Critter Culture
Looking for a Guard Dog? Consider the Boerboel

Looking for a Guard Dog? Consider the Boerboel

Critter Culture Staff



Boerboels might look intimidating, but they're a loving, calm, family-dog that would do anything to keep you and your family safe. They were bred to help farmers in South Africa defend against lions, hyenas, and other wildlife. These large breeds can be anywhere from 22 to 28 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh as much as 200 pounds.


Boerboels are friendly, but socialization is important

Boerboels are happiest when they have a job to do and take their duties as guard dog very seriously. They are gentle with and loyal to family members, including children, and can be overprotective at times. Introducing guests to a boerboel is important so they know who their friends are, but don't expect them to be friendly to new people. They are always on guard.

watchdog protector family EstrellaBuena / Getty Images


This is not a good fit for first-time dog owners

Boerboels are challenging to train. They like to be top dog, and considering their size, they often win that title. Owners have to set strong boundaries to prevent problems. They also need a lot of physical and mental stimulation as well as early and frequent socialization to thrive in the family home.

training patient aggression EstrellaBuena / Getty Images


Boerboels cannot live in an apartment

This dog is not a good fit for an apartment. They need a lot of room to roam around such as a big yard with a strong fence, so they can run around without running away. Boerboels also like long walks, vigorous play, and mental challenges, but keep them away from dog parks. This big breed will not back down from a challenge, and their size makes them nearly impossible to physically control.

apartment yard home JfJacobsz / Getty Images


They have a long lifespan for a big breed

Boerboels have a long life expectancy, considering they're such a large breed. A healthy boerboel can live as long as 10 to 12 years. They are prone to some health conditions, though, including hip and elbow dysplasia, heart disease, vaginal hyperplasia, and bloat. Some young boerboels may also develop juvenile epilepsy.

healthy dog life AlexanderKondakov / Getty Images


Grooming is very straightforward

Grooming is simple with this breed. Boerboels have a short, dense coat that sheds, but a weekly brushing can minimize this. Brushing also stimulates new growth and distributes oils through the fur, keeping your dog looking its best. Boerboels only need an occasional bath, as they don't tend to develop any odors.

boerboel dog lying on the grass and chewing on a stick raduga21 / Getty Images


Boerboels come in multiple colors.

Boerboels come in a lot of different colors, including black, brown, fawn, red, or brindle. They also usually have white patches on the chest and legs. There have defined black areas around the lips and eyes, and the nose is black. Black boerboels with white spots or those with a blue powder coat are considered a deviation from the breed standard.

colors black brown brindle wildacad / Getty Images


This breed has an interesting history

South African boerboel dog posing in the forest

This dog nearly disappeared after the World Wars, but a group of dedicated breeders restored the breed in the 1980s. Their history as farm dogs in South Africa explains their current day temperament perfectly. Loving and devoted to their family, boerboels will fight a lion off to protect them if they have to.


Boerboels are very intelligent

Boerboel dog playing with a toy outside

Boerboels can win just about any fight, but that doesn't mean they're always looking for one. This is an extremely intelligent breed that it can determine who is a friend and who is not. They don't back down when threatened, but they spend most of their time watching and evaluating every situation.


They should always be kept on a leash

Boerboels were bred to keep an eye on the farm and protect South African farmers from approaching threats, so to say they have the potential to wander is an understatement. This dog should never be outside without a leash due to their high prey drive. They do tend to bark, so don't be surprised if they get mouthy when they perceive a possible threat.

leash bark mouthiness EstrellaBuena / Getty Images


They need a confident owner

Boerboel dog outside in the grass

Another reason that Boerboels aren't a good choice for first-time dog owners is that asserting dominance over them is essential, and it's not always easy to do. The owner has to let the boerboel know who is in charge. Only owners who understand this idea and are confident that they can handle this task with such a big dog will be successful with a boerboel.



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