Is a Boerboel a Good Family Dog?

Is a Boerboel a Good Family Dog?

The quick answer is yes, A Boerboel is an excellent family dog. But there are some provisos you must consider, and we will discuss them in this article.

What is a Boerboel?

The name Boerboel is two words Boer and boel. Boer is the Afrikaans/Dutch name for a farmer, and boel is the Afrikaans/Dutch name for a dog. So the name means “farmer’s dog”. You pronounce it “boo-er-bull”.

South African farmers introduced the Boerboel breed to protect their homesteads. Its other name is the South African Mastiff.

Boerboel dog breed

The history of the dog does not include which precise breeds they introduced to create the Boerboel. However, they would have needed to be resilient animals to survive the climate and variety of dangerous wildlife they would have encountered.

They would have been the major deterrent for the homesteaders against aggressive predators like lions, packs of hyenas, and leopards.

Boerboel Information – Pros and Cons


  • Loving and affectionate with all family members. Better with older children. Their instincts are to protect their family.
  • Boerboels are a healthy dog. It’s not at all common for them to suffer from a long list of hereditary diseases.
  • They are average shedders. They will need a brush down once or twice a week, to keep hair fall to a minimum.
  • They have good levels of intelligence, so mental stimulation is necessary to help keep them occupied.
  • Boerboels love to play, and because of their size and build are better suited for children over the age of 9 or 10.
  • This breed tolerates hot weather better than most breeds.
  • If you’re looking for a big breed, that’s loving and a big softy at heart, then you have found him.


  • Imperative to socialize these dogs very early in their lives. If not, they can become dominant, and then it might be too late to rein in these tendencies.
  • Same with training and obedience. Train or place them in obedience classes from a very young age.
  • They are big dogs and can be boisterous. Young children can get knocked over and flattened easily.
  • Boerboels do not adapt to apartment living. It makes perfect sense. Dogs of this size would fill an apartment on their own. Apartments because of their location don’t always have access to big enough grassy areas where a Boerboel can run. They have a massive amount of energy to burn off.
  • If you do not deal with their energy levels they can become bored, listless, cause damage, and have become aggressive.
  • Not a breed for the first-time owner.
  • Suspicious of strangers and other dogs.
  • Although I don’t think of this as a real con, I mention it because some pet parents may see it as a negative. Owners of a Boerboel, thinking about a second, may need to think twice about the same sex dogs.

Boerboel’s Temperament

The Boerboel has a wonderful temperament. Loves his family, is gentle and kindhearted around children. That’s not to say he’s happy when strangers turn up because he’s ostensibly a guard dog.

We mentioned that he’s not for a first-time owner. What we mean by this is he needs an owner that has previous experience with large dogs. Owners need to be firm, but not harsh, and be well versed in positive reinforcement methods of training.

Boerboel with kid

They are a dominant breed of dog and therefore require socializing and training from a very young age. You must involve all family members with this, so the dog understands even the youngest family member demands respect. It might also be prudent to enlist the help of a professional trainer.

This breed hates being left on their own, especially for hours on end. Isolation doesn’t suit them and though they might be guard dogs, they don’t appreciate outside living. They need to be up close and personal with their family.

If they have a fenced-in yard to burn off their excess energy, all the better. But they still require long walks with the family. Be prepared to exercise them every day for more than an hour. My advice would be to keep them leashed at all times when on walks or runs. Pay attention to other dogs and strangers.

You will need to introduce visitors to your Boerboel before allowing them entrance to your home. This is the breed of dog that will give his own life to protect his human family. I pity any intruder caught breaking into the house and home of a Boerboel.

Boerboel Information


  • Weight: 150-200 pounds.
  • Height: Male 25-28 inches, Female 23-25.5 inches.
  • Build: Very strong build, muscular, and powerful.
  • Boerboel Lifespan: 9-12 years.
  • Coat: Short and dense.
  • Color: Mainly brindle and many shades of brown.
  • Face: Features a black mask.
  • Health: They are a powerful breed and, unlike many breeds, today, have very few hereditary health issues. One health issue they may be prone to hip dysplasia.
  • Tail: It was a feature of the breed to have their tail docked. This was to prevent being grabbed by other wild animals in a fight. Today many countries have banned tail docking.

They are a big dog but don’t be fooled, they can move swiftly and powerfully.

Boerboel Breeders

We know you hear this all the time, but choose your breeder wisely. It always comes down to health issues. Unprofessional breeders sell dogs with genetic health disorders.

Boerboel puppy

Look, it’s heartbreaking when a dog dies, but you know what’s even worse? When a dog dies before his time. In relation to our lifespan, dogs live a short time, so make that time count.

A respectable breeder will x-ray their breeding animals for hip and elbow dysplasia and check their eyes by an ophthalmologist. A breeder that cares will not allow puppies to inherit these diseases. We often find both conditions in a Boerboel.

Is the Boerboel a Family Dog That’s Right for You?

If you are a first-time dog owner or you have never had a large dog before, then we would not recommend a Boerboel.

They are a wonderful, loving, gentle giant of a dog. But they are a handful. In inexperienced hands, they can turn dominant and even aggressive.

If you are an experienced, confident, and assertive dog-handler, then you will welcome a loyal and protective dog into your family.

What do you think of Boerboels? Are you the proud pet parent of one? If so, let us know your thoughts and if you think there are any personality traits, we’ve missed.