Maybe you’re looking for a little extra protection. Maybe you’re a tough guy who wants a dog just like you. Either way, the Boerboel might be your perfect match. This is the consummate guard dog—in fact, they used to guard the diamond mines in South Africa. But they’re so much more than just a protector. These massive dogs turn into teddy bears around their favorite humans, preferring quality time with you over staking out the backyard on their lonesome.
The Boerboel is best for experienced and active pet parents with a lot of land where the pup can run around. They do well with kids in their family and are best as your only dog. They get deeply attached and dislike being far from you for too long.
The Boerboel is a guard dog and a family dog rolled into one giant pup. These dogs are loyal to their loved ones and are 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.
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.
If the stranger is not welcome (intruder alert!), your Boerboel will be aggressive, and you’ll quite possibly be thankful for their strong bite force. Their loyalty to their family means they will put themselves in harm’s way to keep you safe.
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.
Boerboels live 9 to 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: Boerboels should be monitored by an ophthalmologist for two common concerns of the breed, ectropion (eyelid turning outward) and entropion (eyelid turning inward). Treatment includes specialized ointments and eye drops or surgery.
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 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 197—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 between $1,500 and $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!
Are Boerboels dangerous dogs?
Boerboels aren’t dangerous dogs, unless they’re not properly socialized or trained. These powerful dogs were born to guard their homes and will do so if they feel their family is at risk. Early socialization and a confident pet parent will help this pupper be a well-behaved member of society.
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.
Are Boerboels aggressive?
Boerboels are not aggressive with their family and friends when they’re properly socialized and trained. However, they will be aggressive if they feel their family is in danger. It’s important to make proper introductions with all visitors to your home, including kids.
How long do Boerboels live?
Boerboels have a lifespan of 9 to 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:
- Boerboel-Pitbull mix
- Boerboel-Rottweiler mix
- Boerboel-Cane Corso mix
- Boerboel-Great Dane mix
- Boerboel-Rhodesian Ridgeback mix
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 as well as Krissia Chanto, vet tech and co-owner of Rock Paw Pet Care, and pet parent Karen Barela.
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Top Boerboel Names
These are the top Boerboel names as chosen by Chewy's pet parents!