The South African Mastiff (or Boerboel) is not a breed for everyone. They are protective and territorial dogs that will guard your home and family with fierce loyalty. However, with proper training and socialization the Boerboel can be a wonderful family pet.
Boerboel means “farmer’s dog” and they are believed to have been originally used to hunt lions as well as protect the early South African settlers during their travels. They are large breed dogs that can weigh between 154-200 pounds. Boerboels have a short, dense coat that requires very little maintenance and can come in a variety of colors including brown, red, fawn, black and brindle.
The South African Mastiff is a highly intelligent dog that requires a firm hand and lots of early training. As a result of the breed’s strong watchdog instinct, it should never be left unattended with unfamiliar children or strangers. Proper socialization will help this dog avoid aggressive tendencies.
With family and friends, Boerboels are very gentle and affectionate. This breed craves constant companionship and will suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time. They are excellent with other pets and can be wonderful with a child once it gets to know him.
The downfalls of this breed can also be its greatest appeal. Boerboels are inherently protective of its family and so long as the dog has been properly trained, it will be the most loyal companion your family has ever had. For exercise, they only require a reasonably sized yard or a daily walk, however, they are not recommended for apartment living.
Overall, the South African Mastiff is a healthy breed. They are prone to some of the same health problems that plague all large dogs such as hip and knee dysplasia but seem to have no issues specific to its breed.
When purchasing any dog, it is important to properly research the breeder. In the USA, the United States Boerboel Association and the American Boerboel Club offer registration and should be able to assist in locating a reputable breeder. If you’ve decided to adopt a Boerboel, you can expect to pay between $1,500-3,000 for a companion pup. As it is a rare breed, it is unlikely that you will find a breeder in your local area so it may be necessary to pay an additional fee to have your puppy shipped to you.