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African Boerboel Temperament – Inexperienced Owners Beware!

Hailing from South Africa, the African Boerboel temperament is calm, confident, and loyal. Their word “Boerboel” in the breeds name comes from the Afrikaans/Dutch words for farmer (boer) and dog (boel).

Photo of Boerboel Dog sitting in the Woods | Confident Temperament

African Boerboel Temperament and Personality

The African Boerboel temperament is a playful and loving one. This dog loves having a job to do. He is happiest when he is exercising both his body and his mind.

African Boerboels and Children

African Boerboels love their humans – especially children – which can lead to them acting a bit too overprotective at times.

Because of his large size, always supervise a Boerboel when he is around young children. He could end up hurting the child by accident.

He also has a penchant for bossiness, even with members of his own family, no matter how small. You must always be present to remind him that he is not the boss around here – you are.

If your child is having a play date, it’s probably best to keep your Boerboel separate from the kiddos. This is because he may deem your child’s friend as a threat if they get too loud with each other.

African Boerboels and Other Animals

The Boerboel breed gets along well with other pets, especially if they grow up together. However, same-sex Boerboels can be competitive and aggressive with each other.

If you are considering adding a Boerboel to your family as a second dog, consider adding one of the opposite sex. (Just don’t forget to neuter/spay him or her!)

Watchful Protector

The Boerboel’s instinct is to protect his family and keep watch for potential threats. Therefore, you must socialize your Boerboel to prevent him from becoming aggressive or territorial.

Photo of Boerboel Dog | Dominant Temperament

When friends come to the house, be sure to introduce them to your Boerboel properly to prevent the dog from mistaking your friend as a potential threat!

This is the kind of dog who wouldn’t think twice about laying his own life down to save his family. He is one loyal soul who would do anything for those he loves.

A True Working Dog

The African Boerboel is a smart dog who has a great work ethic. Boerboels love to help with tasks like guarding livestock, protecting your home, or even competing in dog sports.

Believe it or not, despite the fact that he does not exactly warm up right away to those he does not know, a few Boerboels have actually gone on to become successful therapy dogs.

Not for the Newbie

Boerboel owners do not recommend this breed for the inexperienced or first-time dog owner. This is because they tend to think of themselves as natural leaders and will step all over you if you let them.

This is a dog whom you must put in his place. He must understand that you are the leader of the pack here – not him.

These dogs do best with patient owners who have the time and dedication necessary to help them be the very best dogs they can be.


This is a dog who loves to play. Just make sure that you give him plenty of space in which to do it, and that you have properly fenced in that space.

For this reason, and for his size alone, the Boerboel does not do well as an apartment dog, so city living is probably out of the question.

Here is a list of medium to large sized dogs we compiled that are more ideal if you live in the city.

Dangerous Dog?

Like Pit Bulls, the African Boerboel has a reputation for being a “dangerous dog.” And, just like Pit Bulls, this reputation is undeserved.

The Boerboel will be as good a dog as you help him to be. If you treat him harshly, then he is going to treat you harshly in return. This is not an outcome you want, considering the Boerboel's strength and size.

He does have the capability to show behave aggressively,  but so does every other dog.

The more you socialize him, and the earlier you train him, the better dog he will become, and the less you will have to worry about him becoming an “angry dog.”

A Brief History of the African Boerboel Breed

The South African Boerboel started out as a farmer’s dog. Dutch settlers created the breed in the 1600s in South Africa for this very purpose.

Early Boerboels hunted wildlife like baboons, leopards, hyenas, and other types of large cats.

While Boerboels were popular in South Africa for quite some time, colonists began protesting British rule in the 1800s, which lead to the presence of the breed becoming more scattered.

 In the wake of both World Wars, however, South Africa became urbanized, and Boerboel breeders began cross-breeding the breed with other dogs.

During the 1980s, however, enthusiasts began breeding purebred Boerboels again, and the breed grew in popularity. Boerboels, however, remain rare outside of South Africa.

How Do You Train an African Boerboel?

Portrait of a Boerboel Dog

The Boerboel is steadfast, highly intelligent and calm. However, just like every other breed, early socialization is an absolute must for this dog.

Expose your Boerboel puppy to everything and everyone you can – new places, new people, new situations.

Every new encounter helps decrease the chances you will end up with an aggressive or shy adult Boerboel.

A Boerboel needs consistent, structured, long-term training.

Boerboel puppies can be easygoing and flexible. Inexperienced dog owners may think an adult Boerboel will be the same, but this is not the case.

Patient, consistent training works best with this breed. And always use positive reinforcement with a Boerboel, as he does not respond well to harsh training methods, like yelling or spanking.

Helpful Dog Training Resource:

For help with training your African Boerboel dog, you should take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.

The African Boerboel Appearance

The African Boerboel is a rather hefty dog. He owes this to his Mastiff relatives.

African Boerbel Height

Full-grown African Boerboel males are between 25 and 28 inches tall. Full-grown females are between 23 and 26 inches tall.

African Boerbel Weight

Adult African Boerbel males weigh between 140 and 200 lbs. Adult females weigh between 110 and 140 lbs.

African Boerbel Colors

As for colors the African Boerbel comes in, there are quite a few. This gives you more options to choose the ideal color for your puppy.

  • Black
  • Brindle
  • Brown
  • Cream
  • Fawn
  • Piebald
  • Mahogany
  • Red

Grooming an African Boerboel

The African Boerboel has a short and smooth overcoat. He is an average shedder who doesn’t require much grooming.

A weekly brushing along with a monthly bath should be enough to keep his coat healthy and keep him looking his best. Generally, if he smells like “dog,” then it’s probably time for a bath.

Staying Healthy: Be Aware of these African Boerboel Health Issues

The African Boerboel has a life expectancy of about 9 to 11 years. And despite his size, the Boerboel is generally healthy with relatively few hereditary conditions. However, there are some health conditions you should still look out for, including:

Helpful Dog Health Resource:

Note: Our Health is #1 Priority. It should be no different for your dog. But you need to help him. The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health is the answer. This handy guide will help you recognize the symptoms of the health problems above. Get the knowledge to stay ahead of these terrible issues that can rob your lovely dog from vigor and life. Help your friend make it to 11 yrs+ without pain and suffering.


The African Boerboel requires daily exercise. A long walk or play session is a great way to get this done. You definitely don’t want a dog who is this strong to have excess energy at the end of the day – that is a situation that can only end in disaster.

However, as I mentioned earlier, this is a breed who needs mental stimulation as well as physical exercise to avoid boredom.

A bored Boerboel can become a destructive Boerboel dog. And that’s an unpleasant experience no one wants to have to deal with.

Give your Boerboel puzzle toys and regular training along with physical activities to keep him happy and healthy.

This is the kind of dog who will frustrate you when it comes to buying him toys because he easily destroys most any toy within minutes. So you may have to spend a bit extra to get him the heavy-duty toys that he can’t destroy within five minutes.

Finding the Perfect African Boerboel

Are you and your family ready to add an African Boerboel to your family? Your first decision should be whether you would like to purchase an African Boerboel puppy for sale from a breeder or adopt a Boerboel from your local shelter.

One main reason why people get a Boerboel from a breeder is to ensure the dog is purebred. Whereas with adoption, it can be difficult to determine if the dog is 100 percent Boerboel.

Something important to consider with this breed, however, is his rarity. This can affect your purchasing decision, no matter which way you go. If you buy from a breeder, he can cost you quite a pretty penny. If you’d rather adopt, you may have to wait years for one of these dogs to end up in the shelter.

Photo of a Black Boerboel Dog in Garden

African Boerboel Puppies for Sale

Because of the rarity of this breed, the African Boerboel price ranges from as low as $1,300 to as high as $7,000, depending on the dog’s lineage.

The price of South African Boerboel puppies for sale depends on several factors, including the price the breeder decides to charge, the location of the dog, the availability of a litter, and the dog’s lineage. The more superior the lineage, the higher the cost of a Boerboel dog for sale.

African Boerboel Rescue and Adoption

Looking for a Boerboel to adopt? You can either adopt one from a dedicated Boerboel rescue group or contact your local shelter. You may find you’ll have better luck finding a dog through a group dedicated to rescuing this particular, rare breed.

For instance, Giant Paws Boerboel Rescue, Inc. is a great source for finding adoptable Boerboels. You can also reach out to your local rescue organization or animal shelter to see if they have any Boerboels available for adoption.

Because this breed is so rare, you may find it impossible to find a purebred Boerboel who is up for adoption. And also, because of this breed’s rarity, you don’t have many choices to fall back on insofar as mixed breeds, as you might have with other breeds.

This is definitely a breed who requires you to do your homework before finding one suitable to bring home. You can also read the following to help you make a great choice at the shelter.

African Boerboel Breeders

If you decide to purchase an African Boerboel from a breeder, make sure you do your research. You can, for example, head to the American Kennel Club to find information on breeders based on their location and the dogs’ lineages.

And, while the American Boerboel Club doesn’t provide member breeders just yet, they do offer tips on finding the perfect Boerboel puppies for sale in or around your local area.

When it comes to finding the perfect breeder, make sure the breeder you choose is well-versed on the breed and that she is also able to provide you with the necessary health certificates clearing the dog of any maladies.

Breeders should be more than happy to answer any questions you may have, whether they pertain to a particular pup you’re interested in or the breed in general.

One question you should definitely ask is if the pup you’re interested in has shown any aggressive tendencies.

Piggybacking on that, you can also ask the breeder if she has socialized or already begun training the puppy Boerboel.

This will give you a good idea of the dog’s temperament right out of the gate, as well as how much work you’ll need to do on him.

Expect good breeders to ask you questions as well to determine if an African Boerboel is truly right for you. A good breeder will want to give her pups a good home as badly as you do.

A Final Word about the African Boerboel Temperament

The African Boerboel temperament is loyal, protective, and intelligent. This makes this rare dog a great pick for the experienced dog owner.

Start socializing your Boerboel puppy early to ensure he does not become an aggressive or territorial adult. Also, start training him early as well to try to minimize this breeds headstrong temperament. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.

While he is a rather large pup, the Boerboel is a dog who is devoted to his humans and adores children, making him the perfect family companion! Just make sure you supervise him around the younger ones to make sure he doesn’t let his large size get in the way and accidentally hurt someone.