Boerboel - a big farm dog of uncertain origins. This dictionary
definition is now a thing of the past. The South African Boerboel
is now a recognised "pure breed". Research has revealed
that the ancestry of the Boerboel can be traced as far back as the
time of Herodotus and to Tibet, Assyria and Babylon.
In Assyria the dogs were used
as soldiers covered with reinforced material to protect them when
Assurbanipal conquered Egypt. Later, Alexander the Great was responsible
for taking them to Europe. Apparently in 326BC Alexander received
a present of 156 of these large dogs that had been specially trained
to fight lions and elephants.
Through the ages these dogs have developed into two definite strains,
the mastiff which was mainly used for protection and as soldiers,
and the hound which was used for hunting purposes. Both of these
strains of dogs were large and strong typical working dogs, with
only slight differences in appearance and build.
It is reputed that all dogs in the western world are descended from
these two dog types. About 600 years ago, the Europeans started
specialised breeding from these two basic dogs through fine selection
and cross-breeding, the different breeds evolved.Some dogs were
bred especially for hunting. Others had to retrieve the prey, guard
and herd the livestock as well as many other uses they could be
put to, however the basis for all of these dogs was still the original
strong breed of the past.
When Jan Van Riebeeck came to
the cape (modern day South Africa) in 1652 he brought his own dog
along to protect him and his family in this wild unknown country.
This dog was know as the "bullenbijter", a large heavy
mastiff type dog. At this time, the original dog had been diversified
and many of the western world countries had their own distinctive,
specialised breed of dog.
The settlers who cam after Jan Van Riebeeck also brought along their
strongest dogs to protect them against all the unknown dangers of
this strange land. Thus dogs arrived from many different countries.
As the pioneers moved further and further inland and settled in
remote farms, the dogs were forcibly isolated and a lot of inbreeding
took place which had the result that the characteristics of the
original Assyrian dog started to reappear.
Survival was of the utmost importance
and it was here that the hardiness of today's Boerboel was bred
into the dog. There was not veterinary surgeon or medicines available
for dogs and they had to look out for themselves to large extent.
During the groot trek, the Boerboel
has most of the features that it has today and is clearly recognisable
from old drawings. In the period after the trek, on the distant
farms, the Boerboel inter-bred further and only the biggest and
strongest dogs survived. His pioneer owners required him to be a
friend to the family, a worker, provide protection and also to be
a fighter. They could not afford to have a disobedient, moody, finicky,
sickly dog. They had to be able to rely on him to protect the family,
work, kill and fight.
At the turn of the century, the
characteristics of the old original dog were clearly visible and
the dog was generally known as the "Bole" The years that
followed almost brought tragedy to the Boerboel.
Urbanisation caused cross-breeding with anything that could bark
and the typical "Bole" started to disappear. It was only
in the eighties that a serious search started again for the original
A few people took the initiative and the South African Boerboel
Breeders Association was formed. Their main aim was to let the original
Boerboel take its rightful place as a South African dog among other
dog breeds of the world.A search covering thousands of kilometres
followed. Selective breeding started, many disappointments followed,
but also immense joys too! At last the dog of our forefathers was
ready to be registered as a pure breed.In the meantime the Breeders
Association has grown to in excess of 500 members. They are widely
spread throughout South Africa and Namibia. Each year in November
they have a big get-together and people from all over converge at
Kroonstad whereby dogs and people can look each other over.
In August 1980, the first country-wide
selection tour was undertaken by Jannie Bouwer of Bedford and Lucas
Van Der Merwe of Kroonstad. Lucas' wife Anneke also went along as
secretary. A total of 5,550kms was covered 250 dogs were seen and
only 72 were selected to be registered. The vision was taking shape.
Character of the Boerboel
The Boerboel is the only breed in the world specifically bred to
guard and protect and act as a watchdog. A cranky, temperamental
dog that stays surly after being reprimanded is not a Boerboel.
You should purchase a Boerboel for his even character - this was
and always should be his main quality. Your Boerboel should qualify
himself as your best friend. He should know what you are thinking,
when you feel threatened, he should know when you approve or disapprove
of a stranger and share your feeling. He should be able to recognise
your fear. Any Boerboel owner should be able to confirm this. These
traits should be recognisable from puppyhood.
If you allow him to attack, he
will growl like a lion and fight ferociously without taking his
own safety into account. No wonder Aristotle named his forefathers
of these dogs: Leontix (sons of lions). The Romans also apparently
believed that these dogs were obtained by crossing a dog and a lion.
There are cases on record when a lone Boerboel time and again won
the fight against a leopard! He is definitely a child's friend and
playmate. He does not only accept one person as his master, but
accepts the protection of the whole family as his duty and is affectionate
to all of them.
Many a story has been told about
a Boerboel spending hour after hour guarding a little baby in a
pram. He feels the whole family belongs to him and his sole purpose
is to protect them, with his life, if necessary.
Our forefathers required the following
from their Boerboel:
During the day the dog must go to the veld with the children to
guard the sheep. There, he should catch a hare for them to cook
for lunch. He should also protect them against all danger that may
threaten them. At night he should lie in front of the fire at home
and protect the whole family against anything that may be lurking
in the dark.
easy to groom, an occasional brushing and a bath when need. This
breed is an average shedder.
The Boerboel will get a lot exercise if they have a large yard to
run and play. However they need to be taken on a long daily walk.
Boerboel love to play and would love a good game of ball.
Due to natural selection the Boerboel is a very healthy breed.
For Diet and other general dog health information Health/Nutrition