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The docked tail seen in the photo here is not a required element of the Boerboel as indicated by the exceptional examples of the breed in Europe where such amputations are illegal.  Nevertheless, with or without his/her tail, the Boerboel is clearly an impressive South African dog whose descent from Mastiffs is quite apparent.  With a somewhat more athletic build and greater speed than the Mastiffs we are familiar with in the USA, their success as protection dogs is obvious.  While not used as protectors of the diamond mines, they are descended from those dogs.  If this appearance is one you adore and you are a typical pet home (off to work during the day, and limited experience in training for example, you've not trained a dog to any title) then the Boerboel is NOT for you.  Instead look to the mellower Bullmastiff or Mastiff assuming your resources are suitable for such giant breeds.
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General Information
Group(s): WorkingGuardian Height: over 23 inches
Weight: 80 pounds and up Longevity: usually under 10 years
Colors: solid cream to all shades of brown and brindle Coat type: smooth
Recognized Registries: SABT (South African Boerboel Registry)
Overall Appearance: While not as heavy and substantive as the Mastiff or Bullmastiff, the South African Boerboel is certainly massive enough to be impressive if not intimidating. In fact, with the additional speed and agility gained by a somewhat lighter (though not light) build, it would be an easy argument that as a protection dog, the Boerboel would be a more intimidating adversary to face. Due to its close ties to its roots and original function, it is very ill-suited as a "pet" for the "average" family. This dog, left to raise himself, while family members are at school or work and without proper guidance through knowledgable socialization and training is likely a serious problem waiting to happen once it's adult size is achieved.
Personaility - Behavior - Training
Energy Level: moderate
General Nature: can range from easy going to intense, reasonably intelligent
  with Children: varies with proper training, socialization and behavior of the children
  with other pets: variable but generally tolerant
  with dogs: variable
Socialization requirements: rather high not due to any inherent temperament characteristics but rather the problems inherent in having such a large powerful dog that is not properly socialized
Ideal home characteristics: Respect the personality and attitude of this powerful dog descended from the Ancient Dogs of War
Temperament Notes: easy going but not as much as the Mastiff and Bullmastiff
Training requirement: moderate to high, again, this breed is closer to its working roots and requires mental stimulation
Trainer notes: This is not a dog to get into a battle of wills with... the dog will win.  Force, rough discipline or other efforts to intimidate this dog will fail dismally.  For the trainer that earns this dog's respect and loyalty through fair treatment and training techniques that encourage attempts and reward progress, this will be an exceptional training partner.
Background Information
Year range of first recognition: since the 1600s but dates back to Assyrian war dogs of 600 BC.
Country of Origin: South Africa
Original Function: protection
History: Developed from Mastiffs brought to South Africa bred with native dogs.
Adoption Information
Deviations from Standard: too large or too small
Health Notes: hip dysplasia, eye problems, heart issues, thyroid problems, bloat
Health Testing: CERF, OFA, Thyroid panel, BLOAT is a serious problem for this body type without any testing available to indicate risk
Questions to ask Breeder:  - The Breeder Questions as listed here provided with explanations and answers you will want to be looking for!
  • How long have you had Boerboels?
  • Why do you have Boerboels (show, performance, hunting, etc.)?
  • What do you consider to be the most important single characteristic of a Boerboel?
  • What health issues have you seen in the breed?
  • What criteria do you set for your breeding stock?
  • Do you plan to keep a puppy from this litter?
  • How often do you have puppies?
  • Do you have a written contract and puppy guarantee?
  • At what age do you sent your pups to their homes?
  • How would you describe the ideal Boerboel?
  • How would you describe the ideal Boerboel home?
  • Are your puppies whelped in your home?
  • What advice would you offer someone in raising and training a Boerboel?
  • Web Sites: Rescue

    Other Resources
    Breed standard: Boerboel Club of North America Standard

    Breeder Ethics: Boerboel Club of North America Code of Ethics


    A few comments in the common literature of the Boerboel deserves extra scrutiny.  First, it is very difficult to reconcile the obvious descent of the Boerboel from Mastiffs with statements like "the breed enjoys exceptional health due to natural selection".  If natural selection had a significant part in the development of the Boerboel it would look far more like a pariah dog (think Basenji) than a Mastiff.  With that said, it is also unfortunate that the rescue organizations are not supported more obviously, generously and enthusiastically by the breed clubs sworn to protect the best interests of the breed.  After all, ultimately isn't what the parent club or breeder does for the least of the Boerboels the true indication of their concern for the best interest of Boerboels as a whole?

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