About Boerboels

history of the boerboel

The History of the Boerboel

Where did the Boerboel Mastiff come from?

The origin of the Boerboel dates back to the early 1600’s when the first European settlement in southern Africa was established by the Dutch East India Company in Table Bay (Cape Town). Although the Boerboel’s exact ancestors aren’t known, experts believe the breed comes from large native African canine species, and other big breed dogs like the Mastiff (Bullenbijter) brought into South Africa by Dutch, French, and English settlers. Over the years these breeds interbred, giving us the Boerboel we all know and love today.

Where does the name ‘Boerboel’ come from?
The name Boerboel loosely translates to ‘Farmers Dog’ or ‘Farmers Mastiff.’ It is said that the word ‘Boer’ or ‘Boor’ is the Dutch, Huguenot and Afrikaans word for ‘farmer’. The word originated in the Netherlands and was first used in the 1800’s. There is mixed evidence that suggests the word ‘boel’ means either ‘dog’ or ‘a lot’.

There is historical evidence that shows the word ‘Boel’ is of Dutch and Afrikaans origin and means ‘a lot’. In Dutch this has a literal meaning when you refer it to the Boerboel as ‘a lot’ could refer to a lot of dog in one body, relating to the size temperament and the myriad of functions the Boerboel performs like; hunting, guarding, herding and companionship.

In Afrikaans, the word ‘Boel’ refers to the mastiff breed of dogs. The word is believed to have originated from the “bull” part of the Bullenbijter dog. ‘Boel’ can also mean ‘a lot’ in Afrikaans. However, there is not much historically to support the word ‘Boel’ meaning ‘dog.’

What were Boerboels bred for?

The first European settlers brought big strong Mastiff type dogs onto the continent to protect the Diamond mines, their workers, and families. Eventually over the years, Boerboel’s were kept by farmers in more rural areas to protect their livestock and homes. The Boerboel was also a great working dog used to herd cattle and protect the livestock from wild animals such as Leopards, Hyenas, and Baboons.

Owning A Boerboel

What it’s like owning a Boerboel?

We’ve always got mixed emotions when saying goodbye to our puppies, so once they’re in their new homes we like to keep up to date with their progress. We feel very privileged to be able to follow our puppies on their journey through life and love the regular feedback and photos we receive from our clients.

Owning a Boerboel is a great experience and there really is no other breed quite like them. A well-bred, healthy Boerboel is a great dog for a family companion. From the moment you bring your puppy home the fun begins; they will be the family’s clown always on hand to act a fool and make you smile. A Boerboel will develop an amazing bond with the children of the family, you’ll find your Boerboel puppy has a gentle loving nature, is extremely affectionate and love cuddles, but watch out, as they can be a tad mischievous. The Boerboel is incredibly loyal with a courageous and territorial nature, their natural instinct is to protect their home and loved ones with all their might.

learn about boerboel dogs

How big will my Boerboel get?

The South African Boerboel Mastiff has a muscular, powerful build. A male Boerboel can grow to stand between 24 and 28 inches (61 to 69 cm) at the shoulder and weigh between 75 to 95 kg’s, some have been known to exceed 100kg. A female Boerboel is slightly shorter and lighter but can still grow to stand between 23 and 27 inches and (60 to 68 cm) and weight 65 to 80kg. Before you consider owning one of these magnificent dogs, you need to ensure you can accommodate a dog of this size.
We could write pages about what it’s like to own a Boerboel, but an experience is best shared by experiencing it.

feeding a boerboel

What should I feed my Boerboel puppy?
Studies show that dogs with better diets, healthier weights and more active lifestyles can live up to 2.5 years longer. According to the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA), 51% of dogs are overweight or obese.
Whatever food you choose, it’s important to feed a high grad dog food to your Boerboel puppy, to ensure they stay lean, and maintain optimum health and performance. There are 37 essential nutrients that the modern dog must eat in their food. But, with so many different brands and types of dog food available, it’s difficult to know which is best. The dog food you choose should be complete with high meat content and correct balance of vitamins and nutrients and/or raw meat. It is also important to look at the ingredients used, as many dog foods include synthetic and processed animal biproducts, which your Boerboel puppy could be sensitive to.
All our Boerboel pups, thrive on our high-quality kibble from Topguard Feeds. Our specially formulated puppy food for big dogs comes highly recommended. But don’t worry, if you have any questions or concerns when you get your new puppy home, we’re always on hand to give any help or advice, whether at 10 weeks or 10 years down the line.


Training & exercising

How do I train and exercise my South African Boerboel puppy?

Training your new pup, and getting the whole family involved is a great way to bond and ensure your fast-growing fur baby, will be well socialised and become a courteous well-mannered family pet. Always bear in mind that a big dog, especially one that grows to the size of a Boerboel needs to be well behaved around members of the public.

You will need to keep strenuous exercise to a minimum for the first year to 16 months, as not to put too much stress and strain on their rapidly growing joints. Short walks of around 20 minutes twice a day is sufficient up until around 12 months, which can be gradually increased after that. Once they begin to mature, you can walk and work your Boerboel to a high level, much more than other Mastiff breeds. As you can see from photos and videos on our website and social media, a mature Boerboel is more than happy to work around the farm all day running alongside quadbikes and swimming alongside the kayaks.

You should spend plenty of time playing and training your Boerboel from a young age. It’s never too early to start positive interaction and socialisation. Basic puppy training and rewarding good behaviour is essential to ensure your dog knows the leadership hierarchy of the home and boost their confidence and happiness.

Why does a Boerboel make such a good family companion?

There are generally three reasons why people own Boerboels. First and foremost, is for a family pet to live within the home as a companion and home protector. Secondly, is for showing and competitions and thirdly is as a working dog, on a farm or used for security and protection. Whatever your reason for owning a Boerboel you will not be disappointed, as they are highly intelligent, incredibly loyal and will become an integral part of any family.

Will my Boerboel need a certain type of training?

Depending on the reason for owning a Boerboel, means different types of training will be needed. All puppies, not just Boerboel puppies will need obedience training to ensure they know basic commands like sit, stay, lie down and good recall.

If you intend to show your Boerboel, it will need to learn how to stand squarely (stacking), how to walk and trot (known as gaiting) properly, so that the judge can see them moving freely. Dogs for the show ring need to be taught how to be patient and calm as to avoid any distractions and tolerate being examined.

Will my Boerboel need a certain type of training?

If your Boerboel is going to be a working dog, then specialised training with an experienced professional will be required. Your Boerboel will need to be assessed to ensure they have the right level of obedience, temperament, and drive to become a trained protection dog.

At Topguard we undertake all types of training for our dogs, depending on what type of nature, personality they have, and what parents/lineage they’re from. We are always available to talk you through the kind of training that would be suitable for your Boerboel puppy. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Boerboels are a large breed of dog, so you must ensure you have adequate space.

As with any dog, they need regular exercise.

Consistent training is a must as Boerboels have a very protective nature towards their families and are very loyal their whole lives.

Boerboels love cuddles and nothing more than curling up with you, so be prepared for lots of love.

Yes, they are – Boerboels can also be known as a South African Boerboel Mastiff, or Boerboel Mastiff.

It’s important to feed your puppy a high grad puppy food for the first 12 to 24 months. You need to ensure they are getting the right balance of nutrients for a growing dog. Our puppy food Salmon and Potato for large breeds from Topguard Feeds has everything your growing pup needs.

You can start basic training from 8-10 weeks old.

Boerboels enjoy mental stimulation, so a game of fetch with a favourite family friend is great idea.

You should walk your Boerboel for approximately 20 mins twice day and gradually increase their exercise as grow. It’s important not to put too much stress on their growing joints.

Boerboels are large dogs. A male can weigh up to 75-95kg and grow as tall as 28 inches toe to whither. Female Boerboels are a little smaller but can still grow up to 27 inches and weigh between 65-80kg.

Boerboels don’t require too much maintenance as they’re coats are short and dense. Brushing weekly with a soft-bristle brush, a rubber grooming mitt, or a hound glove will help to remove any loose hair and keep the dog looking their best.

Yes, we will register your Boerboel with the South African Boerboel Breeder’s Society (SABBS) or the Boerboel International (BBI).

Boerboels are very intelligent dogs, who can at times be a little mischievous (which is why they are so loveable). Playful and affectionate, they love cuddles and time within the family unit, they are confident and eager to learn, and have a natural protective instinct which makes them great guardians of the home and family.

A Boerboel can live between 8 to 12 years. Females tend to live a little longer than males.

Boerboels make great companions for children, especially if they grow up together. The only thing to consider is the size and weight of a Boerboel, as small children easily be knocked over.

We encourage any prospective puppy parents to visit or kennels to meet us and all our dogs. We would try to accommodate you as much as possible to enable you to visit your new puppy, by appointment.

Yes, you can. We advise anyone buy a puppy to meet the parents.

You will be able to take your puppy home around 9 weeks of age. This however can depend on where you live, if you live overseas, you may have to wait for the necessary vaccinations prior to shipping your Boerboel. If your puppy requires a rabies vaccination your puppy may have to stay with us until they are 16 weeks.

Yes, they do. The Boerboel makes a great pet for anyone who is experienced with dogs and loves a big, kind natured lovable rogue to cuddle up with.

topguard boerboel
topguard boerboel
topguard boerboel
topguard boerboel

Experience the magnificent

We could write pages about what it’s like to own a Boerboel, but words simply don’t match the experience.