If you are a fan of large dogs who can walk with you, hold their pride, and scare away any predator—then the Boerboel is the one for you! These dogs are built strong and definitely are not the ones to step back. 

But to adopt this dog breed, there is a lot more you need to know about their personality and training needs than their appearance! So, without further ado, let’s learn everything you need to learn about the Boerboel dog breed. 


Height22-27 inches
Weight150-200 lbs
Life span9-11 years
Exercise needs1-2 hours daily
TemperamentAffectionate, Territorial, Loyal
GroomingLow maintenance
OriginSouth Africa

Origin of the Boerboel

Boerboels, also known as the South African Mastiffs (as you can tell by their name, duh!), originated in South Africa. This magnificent dog breed first emerged as working dogs when the European settlers introduced them to the world in the 17th century. When we say working dogs, we mean that the Boerboel dog breed was used to herd and protect as they were the farm guardians of South Africa. Not only did these dogs guard against predators and intruders, but they also proved to be trustworthy four-legged companions for humans. In fact, you would be surprised to know that their name also derives from their work, that is, “boer” (farmer) and “boel” (dog). Isn’t that really cool?!

Moreover, if we look back at their ancestors, we can see that interbreeding of European and Indigenous African dogs developed the Mastiffs we call Boerboel today. To name a few, Bullmastiffs, Bulldogs, and various Molossers were bred with African dogs. Sooner or later, major dog clubs and organizations identified these dogs, leading to their popularity among the masses. 

Appearance of the Boerboel

The Boerboel dog breed has a distinctive appearance that you can catch on even from a mile away! But what is it that makes them so unique? Let’s have a look at that:

1. Size and body

This mastiff is a large dog breed that has a muscular build and an imposing presence. To be precise and give you a better idea of their size, Boerboels are 24-27 inches tall and weigh about 150-200 pounds!! It is like their appearance is enough to speak of their solid and robust demeanor that can even intimidate the fighter dogs. 

2. Coat

This dog breed is not a furry dog as they have a soft, dense, and sleek coat that almost feels like their skin. Such a coat works very well with dogs who have sharp features to showcase, just like in the case of Boerboels. Moreover, their coat comes in several colors and shades like fawn, brindle, brown, and red.

3. Other features

Now that you know about their overall build and coat, there is one key feature that takes their appearance to another level. If you haven’t guessed yet, we are talking about the black mask on their face. Surprisingly, this black mask that covers their nose to chin is not their common feature. 

Personality and Temperament

Now that you know about their history and appearance, it is time to learn about their personality traits: 

1. Deep affection

The Boerboel dog breed may look like they are all big boys, but in reality, they are softies from the inside who crave deep human companionship. These dogs can build emotional connections with their owners and family members, especially if you give them proper socialization training. 

2. Gentle with kids

Even though we do not recommend leaving kids alone with large dogs like Boerboel, if you monitor them, then these dogs are great around kids! They are gentle and often show motherly affection along with a lot of possessiveness. 

3. Territorial

As you must have guessed by their overall demeanor and history, the Boerboel dog breed is very territorial, and protective. They pride themselves on their skills to scare away any threat or anyone who tries to surpass their boundaries. However, this behavior can be challenging to manage for newbie owners, so you better not be ashamed of getting your dog a professional trainer.

4. Drooling and barking

These dogs have moderate drooling and barking levels, which is quite good for a dog that is often associated with aggressive behavior. You may find Boerboels drooling on a sunny day as they enjoy the hot summer days, and well, they are pretty vocal so they will try to warn you of any threat. 

If we have to introduce Boerboels in a liner, we can say that these dogs are both street-smart and book-smart!
a Boerboel on a walk in the woods

Grooming Needs of the Boerboel

The Boerboel dog breed is a low-maintenance breed that may require a lot of strength to be held in one place, but not much to be done to make them look good (PS: good looks are in their genes!). So here are the grooming needs of Boerboels that you should follow: 

1. Brushing

As these mountain dogs have short and soft fur, barely any brushing is required. However, as these dogs are not hypoallergenic, you should brush them weekly and remove loose furs with the help of a grooming mitt or soft bristle brush.

2. Bathing

Next up is bathing! The Boerboel dog breed needs monthly bathing sessions where you should only use dog supplies (dog-friendly ones only!) like shampoo, soap, and conditioner. 

3. Cleaning

Lastly, you better not forget to keep an eye on your dog’s hygiene. This includes cleaning morning eye boogers, removing ear wax build, and removing debris. Also, it would be best to keep an eye on fleas and ticks.

Exercise and Training Needs

The Boerboel dog breed requires 1-2 hours of training every day to stay fit and look their best! However, for Boerboel puppies, you can start with 15 minutes more or less to help them adapt. So to help you with that, here are the training needs of Boerboels:

1. Early socialization

We always say that one of the most important training needs of a dog is socialization! If a dog does not know how to deal with social settings, then they will face a lot of behavioral problems. Especially with a dog like Boerboel, who is not so great at communicating, socialization will help them reduce shyness and aggression and make them more well-mannered with other humans. 

2. Consistent leadership

The Boerboel dog breed requires proper and consistent leadership so they can gain trust to follow the rules and regulations. As an owner, it will be your responsibility to create a harmonious relationship between you and your dog, as being inconsistent with routine will make your dog lose trust in you. 

3. Physical and mental stimulation

Guess what happens when the combination of intelligent, creative, and super-active dogs come together? Well, it demands rigorous physical and mental stimulation. It means that you should organize interactive games so your dog does not dwell in boredom, which will also help your dog’s overall well-being. Not only this, but you can start with long walking sessions with your dog. 

Final Thoughts

Our final thoughts on whether or not Boerboel is an excellent breed to adopt is neither a yes nor a no. Especially if you are a first-time dog owner, it can be hard to deal with a dog who possesses qualities like being independent and also dominant. This is why the Boerboel needs to be trained and taught how to manage their temperament and unnecessary assertion, for which it is highly recommended that you hire a professional trainer. Keeping all this in mind, this mountain dog is definitely not one for newbie dog owners. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Boerboel a good family dog?

Yes! The Boerboel dog breed is known for its ability to form deep connections with human companions. If these dogs are raised well with proper socialization training, Boerboels can be among the bestest family dogs. They can adapt well and often show good behavior.

Is a Boerboel stronger than a pit bull?

Yes and No. Boerboels can be stronger than pit bulls if they are fed well and trained enough to gain strength. There can be no straight comparison between the two different breeds as it depends on the individual’s durability.

Can a Boerboel fight a lion?

If a Boerboel is trained with certain skills and has strength, they may or may not take down a lion. However, putting your dog in such situations is not advisable, especially in front of a large predator. Lions are wild and have high hunting instincts, which can put Boerboels at risk.

Are Boerboels aggressive?

Well, yes! Boerboels can be overprotective or assertive towards their owners, but you should not confuse it with their anger. However, because of their wild instincts, these dogs can bark with anger at strangers or try to warn you. But with proper socialization training, you can teach them to balance their temperament.

Can a Boerboel turn on its owner?

If the Boerboel dog breed is not trained properly, given affection, or not socialized, then they can show behavioral issues, including turning on their owners. It can be due to the lack of communication and trust, which is why raising them in a loving and consistent environment is very important.

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