Origins of the Boerboel

Origins of the Boerboel

Boerboel (pronounced “boo-r-bull”) is the South African equivalent of the mastiff. The origin of the breed is in its name: Boers are descendants of Dutch settlers who settled in the southernmost tip of Africa in the late 1600s. “Boer” means farmer, and “boel” is a big dog, like the mastiff. Despite the fact that the boerboel dog breed has been bred for a long time, it is still unclear how many and from which particular breed this admirable and strong dog has come from.

Many believe that the breed was born from the crossbreeding of native African landrace breeds (africanis) and breeds brought to South Africa by Dutch, British and French immigrants.
However, many agree that some of the ancestors of the boerboel came with the first European settlers to southern Africa: when Jan van Riebeeck arrived in 1652 to work for the tea company that was establishing a Dutch colony on the Cape of Good Hope, he brought with him the Bullenbeisser (bull biter).

Centuries later, the Bullmastiffs brought by DeBeers in 1928 were used to patrol their famous diamond mines. From this era onwards, the influence of the Bullmastiff on the appearance and structure of the current Boerboel can be clearly seen.
South Africa’s two native breeds, the Rhodesian Ridgeback and the Boerboel, were also very likely crossbred to each other over the centuries.

Despite all this, the Borboel has been bred to be a strong and athletic animal. At that time, life in rural South Africa demanded strength from both humans and dogs, so it is to be expected that the dog’s constitution is bred to withstand challenging conditions. Both the Boerboel and the Rhodesian Ridgeback had to be multi-purpose dogs, although the Boerboel tended to be more of a guard dog, and the other hand Ridgeback tended to be more like a hunting dog.

The two breeds went on very different trajectories not because of the jobs they did, but rather the individuals who championed them. The Ridgeback headed north to British-controlled Rhodesia, where in the 1920s interested fanciers took up the cause of standardizing the breed. But back in South Africa, Boer farmers were more focused on using the Boerboel to guard their farms and families.

The first Boerboel official breed standard was written in 1987.

Before the official breed standard, there was more or less variation in the Boerboel breed’s appearance. Some say that the original Boerboel was smaller than today’s muscular and massive versions, this may well be true. But like many other breeds, the Boerboel as a breed has changed over the decades to meet today’s needs.

As stated earlier that the two national dog breeds of South Africa have gone in different directions and even if cross breeding between the two has occurred, the Boerboel should not be confused with the Ridgeback. The Boerboel, even the “original” one, should not resemble the lighter bodied Ridgeback in any case.

Today the Boerboel can be found all over the world and is highly sought after for its temperament and

A true family dog, they love children and enjoy being part of the family.

A true Boerboel will defend its family and home with it’s life.

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