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Home > Dogs > Dog Breeds > Boerboel Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Care Guide, Traits & More!

Boerboel Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Care Guide, Traits & More!

Boerboel outdoors

The Boerboel is a mastiff breed that had its origins in South Africa in the 17th century. The name “Boer” was given to the Dutch/German settlers in South Africa who brought large dogs to help hunt game and protect their families. After breeding and interbreeding over the years, these large dogs became the Boerboel (translates to “farmer’s dog”), guarding their owner’s territory against the very imposing African wildlife.

Breed Overview


22 – 27 inches


150 – 200 pounds


9 – 11 years


Brindle, brown, cream, red, reddish-brown, tawny

Suitable for:

Active families, experienced dog owners, house with a yard


Calm, protective, confident, intelligent, loyal

Boerboels are large, strong, and muscular dogs with short, thick coats. These dogs come in several colors such as red, cream, brindle, brown, and tawny and can sport white markings and have a black mask. The Boerboel can also be piebald or Irish-marked.

Boerboel Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

divider-dog paw

Boerboel Puppies

The Boerboel requires a fair amount of exercise but is generally a calm and very healthy dog. They are somewhat easy to train thanks to their devotion and intelligence. Boerboels are not the most social dogs, and while they love spending time with their families, they are quite wary of strangers.

boerboel_ Jan Steiner_Pixabay
Image Credit: Jan Steiner, Pixabay

Temperament & Intelligence of the Boerboel

Boerboels are very devoted and protective of their families and territory and need a firm but gentle hand to guide them. They make fantastic watchdogs and guard dogs because of their temperament, and they are quite wary of strangers.

Boerboels are highly intelligent and are exceptionally devoted to their families. So much so that they need to be an essential part of the family in order to flourish. Boerboels are calm, loyal, and confident dogs that might try to run things themselves unless they have an owner who is firm, confident, patient, and, of course, loving.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

The Boerboel makes an excellent family pet but would do best in a home with older children. Their loving and protective nature makes them an integral part of the family, but they shouldn’t be left alone with young children due in part to their large size. Children need to be educated to respect all dogs.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

Boerboels need a lot of early socialization and introductions to family pets while young. They will treat any family pet as a part of the family, particularly when they feel protective. However, it would be better to opt for the opposite sex if you have any other dogs to prevent same-sex aggression. It’s also recommended to avoid dog parks with your Boerboel to avoid any challenges with other dogs.


Things to Know When Owning a Boerboel:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

You should feed your Boerboel a diet that’s appropriate for her size, age, and activity level, and it should be a high-quality food. Keep an eye on how much food and treats you give your dog every day. It’s usually best to follow the guidelines on the back of the food bag when determining the right amount of food you should be giving your dog. And consult with your vet if you’re ever concerned about your Boerboel’s weight or overall health.

Exercise 🐕

While the Boerboel is very calm and easygoing, she requires long walks and playtime every day. Because of their size, dog parks aren’t recommended. A house with a yard that will help them get their required exercise might be necessary. Boerboels should never be taken out without a leash because of their protective nature.

young boerboel
Image Credit: Leoniek van der Vliet, Shutterstock


Training 🎾

Boerboels are relatively easy to train because of their devotion and intelligence, and training should start at a young age. Because Boerboel puppies are docile and passive, don’t take this as a sign that they will grow up into manageable and obedient adults. Training must be consistent well into adulthood. Enroll your Boerboel into obedience classes and ensure you socialize your pup as often as possible.

Grooming ✂️

The Boerboel has a thick and short coat that will need brushing about once a week with a hound glove, a rubber grooming mitt, or a soft bristle brush. This will help keep their skin and coats healthy, and you’ll end up with less dog fur flying about your home. They only need the occasional bath, usually no more than once every 1 to 2 months, with a high-quality dog shampoo.

You should brush your Boerboel’s teeth around 2 to 3 times a week, trim her nails about every 3 to 4 weeks, and clean her ears approximately once a month.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Boerboels are solid, robust dogs and are a very healthy breed overall. A good breeder will check their dogs for any conditions that this breed tends to inherit.

The vet will check your Boerboel’s elbows and hips and will run tests on your dog’s heart, which might include radiographs and echocardiographs. Your vet will give your pup a comprehensive physical exam and will thoroughly check your Boerboel’s eyes.

Male vs Female

The first significant difference between male and female Boerboels is in the physical size. Females tend to stand at 22 to 25 inches and males at 24 to 27 inches, and overall, they can be 150 to 200 pounds.

The next noticeable difference is in what kind of surgery your dog will need. Spaying the female Boerboel is a more complex surgery and is typically more expensive, and requires a longer recovery time as compared to neutering the male. However, if you have your Boerboel spayed or neutered, it will decrease your dog’s more aggressive tendencies, and experts say that it can also help prevent any future serious health conditions.

Lastly, some believe that there are definite personality differences between male and female dogs. It has been said that female dogs can be more affectionate and less territorial than males, but this is a generalization that isn’t always true. A dog’s personality is formed through socialization and training while a puppy and how she has been treated throughout her life.


3 Little-Known Facts About the Boerboel

1. The Boerboel Has Dark Skin

Regardless of the color of the Boerboel’s fur, they have dark skin that is thought to help protect them from the African sun.

2. The Boerboel Guarded Against African Wildlife

The massive size and strength of Boerboels, in addition to their steadfast courage, made them perfect guard dogs against baboons and even leopards.

3. The Boerboel Needs An Experienced Owner

The size, strength, and personality of these dogs will need someone who has experience training and dealing with a dog that is highly territorial and protective.


Final Thoughts

Boerboels are giant, steadfast companions that will not only look after your family but will become an essential part of it.

There are quite a number of Boerboel breeders out there that you can find by just searching online or posting on social media. If there aren’t any breeders close to your location, you need to be prepared to pay a fair amount for airfare. If you’re considering adopting one, there are rescue organizations dedicated to the Boerboel, such as the Giant Paws Boerboel Rescue, or just keep a close eye on any rescue groups around your location.

If you are looking for a new family member to add to your household that will love you unconditionally and protect you without hesitation, the Boerboel might just be the perfect fit.

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Featured Image Credit: Asonia, Shutterstock

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