Whilst the forebears of the modern Boerboel remain a relative mystery, its country of origin is well known, having descended from the North-Eastern Free State, Northern Natal and Transvaal regions of South Africa where it was traditionally utilised as a guard dog about the farmstead. Many believe that the Boerboel was brought into existence after the Anglo-Boer War of 1902, when large Mastiff-type dogs were crossed with the Bullmastiff and the English Long-Legged Bulldog, arriving in South Africa along with the European settlers. This theory is substantiated by the introduction of Bullmastiffs to the De Beers company diamond mine in 1928 to guard the premises; the breed then went on to breed with Boerboels and native African dogs in the region.
Unbeknownst to most, the name 'Boerboel' translates to 'farmer's dog' in Dutch, which is exactly what the early Boerboel was - a versatile, working dog. Boasting a powerful, muscular build, long limbs, a broad skull and short muzzle, the Boerboel has a striking resemblance to its supposed forebears. The Boerboel's coat is typically short and smooth, commonly coloured fawn, red or brown, usually with brindle or piebald markings. A black mask is commonly observed around the eyes. Denmark restricted and then banned the breed in 2010, mistakenly believing the Boerboel had originally been bred for the purpose of dog fighting.
Retaining its protective instincts, the Boerboel is a vigilant and territorial breed, responding fearlessly to safeguard its family if potential danger is perceived, whilst otherwise remaining calm, collected and charming. Highly compatible and devoted to children, the Boerboel is fun-loving, relaxed and affectionate, exhibiting a desirable temperament that has retained its popularity throughout its existence. The ideal breed choice for the active family or dedicated sole owner. A healthy Boerboel will weigh roughly 70-90 kg, with a life expectancy of 10 years, although it is not uncommon for the breed to outlive this expectancy.
Selectively bred, the Boerboel is typically healthy and resilient; like most breeds, however, certain ailments are well documented in the Boerboel, including hip and elbow dysplasia and optical disorders. Not susceptible to any serious genetic diseases, the Boerboel is a relatively low maintenance dog in terms of supporting optimum health, and the only additional complaint identified in the breed is juvenile epilepsy, which can be managed with medication.