Jump to content


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Other namesSouth African Mastiff[1]
OriginSouth Africa
Foundation stockmastiffs, bulldogs, Boer Dog
55–69 cm (22–27 in)[2]: 87 
  • ideal 66 cm (26 in)
  • minimum 60 cm (24 in)[3][4]
  • ideal 61 cm (24 in)
  • minimum 55 cm (22 in)[3][4]
68–91 kg (150–200 lb)[2]: 87 
Coat short, smooth
Colour any shade of red, brown, yellow (fawn), brindle; also black (SABBS only)
Kennel club standards
Kennel Union of Southern Africa standard
South African Boerboel Breeders' Society standard
Notesnot recognised by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale
Dog (domestic dog)

The Boerboel (pronounced [ˈbuːrbul]) is a South African breed of large dog of mastiff type, used as a family guard dog. It is large, with a short coat, strong bone structure and well-developed muscles.

It is recognised by the Kennel Union of Southern Africa, but not by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale.[4][5]


In South Africa, the Animal Improvement Act (62 of 1998) defines a breed of animal indigenous to or developed in the republic to be a landrace,[6] therefore the Boerboel is regarded as a landrace in the republic.[7] The Act grants powers to a registered "animal breeders society", and the South African Boerboel Breeders' Society (SABBS) is a registered animal breeders society.[8] The SABBS is the only organisation authorised under the Act to officially register Boerboels. As legally registered custodian of the Boerboel dog breed, SABBS is responsible for the standards that govern identification, recording, evaluation and improvement of the breed.[7][9] The Kennel Union of Southern Africa recognises that Boerboels were registered on its books.[9]


The name Boerboel derives from the Afrikaans words boer, meaning farmer, and boel, a shortening of boelhond, meaning bulldog.[10]

The Boerboel descends from an old colonial cross-breed of mastiffs and bulldogs used both as a guard dog on remote farms and estates and for big game hunting, and known as the Boer Dog[11]: 618  or Boer Hunting Dog. An account from 1909 describes this cross-breed as the best dog for hunting leopards and baboons in packs; a leopard with a leg caught in a trap can be killed by a pack of them.[12]: 186  The Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa describes the Boer Mastiff as an excellent fighter; one killed leopards in four single combats over a number of years, but was killed by a fifth.[13]

Breeding of the Boerboel began in the 1950s. A breed association, the Suid-Afrikaanse Boerboel Telersvereniging or South African Boerboel Breeders Association, was established in 1983.[14] A new association, the South African Boerboel Breeders' Society, was formed in 2012 and registered with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in 2014.[14][15]


Black Boerboel

The Boerboel is a large dog, with a strong bone structure and well-developed muscles. The head is large and the muzzle is short.[4][1]

The coat is short and sleek with dense hair coverage. The recognised colours are brindle, fawn, and brown; it may or may not have a black mask. There is one minor divergence between breed standards; the Kennel Union of South Africa does not accept black[4] but SABBS does.[3]

The dogs show courage when threatened;[4] they may display aggression toward other dogs or strangers.[16]


The Boerboel may develop hip[17] or elbow dysplasia, vaginal hyperplasia,[18] ectropion and entropion.[19] Juvenile epilepsy (with attacks brought on by metabolic changes or stress) has been observed.[20] A Boerboel's behaviour and comportment may change over time.[21]



Ownership of the dog is limited by law in many countries: importation to Romania was prohibited in 2002, and ownership restricted to those with a court permit;[22] the breed was banned in Denmark in 2010;[23] in 2011 Russia designated it an "especially dangerous breed", subject to mandatory registration and certification;[24] Ukraine has classified it as a dangerous dog, subject to mandatory microchipping, muzzle and civil liability insurance.[25]

It is also banned or prohibited in Bermuda,[26] France,[27] Mauritius,[28] and Qatar;[29] importation is prohibited in the Faroe Islands,[30] Singapore,[31] Tunisia[32] and the Turks and Caicos islands.[33]


  1. ^ a b Studdert, Virginia P.; Gay, Clive C.; Blood, Douglas C. (2011). Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary. Saunders. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-7020-4743-5.
  2. ^ a b Kim Dennis-Bryan (2020 [2012]). The Complete Dog Breed Book, second edition. London: Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 9780241412732.
  3. ^ a b c "SABBS - Breed Standard". sabbs.org.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Boerboel breed standard, Kennel Union of South Africa, archived from the original on 17 October 2020, retrieved 15 October 2020
  5. ^ FCI breeds nomenclature: B. Fédération Cynologique Internationale. Accessed June 2022.
  6. ^ Animal Improvement Act Government of South Africa 1998
  7. ^ a b "SABBS - Home". sabbs.org. Archived from the original on 6 April 2023. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  9. ^ a b "A brief history of the Boerboel in Southern Africa - KUSA" (PDF).
  10. ^ Afrikaans-English, English-Afrikaans Dictionary Jan Kromhout (2001) Hippocrene Books, pp 24-25
  11. ^ Morris, Desmond (2001). Dogs: the ultimate dictionary of over 1,000 dog breeds. North Pomfret, VT: Trafalgar Square Publishing. pp. 618–619. ISBN 1570762198.
  12. ^ A South African (February 1909). "The Boer Hunting Dog". Agricultural Journal of the Cape of Good Hope. 34 (2): 186–188. hdl:10520/AJA0000018_1086.
  13. ^ Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa, Cape Town. South Africa, 1971. Volume 4, page 57
  14. ^ a b A brief history of the Boerboel in Southern Africa. Kennel Union of South Africa. Accessed August 2022.
  15. ^ J. Mamabolo (14 November 2014). Notice 980 of 2014: Registration of Animal Breeders' Society. Government Gazette. 80: 38188.
  16. ^ "Breed standard" (PDF).
  17. ^ "New Hip Dysplasia Grading System sabt.co.za 3 June 2007" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 October 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  18. ^ "Vaginal hyperplasia sabt.co.za 12 July 2007" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 October 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  19. ^ Breed description, UK Boerboel Club, archived from the original on 17 April 2012, retrieved 6 September 2014
  20. ^ Stassen, Quirine E. M.; Grinwis, Guy C. M.; van Rhijn, Nieke C.; Beukers, Martjin; Verhoeven‐Duif, Nanda M.; Leegwater, Peter A. J. (2019). "Focal epilepsy with fear‐related behavior as primary presentation in Boerboel dogs". Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. 33 (2): 694–700. doi:10.1111/jvim.15346. PMC 6430876. PMID 30580458.
  21. ^ Wade, John (29 May 2010). "High-end lifetime training is mandatory". Sarnia Observer. Archived from the original on 14 April 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  22. ^ "List of Banned Dogs by Countries". petolog.com. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  23. ^ Ritzau /Nyheder, Mette Pedersen (19 January 2011). "Ekstra Bladet - 13 kamphunde forbydes". Ekstrabladet.dk. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  24. ^ "List of Banned Dogs by Countries". 29 October 2022.
  25. ^ "List of Banned Dogs by Countries". petolog.com. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  26. ^ "Banned, restricted dogs breed reminder | The Royal Gazette:Bermuda News". 26 August 2014. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  27. ^ "Pet Breeds unable to travel in Europe". www.viajedemascotas.com. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  28. ^ "Mauritius Pet Passport - Current Dog and Cat Import Requirements". www.pettravel.com. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  29. ^ "Importing a cat or dog - Doha Family - Autumn 2014". www.dohafamily.com. Archived from the original on 16 September 2019. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  30. ^ "It is prohibited to import the following dogbreeds to the Faroe Islands" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 September 2015.
  31. ^ "List of Banned Dogs by Countries". petolog.com. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  32. ^ "IATA - Tunisia Customs, Currency & Airport Tax regulations details". www.iatatravelcentre.com. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  33. ^ "Turks Caicos Pet Passport - Current Dog and Cat Import Requirements". www.pettravel.com. Retrieved 3 August 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Hancock, David (2001). The mastiffs: the big game hunters, their history, development & future. Ducklington, Oxon: Charwynne Dog Features. ISBN 9780951780114.
  • Verhoef-Verhallen, Esther J. J. (2001). The complete encyclopedia of dogs. The Netherlands: Rebo International. pp. 530–531. ISBN 90-366-15097.