An enormous frame belies a gentle soul: the Boerboel is a calm family dog and a watchful protector of the home. Let’s dive into what makes the breed unique, and whether it makes sense for you to own one. We’ve got your questions covered, and a few bullet points to end off with.

Where does the Boerboel come from?

The word “Boerboel” means “farmer’s dog”. Boerboels were bred by Dutch settlers in South Africa who had homesteads and farms that needed protecting. Boerboels have European blood and are one of the largest mastiffs in the world.

It’s not just about size, however. Boerboels are also incredibly strong, with jaws that can fight off a lion, and agile bodies that move rapidly across the ground. Lions? Yes – you read correctly.

No one knows for sure how the Boerboel was bred, but it seems to be a mix of a few different things, including Bloodhounds, Bulldogs, Foxhounds, Pointers and Mastiffs. 

Are Boerboels good family dogs?

Despite the Boerboel’s reputation as a forceful protector, this breed actually makes for a wonderful family pet. They’re not a breed that likes to pick a fight, and though they’ll square up to an intruder, they’re not aggressive per se.

Another good thing about the Boerboel is that it’s a very quiet breed. These dogs don’t bark a lot, so if you’re noise intolerant, or worried about the neighbors getting upset, you don’t have to worry.

Finally, Boerboels are very clean and don’t shed a lot of fur, so they won’t be too messy around the family home!

Would it be right for me?

Boerboels are good natured, but they need socialization and training early on, so they’re not recommended for first-time owners.

These can also be bossy dogs, and they’re not going to listen to an owner who leans on the wrong techniques. Coercion is going to fail, and they’re too strong to be bullied, so it’s important you can give them structure and allow them to enjoy a routine.

How big do Boerboels get?

A fully-sized male will reach 27 inches in height and weight 200 pounds – as much as a 6’0 adult. Females are smaller, but not by much, reaching about 25 inches and weighing slightly less than their male counterparts.

What else should I know?

  • Boerboels have a mixed reputation and are banned in some countries. Denmark, for instance, outlawed them lest they were bred for fighting purposes. But in the right hands, Boerboels are great additions to the home, and you shouldn’t let this reputation influence your decision in any way.
  • The Boerboel’s popularity in America has also waned, dropping some 50 spots on the AKC’s list of most popular dogs.
  • Boerboels are well-known to develop joint problems later in life; this might be because they grow too heavy, and their frame can’t take the weight. Supplements like chondroitin and glucosamine can help.
  • Boerboels get along surprisingly well with cats, though they can be prickly around other dogs. Consider this before making a purchasing decision.