Back to all breeds
Characteristics, History, and Health


The Boerboel is a large, muscular breed of dog from South Africa that has a rich history and distinctive personality traits. The breed's origins can be traced back to the mid-1600s. They were bred for guarding homesteads during colonial times, with their ancestors likely including a mix of native African breeds and European dogs brought by Dutch, French, and British settlers. The Boerboel's name itself means farmer's dog in Dutch/Afrikaans, reflecting their historical roles as protectors of people and properties. In South Africa, the Boerboel guarded the homestead from lions or baboons. Experts think breeds like the Bullenbijter and native African dogs were bred to create the Boerboel.

Main Info
South Africa
Alternate Names
South African Boerboel, South African Mastiff
Life Expectancy
9-11 years
Average Male Height
24-27 inches
Average Female Height
22-25 inches
Average Male Weight
150-200 pounds
Average Female Weight
150-200 pounds
Coat Length
Coat Type
Coat Colors
Brown, Brindle, Cream, Tawny, Reddish Brown, Red
Coat Pattern
White Markings, Piebald, Irish Marked, Black Mask

Genetic Predispositions and Health

The Blue Picardy Spaniel is a generally healthy breed, but can suffer from hip dysplasia and eye disorders such as ectropion. They can be prone to ear infections and obesity. Genetic testing is recommended, including for the following additional conditions: hyperuricosoria, degenerative myelopathy, and progressive rod-cone degeneration.

Personality and Behavior

Boerboels are known for their loyalty, confidence, and protective nature. They are intelligent and eager to please, making them relatively straightforward to train, but they also require a firm and consistent hand due to their size and strength. With their families, they are calm and affectionate. Despite their friendly nature towards family members, Boerboels can be wary of strangers and other animals. This, coupled with their size and protective instincts, makes early socialization and training crucial.

These dogs require plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. They are not the best choice for novice dog owners, nor are they suited for apartment living due to their large size and high energy levels. They are better suited to a home with a large yard where they can roam freely and to experienced owners who can manage the training and handling they require.

Fun Facts

They sometimes are referred to as "Velcro" dogs because they tend to stick by their owners side and are not prone to wandering off.

The Boerboel has a docked tail. They were said to have a docked tails to prevent baboons from being able to hold onto them when encountered in their native South Africa.