The Boerboel is a big, strong and intelligent working dog. It is well balanced with good muscle development and buoyant in movement. The dog should be impressive and imposing. Male dogs appear noticeably masculine and bitches feminine. All parts of the body should be in proportion with each other. The head is the most important feature of the Boerboel, as it represents its total character. It is short, broad, deep, square and muscular with well filled cheeks. The part between the eyes must be well filled. The top of the head is broad and flat, with prominent muscle development. The face should blend symmetrically with the head, and can be with or without a black mask. The stop should be visible, but not prominent. The muzzle is black with large nostrils which are widely spaced. The nasal bone is straight and parallel to the top-line of the head. It is deep, broad and it tapers slightly to the front. The nasal bone should be 8-10 cm long. The loose, fleshy upper lip should cover the lower lip, but should not hang lower than the lower jaw. The jaws (mandibles) are strong, deep and broad, and narrows slightly to the front. The teeth should be white, well developed, correctly spaced, with a complete set of 42 teeth and a scissors bite. The broad, horizontally set eyes are any shade of brown, but darker then the pelt, with firm, well-pigmented eye-lids. The ears should be of medium size, V-shaped and should be in proportion to the head. They are set fairly high and wide against the head. When the dog is alert, the ears should form a straight line with the top of the head. The neck shows a noticeable muscle curve, and is attached high at the shoulder. The strong, muscular neck is of medium length and in proportion to the rest of the dog. The skin of the neck is loose under the throat and becomes taut between the front legs. The body narrows slightly towards the loin. The top line should be straight. The back is straight, broad and in proportion, with prominent back muscles and a short loin. The rump is broad and strong, with good muscle development. The chest is muscular, broad and strong. The straight, short tail is attached high to the body. The front legs should be perfectly vertical. The hind paws are slightly smaller then the front paws. The big, well padded paws are rounded with dark curved toe-nails. The paws should point straight forward. Dew claws should be removed. The skin is thick, loose, well pigmented with moderate wrinkles on the forehead when the dog is alert. The short, dense, sleek coat comes in cream white, pale tawny, reddish brown, brown and all shades of brindle.
The Boerboel is reliable, obedient and intelligent, with strong watch and guard-dog instincts. It is self-assured and fearless. The Boerboel are very playful and affectionate toward their owners. Their favorite pass time would be to play a game of fetch loving every minute they spend with their master. Their jaws are strong and they will most often pop the ball they are playing with. Not to fret, they will just play with the popped ball! They are very gentle and good with children they know. Allow them to ride on their backs like a horse, loving every minute of the attention they are getting. Boerboel are protectors and can be very aggressive to people passing in the street. They will guard their family, friends and property with their life. When the owners are not home they will not allow anyone to enter the home, unless they know them very well. When welcomed visitors arrive they will accept them after being properly introduced. They are however, guard dogs, and will keep close watch over any house guest. Owners have to be very careful when opening the gate or door so that they don’t get out into the street when people are passing by. Boerboel will do okay with other dogs, cats and other non-canine pets, letting birds come down and snatch from their food bowl! This breed requires a dominant owner.
Height: males 25-28 inches (64-70 cm.)
Weight: 154-200 pounds (70 and 90 kg.)
Due to natural selection the Boerboel is a very healthy breed.
The Boerboel is not recommended for apartment life. They should, at least, have a large, fenced in yard to run and play. They Boerboel can live outdoors. This breed should not be left to run on their own for they are very protective and sometimes do not take too well to strangers.
The Boerboel will get a lot exercise if they have a large yard to run and play. However they need to be taken on a long daily walk. Boerboel love to play and would love a good game of ball.
The Boerboel is fairly easily to groom. An occasional brushing and a monthly bath and dip is all they need. This breed is an average shedder.
The development of the Boerboel can rightfully be described as a true South African success story and is today a beacon for those who have made a contribution to improve the breed. The refining of the breed is still on the developing stage. Much has already been written on the descent of the Boerboel but nobody can state with certainty that it is bred from one, two or more breeds of dogs. What is confirmed by investigation is that Jan van Riebeeck brought with him a “bullenbijter” on his arrival to the Cape. This dog was a large strong breed which reminded one of the Mastiff type of dog. Those who followed Van Riebeeck to the Cape, had also brought with them only the largest and strongest dogs, and over a period of decades only the strongest survived in the now and desolated country. With the arrival of the British Settlers in 1820 they brought amongst others the Bulldog and Mastiff type of dog. (In 1938 the real Bull Mastiff was imported to South Africa by De Beers to guard the diamonds mines. It is also known that they imported a champion obtained from the Hottentots, played a role in the development of the Boerboel. The “Boerdogs” (as they are known) were scattered by the Voortrekkers during the Great Trek and they continued to breed with them. According to tradition, after the Anglo Boer War in 1902, these dogs were cross-bred with the English long-legged Bulldog and also the with the Bull Mastiff, in the late and early 1950’s. The history is especially known among the farmers of the North-Eastern Free State, Northern Natal and in parts of Transvaal.