20 Things You Didn’t Know about the Boerboel

The Boerboel is a kind of mastiff that came into existence in the country of South Africa. As such, it is sometimes called the South African Mastiff. These animals have a very formidable reputation, which makes sense considering their original use in their homeland. However, this means that the Boerboel has been banned in a number of countries because of that. Something that interested individuals might want to keep in mind.

1. The Name Has Two Components

The Boerboel’s name has two components. One would be boer while the other would be boel. The first is an Afrikaans word meaning “farmer.” However, interested individuals might be more familiar with it because of the Boers, who are descended from the Dutch-speaking Free Burghers in the Cape of Good Hope. The second is short for boelhond, which translates to “bulldog.”

2. Created Using Mastiffs

Since the Boerboel is a mastiff, it should come as no surprise to learn that it was created using mastiffs. Generally speaking, mastiffs are big, powerful dogs with a number of notable characteristics, with an excellent example being the big, bulky head that is nonetheless shorter than normal for dogs. True mastiffs are said to be descended from the Molossus, which was an extremely common dog breed in the ancient Greco-Roman world that traced its roots to the Molossians of Epirus. However, there are dog breeds that are sometimes called mastiffs even though they do not share that descent.

3. Created Using Bulldogs

Naturally, the Boerboel was also created using bullhounds. As for why bulldogs are called bulldogs, well, the gist of it is that people were much more into bloodsports in the past than in the present. Said animals were sometimes used for dog fighting. However, bulldogs saw more use for bull-baiting, which was a bloodsport that involved setting dogs as well as other animals on a bull that had been tied to an iron stake so that the latter’s movements would be limited to a radius of approximately 30 feet. Bulldogs are believed to be descended from mastiffs, having been bred to become smaller, more compact, and otherwise more suitable for said bloodsport.

4. Big Dogs

The Boerboel is on the bigger side of things for dogs. After all, 66 cm is the ideal height for the males of the dog breeds while 61 cm is the ideal height for the females of the dog breed. As such, these animals weigh an average of 150 to 200 pounds, which explains much about their formidable reputation.

5. Not the Best Choice of Dog for Beginners

Size can make an animal much more intimidating than they would be under other circumstances. As a result, it isn’t uncommon to hear stories about people struggling to establish their leadership over big dogs. This is one of the reasons that the Boerboel is a poor choice of dog for beginners. Interested individuals shouldn’t even look into the dog breed unless they are experienced dog owners who can assert themselves.

6. Once Used to Hunt Baboons

Supposedly, the Boerboel has been used to hunt baboons. Said species is one of the most iconic species that can be found in South Africa. However, baboons aren’t necessarily well-regarded, as shown by the fact that humans are the primary cause of their falling numbers. This is because the species consists of opportunistic eaters, meaning that they can do a great deal of damage to a farmer’s property. As such, farmers haven’t been shy about hunting baboons that they consider to be a threat.

7. Once Used to Hunt Leopards

Speaking of which, the Boerboel has also been used to hunt leopards, which are a much more threatening species than baboons. After all, they are excellent predators that have been known to engage in surplus killing when the chance comes up, meaning that they can go through a lot of livestock within a very short period of time. Moreover, leopards have been known to attack humans, particularly when interaction emboldens them. Still, it should come as no surprise to learn that leopards are like every other large predator that shares an environment with humans in that their numbers have seen a massive fall over time.

8. Not Guaranteed to Best a Leopard in a One-On-One Fight

Boerboels are apparently capable of beating a leopard in a one-on-one fight. In fact, one member of the dog breed is said to have won four such fights before being killed by their opponent in the fifth. However, Boerboels are far from being guaranteed to win a one-on-one fight. Moreover, they are apparently not a deterrent to leopards, which can kill them and then carry them off. It is said that a missing dog is a potential sign that a leopard is in the area.

9. Used as Guard Dogs

In any case, Boerboels tend to be better-known for being guard dogs for farms. This is important because farmers live further from other people because of their occupation, meaning that they have an increased need for self-reliance when it comes to security. Unsurprisingly, this means a lot of the dog breed’s characteristics are connected to this role in one way or another.

10. Smart Dogs

Working dogs tend to be smart dogs. After all, they need to be capable of learning the tasks associated with their intended role. Moreover, the easier that working dogs learn, the more convenient they are for their human masters. Boerboels have a fair amount of intelligence. Guard dogs need to be capable of judging the situation for them to make the right decisions. Without that intelligence, they could very well be counter-productive or worse.

11. Independent Dogs

Speaking of which, Boerboels are also independent dogs. This makes sense because their role means that they will need to make their own decisions from time to time. Something that Boerboels can’t do unless they have the necessary degree of independence. On a side note, this is one more reason why people need to be experienced dog owners if they want to get one of these dogs. If they can’t assert themselves, their dog is that much likelier to start making decisions of their own, thus introducing some potential complications in the process.

12. Even-Tempered Dogs

On the plus side, the Boerboel is said to be an even-tempered dog. Once again, this makes sense. Simply put, an excessively aggressive guard dog would be a serious liability. Something that would be particularly true because of the Boerboel’s size and strength. Instead, an even temper is what enables the Boerboel to make sound decisions rather than go on the attack with either minimal cause or even worse no cause at all. Of course, a general tendency towards an even temper doesn’t guarantee that a particular Boerboel will have one. As such, early training and early socialization are as important as always.

13. Loyal and Loving Companions

Boerboels are said to be loyal and loving companions for their families. Apparently, this extends to children as well, which is good for people with families who are interested in the dog breed.

14. Tends to Be Territorial

Chances are good that interested individuals can guess that Boerboels tend to be on the territorial side of things. As such, if they haven’t been trained right, they can show aggressive tendencies towards others. Something that should be considered cause for serious concern because of the Boerboel’s size and strength. This means that interested individuals need to start training and socializing their dog sooner rather than later lest their dog start doing down the wrong path. For that matter, they should also avoid pampering a Boerboel to excess because that will lead to problematic behaviors as well. These dogs are smart. Due to that, if they become aware that they can get away with things that they shouldn’t be getting away with, well, suffice to say that smartness is something that can sometimes backfire on dog owners.

15. Need Regular Exercise

Boerboels aren’t the most active dogs that can be found out there. However, they still need regular exercise for them to remain in good condition. Similarly, the intelligence of the Boerboel means that they also need regular mental stimulation, whether that comes from playtime or some other suitable source. Fortunately, these dogs aren’t excessively energetic. Once they have gotten what they need in this regard, they shouldn’t be too much of a bother. If anything, Boerboels have a reputation for being a bit lethargic at home.

16. Can Be a Surprisingly Good Apartment Dog

Given the Boerboel’s role, one might expect it to be a dog ill-suited for apartment living. After all, it seems as though it needs a fair amount of space to run around in, particularly since it is on the bigger side of things for canine companions. Amusingly, Boerboels can make for surprisingly good apartment dogs. They aren’t excessively energetic. As a result, once the Boerboel has gotten enough exercise and stimulation, they are said to be relatively laid-back. That changes if they don’t get enough exercise and stimulation, but that is true for Boerboels living in bigger homes as well.

17. Not the Best Choice for Off-Leash Dog Parks

Some people might be wondering if they should bring a Boerboel to an off-leash dog park. If so, they should know that this dog breed is apparently poorly suited to such facilities for a couple of reasons. One, Boerboels are big dogs, so that can create complications when they are interacting with those that are smaller than them. Two, Boerboels can be territorial, so it is best not to expose them to such scenarios lest their instincts flare up for the worse.

18. Can Get Along with Other Animals

Still, Boerboels are apparently capable of getting along with other animals. Something that is particularly true when they have grown up with the latter. After all, while guarding against potentially threatening wildlife was a major responsibility for the dog breed, they wouldn’t have fared very well as guard dogs for farmers if they couldn’t get along with livestock.

19. Generally Healthy

Boerboels are said to be generally healthy. However, interested individuals should keep a watchful eye out for health issues that are common among bigger dog breeds. One example would be cancer while another example would be hip dysplasia. On top of this, interested individuals should watch out for bloat, which is when a dog’s stomach twists because it has been filled with gas, fluid, and food. This cuts off the blood supply, meaning that this should always be considered an emergency because this can kill within just two hours. On average, Boerboels are said to live 9 to 11 years. This is short compared to some of the smaller dog breeds that can be found out there. However, it isn’t that uncommon for bigger dog breeds, which seem to age faster than their smaller counterparts.

20. There Are Restrictions on Boerboel Ownership in Certain Countries

By this point, it should be clear that Boerboels are formidable animals. Fortunately, their size and strength are combined with their intelligence and their even-tempered nature, meaning that they aren’t known for excessive aggressiveness. Still, it is important to note that the ownership of Boerboels is restricted in a number of countries in a number of ways. For example, Denmark banned 13 dog breeds in 2010, one of which was the Boerboel. Existing dogs are allowed, though they need to be leashed and muzzled at all times while they are out in public. Meanwhile, Romania instituted a ban on the import of the Boerboel as far back as 2002, with the result that people can’t own them unless they have a court order that allows it. As such, interested individuals should definitely look up the local rules on Boerboels to make sure that everything is alright.

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