Table of Contents

The Boerboel is a large, muscular, and robust breed, originating from South Africa. Known for its strength and protective instincts, it was traditionally used for guarding homesteads. Boerboels are impressive in size, with males typically standing between 24 to 27 inches at the shoulder and females slightly smaller. They possess a blocky head with a short length between the stop and nose, powerful jaws, and a confident, imposing stance. Their coat is short and sleek, coming in various shades ranging from fawn and red to brown and brindle, often with a dark mask.

In temperament, Boerboels are known for their loyalty and protective nature towards their family. They are confident, intelligent, and have a dominant personality, which requires firm and experienced handling. Early socialization and consistent, positive training are crucial to manage their strong protective instincts. Despite their daunting appearance, Boerboels can be affectionate and gentle with their family members, including children, when properly trained and socialized. Due to their size and temperament, they are best suited for homes with ample space and a secure yard. Regular exercise and mental stimulation are essential to keep them healthy and content. Prospective owners should be prepared for a commitment to training and socialization to ensure they become well-adjusted, well-mannered companions.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

9 to 11 years


Extra Large

Maintenance Level:


Shed Level


Best For

Boerboels are best suited for experienced dog owners who can provide firm, consistent training and handle their strong, protective nature. They thrive in homes with ample space and a secure yard, and are ideal for those seeking a loyal and protective companion. Due to their dominant personality, they are not recommended for first-time dog owners or households with small pets.

Boerboel Traits

Breed Characteristics

The Boerboel is a powerful, confident, and imposing breed, known for its muscular build and strong protective instincts. They are intelligent, loyal, and dominant, requiring experienced handling and firm, consistent training. Despite their size and guarding nature, Boerboels can be affectionate with their family, displaying a calm and stable temperament when well-socialized.


Exercise Needs
Health Issues
Barking Tendencies
Grooming Needs
Shedding Level
Training Needs
Good With Kids
Good With Cats
Good As A Service Dog
Good For Apartments & Small Homes
Biting Tendencies
Energy Level
Good With Other Dogs
Sensitive to Cold Weather
Sensitive to Warm Weather
Good For First Time Pet Parents

Breed Appearance

The Boerboel is a robust and muscular breed, characterized by its imposing size, blocky head, and powerful build. Their coat is short and sleek, typically in shades of fawn, red, brown, and brindle, often accompanied by a distinctive dark mask. Their strong, confident stance and alert expression reflect their heritage as a protective breed.

1. Ears
The Boerboel’s medium-sized ears are V-shaped and rounded at the tip. They usually fold over and lay flat. Boerboels don’t typically have cropped ears.
2. Eyes
Boerboel’s eyes are usually dark brown and have an intelligent expression.
3. Nose
Boerboels have a broad muzzle and a solid black nose.
4. Height
Male: 24-27 inches
Female: 22-25 inches
5. Coat Length
Their short coats are smooth, dense and shiny.
6. Coat Color
Boerboel coats come in a range of colors, including red, brown, reddish-brown, fawn and cream, often with black coloring in the shape of a mask on their face. They can also be brindled (subtle tiger stripes) or Irish marked (white on the legs, face and collar).
7. Tail
The Boerboel’s tail is straight and may be left long or docked.
8. Weight
Male: 150-200 pounds
Female: 150-200 pounds

Boerboel Temperament

The Boerboel is a breed known for its strong, confident, and protective temperament:

  • Loyal and Protective: Boerboels are extremely loyal to their family and are known for their instinctive drive to guard and protect their home and loved ones. This protective nature makes them excellent watchdogs.

  • Confident and Dominant: They exhibit a confident and dominant personality, which requires an owner who can establish clear leadership and boundaries. Without firm and consistent training, their dominant nature can become challenging.

  • Intelligent and Trainable: Boerboels are intelligent dogs, responsive to training when it’s conducted with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. Their intelligence also means they can become easily bored, so mental stimulation is important.

  • Affectionate with Family: Despite their formidable appearance, Boerboels are often affectionate and gentle with their family members, including children. However, interactions with small children should always be supervised due to their size.

  • Cautious with Strangers and Other Animals: They tend to be reserved and cautious around strangers and may not tolerate other animals well, especially if not socialized from a young age.

Overall, the Boerboel’s temperament makes them a formidable and loyal companion for the right owner, one who understands and respects their protective instincts and who can provide the structure, training, and socialization they need. They thrive in an environment where they can be an integral part of the family.

How to Care for a Boerboel

Caring for a Boerboel requires providing them with firm, consistent training and early socialization due to their dominant and protective nature. They need regular exercise to manage their large size and energy, and benefit from having a spacious, secure environment. Additionally, routine grooming is necessary to maintain their short coat, and regular veterinary check-ups are important to monitor their health, given their susceptibility to certain breed-specific issues.

Grooming a Boerboel is relatively straightforward due to their short coat:

  1. Brushing: Regular brushing, about once a week, is sufficient to keep their coat healthy and remove loose hair, especially during shedding seasons.

  2. Bathing: Bathing should be done as needed – not too frequently – to avoid stripping the coat of its natural oils. Use a mild dog-specific shampoo.

  3. Nail Trimming: Regular nail trimming is important to prevent discomfort and maintain good foot health. Check and trim their nails every few weeks.

  4. Ear Cleaning: Clean their ears regularly to prevent wax buildup and infections, a common issue in dogs with floppy ears.

  5. Dental Care: Regular dental care, including teeth brushing and providing dental chews, is essential to prevent dental diseases.

  6. Paw Care: Check their paws regularly for any signs of injury or irritation, especially after outdoor activities.

Proper grooming not only keeps a Boerboel looking good but also promotes good overall health and offers an opportunity to check for any signs of health issues.

Training a Boerboel effectively requires an approach tailored to their temperament and size:

  1. Early Socialization: Begin socialization and training as early as possible. Expose them to different people, environments, and situations to develop a well-adjusted dog.

  2. Firm and Consistent Training: Use firm, consistent training methods. Boerboels are dominant and intelligent, and they respect an owner who is a clear leader.

  3. Positive Reinforcement: Employ positive reinforcement techniques such as treats, praise, and play. Avoid harsh methods, as they can lead to stubbornness or aggression.

  4. Regular Training Sessions: Conduct regular training sessions to establish and reinforce rules and commands. This also helps in building a strong bond between the dog and the owner.

  5. Obedience Training: Focus on basic obedience commands like sit, stay, come, and heel. Good manners are crucial for a dog of this size and strength.

  6. Leash Training: Proper leash training is essential to ensure safe and enjoyable walks, given their large size and protective nature.

  7. Behavioral Training: Address any signs of aggression or overprotectiveness early. Behavioral training can help manage these tendencies.

  8. Patience and Persistence: Training a Boerboel requires patience and persistence. They may not respond as quickly as some breeds, but they are capable learners.

  9. Mental Stimulation: Include activities that provide mental stimulation, as Boerboels can become bored with repetitive tasks.

  10. Handling Dominance: Be mindful of their dominant nature. Consistent leadership helps prevent behavioral issues related to dominance.

Remember, every Boerboel is an individual. Adjust the training to suit their unique personality and learning style. Consistent, respectful, and patient training is key to developing a well-behaved and balanced Boerboel.

Caring for the diet and nutrition of a Boerboel involves several key considerations:

  1. Balanced Diet: Provide a high-quality, well-balanced diet suitable for large breeds. Ensure the food meets their nutritional requirements at different life stages, particularly as puppies when they need nutrients for growth.

  2. Portion Control: Monitor food intake to avoid obesity, a common issue in large breeds. Follow feeding guidelines based on their age, weight, and activity level, and adjust portions as necessary.

  3. Consistent Feeding Schedule: Establish a regular feeding schedule, typically two meals a day for adult dogs, to aid in digestion and weight management.

  4. Treats in Moderation: Treats should be given sparingly and accounted for in their total calorie intake. Opt for healthy treat options.

  5. Fresh Water Availability: Ensure that fresh, clean water is available at all times.

  6. Special Dietary Needs: Be aware of any specific dietary requirements or sensitivities your Boerboel may have. Some may require special diets due to health issues or food allergies.

  7. Regular Weight Monitoring: Keep an eye on their weight and adjust their diet as needed. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian can help monitor their weight and overall health.

Tailoring their diet to their specific needs, considering their large size and activity level, is important for maintaining optimal health. Regular consultations with a veterinarian can ensure they receive the right nutrition.

Caring for the exercise needs of a Boerboel involves a combination of physical activity and mental stimulation:

  1. Daily Physical Exercise: Boerboels are a large and active breed that requires regular exercise. Daily walks, play sessions, and time in a securely fenced area where they can roam and explore are important.

  2. Mental Stimulation: They are intelligent dogs and need mental stimulation to prevent boredom. Training exercises, interactive toys, and games that challenge their intelligence are beneficial.

  3. Avoid Overexertion: While they need regular exercise, it’s important to avoid overexertion, especially in puppies, as their bones and joints are still developing. Tailor exercise to their age and health.

  4. Structured Activities: Activities like obedience training, agility (for adult dogs), or even simple fetch games can provide structured exercise and strengthen the bond between you and your Boerboel.

  5. Socialization Through Exercise: Controlled socialization with other dogs and people during walks or playtime is important for their behavioral development.

  6. Consistency in Routine: Establishing a consistent exercise routine helps maintain their physical health and manage potential behavioral issues.

  7. Climate Consideration: Due to their size and muscular build, ensure they don’t overheat during exercise, particularly in warmer climates.

Regular, balanced exercise tailored to their size and energy level is essential for keeping a Boerboel healthy and happy. It not only aids in their physical development but also in maintaining their mental well-being.

Creating an ideal environment for a Boerboel involves catering to their specific breed needs:

  1. Spacious and Secure Area: Boerboels are large, active dogs that require ample space. A home with a large, securely fenced yard is ideal for them to exercise and patrol.

  2. Indoor Family Time: They thrive on companionship and should live indoors with their family, not isolated outside. Boerboels are happiest when they’re part of daily family activities.

  3. Mental Stimulation: Provide mental stimulation through toys, training, and interactive games. They enjoy challenges and tasks that engage their protective instincts.

  4. Safe and Secure Environment: Their protective and territorial nature necessitates a secure environment to prevent them from wandering off or reacting to perceived threats.

  5. Comfortable Resting Area: A designated comfortable area for resting and sleeping is important. They should have a cozy bed or space that is their own.

  6. Routine and Consistency: Boerboels respond well to routine and structure. Consistent meal times, exercise schedules, and training sessions help create a stable environment.

  7. Climate Consideration: Their short coat provides some protection against the elements, but in extremely hot or cold weather, additional measures should be taken to ensure their comfort.

By considering these factors, you can create a living environment that caters to a Boerboel’s need for space, mental and physical activity, and family interaction. This ensures they are a happy and healthy companion.

Boerboel Health

The Boerboel, a robust and sturdy breed, generally enjoys good health, but like all breeds, they are prone to certain health issues. Being aware of these can help in ensuring proper care:

  1. Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: Common in large breeds, these conditions involve malformation of the hip or elbow joints, which can lead to arthritis. Regular vet check-ups and maintaining a healthy weight can help manage this condition.

  2. Heart Conditions: Boerboels may be predisposed to certain heart problems, including cardiomyopathy. Regular veterinary monitoring is important for early detection and management.

  3. Bloat (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus): As a large breed, Boerboels are at risk for bloat, a potentially life-threatening condition where the stomach distends and twists. Owners should be familiar with the symptoms and seek immediate veterinary care if bloat is suspected.

  4. Ectropion and Entropion: These are eyelid disorders where the eyelid rolls outwards (ectropion) or inwards (entropion), potentially causing discomfort and vision problems.

  5. Skin Allergies and Irritations: They can experience skin issues, including allergies and sensitivities, which require attention to diet and grooming.

  6. Vaginal Hyperplasia: This condition, more common in female Boerboels, involves excessive tissue growth in the vaginal area and may require veterinary care.

Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and appropriate exercise are key in maintaining a Boerboel’s health. Early detection of potential health issues through routine health screenings is crucial for their well-being. As with all large breeds, responsible breeding practices are important to minimize the risk of genetic health problems.

Boerboel Breed Comparison and Consideration

When considering a Boerboel in comparison to other breeds, it’s essential to understand their unique traits and how they might fit into your lifestyle. Here’s a brief comparison with some popular breeds:

Boerboel vs. Rottweiler:

  • Rottweilers are highly trainable and often used in working roles. They are energetic and require significant mental and physical stimulation.
  • Boerboels are more independent and protective, best suited for guarding and protective roles. They require firm, experienced handling.

Boerboel vs. German Shepherds:

  • German Shepherds are known for their versatility in various roles, including police and service work. They are highly active and trainable.
  • Boerboels, with their dominant and protective nature, are more specialized as guard dogs and require a handler who can establish clear leadership.

Boerboel vs. Mastiff:

  • Mastiffs are gentle giants known for their size and calm demeanor. They are less active and have lower energy levels compared to Boerboels.
  • Boerboels are more agile and active, with a strong protective instinct and require more exercise and mental engagement.

Boerboel vs. Great Dane:

  • Great Danes are known for their immense size and friendly nature. They are generally more sociable and less protective than Boerboels.
  • Boerboels are more robust and have a stronger guarding instinct, making them suitable for experienced owners who can manage their protective nature.

Considerations for Choosing a Boerboel:

  • Ideal for experienced dog owners who understand and can manage a dominant and protective breed.
  • Requires a secure environment with ample space, as they are large and active dogs.
  • Early socialization and consistent, firm training are crucial to manage their strong protective instincts.
  • Not recommended for first-time dog owners or homes with small pets.

In summary, the Boerboel is a powerful, confident breed best suited for owners who appreciate their protective qualities and can provide the leadership, training, and environment they need to thrive. They are loyal and affectionate with their family but require a handler who understands and respects their guarding instincts.


The Boerboel is generally more agile and has a higher energy level compared to the Bullmastiff, along with a more dominant and independent temperament.

Boerboels can adapt to cooler climates but may need extra protection in colder weather, such as a dog coat, due to their short fur.

While Boerboels can be affectionate and protective of family members, their large size and dominant nature require careful supervision around small children.

Due to their size, energy, and need for space, Boerboels are better suited to homes with yards. They can adapt to apartment living if given sufficient exercise and mental stimulation.

Boerboels require regular exercise to maintain their health and temperament, including daily walks, playtime, and mental challenges.

Firm, consistent training from an experienced handler is essential due to their dominant nature. Positive reinforcement techniques work well.

Socialization from a young age is crucial. They can be dominant and protective, so interactions with other dogs should be supervised.

Hip and elbow dysplasia, heart conditions, and bloat are some health concerns for Boerboels.

Due to their size, strength, and protective nature, they are better suited for experienced dog owners.

While they have the intelligence and capability, their protective nature and size might not make them the ideal choice for service or therapy roles.

Top Takeaways

When considering a Boerboel, here are the top takeaways:

  1. Strong and Protective Nature: Boerboels are known for their powerful build and strong protective instincts, making them excellent guard dogs for homes and properties.

  2. Experienced Handling Required: Due to their dominant and independent temperament, Boerboels are best suited for experienced dog owners who can provide firm, consistent training and leadership.

  3. Regular Exercise and Mental Stimulation: They require regular exercise and mental stimulation to keep them healthy and content. A secure space for physical activity is ideal.

  4. Early Socialization and Training: Early and ongoing socialization and training are crucial to manage their protective instincts and ensure they are well-adjusted.

  5. Large Living Space Preferred: Boerboels thrive in environments where they have ample space. They may not adapt well to apartment living due to their size and energy levels.

  6. Loyal and Affectionate with Family: They are known to be loyal and affectionate with their family members, forming strong bonds.

  7. Cautious Around Strangers and Other Animals: Boerboels can be reserved and cautious around strangers and other animals. Proper introduction and socialization are important.

  8. Health Considerations: Potential owners should be aware of health issues common to the breed, including hip dysplasia, heart conditions, and bloat.

  9. Not Ideal for First-Time Owners: Their size, strength, and protective nature make them a challenging breed for first-time dog owners.

  10. Grooming Needs: Boerboels have a short coat that requires minimal grooming, but regular checks and maintenance are still necessary for overall health.

In summary, the Boerboel is a loyal, protective, and powerful breed best suited for owners who understand and can effectively manage their guarding instincts. They require a committed owner who can provide the necessary training, exercise, and care.

Top Boerboel Names

These names are chosen to match the Boerboel’s strong, protective nature and their noble, commanding presence.

Female Names











Male Names











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