Written by: Jamie
Updated: March 28, 2020

Learn all about the amazing Boerboel in today’s dog breed guide. We discuss temperament, health, personality, grooming, exercise, and more.

boerboel on a leash

Boerboel are loyal, loving, and an all-round great family pet that needs lots of time outside with you to be the happiest dog they can be.

Height: females tend to be between 22 and 25 inches, while males are between 24 and 28 inches
Weight: between 110 and 200 pounds
Lifespan: 10 – 12 years
Pedigree Breed: No, they are not currently registered

Positives and Negatives of the Breed

When you look for a new dog, it is important to understand all that there is to know about them.

The following Boerboel information will help you to decide if this dog is the best choice for you and your family.


  • This is a loyal and affectionate breed that will enjoy being part of your family and develop a natural instinct to protect you.
  • They do not suffer from many known hereditary conditions and are generally regarded as healthy dogs.
  • When it comes to grooming, these dogs don’t require a lot of input. This means a low maintenance pet for those who don’t want to spend hours a day grooming their dog.
  • Their coats are low shedding, meaning that people who suffer from allergies will usually be fine with sending time with these dogs.


  • Training is vitally important with this breed if you want the dog to be a part of your human family. If training is left too late or not effective, then the dog can become very dominant and not respectful of boundaries.
  • They are very gentle and protective of children and love being part of a family. However, their size can mean that they are not the best choice for a family with toddlers or small children who can get scared or knocked over by accident.
  • This breed requires a lot of exercise and mental stimulation throughout the day, and due to their size, if they get bored, you may find some very destructive behavior on your hands.
  • Before bringing a Boerboel dog into your home, it is essential to ensure your fencing around your garden is strong and secure. If they find any weakness, they will easily get through and get themselves into a lot of mischief!


This large, loyal, and energetic breed makes for a fantastic pet in the right setting and environment.

Originally bred as a working dog in fairly harsh climates, you will find that this type of Mastiff will need to have access to outdoor space and lots of interaction.

The right owner for this pet will have the time to dedicate at least an hour of their time every day to go on an energetic walk, and they should also spend more time playing with the dog and providing mental stimulation.

This will make for a happy dog who will be loyal and affectionate, providing a great guard dog service at it loves to protect its human family.

When it comes to maintenance, this pet doesn’t require a lot of input. It’s lo shedding hair means it is suitable for allergy sufferers to be around and it doesn’t tend to need grooming more than once a week.

It is important to keep an eye on its eyes and there are a low amount of health conditions that should be looked out for. However, in general, this dog is regarded as being healthy even into old age.

Recommended: If you are looking to get a new companion, then the Dutch Herder will make a fantastic pet. Just make sure you have the time and space for them to exercise!


The Boerboel Mastiff has an interesting history as they were bred in South Africa by Dutch settlers in the 1600s.

Their name comes from the Afrikaans/Dutch words ‘Boer,’ which translates as ‘farmer’ and ‘boel,’ which translates as ‘dog’. This gives an indication of their original use as working dogs on homesteads and farms.

They made great guard dogs and would often be used to hunt wildlife such as hyenas, leopards, and baboons.

Bulldogs and Mastiffs were introduced and often crossbred with the Boerboel. During the 1800s, crossbreeding was common, and people disregarded breed purity for a long time.

However, since the 1980s, breed enthusiasts set about ensuring there was a purebred Boerboel dog again, and they have grown in popularity not just in South Africa but across the world.

boerboel 1


If you want a dog that comes with a fantastic personality, then you are onto a winner with this one.

The Boerboel temperament is calm and affectionate and will remain loyal to the family pack in every situation.

What are they like with strangers?

When it comes to strangers, your dog will often respond with shyness and even wariness, alerting your to their discomfort so that you can reassure them.

If you take the time to build up new relationships and have worked to socialize your pet from a young age, then you can be certain that they will overcome their shyness in time and build new, successful relationships with people.

Are they good around other dogs?

As long as the dog is socialized appropriately from a young age, this breed will happily get on well with other dogs.

They will be fine to meet other dogs when out and about and will also be happy living in a household with other dogs and other types of animals.

If not socialized well from a young age, the dog may feel the need to exert its dominance and exhibit more aggressive behavior towards other dogs that it meets.

Can they be trusted around children?

The Boerboel temperament means that this breed is fantastic to be around children. They are well known for being loyal and affectionate towards their human family, and they are natural protectors of the children within the family.

boerboel walking

There is one issue when it comes to the Boerboel Mastiff and children, and that is the size of the dog. They are certainly not aggressive towards children and actually enjoy playing with children and looking after them.

However, for households with toddlers or small children, it may be better to wait a few years until they have grown up a bit.

The size of the dog means that small children could get knocked over easily, and this could scare them. The dog may also become overprotective of small children which can be an issue when people visit as the dog tries to protect the child from others.


Boerboel dogs are generally regarded as a healthy breed of dog that has few known hereditary conditions. This is good news for anyone looking for a sturdy, working dog that won’t cost much in insurance or vets bills.

However, there are a number of conditions that can develop in this breed and should be looked out for. Hip or elbow dysplasia, heart disease, issues with eyelids, and vaginal hyperplasia are all possible, although not common.

Recommended: Learn all about the wonderful Victorian Bulldog. Are they well-tempered? Are they easy to look after? We answer these questions and a whole lot more!


It isn’t surprising that a dog of this size and build needs a fair amount of exercise and mental stimulation to make sure they remain happy, healthy dogs.

As a minimum, this means they should be able to enjoy a 60-minute walk every day. They should also be mentally stimulated throughout the day and have access to outdoor space where they can roam around and let off steam.

If they don’t have this, they can get bored, and they really do not like to be bored. If they do get bored, they will start to look for things to do, and due their size, this can lead to some pretty large scale destruction.


boerboel 2

They are an intelligent breed that has the potential to be trained quite easily. They are responsive, eager to please, and quick to learn new things. However, it is very important that these dogs are trained from a young age.

Due to their size, as they get older, the ability to train them reduces and so they should be socialized and trained as early as possible to ensure they will make an obedient and successful member of the family.

It can be a good idea to bring in an expert dog trainer to ensure the South African Mastiff is trained effectively, understand boundaries, and respect who is in charge.

They are naturally a very powerful dog that can be dominating if training is left too late or not carried out effectively.

Next: When it comes to finding the right dog for you, then it’s important to consider all aspects of their personality and their needs. Check out our pros and cons list on owning Eurasiers.


Grooming is an area where the South African Boerboel is low maintenance. To keep their coat looking good, they will only need to be groomed weekly, but they will generally enjoy this time that they get to spend with their owner.

Their nails are likely to grow fairly quickly, and so will need checking and regularly trimming to ensure they do not experience cracked or split nails.

Owners should also check their dog’s ears for any buildup of wax as if this goes undetected, it can lead to an ear infection which can be painful for the dog and difficult to clear up.

Next Article: Learn about the Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog here. We cover their history, personality, health problems, grooming and more.

Do you own a Boerboel or know somebody that does? We’d love to hear your views on this breed of dog. Let us know in the comments section down below!

About the Author

Hi, I'm Jamie! I've always been around dogs and now writing about them is an absolute joy.
Read more about my story here.
Reach me at or connect with me on LinkedIn below.

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