Boerboel Breed Information and Buying advice


Are You Looking to Buy or Adopt a Boerboel?

Quick Boerboel Facts

Average Size of Adult
Huge (5/5)
Puppy Puppy Puppy Puppy Puppy
Grooming Requirement
Low (1/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Medium (2/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Average Life Span
10-12 years (4/8)
Exercise Requirements
Medium (2/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
High (3/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Low (1/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Child friendly
No (2/2)
Medium (2/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Breed Group
Working (7/8)
No (2/2)

Boerboel (South African mastiff)


Powerful, massive, and fearless, the Boerboel is a wonderful companion and a courageous working and guard dog for the right type of owner. Native to South Africa, this mastiff breed is well-renowned for his prowess in defending farmers from invaders such as leopards and baboons.

Their clean appearance and bulky size make them excellent defenders and their outstanding loyalty make them ideal working dogs in agricultural settings. This breed is permitted in the United Kingdom but is banned or restricted in many countries, making them well sought after and relatively rare to obtain in the UK.

Physical Appearance 

One of the most noticeable traits of the Boerboel’s appearance is his extremely large, bulky, and muscular stature, exuding confidence, courage, and fearlessness.

Their medium-sized eyes are round and widely set apart and exude courage whilst their ears are V-shaped and flap down. They tend to keep their tails well in line with the curvature of their spine, and the tail tends to be girthy and held upright in a sabre-like shape.

Their short, dense coats are smooth and shiny and can be found in various shades of red, brown, or fawn. Brindle is also acceptable, so long as there is ample pigmentation as well. They may have black masks.

Although their appearance is quite distinctive, they somewhat resemble other mastiff-type breeds such as Boxers, Rottweilers, and Great Danes.

How big do Boerboel dogs get?

  • Height: males 60-66 cm; females 55-61 cm

  • Weight: 70-90 kg

Character Traits

Steadfast and calm, yet always alert and defensive of his territory and owner, Boerboels have a strong temperament that is well-suited for specific types of owner. When approached, Boerboels tend to remain calm, collected, and confident. This is complemented by their fearless, courageous nature.

As a mastiff breed bred for defending farmland in South Africa, Boerboels are naturally excellent watchdogs and guard dogs as well. This is perhaps their primary purpose, with companionship being a contender. For this reason, adequate training and socialisation is certainly required, particularly as puppies. Owners will be pleased to know that Boerboels have a highly trainable nature and can learn many commands rather quickly.

Are Boerboel dogs intelligent? Yes.

Are Boerboel dogs affectionate? Somewhat.

Do Boerboel dogs have high or low energy levels? About average energy levels.

Are Boerboel dogs loyal? Yes, very.

Are Boerboel dogs playful? Yes, somewhat.

Are Boerboel dogs aggressive? Yes, although not towards owners so long as they are properly trained.

Are Boerboel dogs easy to train? Yes, very.

Are Boerboel dogs good guard dogs? Boerboels are amongst the best watchdogs and guard dogs as they are extremely territorial and courageous.

Ability to Socialise

Due to their massive size, Boerboels may not be the best breed choice for owners with young children and toddlers. They are friendly and will get along quite well with owners and older children, however.

Around other pets, including cats and other dogs, Boerboels have a friendly temperament and should get along just fine so long as they are well-socialised as puppies.

Boerboels often like to play in the water and go for a swim, especially when the weather is hot, but they could end up being unable to swim properly due to their large size and may require help.

Do Boerboel dogs get along with other pets? Yes.

Do Boerboel dogs get along with other dogs? Yes.

Are Boerboel dogs good with kids? No, they may cause harm to small children.

Are Boerboel dogs good with strangers? Yes, but always maintain supervision.

Lifestyle Suitability

Prospective owners should be aware that Boerboels need ample space to claim as their own territory. They are not at all suited for apartment living and instead should only be introduced to homes with spacious interiors and exteriors, preferably with a fenced garden or at the very least access to a nearby field or park for exercise.

Do not forget that Boerboels were bred for guarding South African farmland and all of the dangerous wildlife that lives there. They will quickly claim your land as their territory and remain vigilant and defensive towards any intruders that may encroach upon your property.

This breed can tolerate hot and cold climates fairly well, so there shouldn’t be any adaptability issues if adopted here in Britain.

First-time owners may wish to consider a different breed, as Boerboels can be quite a challenge to train, socialise, and care for, especially if it’s your first time raising a puppy. They are far better suited to owners that have some experience and understand that the Boerboel has a strong temperament similar to that of other working dog breeds.

Are Boerboel dogs good for first-time owners? No.

Are Boerboel dogs hypoallergenic? No.

Are Boerboel dogs prone to drooling? Yes.

Are Boerboel dogs a good breed for apartment living? Absolutely not.

Do  Boerboel dogs shed a lot? No.

Do  Boerboel dogs bark a lot? No, not much.

Can Boerboel dogs be left alone at home? Yes, for moderate lengths of time.

Can Boerboel dogs handle the heat? Yes.

Can Boerboel dogs handle cold temperatures? Yes.

Are Boerboel dogs sensitive to loud noises? Yes.

General Health & Health Issues

Boerboels have about average health when compared to other breeds. Quite like with other mastiff and large-sized breeds, bone and joint problems are somewhat common, as are some hereditary problems.

Overall, most of the common health problems that Boerboels are prone to developing can be tested for, diagnosed, and treated with frequent visits to the veterinarian. A robust, healthy diet will also be beneficial towards promoting healthy growth and development.

Some common problems include:

  • Hip dysplasia: this condition is fairly common to most breeds, especially large, mastiff types such as the Boerboel. Can lead to lameness or a limp gait;

  • Elbow dysplasia: similar to hip dysplasia, can cause discomfort or a limp gait. Elbow dysplasia can be tested during a visit to the veterinarian;

  • Entropion: the eyelids of the Boerboel may fold inwards (entropion), causing discomfort or pain. Have your Boerboel’s eyes tested regularly;

  • Ectropion: similar to entropion, ectropion is a condition whereby the eyelids fold outwards. Have your Boerboel’s eyes tested.

How long do Boerboel dogs live? - 10-12 years

Exercise & Play Time

Boerboels have fairly high energy levels (but not too high) and require plenty of physical stimulation to keep healthy and happy. Around 1-2 hours a day are required. Start off with a brisk morning walk, on-lead, followed by an hour’s worth of playtime, preferably off-lead in a safe location.

As puppies, Boerboels do enjoy plenty of play, but ensure that they don’t get too rowdy as they are extremely large and may cause accidental harm or injury simply due to their massive size. This is especially important if the owner has young children in the home.

Bred to be working dogs, they will dutifully watch over and protect their territory. This means that any animals or strangers approaching the property are likely to be chased or even attacked if the Boerboel has been sufficiently trained to perform his natural obligation as a guard dog.

How much exercise does a Boerboel dog need? - Around 1-2 hours per day

Do Boerboel dogs like water play? Yes, but maintain constant supervision.

Nutrition & Feeding

You may be mistaken for thinking that there’s a horse living in your home if you own a Boerboel. They require a massive quantity of food and also have a tendency to overeat, which can lead to bloat or gastric torsion.

On account of their feeding habits, ensure that you only provide them with the exact quantity as prescribed by the breeder or your veterinarian, split into 3-4 sessions per day.

Since they eat so much, it’s equally important that their diet consists of rich minerals, vitamins, and nutrients to promote good health and a glossy coat of fur. Speak with your veterinarian if you are concerned about your Boerboel’s feeding habits.

Are Boerboel dogs prone to weight gain? Yes, from puppies to adults.

How much should I feed a Boerboel puppy? About 440-1030g per day, in 3-4 sessions.

How much should I feed an adult Boerboel dog? About 570-850g per day, in total.

Care & Maintenance

Fortunately, Boerboels are quite light on the grooming front. They don’t require much upkeep or maintenance and are fairly self-sufficient due to their short coats and their overall health.

In terms of emotional care, Boerboels can remain dutifully on guard alone at home for some time. Do not neglect them, however, as they can and will show separation anxiety if it becomes habitual.

- Grooming: once a week, brush your Boerboel’s coat of fur and inspect for any lumps or bumps. Check his ears and eyes for signs of possible infection.

- Emotional care: it is possible to leave your Boerboel at home, alone, for moderate lengths of time, but don’t make this a habit and try to give him plenty of love and affection.

History of the Boerboel

A lot can be gleaned from a name, and in the case of the Boerboel, it simply comes from the Afrikaans word boer ‘farmer’ + the shortened boelhond ‘bulldog’ giving ‘farmer’s bulldog.’

The ancestry of this breed dates back to at least as far back as 1857, whereby a South African crossbreed of a bulldog and mastiff was referred to as a “Boer Hunting Dog.” This breed was kept by the South African farmers to defend against leopards and baboons.

Although leopards are not naturally deterred by the presence of a Boerboel, the risk of injury is considerable and many courageous and fearless Boerboels have been known to take down leopards in a battle of life and death.

Boerboels today remain loyal and steadfast guardians of agricultural lands and properties in their native South Africa as well as elsewhere around the world, where they are legally permitted. This breed is not yet recognised by the Kennel Club.

Interesting Facts About Boerboel Dogs

  • With the rise in farm attacks in South Africa, Boerboels remain loyal and fearless defenders against marauders;

  • Boerboels were kept by the invading British following the Second Boer War to guard over the De Beers diamond mines;

  • This breed is heavily restricted or outright banned in many countries to this day.

Getting a Boerboel Puppy

It is extremely important to ensure that you purchase or adopt a loving Boerboel puppy that has been bred in ethical conditions, which is why we advise you to first consult our buying guide. After which, if you wish to purchase a Boerboel, rest assured that we only work with reputable breeders here in the UK.

How much does a Boerboel cost to buy? - About £800-£1,200.

How much does a Boerboel cost to feed? - An adult Boerboel costs about £1.80-£2.10 per day to feed.

How much does insurance for a Boerboel cost? - About £60-£120 per month.

Sensible alternatives to purchasing a new Boerboel puppy include rescue and adoption.

Additional resources can be found via Boerboel registries and associations such as: