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[Image: Boerboel-On-White-01.jpg]

The Boerboel is a big, strong and intelligent working dog. It is well balanced with good muscle development and buoyant in movement. The dog should be impressive and imposing. Male dogs appear noticeably masculine and bitches feminine. All parts of the body should be in proportion with each other. The head is the most important feature of the Boerboel, as it represents its total character. It is short, broad, deep, square and muscular with well filled cheeks. The part between the eyes must be well filled. The top of the head is broad and flat, with prominent muscle development. The face should blend symmetrically with the head, and can be with or without a black mask. The stop should be visible, but not prominent. The muzzle is black with large nostrils which are widely spaced. The nasal bone is straight and parallel to the top-line of the head. It is deep, broad and it tapers slightly to the front. The nasal bone should be 8-10 cm long. The loose, fleshy upper lip should cover the lower lip, but should not hang lower than the lower jaw. The jaws (mandibles) are strong, deep and broad, and narrows slightly to the front. The teeth should be white, well developed, correctly spaced, with a complete set of 42 teeth and a scissors bite. The broad, horizontally set eyes are any shade of brown, but darker then the pelt, with firm, well-pigmented eye-lids. The ears should be of medium size, V-shaped and should be in proportion to the head. They are set fairly high and wide against the head. When the dog is alert, the ears should form a straight line with the top of the head. The neck shows a noticeable muscle curve, and is attached high at the shoulder. The strong, muscular neck is of medium length and in proportion to the rest of the dog. The skin of the neck is loose under the throat and becomes taut between the front legs. The body narrows slightly towards the loin. The top line should be straight. The back is straight, broad and in proportion, with prominent back muscles and a short loin. The rump is broad and strong, with good muscle development. The chest is muscular, broad and strong. The straight, short tail is attached high to the body. The front legs should be perfectly vertical. The hind paws are slightly smaller then the front paws. The big, well padded paws are rounded with dark curved toe-nails. The paws should point straight forward. Dew claws should be removed. The skin is thick, loose, well pigmented with moderate wrinkles on the forehead when the dog is alert. The short, dense, sleek coat comes in cream white, pale tawny, reddish brown, brown and all shades of brindle. 

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The development of the Boerboel can rightfully be described as a true South African success story and is today a beacon for those who have made a contribution to improve the breed. The refining of the breed is still on the developing stage. Much has already been written on the descent of the Boerboel but nobody can state with certainty that it is bred from one, two or more breeds of dogs. What is confirmed by investigation is that Jan van Riebeeck brought with him a "bullenbijter" on his arrival to the Cape. This dog was a large strong breed which reminded one of the Mastiff type of dog. Those who followed Van Riebeeck to the Cape, had also brought with them only the largest and strongest dogs, and over a period of decades only the strongest survived in the now and desolated country. With the arrival of the British Settlers in 1820 they brought amongst others the Bulldog and Mastiff type of dog. (In 1938 the real Bull Mastiff was imported to South Africa by De Beers to guard the diamonds mines. It is also known that they imported a champion obtained from the Hottentots, played a role in the development of the Boerboel. The "Boerdogs" (as they are known) were scattered by the Voortrekkers during the Great Trek and they continued to breed with them. According to tradition, after the Anglo Boer War in 1902, these dogs were cross-bred with the English long-legged Bulldog and also the with the Bull Mastiff, in the late and early 1950's. The history is especially known among the farmers of the North-Eastern Free State, Northern Natal and in parts of Transvaal. 

The Boerboel is reliable, obedient and intelligent, with strong watch and guard-dog instincts. It is self-assured and fearless. The Boerboel are very playful and affectionate toward their owners. Their favorite pass time would be to play a game of fetch loving every minute they spend with their master. Their jaws are strong and they will most often pop the ball they are playing with. Not to fret, they will just play with the popped ball! They are very gentle and good with children they know. Allow them to ride on their backs like a horse, loving every minute of the attention they are getting. Boerboel are protectors and can be very aggressive to people passing in the street. They will guard their family, friends and property with their life. When the owners are not home they will not allow anyone to enter the home, unless they know them very well. When welcomed visitors arrive they will accept them after being properly introduced. They are however, guard dogs, and will keep close watch over any house guest. Owners have to be very careful when opening the gate or door so that they don't get out into the street when people are passing by. Boerboel will do okay with other dogs, cats and other non-canine pets, letting birds come down and snatch from their food bowl! This breed requires a dominant owner.

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
Due to natural selection the Boerboel is a very healthy breed.

Living Conditions
The Boerboel is not recommended for apartment life. They should, at least, have a large, fenced in yard to run and play. They Boerboel can live outdoors. This breed should not be left to run on their own for they are very protective and sometimes do not take too well to strangers. 

The Boerboel will get a lot exercise if they have a large yard to run and play. However they need to be taken on a long daily walk. Boerboel love to play and would love a good game of ball. 

The Boerboel is fairly easily to groom. An occasional brushing and a monthly bath and dip is all they need. This breed is an average shedder.

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In dictionaries you will find the following definition of a Boerboel. "A big dog of 
uncertain origins." Thankfully, this is now something of the past. 

South Africa’s own dog, the Boerboel, is now a full-fledged breed. 

Long research has revealed that the ancestry of the Boerboel can be traced as 
far back as the time of Herodotus and Tibet, Assiria and Babylon. 

In Assiria, dogs were used as soldiers, even covered with reinforced material to 
protect them. 

When Assurbanipal conquered Egypt, these dogs were also taken along and 
thus they were spread further into the known world. 

Later Alexander the Great was responsible for spreading them to Europe. 
Apparently in 326 B.C. he received a present of 156 of these large dogs, who 
had been specially trained to fight lions and elephants. Through the ages these 
dogs developed into two definite strains, the mastiff, which is mainly used for 
protection and as soldiers, and the hound, which was used for hunting purposes. 
Both these dogs were large and strong and typical working dogs, with only slight 
differences in appearance and build. 

It is reputed that all dogs of the Western World are descended from these two 
dog types. About 600 years ago the Europeans started specialized breeding from 
these two basic dogs; through fine selection and cross-breeding the different 
breeds evolved. 

Some dogs were bred especially for hunting. Others had to retrieve the prey, 
guard and herd the livestock, and for many other uses they could be put to, but 
the basis of all these dogs was still the original strong breed of the past. 

When Jan van Riebeeck came to the Cape in 1652, he brought his own dog along 
to protect him and his family in this wild and unknown country. 

This dog was known as a "Bullenbitjer", a large, heavy Mastiff-type dog.

At this time the original dog had been much diversified and many of the Western 
World countries had its own distinctive, specialized breed of dog. 

The settlers who came after Jan van Riebeeck also brought along their strongest 
dogs to protect them against all the unknown dangers of this strange land. These
dogs arrived here from many different countries. 

As the pioneers moved further and further inland and settled on remote farms, the
dogs were forcibly isolated and a lot of inbreeding took place which had the result
that the characteristics of the original Assirian dog started to reappear. 

Survival was of the utmost importance and it was here that the hardiness of 
today’s Boerboel was bred into the dog. There was no veterinary surgeon or 
medicines available for dogs and they had to look out for themselves to a large 

During the Groot Trek the Boerboel had most of the features that it has today and 
is clearly recognizable from old drawings. In that period after the Trek, on the 
distant farms, the Boerboel interbred further and only the biggest and strongest 
dogs survived.

His pioneer owner requested him to be a friend of the family, a worker, provide 
protection and also to be a fighter. They could not afford to have a disobedient, 
moody, finicky, sickly dog - they had to be able to rely on him to protect the 
family,work, kill and fight. 

At the turn of the century the characteristics of the old, original dog were clearly 
visible and the dog was generally known as the "Boel". The years that followed 
almost brought tragedy to the Boerboel. Urbanization caused cross breeding
with anything that could bark and the typical "Boel" started to disappear. 

It was only in the eighties that a serious search started again for the original
farm dog.

A few brave people took the initiative and the South African Boerboel Breeders 
Association was formed. Their main aim was to let the original Boerboel take its 
rightful place as a uniquely South African dog among the other dog breeds of the 

A search covering thousands of kilometers followed. Selective breeding started, 
many disappointments followed, but also immense joys! At last the dog of our 
forefathers was ready to be registered as a pure breed. 

In the meantime the Breeders Association has grown to over 900 members. They 
are widely spread throughout South Africa and Namibie. Each year in November 
they have a big get-together and people from all over converge on Kroonstad and 
dogs and people all look each other over. 

In August 1990, the first country-wide appraisal tour was undertaken by Jannie 
Bouwer of Bedford and Lucas van der Merwe of Kroonstad. Lucas’s wife Anneke 
went along as Secretary. A total of 5500 km. was covered, 250 dogs were seen 
and only 72 were selected to be registered. 

The big dream was taking shape……

Founder Members 

In the early 1980’s the five founder members arranged a meeting in Senekal at the 
High Schools Hostel in the common room. 

A sleepy village situated on the wide-open plains through which the great trek 
moved on its journey northwards into the "wide unknown". 

The founders had one common purpose. Africana must live and survive. They 
shared a common dream with singular passion, each a breeder of the Boerboel, 
the dog they knew and loved.The inseparable companion of our ancestors. 
Living Africana. 

They arrived on a crisp high veld morning, one by one. From Utrecht in Natal, 
Johan de Jager who is a sheep farmer and Chairman of the South African Wool 
Board. He is also the owner of the Rustverwacht Boerboel stud. 

Lucas van der Merwe from Kroonstad, Game rancher and International Hunting 
Safari Operator and his giant Boerboels, Plestiek and Flenters. 

Johan du Preez of Senekal, civil engineer and bridge builder with his Friedenheim
Boerboels, Leeuw, Duiwel and Mosadi. 

Mrs. Owen Read came from warder with Her Venterspad stud.

From the Eastern Freestate, the Net Family and their Moormoel dogs.

Of course, the audience……………. Some very uninterested schoolboys who 
came only for scrounging tea and cake afterwards. 

Names of famous dogs of yesteryear can never be forgotten - Rhabe Tia-Tia, 
Rustverwacht Koera and Spogter. The great traveller, Kringkop Ditsem, Mizpah 
Plestiek and his bitch, Flenters. Hofni Wagter and Hofni Ounooi……. 

Rest peaceful, old friends. Our society, built on your reputation and your seed. 
We shall not forget you. 

After the society came into being, things started moving. Thousands of kilometers
traveling to find more Boerboels. When an advertisement for Boerboels appeared,
somebody followed it up, more potential members were found. 

Leon Riekert of Pretoria with his Leonard stud, Babs Bosman from Douglas and 
her Ravata dogs, Ella Louw from Volksrust with Waterval, Steyn Opperman from 
Ficksburg with Christian, Nic van der Linde from Standerton and his Geelbos 
Boerboel, Klaas van Waveren from Poetersburg in Transvaal with Ysterberg…… 
many more followed. 

Famous names that had great impact on our breed.

The members became more. The first A.G.M. was held in the beautiful gardens of 
the Botanist, Professor Barkhuizen of Kameeldrift, Pretoria. 

In 1990 the S.A.B.C. made a short Boerboel documentary, screened on 50/50, 
and the questions began arriving……. Where, when and how did the Boerboel 

The great search started all over. 

Lucas van der Merwe and his wife Anneke, took to the road…… 

They traveled from the offices of the Kennel Union in Cape Town via many 
bypasses, to Louis Trichardt in the North. Where the world authority on dogs, 
Dr. Daan Marais lives in his castle with a giant Baobab tree as centerpiece in 
his living room…. Brittle, dust, books, old paintings, drawings.. a mindboggling 
experience lasting four days… and light began to colour the edges of the clouds.

Eventually, information started rolling in, mainly confirming all the surprising 
discoveries.One source was the British Museum of natural History……A copy of 
a painting, circa 1400, arrived with a typical Boerboel-like dog in the centre of a 
royal gathering in the court of King Charles. Other stories, books and prints with 
evidence followed - enough to make any inquiring mind turn…….

The Boerboel has arrived. 
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