The Boerboel, or South African Mastiff, is a large, dense dog with heavy bone structure, an almost blocky head and heavy musculature. Despite being so impressive in size and look they should move fluidly. Ranging from 150-200 pounds, these are very large dogs with females weighing less then males. Sometimes they can look so much like Boxers that people do not know they are an entirely different breed that also belongs to the Molosser family.
As far as maintenance goes the Boerboel is a short, dense coated breed that only requires occasional brushing and regular nail trims. Breed standard colors are Fawn, Light Fawn, all shades of Red and Brindle. You may even be able to find some Black South African Boerboels around. Many African Boerboels have an acceptable black mask around the muzzle that sometimes extends up to their eyes and ears.
Boerboels are an energetic, loyal breed with a deep guarding instinct. With this breeds size and tendency towards guarding early training and firm handling from an early age. These dogs are generally known for good health but have been known to suffer from typical large dog issues such as hip and elbow dysplasia, ectropion and entropin. A diligent watch over your dog can catch any of these issues before they become major and help extend your dogs healthy life.
African Boerboel Breeding
Boerboel go into heat twice a year though it’s not uncommon to skip a heat now and again with heat cycles lasting up to 3 weeks every 6-9 months. After breeding and once puppies have been conceived there is a period of 60-64 days before the puppies are born in litters of 4-10. Like most puppies, provided the mother doesn’t have maternal aggression, they can be handled within the first day of birth and should be handled daily. With such a strong minded and large breed getting them used to being handled all over, tolerating their mouth being handled and general fussing is very important. At 3-4 weeks of age they should be weaned and able to be adopted out or purchased at 6-8 weeks.
African Boerboel Training
Positive reinforcement is integral in the raising of a Boerboel puppy in your home. They need a firm hand without abuse or violence. As with any other puppy you want to be sure to enroll them as early as possible into training classes or work with an experienced trainer in your own home to be able to raise a well mannered dog. This gets much more important when you later have a 150+ pound dog on your hands. Puppy training classes are especially wonderful for the Boerboel breed. With their tendency to be dog aggressive in adulthood you can lessen the likelihood of such things by introducing them to as many dogs as possible when they are puppies.
African Boerboel Diet
Feeding a Boerboel puppy isn’t much different from any other puppy. A good, consistent diet of healthy conventional dry food and raw bones (once your pup is old enough to safely chew on bones) is essential. Here is an article that I wrote on raw feeding for your dogs. Many people with Boerboels, like with other large breeds, seem to think that because it’s a large breed dog they have to shovel as much food into them as possible or, the opposite, that they don’t wish to overfeed and cause their dog to get larger then it’s naturally intended. A good, healthy dry food fed in amounts that keeps your puppy ‘trim’ is ideal. I would suggest a kibble that is grain free and contains more meat, Hill’s Ideal Balance dog food would be a good choice for African Boerboels.