A large, mastiff-type breed that originated in South Africa, Boerboels (pronounced "bow-er-bull") were bred for the purpose of guarding the home and property. The breed is also referred to as the South African Boerboel and South African Mastiff. It is believed that the Bullenbijters, large dogs brought by Dutch settlers to South Africa, were one of the main breeds used to create the Boerboel and it is also thought that bulldogs, other mastiffs, and bullmastiffs were incorporated into the lineage to increase their strength and size. These dogs were often used as the first line of defense against predators and were also used as tracking and hunting dogs. Even today, the Boerboel is still used in South Africa as an all-purpose farm dog.
With a name meaning "farm dog," Boerboels are known for their muscularly, strength, and distinctive blocky head. Even though they are large, the breed is considered to be more agile than other mastiff-type breeds. They have a short, dense coat that comes in all shades of brown, red, or fawn. Beneath the coat, the skin is a dark color in order to protect the dog from the heat and sun in the hot African environment. They have medium-sized eyes and V-shaped ears that hang down and are proportionate to the size of their large head. The Boerboel has a broad muzzle with a black nose that may be seen with or without a black mask. Their docked tail is straight and short, while natural tails are long and may be seen slightly curved when excited.
Boerboels bond very strongly to their families and take the role of guardian seriously, protecting their loved ones at all costs, especially children. Although considered to be reserved and curious of strangers, they do have a strong desire for human companionship and will warm up to new people if their families approve. Early obedience training and socialization are essential for this protective breed for them to understand boundaries, house rules, and the ability to distinguish between what is considered a threat and what is safe. A properly trained and socialized Boerboel can be a reliable and obedient companion. Even though they are renowned for their guardian abilities, these massive dogs are not to be kept outside and forgotten, which otherwise can lead to undesirable traits such as aggression and distrust towards strangers and others. They tend to get along with other household pets, especially if they have been raised together but are known to have a fairly dominant personality and some adults may develop an intolerance to other dogs of the same sex, especially between two males. Best suited for a semi-active family, a well-trained Boerboel can be even-tempered and loving despite their intimidating appearance.