The Boerboel should be well balanced, substantial and strong in appearance, with a primitive robustness and an overall solid tight musculature. Though a heavily built mastiff breed, it is not loose limbed or jointed and has a strong topline leading to a powerful and massive neck, it should move with purpose and control with ample agility. The head is one of the defining characteristic of the breed and should be large but in proportion to the body, with a strong and not too short muzzle and jaws, broad between the ears. The tail is normally docked short but this is not a requirement of the breed. Males are very masculine and imposing, with females being somewhat more feminine but by no means lacking in substance. The dog should give the overall impression of immense substance, strength, power, and physical ability, and should be able to more than amply demonstrate this in his day to day work.Size:The ideal height for male Boerboels is 66 cm at the withers though it can vary between 64-70cm (25-28 inches). The height for the females should be 61 cm this can vary between 59-65cm (23-26 inches).Color:Brindle, brown, red-brown, red, fawn, yellow-cream, and black are all accepted as are dogs with limited amounts of white on head neck chest and legs, a deep mask is preferred for all.Height, Weight: Height: males 25-28 inches (64-70 cm.), female 23-25.5 inches (59-65 cm.). Weight: 154-200 pounds (70 and 90 kg.)Health Problems: Hip and elbow dysplasia, eye problems, heart issues, thyroid problems, bloat, vaginal hyperplasiaLiving Conditions: The Boerboel is not recommended for apartment life. They should have a large, fenced in yard but should not be left alone for they are very protective and sometimes do not take too well to strangers.Exercise: The Boerboel can be exercised if they have a large yard to run and play but they need to be taken on a long daily walk. Boerboels love to play and would love a good game of ball.Life Expectancy: 12 years of ageGrooming: The Boerboel is easy to groom. An occasional brushing and a monthly bath and dip is all they need. This breed is an average shedder.
While there is ample literature on the Boerboel’s descent, there is still uncertainty as to how many and which dogs it is bred from.
The most likely origins are claimed to date back to Jan van Riebeeck’s arrival to the Cape in 1652. Dutch, French and British settlers have all brought with them certain breeds of dog, which were bred with indigenous breeds of domestic African dogs to create the Boerboel.
It has been confirmed that Jan van Riebeeck brought a “bullenbijter” with him, and others with him also had large strong dogs. Over many years, natural selection would determine that the fittest among them would survive and breed.
A likely breeding partner brought in by the British settlers would have been the long legged Bulldog.
De Beers, a diamond mining company imported Bullmastiffs to guard the mines.
In protest to British rule, the Dutch (early South Africans) scattered in hundreds of kilometres from their original homes, in what is historically recorded as the Great Trek. During this period they continued breeding powerful, protective dogs on their journeys. The tradition of breeding with large dogs continued during the Second Boer War.
Studying further literature more dogs have been suggested to be included in the breed, but none of these are substantiated. However the Rhodesian Ridgeback and its descendants are known to have played a significant part, though no sign of a ridge is present any longer.
Today, Boerboel breeding is both a hobby and industry in South Africa. Only a few of the best studs are kept to breed with females. These dogs are now exported from South Africa to other parts of the world.
After 12 months the dog is appraised by the mother organisation the SABT in order to qualify for registration as a breeding animal, this appraisal is done by experts in the field of the Boerboel development. For such registration, a Boerboel must achieve a minimum qualifying appraisal rating of 75% or 80%.