If you are looking to learn how to breed Boerboels, our guide will teach you everything about the famous farming dog of South Africa, which is one of the most powerful dog breeds in the world. Therefore, it is an exceptional guard and working farm dog.
You can take advantage of our guide as an aspiring owner or breeder because we have ensured that our post helps both types of readers. Now, let us start with a solid background of this breed and of breeding Boerboels, so you can have a general understanding of this powerful dog.
Background of Boerboel Breeding
They were bred with a specific purpose centuries ago, and therefore, they have an interesting and rich history which we are going to review. Furthermore, we are also going to analyze the appearance standards and desirable temperament and traits.
Origin and History
Boerboels originate from South Africa and they appeared for the first time during the 1600s. Boers bred them to protect the homestead and to act as watchdogs and working farm dogs. However, before them, they mainly used Mastiff-type dogs and Hounds for this purpose. Jan van Riebeeck arrived in South Africa in 1652 to establish a trading post, as commanded by the Dutch East India Company. He became an important character because he was the one to found Cape Town.
However, he is even more important for our guide because he brought with him a Bullenbitjer, which was a gigantic Mastiff-type dog, which is considered as the ancestor of the Boerboel because it mated with native dogs (Africanis).
As more Europeans arrived in Cape Town, they also brought their dogs with them, which were of the Molosser type. They also mated with native dogs, and they also gave birth to the early versions of the Boerboel, which was refined via selective breeding with the following breeds:
This is how the Boerboel was born. The perfect response to the hostile, wild, and challenging land that South Africa was during those times.
According to the AKC Popularity Ranking, they rank 121 out of 195 dog breeds. Even though their slot in such ranking is low, they still enjoy plenty of demand. As reported by several newspapers and media, the South Africa Mastiff is enjoying a surge in popularity thanks to its sweet and loving temperament, which is paired with its exceptional physical features.
They are ideal for families due to their nanny-like attitude towards children, and furthermore, they are excellent for protecting any home or land. It is in their nature, and in addition, they are excellent companions for the outdoors.
The Boerboel has specific appearance standards, which we explain in detail below.
They are big and heavy dogs. Below, find the details:
- Male: Height – 24 to 27 inches / weight – 150 to 200 pounds
- Female: Height – 22 to 25 inches / weight – 150 to 200 pounds
The body of this dog is powerful, athletic and exceptionally strong. Below, find the main characteristics:
- Chest: Deep, broad and deep with well-sprung ribs
- Back: Straight, broad and muscular
- Legs: The forequarters are well-defined and strong, whereas the hindquarters are resistant, sturdy and muscular
- Top Line: Firm, sturdy and level
- Under Line: It presents a slight tuck-up
The coat of the Boerboel is shiny, smooth, short and dense. The following colors are accepted (with or without a mask):
All shades are accepted, as well as some white patches on the chest and legs. Furthermore, remember that the black mask is a highly desirable trait.
Head and Face
Below, find the most remarkable features of the head and face of a Boerboel:
- Skull: Muscular, flat and square. It displays power and strength
- Eyes: Medium-sized, widely spaced and dark brown in color (all shades of brown are accepted)
- Muzzle: Deep and broad, and is clearly narrowed towards the nose
- Ears: V-shaped, medium-sized and they hang forward
- Cheeks: Well-filled and proportional to the body
The temperament of the Boerboel is a mixture of different traits, some of which are opposite but they blend perfectly. Below, find our complete revision of their differing traits.
- Extremely loving and caring towards children: This is why they are ideal family dogs. They might be huge, strong and powerful, but they are total sweethearts when it comes to human children
- Protective and alert: They are always ready to defend you and your family whenever necessary. That is why they make excellent watchdogs, as they are always supervising the area for potential threats
- Smart: They can process training quickly and effectively. They love to learn new commands, so you will be able to mold them exactly the way you want. All you need is a firm, calm and controlled temperament
- Excellent work ethic: This is why they are the ideal farmer’s dog. In addition to being smart, they are hard-working, and therefore, they are excellent for tasks like guarding livestock, protecting land, watching and especially in sports
- They can become excellent therapy dogs
- Active and love to play, which makes them very entertaining, especially for those who are looking for a companion in their adventures into nature
As they are territorial and protective, you need to train them to control these traits. They can be aggressive towards strangers, for example. Therefore, you need to train them to keep it under control when you invite guests to your home.
They are bossy and they will step over you if you let them. Therefore, they are not for the first-time owner. You require tons of patience, a firm temper and a calm attitude to tame and train this powerful dog.
Restrictions on Keeping Boerboels
You can own a Boerboel legally in the USA. The unique city that has special restrictions regarding this breed is Fairfield, Iowa. The following countries have banned it/hold strict ownership restrictions:
- Switzerland (Geneva)
- Turks and Caicos
- Faroe Islands
Therefore, if you live in any of these countries or cities, you need to ensure that you meet the ownership restrictions. Such restrictions exist as Boerboels are often tagged as a dangerous breed.
Health Concerns When Breeding Boerboels
Boerboels, like any other breed, are prone to developing specific health issues. It does not mean that your dog will develop them by all means, but to see that they have a higher incidence rate. However, these dogs are generally healthy and they have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years, which is excellent for a large dog.
Hip dysplasia is common amongst all dogs, with a prevalence of approximately 15% according to this study. Therefore, it is one of the most frequent orthopedic diseases, and it is recurrent amongst Boerboels. Therefore, as an owner or aspiring breeder, you need to be aware of the first clinical signs:
- Lameness in the hind end
- Lethargy and depression
- Unwillingness to exercise
- Reluctance to jumping/climbing up stairs/rising
- Narrow stance
- Looseness in the joint
- Crying (when pain is moderate or chronic)
Hip dysplasia can range from mild (I) to chronic (IV). In mild cases, it can be treated with physical therapy, whereas chronic cases require surgical correction. It is one of the most expensive types of surgery because its price ranges from $7,000 to $14,000.
Obesity is a huge trigger for hip dysplasia, especially if the dog has a predisposition to developing it. Therefore, you need to keep the weight of your Boerboel within the healthy range, which is between 150 and 200 pounds.
Elbow dysplasia is common amongst large dog breeds and it causes damage to the cartilage surface of the joint, due to the malformation of the elbow joint. In the case of Boerboels, it presents an incidence rate of 38%. Therefore, you need to watch out for the following symptoms to detect this abnormality early in the life of your pet:
- Pain when extending/flexing the elbow joint
- Difficulty to get up
- Reluctance to exercise
- Swelling of the joints
- Decreased range of movement
The only way to treat and cure elbow dysplasia is via surgery. However, your veterinarian will use drugs like Rimadyl, Deramaxx, and EtoGesic to manage the pain, as well as lifestyle changes such as a weight loss diet and controlled exercise.
This condition is not fatal, but it will seriously handicap the quality of life of your pet. Therefore, you should take action as soon as possible. The cost for this surgery ranges from $1,500 to $4,000. Therefore, it is an important investment, but all the better for your pet!
Vaginal hyperplasia is a proliferation of vaginal mucosa, which emerges from the vaginal floor. It is the result of estrogenic stimulation, and therefore, it occurs frequently when your dog is in the heat. Fortunately, it does not pose a major risk than creating discomfort, because the surface of the protuberance becomes dry and develops fissures. The most common symptoms of vaginal hyperplasia are the following:
- Inflamed tissue from the vulva
- Excessive licking of the area
- Reluctance to breed
Most of the time, vaginal hyperplasia will disappear on its own. You only need to clean the area gently and patiently, and to apply an ointment. However, in case it is extreme, it might require surgery, but such cases are extremely rare.
Since Boerboels are at higher risk of developing vaginal hyperplasia, you should consider ovariectomizing the bitch, in order to prevent this from happening. Prevention is the best policy, and you will help your pet a lot.
Entropion is common in Boerboels and it happens when the eyelid rolls inward, which causes the hair on the surface to rub against the cornea. Such an effect has all sorts of negative consequences such as pain (often chronic), corneal erosions and corneal ulcers, which can lead to vision loss. Therefore, it needs immediate treatment, which is only possible via surgery. The most common symptoms of this health issue are:
- Rolled inwards eyelids – most remarkable clinical sign
- Abnormal and excessive tearing
- Constant rubbing
- Hypersensitivity to light
Since this condition is genetic, as a breeder you need to discard specimens that present it. Your goal must be to clean the gene pool from these genetic defects that affect the quality of life of the puppies.
It can be corrected, but as a breeder, it should be your priority to help maintain and develop the breed rather than just pulling a profit.
Ectropion is the opposite of Entropion because the eyelids roll outward. This effect makes the lower eyelids look droopy. This abnormality causes all sort of problems:
- Keratitis: Due to the drying of the cornea and/or surface of the eye
- Conjunctivitis: Due to the drying of the tissues that cover the eyeball and the inner surface of the eyelids
It can also cause corneal damage, which ultimately leads to corneal scarring, and can end in vision loss, be it partial or permanent. Therefore, it needs immediate treatment to stop it from affecting your dog.
The only way to correct it is via surgery. Similar to Entropion, it is a genetic defect. As a breeder, you need to discard puppies that present this condition. The goal is to maintain, develop and improve the breed, and therefore, we all need to address these problems.
Its main characteristic is seizures with no underlying cause. Studies suggest that this type of epilepsy is the result of genetic and environmental factors. In consequence, Boerboels with juvenile epilepsy must be discarded from breeding. Young (6 months+) and middle-aged dogs (approximately 6 years old) are the main sufferers of idiopathic epilepsy, which also receives the name of juvenile epilepsy. If your dog suffers from this condition, then it will display the following symptoms:
- Foaming at the mouth
- Muscle twitching
There is no way to cure this type of epilepsy. However, your veterinarian will recommend Phenobarbital in the majority of cases, because it has been proven to reduce the seizures. In case it is not enough, then your dog will also have to take potassium bromide.
As long as your pet takes its medication consistently, it will be able to live a healthy and happy life. However, you will have to keep an eye on it all the time.
How to Breed Boerboels
Are you interested in breeding this powerful, docile dog? Quite a mix, but it is what makes it an excellent dog with plenty of demand nowadays, which is only growing with the passing of time. Below, find everything you need to get started.
Choosing the Bitch and Stud
If you want to succeed in this business and fulfill the main goal of breeders, which is to maintain and improve the breed, then you need to master the art of choosing the bitch and stud.
Know Your Bitch
You must identify the strengths and weaknesses of your bitch, in order to define what an ideal stud would look like. Ideally, the stud should be able to eliminate problematic traits from the line of the bitch. Therefore, it is important to analyze your dog objectively.
Identify What the Ideal Stud Looks Like
It should have show quality and contain the traits you want to include in the bloodline, and of course, be absent of the problematic traits that you would like to remove. In the case of Boerboels, we are talking about excessively protective behavior. Of course, you should always see the stud in person. No excuses.
Perform Pedigree Analysis
Once you have a handful of candidates, you need to perform a proper pedigree analysis. It will allow you to get more information about their ancestors, and to see an estimation of the coefficient of inbreeding, which should be below 5%. It will increase your chances of a big litter of healthy Boerboel puppies.
Paperwork and Tests
Of course, you need to ensure that the dog is free from genetic defects, and therefore, you need the results of genetic tests as well as paperwork that certifies it is free from congenital diseases.
The average litter size ranges from 7 to 10 puppies, and it is due to the large size of the breed as well as the low coefficient of inbreeding, which is 0% most of the time. The lower the COI is, the more numerous the litter will be.
As a breeder, you should request the pedigree analysis and it will let you see the coefficient of inbreeding, which you should consider at the hour of choosing a stud/bitch. You should go for a low percentage – lower than 5% – to give birth to more healthy puppies.
According to evidence, Boerboels do not have more chances of experiencing dystocia than other breeds. Therefore, it is not a risk factor. Nonetheless, you should remain alert, because the bitch might suffer it due to the following causes:
- Uterine inertia (leading cause, between 40% and 70% of cases)
- Abnormal size of the fetus
- Inadequate size of the birthing canal
- Abnormal position of the fetus
- Weak uterine contractions (possible to solve with oxytocin)
Therefore, you should monitor your dog during the entire pregnancy and take her to regular veterinary checks, so you can ensure that everything is fine.
If you want to make this a business, then you need to follow our tips:
- Invest into getting an ideal stud or dam, so you can get puppies of excellent temperament and physical qualities
- Base your business on the exceptional qualities of your puppies, ethical breeding and your compromise to maintain and improve the breed
- Build a website and show your facilities as well as the parents. Disclose everything, because transparency goes a long way. It includes showing the pedigree analysis as well as other important paperwork
- Do the same on social media
- Update your social media networks regularly with photos of the puppies, tips and other important information
- List your puppies on the main marketplaces such as PuppyFind.com and NextDayPets.com
- Build a blog and post relevant content to educate your readers, and to showcase your expertise on the breed
- Post testimonials from your first clients, to increase authenticity and trust
Base your business on transparency, ethics, authority, and honesty and you will do very well.
The price of a Boerboel puppy can range from $500 to $6,000. The main factors that influence the price are ideal appearance traits, pedigree, bloodline and the reputation of the breeder. Below, find examples from marketplaces:
- A male Boerboel puppy with complete medical paperwork, ideal physical features, and desirable temperament will cost you $2,500 (Source: NextDayPets.com)
- A puppy with excellent temperament, AKC registration, analysis, and medical tests will cost you $1,500 (Source: PuppyFind.com)
The more your puppy comes close to ideal physical features, the more expensive it will be. Therefore, it is important to consider this at the hour of choosing a stud for your bitch.
Boerboel Breeding – FAQs
Aspiring owners and breeders of Boerboels tend to ask these questions frequently, and therefore, we decided to answer them precisely and briefly. Below, find all the details to your questions.
Are Boerboels Good Family Dogs?
Boerboels are exceptional family dogs because they are extremely affectionate and friendly towards children, so much that their attitude is nanny-like with them. Therefore, they are obedient, loyal and devoted to their owners.
Furthermore, as they are wary of strangers and due to their protective nature, they are always ready to protect your family, especially your children.
Therefore, if you are planning to get a Boerboel as a family dog, then you will be glad you took the decision. They are very affectionate and protective of their human children, and therefore, it is one of the best breeds to have at home.
Are South African Boerboels Aggressive?
Since they were bred for protecting homestead, they have a protective and territorial nature that can make them aggressive towards strangers and other animals, including other dogs, especially those of the same breed and sex.
They are less aggressive than other breeds like the Dogo Argentino; however, they still need early socialization and training to reduce their levels of aggressiveness.
When trained properly, they show little to no aggressiveness. Nonetheless, remember that they will always be wary of strangers, because it is in their nature to guard and protect, but you can control this tendency with commands.
What Is The Litter Size Of Boerboels?
Boerboels have a litter size of 7 to 10 puppies. However, in some cases, it can be exceptionally big like the case of Bailee, a South African Boerboel that gave birth to 19 puppies in a single litter. Although it is a rare exception, it is useful to see that the size of litters can vary vastly.
These big litters are a result of two main factors, which are the large size of the breed and their low coefficient of inbreeding (COI). The COI is a crucial factor that determines how puppies your dog can give birth to, as well as the health of such puppies. In the majority of cases, Boerboels enjoy an excellent COI of 0%, because the lower the better. Here you have some examples from a pedigree analysis:
Is Boerboel A Good Choice For First-Time Dog Owners?
Boerboels are challenging for first-time dog owners, and therefore, not a recommended choice unless you get assistance from a seasoned dog trainer. Even though they are loyal, obedient and docile, they have temperament traits that make them difficult for novice owners:
- Independent (at times)
In addition, they have a tendency to pull and chew. Furthermore, it takes a strong yet calm temper to train them, because yelling and acting angry will only backfire. Therefore, they are better suited for a seasoned owner with a strong, calm and controlled temperament, so that the dog can respect you and follow your command.
Boerboels are strong and affectionate dogs. Whether you are an aspiring breeder or are considering owning this dog, this breed can enrich your life. Check you are the right owner and this breed suits your lifestyle before purchase, as they are not recommended for a first-time owner.