Boerboels – Brains vs Brawn

Boerboel Brain vs BrawnAs a keen lover of boerboels, I have to admit that, in general, they do look a little dozy and their sedentary manner does nothing to dispel the perception that they are muscle heads with very little grey matter. This is another common misconception I am pleased to disprove. Boerboels are incredibly intelligent dogs! With a sixth sense for emotion, a boerboel can sniff out undesirable characteristics and traits in humans. If your boerboel is not partial to someone – listen to him! Guaranteed, there will be something amiss. Boerboels learn quickly and respond well to training, provided positive methods are used. Furthermore, training, once done, is entrenched. Provided you consistently apply training principles, you will not have to keep up with refresher courses like some other breeds. You can teach a boerboel to do anything you wish – sit, stay, lie down, roll over, play fetch, walk on a lead. Boerboels are also pretty easy to housebreak compared to other breeds. One of the best mental and physical sports for a boerboel is weight pulling – either casually in the garden or more competitively – your boerboel will love it and it is one of the best ways to exercise your dog. The boerboel is consistently ranked in the top 10 strongest dog breeds in the world. However, they not only possess physical strength, but they have exceptional strength of character too. Traits like self-assuredness, confidence, fearlessness and intuition characterize this breed. They are very responsive to their family and have an uncanny ability to sense threats. In the face of danger, the boerboel will assume his place next to his master and wait for instruction.

Not only are they loaded with intelligence, but they are nothing short of physical masterpieces. Bred as working farm dogs, hunters and protectors from the best mastiff breeding stock, they have physical prowess, strength and agility. These dogs are courageous and brave in the face of danger with the physical ability to back it up. The boerboel has very well defined muscles covering his large frame and despite the enormous size, moves with graceful ease. These athletic dogs move purposefully and powerfully. Watching a boerboel run at full speed is a truly impressive and majestic sight. The size, strength and stealth of the boerboel breed means they are prized worldwide as hunters of big game. Not only are they incredibly skilled trackers with the ability to take out ferocious animals much bigger than themselves, but they are strong enough to keep the prey under control until the hunter arrives. Some would argue that the boerboel is actually the king of the jungle since in Africa they were commonly used to hunt lions – absolutely fearless dogs!

Boerboels are a mighty breed and can be man stopping beasts, but their gentle sensitive nature has meant that in recent years they have been employed and trained as therapy dogs for mentally handicapped children. The boerboel is disciplined, obedient and never aggressive unless told to be, which makes it an ideal breed to use for interactions with special needs children. These dogs, with their innate tracking and protective instincts and fierce, imposing stance are also becoming a popular choice for guarding and police work. The use of the boerboel for such important work speaks to the overall reliability and trustworthiness of the breed as well as their stable temperament and trainability.

These powerhouse dogs are among the strongest in the world and without a doubt one of the best guarding breeds. What makes them so sought after is, in addition to their unstoppable strength and power, they are intelligent enough to know when NOT to use their brute force!

History of Boerboel Dogs

History of BoerboelThe history of Boerboel dogs traces back to ancient times. The first available information appears in 640 BC and centers around two Assyrian kings.  The kings hunted wild horses and lions with large dogs. A British museum displays artifacts that support the findings.  Proof that Albanian king gifted Alexander the Great with a large dog has been found.

Alexander the Great wanted the dog to hunt deer, wild boars, and bears.  The dog refused to hunt and was killed so the King of Albania gave Alexander a replacement.  This dog was put before lions and an elephant and the performance was acceptable.

Trading routes were established near the Cape of Good Hope when trading between West and East began developing.  At Africa’ southern tip, a trading post was established by Jan van Riebeck who had been sent by the Dutch Eas Indian Company.  He brought a ‘Bullenbijter’ for protection which was a large mastiff-type dog.

Dogs from strong African bloodlines were crossed with large European dogs. The Boers made the “Great Trek” into South Africa where they took the mixed breed dogs with them.

A tribe from southern Ethiopia, the Cynomones, used dogs they called “Indian Dogs”.  These dogs were strong and able to fight lions.  The dogs were kept for hunting and protection purposes and milk from the females was used for sustenance.  Folklore suggests that the dogs were developed from crossing tigers and dogs. Conserving the breed was not a priority of the Cynomones.  They needed virile, powerful and brave dogs so the best dogs were bred to each other.

The History of Boerboel Dogs Migration

Migrating African tribes took the dogs on their journeys.  From 1652 to around 1900, the Boerboel known today was developed.  Survival of the predators, terrain, and climate was dangerous and challenging so performance of the dogs directed the breeding process.  Very little consideration was made with respect to the heritage or pure breeding.

Boerboel was developed from the most fit mastiff-type dogs South Africa had to offer.  Migrating African tribes, European colonists and settlers, and soldiers brought the dogs to this country.  The Boerboel is now a recognized pure bred dog. In order to be bred true to function and type, a carefully worded breed standard is needed in future years.

Since 1980, the International African Boerboel Breeders Association, the Elite Boerboel Breed of Southern Africa and the South African Boerboel Breeders Association (SABT) have been formed. Selective breeding has resulted in the South African Boerboel known today.

The fine breed has emerged despite a century of indifference and neglect.  A distinctive canine race has stabilized which is a tribute to both dogs and those responsible for the breeding. The history of Boerboel dogs is as rich and significant as the breed itself.

The Boerboel Black Beauty

The black color in the Boerboel breed has been around almost as long as the breed itself. In and around 1929 the black Boerboel was a very known and loved color in the Ottosdal area of South Africa.

Black BoerboelThere have been quite the controversy around the black color in the breed. Some call it an inferior version of the breed. Others are more concerned about what effect the black color itself will have on the gene pool. Other than the genetic reasoning the black Boerboel was excluded from breed standards as it was feared that they will be crossbred with Dobermans, resulting in very vicious, man eating monster dog.

The black Boerboel have been a registered breed color since 2008. Since then they have been accepted as a breed color by many of the dog breeding associations around the world. Regardless the discussion seems to continue and extreme measures are sometimes taken to have the color banned.

Why the need for a Black Boerboel?

  1. The fear of black dogs: It is well know that certain population groups in South Africa have a well known fear for any black dog. These fears are mostly based on ancestral beliefs. The black dog is a necessity on South African farms where the incidence of farm attacks and brutal farm murders are on the rise. I refer to South Africa especially since this is where the breed originated and black was accepted as a breed color.
  2. A popular color: Black is a popular color for dogs, especially dogs kept for guarding purposes. The black dog almost totally turns invisible at night, adding a big surprise element to their guard duties. Blending in with the night serves a very practical purpose. This color choice is evident when you consider other breed used for guarding; the Doberman, German Shepherd and Rottweiler.
  3. The beauty of black: Black dogs seems to be favored for their shiny coats, you rarely ever find a short haired black dog that is not shiny. Combined with the Boerboels impressive physique the black color has a very striking appearance.

Sometimes it happens that black pups are born in standard Boerboel litters. This is a complete normal occurrence. It has since been discovered that; brindle, white, fawn and brown are diluted genes that originated from the black color.

A lot of breeders are now aggressively focusing on keeping the black Boerboel a viable breed. This conscious effort to safe and promote the black Boerboel mainly focuses on breeders aiming solely to breed the black color. We think the black color variant is here to stay.

Proper Care for Boerboel Dogs

Proper Care for Boerboel DogsBoerboel dogs are natural-born guard dogs that are native to South Africa. They are large muscular dogs that are also very intelligent and loyal to their owner. These dogs can grow as high as 28-inches and weigh as much as 200 pounds. They can be a very calm and stable breed, but due to their large size and natural protective instinct, it is vital that these dogs be properly cared for throughout their life. Proper care for Boerboel dogs is necessary to keep your Boerboel happy and healthy.


It is very important that a Boerboel dog look to their owner as their leader from the time it is very young. These dogs are pack animal, and they will look to their owner to be their pack leader. If this does not happen at an early age, the dog could consider itself as the pack leader making it more difficult to train.


The Boerboel breed is a very active breed and requires a lot of exercise throughout the day. It is best if you have a fenced in outdoor space for your dog. While this breed does require a lot of outdoor exercise, you should be leery about letting your dog stay outside alone. Use a strong, high fence if you intend to leave them unsupervised outdoors. This is because they are very protective of the home and property and may not be very friendly to strangers who come onto your property. This breed also enjoys playing fetch outside, and is often willing to play this game for hours.

Social Interaction

Boerboel dogs can be kept either inside or outside the home. It is important, however, that if you choose to keep the dog outside most of the day, you must be sure to spend part of the day playing or caring for your dog. Without regular social interaction, your dog can become depressed, agitated and even destructive. Social interactions are one of the most often overlooked areas when it comes to proper care for Boerboel dogs.

Proper Grooming

This breed has short but dense hair, and is a medium shedder. They are fairly easy to take care of and do not require much grooming. You should brush their coat regularly and give them a bath an average of once per month. They also need to have the nail clipped back regularly.

The Boerboel breed is generally a healthy dog with few illnesses or diseases. In some cases theses breed has been known to have hip or elbow dysplasia later in life. Juvenile epilepsy has just recently become a problem in some of these dogs. Overall, as long as you provide proper care for you dog on a regular basis, the Boerboel dog can be one of the most loyal and protective breeds there is.

Feeding Boerboels

Feeding BoerboelsBoerboels grow quickly and feeding Boerboels the correct amounts and ideal foods can be difficult.  From birth to around nine months, Boerboels gain one to two kilograms each week.  Growing puppies seem to have an insatiable appetite.  That does not warrant feeding them by the shovelful.  Bone and joint problems can be caused by excessive weight that results from overfeeding.

Pups need to be fed the amount that keeps them in trim condition.  The waist should be a little thinner than the ribcage.  Seeing a little rib outline is acceptable but seeing too much rib means the dog is too thin.  At 12 weeks the trim physique should be developed.  That physique needs to be maintained throughout the dog’s life span.  A Boerboel in trim condition is allowed to grow on its own time table.  Joints remain tight.  Bones are straight and strong.  A longer life with fewer problems is likely.

The correct amount of food takes a while to determine.  It is suggested that dogs be fed an amount of food than seems reasonable to the owner.  After a week, the dog should be examined from the top and side on.  If the waist is slightly smaller than the ribcage, the correct amount of food is being fed.  When all the ribs show, the dog is not being fed enough.  The food portion should be increased by 50 percent.  Decrease the portion by 20 percent if the waist is the same or wider than the ribcage.  Continue monitoring every week until the proper portion is established.

Food needs change as the Boerboel matures.  The amount of food will probably increase from two months to a year in age.  A more consistent level will be consumed from ages one to five.  As the dogs get older, they are less active.  The energy need decreases.  Less food is required to keep the dogs in trim condition.

Tips for Feeding Boerboels

Alternating between raw meaty bones and conventional dry dog food is a good diet for Boerboels.  It is important to provide raw bones.  Raw bones are natural food for dogs.  Cooking the bones has two disadvantages.  When cooked bones are chewed, they can splinter and cause damage or death as they pass through the digestive system.  Also, cooking removes nutrients from the meat and bones.  Variety can be put into the diet with the choice of bones.  Suitable bones include raw beef bones like tail or brisket, lamb shanks and flaps, or raw chicken backs, carcasses, or necks.  Dry food should not contain more than 20 percent protein.  Higher protein content has proven to cause puppies’ legs to bow.

Boerboel pups should be fed two times each day until they reach six or seven months.  From that time on, feeding once in the morning or evening is sufficient.  Fasting one day each week allows the dogs’ digestive systems to rest. These simple feeding Boerboels tips should help your puppy leave a healthy, active life.

Misconceptions About Boerboels

Boerboels are not mind readers or psychic.  They are not instinctively aware when an owner feels threatened.  Many dogs can pick up on psychological differences after spending time with an owner.  The best environment for Boerboels and owners is one in which the dog is treated almost like a family member.  They will, then, develop the sense of something being wrong in much the same way that other family members do. There are many misconceptions about Boerboels but with proper training they are very well-behaved and useful dogs.

Misconceptions About BoerboelsBecause of good-naturedness as puppies, many owners do not feel the need to have Boerboels trained.  Allowing any large dog breed to develop and decide who presents a threat, on its own, is irrational and irresponsible.  There have been  many innocent dog bite victims because of owners’ lack or vision.

Many Boerboels do have a natural tendency to protect and guard.  That cannot be a blanket statement.  Known cases of Boerboels abandoning children to pursue and kill an animal, that might become dinner, have been documented.

Boerboels have descended from ancient dogs.  Good dogs were matched with good dogs to derive the species that now exists.  That fact does not guarantee that Boerboels are the healthiest breed in the world.  Proper care and training go into having a healthy dog.  Like so many other large dogs, they are susceptible to bloating and hip dysplasia.

Having a large fenced yard is, of course, ideal for this breed.  It is not a necessity.  Boerboels thrive when they live indoors and are treated like one of the family.  The need for mental stimulation and physical exercise can be provided without having acres of land.

Train Your Dog to Avoid Further Misconceptions About Boerboels

Training for Boerboels is absolutely necessary.  The kind of training these dogs receive is just as important.  Kindness must be blended with training to develop a pet that provides protection of its owners.  Improperly training a Boerboel can result in a dog that displays avoidance behavior.  The dog may not fully bite.  If a decoy relaxes, the dog will not re-grip.  The attack mode is mainly lunging nips and an unwillingness to fully engage in fight mode.  Boerboels need to have their drive challenged on a continuous basis.  Along with socialization and friendly treatment, the dogs need to be taught to counter attack by re-biting a different body part.  Boerboels also need to learn to avoid being hit.  Putting these dogs in a frenzy, will not turn them into close personal protectors.

There is a great deal of hype about Boerboels.  They are not necessarily the strongest, most fearless, healthiest, protective, or dangerous animal that is sometimes reported. Don’t believe all the misconceptions about Boerboels that you may hear.

Boerboel Dogs Make Great Guard Dogs for Families

Boerboel Guard DogsIf you are looking for a great dog to protect both your family and your property, a Boerboel dog may be the best type of dog for you. This dog was bred for the purposes of becoming a great guard dog that is extremely protective of its owner and its owner’s property. In addition, this type of dog does very well with the family and is very good around children, even young children. Below are some of the best features about the Boerboel breed to help you determine if this type of guard dog is right for your family.

Strong and Intelligent

The Boerboel dog is a rather large dog. The female dogs can range from 23 to 25-inches tall and the males dogs can get as tall as 25 to 28-inches high. Both male and female dogs can weigh between 150 and 200 pounds. The mere size of this type of dog can be very intimidating to strangers on your property. To match its strength, these dogs are also very intelligent and are easy to train if done properly from an early age. While the Boerboel dog will intimidate most strangers, they will quickly back down at your command, and will be fine with the stranger once they are introduced.

Great Temperament for the Family

Unlike, some other types of guard dogs, the Boerboel dog has a very calm and stable temperament. They get along well with kids and will easily allow them to ride on their back or tug at them without being bothered. They love attention and will play catch with the family for hours at a time. They are extremely loyal, which makes them very unlikely to turn on their owners or members of the family. These dogs do require a lot of exercise, so they do well with an active family who will allow them to run outside for long periods at a time.

Overall Great Health

There are very little health risks associated with the Boerboel dogs. As long as they are well cared for they will remain healthy for many years to come. The only major complaints about this breed is that in rare cases they form elbow or hip dysplasia later in life, along with possibly vaginal hyperplasia and juvenile epilepsy. Although these cases are not very common, it is important that your dog receive proper care and receives regular checkups.

In general, this breed can be a great guard dog, even for those with younger children. In order to maintain control of your Boerboel dog, it is important that you properly train the dog as early as possible. Once properly trained, this breed will protect your family from predators and intruders. These dogs have been known to fight to the death in order to protect their owners or their owner’s property.

Temperament of Boerboels

Temperament of BoerboelsBoerboels make wonderful pets for the right owners.  Boerboels have keen guard-dog instincts.  They are intelligent, obedient and reliable.  Boerboels make great watch dogs.  Owners find them to be fearless and self-assured. This article gives a good overview on the temperament of Boerboels.

Boerboels want to be affectionate and love to play.  A game of fetch could last forever if a Boeboel had anything to say in the matter.  The strong jaws of Boerboels have popped more than a few balls used in the game.  These dogs don’t care.  Play can continue with the damaged toy.

Toward children they know, Boerboels are quite gentle.  The dogs can be ridden like horses.  Boerboels soak in every ounce of attention given.  They are even friendly with other non-canine animals.  Birds can share food from the feeding bowl.  Boerboel puppies should be kept away from aggressive dog interaction.  This will avoid aggressive or fearful tendencies as the dogs mature.  Boerboels become acutely aware of invasion in their territory by wild animals.

A family’s members, friends, and property will be guarded with the lives of these dogs.  No one will be allowed into an owner’s home in his or her absence, unless the dog is familiar with the visitor.  Visitors need to be introduced to Boeorbels when they arrive.  The dogs will accept and welcome these newcomers.

Is Your Personality Compatible with the Temperament of Boerboels?

The owner of this breed must have a dominant personality.  The dominance should be blended with kindness.  Boerboels need to sense that owners have authority over the dog’s actions.  The dogs should feel  that owners are the leaders of the packs.  Having order in a pack is part of the dog’s natural instincts.  The humans Boerboels live with are part of their packs.  There must be a single leader of the pack.  Rules need to be in place and boundaries clearly set.  Dogs communicate displeasure by growling and eventual biting.  All humans have to hold a higher position in the packs than the dogs.  Decisions are made by humans, not dogs.

When raised and treated properly, Boerboels make wonderful family pets.  They have a unique combination of gentleness and toughness.  The Boerbol has been known to be dangerously aggressive when provoked or threatened.  Owners need to be mindful of situations in which Boerbeols are placed.  Living indoors and being made to feel part of the family is the ideal situation as long as plenty of outdoor exercise is provided.

The success of relationships with Boerboels depends on these concepts.  Only an owner who is confident in his or her ability to handle a Boerboel should own one.