Boerboel Dog Breed Information – All You Need to Know

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Intimidating in appearance, the astute Boerboel was developed in South Africa as a guardian for the homestead. Translated to English, the name means “farmer’s dog”, which correctly defines its use by Dutch and German settlers who began migrating to Africa in the 1600s. 

Used to protect the home and farm from everything from human invaders to baboons to lions, the Boerboel, a descendant of the early Mastiff, is not only strong, but agile and quick. They are not known to back down when provoked, but prefer to maintain watchfulness rather than attack without need.

Although bred as a guardian, the Boerboel is not simply bred to pounce on anything that moves.  The dogs are quite discerning, not only determining who is friend and who is foe, but taking cues from their loved ones.

Boerboel Appearance

Boerboel Dog Breed Information All You Need To KnowAt first glance, the Boerboel is very similar to the Mastiff breeds seen today, particularly in the appearance in the head.  Males generally range 24-27 inches in height, females slightly smaller  at 22-25 inches. The dogs may weigh 150-200 pounds. Their blocky head is home to powerful jaws and slightly drooping jowls.  The dog’s coat is short, and they come in many colors, including tawny, cream, brown, red, and brindle. They may have a black mask, piebald markings, or white spots.

Historically, these dogs’ tails were docked for their safety. For instance, a long tail could be easily grabbed by a vicious baboon.  Modern owners may choose to dock or not depending on personal preference and the dog’s role as pet or protector.

The skin of the Boerboel is dark all over, including on the roof of the mouth. This was originally for protection against the African sun.

Temperament & Personality

While the Boerboel is a steadfast protector unwilling to back down from a threat, they are also smart and sensitive.  They can quickly discern between friend and foe and are adept at reading cues, both verbal and nonverbal, from their masters. These dogs are still used as guardians today, but they have taken on many other roles as well.  For example, they have been used as therapy dogs for children. They are excellent family dogs who quickly become devoted to their loved ones. Still, this breed is not necessarily recommended for the novice dog owner.

Their intense devotion to their family often means that these dogs want to be in their constant company.  This can lead to separation anxiety if the dog is left alone for long periods.

If not trained appropriately from a young age, these dogs may develop a dominant personality as an adult. With proper introduction and training, Boerboels can live in harmony with cats and other pets.  As protectors, they are likely to pursue or “defend” unfamiliar species.

Caring for the Boerboel

Boerboels are not for those who have never owned a dog before. They are a unique breed that require unique considerations for care that one should keep in mind before taking the plunge into Boerboel ownership.


Any high quality dog food, canned, dry, or a combination; is fitting for the Boerboel, providing it is veterinarian approved and meets the caloric needs of the dog’s activity level. An individual dog’s weight should always be monitored to determine if their food intake is appropriate. Treats should be given in moderation. Fresh water should be available to all dogs 24/7.


Daily exercise is a must for the Boerboel. Long, on leash walks on a secure collar or harness are one option, or play in a fenced in area. Due to their protective nature, they should not be off-leash.  Dog parks or play with unfamiliar dogs are generally not recommended, since Boerboels do not respond kindly to being challenged by strange animals.

In addition to physical exercise each day, Boerboels must have mental stimulation and regular interaction with their humans. They truly thrive on being part of the family  Puzzle or interactive toys can aid in mental activity. These dogs also enjoy competition, such as weight pulling.  Surprising agile for their size, Boerboels have been successful in agility trials as well.


A long term focus on training is a requirement of Boerboel ownership.  Training must begin early and continue throughout the dog’s life.  Socialization must begin early and with caution, due to the pet’s unique bond with its family.  Boerboel puppies are known to be very easy going, and often give their owners the impression they will remain that way.  However, their guardian instincts will come into play later in life, making consistent response to obedience commands and other training attributes a must.


Typically, Boerboels are healthy and low maintenance, but as with many large breed dogs, they do carry the risk for some bone and joint issues.  It is recommended that Boerboels be tested for hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. Responsible breeders typically screen for these health issues in advance of breeding, and it is important to ask about when acquiring a new puppy.

In addition, eye problems called ectropion and entropion occasionally occur in Boerboels. In these conditions, the eyelid turns either inward or outward, which can cause problems with irritation.  A veterinary opthamologist can easily diagnose and treat these situations.

Boerboels should be brushed regularly to maintain a healthy coat and skin.  Nails should be trimmed as needed to prevent pain or any problems with walking and running.

Similar Breeds

Several other breeds can trace their ancestry back to the Mastiff-type dogs with which the Boerboel shares its heritage.  Here is a sampling:

  • Bullmastiff: A historical cross between Bulldog-type and Mastiff-type breeds, the Bullmastiff was originally used to give poachers in England a taste of their own medicine. At over a hundred pounds, they are not as large as the Mastiff itself, but still create a menacing appearance.
  • Cane Corso: An Italian breed that has an impressive history of battle and home defense, the Cane Corso had become all but extinct by the mid-20th century. Fortunately, a group of passionate Italian Cane Corso lovers banded together to bring the breed back, and its popularity has surged since, currently coming in at #32 on the AKC’s most popular breeds list.
  • Perro de Presa Canario: Translated as “The Canary Dog of Prey”, the Perro de Presa Canario has a history as interesting as its name. Though its roots are not certain, the breed was used for exterminating wild dogs, herding cattle, guarding farms, and unfortunately, dog fighting. The banning of dog fighting in the 1940s and introduction of new breeds such as the Dobermen led to its near-extinction, with regeneration efforts beginning in earnest in the early 80’s.
  • Dogue de Bordeaux: The oldest of the French dog breeds, the Dogue de Bordeaux has the largest head, proportionately, of any AKC dog breed. Very powerful, these guardian dogs are short, stocky, and muscular.
  • Neapolitan Mastiff: A truly unique breed in appearance, the Neapolitan Mastiff, also known as the Mastino, is heavily wrinkled and droops profusely, particularly around the face. Its startling appearance is sure to make an intruder think twice, which may have contributed to its use as a guardian since ancient times.


Best Dog Food For Boerboels

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Chicken And Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Considering the health issues that Boerboels might face, it is important for you to provide them with the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food, which will benefit their health. It helps in the overall development of the dog. This formula has natural ingredients that are rich in antioxidants.

  • They have high-quality protein and help in developing the muscles of your Boerboel.
  • This also has glucosamine that improves the joint health of your Boerboel.
  • The presence of antioxidants, chelated minerals, and vitamins ensure that your Boerboel has a good immune system.

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Best Puppy Food For Boerboels

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Puppy Farm Raised Chicken, Brown Rice & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

The best puppy food for Boerboels is the Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Puppy Farm Raised Chicken, Brown Rice & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food, 30-lb bag because these have been specially designed in a way to suit the needs of your Boerboel. There is omega 3 present in it that helps in the growth and development of your Boerboel. These also have natural sources of calcium that ensure strong teeth for your Boerboel.

  • The main ingredient of this dog food is farm-raised chicken, and it is therefore quite nutritious.
  • This is manufactured in the United States.
  • It contains non-GMO ingredients and does not contain corn, soy protein, or wheat.

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Best Dog Crate For Boerboels

Frisco Indoor & Outdoor 3 Door Collapsible Soft Sided Dog Crate

The best dog crate for Boerboels is the Frisco Indoor & Outdoor 3-Door Collapsible Soft-Sided Dog Crate because you can set this up real quick. It can be folded quite easily and provides you with compact storage. It has a three zippered door that makes your Boerboels easily accessible.

  • This is quite light and is available in a variety of different sizes.
  • It is also constructed with a steel frame and has a water-resistant base that makes your Boerboel comfortable and secure as well.
  • It has an easy handle, and you can move it from one place to another quite easily.
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Best Dog Beds For Boerboels

Frisco Tufted Square Orthopedic Pillow Cat & Dog Bed

The best bed for Boerboels is the Frisco Pillow Cat & Dog Bed because your Boerboel is able to enjoy a very comfortable nap on it. Your Boerboel is surely to love it and will find it perfect for an all-day doze. This has a step on design that is perfect for your young Boerboel or for your senior Boerboel.

  • This product has a cover that can be removed quite easily and therefore washing it is quite convenient.
  • It has a soft ultra-plush fabric that will cover the sleeping area.
  • This is available in variable sizes, and therefore your Boerboel is sure to fit in it.
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Best Dog Harness For Boerboels

Best Pet Supplies Voyager Black Trim Mesh Dog Harness

The best harness for your dog is the Best Pet Supplies Voyager Black Trim Mesh Dog Harness because this is extremely comfortable for your Boerboel. This is made of a soft and breathable mesh. It also has less weight that allows the moisture to escape quite easily, thus making it comfortable for your Boerboel. 

  • Made with an easy step-in style and this is suitable for your Boerboel even if it does not like putting harnesses over their heads.
  • The entire fit of the harness can also be adjusted quite easily.
  • There are very strong and durable 2 D rings present in it that make it easier for you to attach the leash.

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Best Dog Collar For Boerboels

Niteize Nitehowl Led Safety Necklace Dog Collar

The best dog collar for Boerboels is the Nite Ize NiteHowl LED Safety Necklace Dog Collar because it has LED lights that provide maximum visibility to your Boerboel during the night. You can also switch from glow mode to flash mode by simply pressing a few buttons. This is also a water-resistant collar.

  • This is made of polymer tubing that is flexible and water-resistant as well.
  • This is available in 5 different colors.
  • You can also cut it easily from 12-27 inches in order to keep your Boerboel safe.

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Best Dog Muzzle For Boerboels

Baskerville Ultra Dog Muzzle

The best dog muzzle for Boerboels is the Baskerville Ultra Dog Muzzle because it is extremely soft and provides a comfortable fit for your Boerboel. You can also feed your Boerboel while it is wearing the muzzle. This is perfect for use in behavior modification programs.

  • It has an ergonomically designed safety strapping along with a two points attachment.
  • The head and the neck-straps can also be adjusted easily.
  • This also has a neoprene padded line that provides additional comfort to your Boerboel.

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Best Dog Toy For Boerboels

Zippypaws Woodland Friends Burrow, Interactive Squeaky Hide And Seek Plush Dog Toy

The best dog toy for Boerboels is the ZippyPaws Burrow Squeaky Hide and Seek Plush Dog Toy, Hedgehog Den, Puzzle Set because this is quite a fun and interactive puzzle. This will help you to keep your Boerboel entertained throughout the day. This can be washed and cleaned quite easily.

  • This pack has a total of three squeaky and cute hedgehog toys.
  • Your Boerboel will be able to enjoy stimulating interactive play with this toy.
  • It can be used by different sizes of dogs.

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Best Dog Brush For Boerboels

Kong Dog Zoomgroom Multi Use Brush

The best dog brush for Boerboels is KONG Dog ZoomGroom Multi-Use Brush because it massages your dog and keeps it engaged. This is perfect for bath uses and brushing and provides a shiny and smooth finish to your Boerboel. It is suitable for use on all the different types of coats.

  • This is manufactured in the United States and is made with some of the globally sourced materials.
  • You can use this brush to groom your Boerboel regularly.
  • It increases the production of natural oils and provides you with healthy skin and coat.

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Best Dog Shampoo For Boerboels

Buddy Wash Original Lavender & Mint Dog Shampoo & Conditioner

The best dog shampoo for Boerboels is the Buddy Wash Original Lavender & Mint Dog Shampoo & Conditioner because this is soap-free. This has a blended conditioner in it, and this builds a rich lather and thereby keeps your skin silky soft, and shiny. It is made with natural conditioners that include rosemary, green tea, chamomile, and aloe vera.

  • This is a coconut-based shampoo and does not contain alcohol in it.
  • It is made with mint and lavender and ensures that the bath time of your Boerboel is soothing.
  • Safe for use, even on puppies.

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