs, DCM is a genetic heart condition where the heart becomes enlarged causing the heart muscle to thin and weaken. Affected pets often need to visit a veterinary cardiologist for an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart). Treatment is medications. 

Boerboel History

The Boerboel’s history and origin begins in South Africa, when Jan van Riebeeck, the founder of Cape Town, first brought a dog to the Cape in 1652. As more Dutch, German and Huguenot settlers (Boers) arrived in South Africa, they brought large guard dogs for protection and big-game hunting.

In the early 20th century, a dog crossed between a Mastiff and Bulldog resulted in a Boer Hunting Dog or Boer Dog. Over time, Boer Dogs were bred with other bulldog and South African mastiff types, possibly including the Bullmastiff, Rhodesian Ridgeback, English Bulldog and the Khoikohoi or Khoisan dogs, resulting in the Boerboel dog we know today.

The Boerboel breed’s instincts led them to be excellent guard dogs, fending off wild animals and protecting diamond mines and farms from would-be thieves. According to legend, the dogs even fought lions—but these dogs aren’t prone to fight, as they typically hold down their game when hunting.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed in 2014 and joined the Working group in 2015. (The Working group consists of dogs born to do a job, like guarding or search-and-rescue.) While not the most popular pup—they currently rank No. 123 out of 200—they are fervently adored by their families and fans.

Ready to bring a Boerboel into your life? You can find a list of reputable breeders on the AKC’s website. What’s the average Boerboel puppy price? Expect to spend $1,500-$2,000 for a pup; that should include health and temperament screenings and may include pedigree papers. If you’re interested in adopting a Boerboel, contact the American Boerboel Club.


How do you pronounce Boerboel?

Boerboel is pronounced BOHR-buhl. It’s a Danish/Afrikaans word that means “farmer’s dog”—which is easier to say than to type!

Do Boerboels drool?

Yes, Boerboels do drool, but not as much as mastiff-type dogs. Still, it’s a good idea to keep a towel handy to keep their face and your furniture clean.

How long do Boerboels live?

Boerboels have a lifespan of 9-11 years. With the proper diet, exercise and regular vet visits, you can help your dog live a long and happy life.

What are the most common Boerboel dog mixes?

While the American Boerboel Club and American Kennel Club frown on mixes, the most common mixes are:

Note: These are not purebred dogs but mixed breeds.


Top Takeaways

The Boerboel dog breed is a born guard dog who absolutely loves their family. They are super easy to groom, but with their energy levels, strength, size and weight, Boerboels need training and exercise that starts while they’re a puppy and continues throughout their lives. They are great playmates for kids in the home, but introductions (and supervision) is important with new people—adults and kids. Boerboels can be an amazing fur buddy for the right pet parent who’s able to give this dog the care and leadership they need.

Expert input provided by Amanda Viljoen, Boerboel Education Coordinator for the American Boerboel Club and long time breeder at Cabaret Boerboels; Krissia Chanto, vet tech and co-owner of Rock Paw Pet Care; and pet parent Karen Barela.

Breed characteristic ratings provided by Dr. Sarah J. Wooten, DVM, CVJ, a veterinarian at Sheep Draw Veterinary Hospital in Greeley, Colorado; dog trainer and behavior consultant Irith Bloom, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA, CDBC, owner of The Sophisticated Dog, LLC, in Los Angeles; and certified animal behavior consultant Amy Shojai, CABC, in Sherman, Texas.

The health content was medically reviewed by Chewy vets.

Search for Adoptable Boerboels Near You

Top Boerboel Names

These are the top Boerboel names as chosen by Chewy's pet parents!

Female Names

  • Bella
  • Nala
  • Athena
  • Luna
  • Rosie
  • Lola
  • Nandi
  • Harley
  • Xena
  • Zena

Male Names

  • Zeus
  • Tank
  • Diesel
  • Odin
  • Enzo
  • Thor
  • Titan
  • Ruger
  • Axel
  • Midas