Breeds of dogs: Boerboel

Breeds of dogs: Boerboel

Origin, classification and history

Origin: South Africa.
F.C.I classification: Group 2 - pinscher, schauzer, molossoid dogs and Swiss cattle dogs.

The Boerboel (pronounced burbul) defined THE LION OF AFRICA is a breed of recent origin, not yet classified F.C.I; It originates from South Africa and its name derives from the word Boer (from the Dutch Afrikaans) farmer and boel dog, its history goes hand in hand with the history of the Boers in southern Africa.
Since 1652 the Dutch colonists (Jan van Riebeeck) and then the British until 1928 colonized South Africa (later also the French) brought with them their guard and defense dogs (against wild animals and in defense of mines or houses colonial) respectively the bullendijter and Mastiff. Subsequently other breeds arrived such as the great dane, the bul terrier, and then the bullmastiff who contributed in the genes of the African mastiff (it is also said that there are traces of the rodesian ridge back in the boerboel's genialogy).
These dogs accustomed to the northern European climate were ill-suited to the torrid and inhospitable environmental conditions of these regions and also inevitably crossed paths with indigenous domestic canids not better identified on several occasions over the decades.
Following the wars (1803 and earlier) the first Boer colonists to escape the English domination migrated for a long time (1838) giving life to the phenomenon called groot trek towards the internal areas until they crossed the orange river where there were sufficient car nomads called trekboer in isolated communities but with contacts with indigenous peoples, that's why dogs were so heterogeneous.
In 1990 the SABT association (South Africa boerboel breed association) tried to gather the remaining specimens and standardize the breed by selecting 72 among Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, but it was later the KUSA (Kennel Union of South Africa) that succeeded to convince the FCI to recognize the state of race but not yet officially registered.
In Italy today there are few specimens of some enthusiasts, in Africa estimates of 500 specimens and the closest farms are in Belgium, Holland and northern Europe.

General aspect

Large mesomorphic dog with a rather balanced character and powerful appearance, great musculature and broad head, calm and quiet motion, he always remains alert and protective of acquaintances. high head and questioning look.


Although in Denmark it has been declared outlawed for its aggressiveness (used in fights and as a chain dog) the boerboel is calm and imperturbable, like many primitive dogs without superfluous exuberances it keeps strong for the need.
The proud, fearless and very determined character make it a fearsome guard / defense dog certainly loyal to the family, patient and understanding with children and devoted to the owner whose approval and harmony he constantly seeks through feeling useful.
Serious dog, quite active and very resistant, it is suitable for rustic situations and is well suited to family life even in the apartment.

Shani (Shani in swaili means wonderful), female of the Boerboel breed (photo Petter Johannesen)

Boerboel (photo


- males from 65 to 70 cm
- females from 60 to 65 cm
- males from 75 kg to 80 kg
- females from 45 kg to 50 kg
(complete development in 24 months; showy sexual dimorphism).

Trunk: straight dorsal line, wide and strong, it narrows slightly on the loins, broad thorax and decidedly muscular chest, well defined withers.
Head and muzzle: large and wide brachycephalic type with moderate eyebrow bone, nasal bridge parallel to the upper line of the skull, marked but not prominent stop, large and well-spaced nostrils, fleshy upper lips covering the jaws and the lower lip. Strong jaws shrink towards the stop with equal length.
Truffle: voluminous black with or without black mask.
Teeth: well developed white and spaced 42 teeth with scissor bite (pincer allowed).
Neck: very strong and powerful in proportionate length with slightly relaxed skin.
Ears: medium adherent V and medium-high flow rates on the skull, when the dog is alert they must form a straight line with the top of the head.
Eyes: large and brown are well spaced and horizontal, not protruding.
Skin: thick with moderate wrinkles, soft under the throat and neck becomes adherent between the belly and chest limbs.
Limbs: front vertical and spaced strong and the shoulder clearly visible, strong elbow. slightly smaller but equally powerful hindquarters. wide non-divergent webbed legs must not have hair between the rounded fingers with strong and black nails, the spur should be removed.
Gait: regular and loose expresses calm and power, the head brought to medium height or with head held high. it goes at a pace or a trot and is explosive in short gallop sections.
Musculature: well developed in all parts of the body, less in females (sexual dimorphism).
Tail: short and attached high, robust and wide at the root, never carried over the back, it can be darker than the body.
Hair: short and soft, it does not have excessive undercoat and adapts well to the type of environment in which it lives.
Allowed colors: fawn, amber, brown and brindle. with or without mask.

Most recurrent defects: prognathism, uneven or missing teeth, small ears, aggressive character, blue eyes, perianal or periocular depigmentation, cryptorchidism.

Fact sheet by Salvo Cufari

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