South African Boerboel

Photo: MirasWonderland/Getty Images
Last Updated on February 20, 2020 by Bridget Shirvell

The Look of a South African Boerboel

The South African Boerboel has a big, well-balanced, muscular frame covered in loose skin with a short, harsh coat that usually comes in off-white, brown, reddish brown and varying shades of brindle. Its broad, flat, square head has a black muzzle, wide nostrils, widely set eyes and hanging V-shaped ears. It has a strong neck, deep chest and a short tail that is set high. Overall, the South African Boerboel looks ruggedly handsome.


  • Protective
  • Bold
  • Powerful
  • Loyal
  • Playful
  • Affectionate

Ideal Human Companion

  • Experienced dog handlers
  • Families with older children
  • Active singles
  • Outdoorsy types

What They Are Like to Live With

The South African Boerboel is famous in its native country for being protective without displaying any aggressiveness. Most of the time, it is a gentle and affectionate companion that prefers to stay close to its family, enjoying long games of fetch and togetherness during family gatherings.

Said to be highly perceptive, the South African Boerboel can supposedly sense its owner’s moods, becoming especially alert when strangers are around. Once the South African Boerboel is properly introduced to family friends, it becomes much more welcoming. And that suits this dog just fine—all the more people to play in the backyard with!

Things You Should Know

The South African Boerboel might not be happy living in an apartment: It’s got a big and active body that requires plenty of wiggle room. A large, fenced yard is recommended for this breed. It also needs a daily walk to keep it mentally and physically healthy. Always keep the South African Boerboel on a leash, and don’t forget that this is a big, strong canine.

The Boerboel can live as long as 13 years with relatively few health problems. It’s also easy to groom: Simply brush it regularly and give it the occasional bath.

South African Boerboel History

In the 17th century Jan van Riebeeck— an employee for the Dutch East Indian Company—was sent to South Africa to establish a trading post. He brought along with him a large Mastiff-type dog that eventually mated with molossers and other large dogs that came later with the settlers. Over the generations, the offspring that survived this harsh land were tough and durable and helpful, eventually developing into the South African Boerboel (which means “farmer’s dog” in Afrikaans).

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