Imposing, immense, and intelligent Boerboels hail from South Africa, where they were bred to protect remote farms and homesteads from intruders and wild animals. Descended from mastiff-type dogs, Boerboels are big boned, with a large head and a stocky, muscular body. They are loving with family members, and gentle and playful with children. But as their guard dog role suggests, Boerboels are fiercely protective when they suspect a threat to their home or people. They require consistent training and socialization from an early age so they are manageable and well mannered.

Boerboels are a lot of dog to manage, both in size and personality, and only experienced, confident owners should consider the breed. Among the ‘velcro’ dogs, Boerboels follow their owners around the house and balk when left alone by turning to destructive habits. Training and socialization should be ongoing through a Boerboel’s life, with a focus on consistency, gentleness, and positive reinforcement. This massive dog is sensitive to harsh treatment and may respond with aggression.

Other Names

The Boerboel is also called the South African Mastiff.


Indoor Boerboels consider their families their pack and should live indoors with them. They require plenty of attention at home and are known to follow family members around the house. Keep your Boerboel busy and challenged with puzzle dog toys and activities so they don’t become bored and destructive.

Outdoor Boerboels should spend hours outdoors every day so they get the exercise and mental stimulation they require. A large, enclosed yard is a good place to play and train your Boerboel. Ensure the yard is secure because Boerboels may try to escape, which puts them and others in danger.

Exercise A healthy, adult Boerboel requires between one and two hours of physical activity and training each day. They are excellent at most dog sports and agility training. Boerboels respond best to firm, confident trainers who treat them respectfully.

Endurance Boerboels have the stamina for play sessions and walks that last between 30 minutes and an hour. This breed does best when exercise and training are broken up through the day, with time for resting in between.

Activity distance rating

  • Running Miles: Healthy, adult Boerboels can run with you for about a mile. With their bulky frames, they are not exceptional distance runners.
  • Hiking Miles: Bred with the stamina to cover vast expanses of farmland, Boerboels can easily manage a half-day hike with you. Be sure your Boerboel is leash trained and follows commands without fail before hitting the trail.

Food Boerboels require high-quality dog food designed for large breed dogs. The amount of food Boerboels should eat varies widely based on their size, activity level, and age. Talk to your veterinarian about the optimal diet and quantity of food for your Boerboel. Their daily food requirements should be split into two or three meals.

Alone Time Though brave and self-confident, Boerboels don’t enjoy spending time alone. Bored Boerboels engage in destructive behaviors and can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time. Crate train your Boerboel, so he’ll be happy in his dog crate for an hour or two. Beyond that, your Boerboel will likely act out.