The image that comes to mind when one sets eyes on a Boerboel is that of a canine tank; which, when the history of this breed is reviewed, doesn’t come as much of a surprise. The Boerboel dog breed was developed by early Dutch settlers to protect them from what must have surely appeared as a hostile, wild and foreign environment that was southern Africa in the 17th century.
The Boerboel dog was much more than a four-legged companion in those early days and during the 17th and 18th century the dog very often had duties that were akin to those of a ranch foreman. When, as happened quite often, the farmer had to leave his family behind unattended on the farm the onus fell on the Boerboel dog to keep them safe from every and any conceivable threat. The Boerboel dog’s duties were not limited to looking out for its human family but it also protected the livestock of the farm from such predators like leopards as well as human predation.
Other duties of the Boerboel included being a pet or companion to the family. These dogs were expected to interact well with all members of the family and despite their phenomenal power were bred for a well-balanced disposition such that they could be entrusted to safeguard and attend to even the very youngest of the children without posing as any kind of threat themselves. Any dogs that were perceived as dangerous to the children were culled.
The Boerboel is a large dog weighing anywhere from 150 – 200 lbs and individuals have been documented on record as having killed leopards. In other words this is a formidable dog breed characterized by enormous power and capable of causing a lot of damage, but this is a dog breed that was also renowned for its exceptional gentleness, loyalty and kindness towards members of its family.
So what ingredients would it take to brew up the final recipe that was the Boerboel dog, a breed that was capable of repelling a leopard attack yet was gentle and trustworthy enough to be left unattended overseeing small children, and also had the insightfulness to independently assess and analyze situations to determine what and what didn’t constitute a threat. That is to say this was not a mindless attack dog breed packaged in a large frame commanding an equally large amount of stopping power.
Boerboel Dog Breed Origins
The origin of the Boerboel dog breed probably traces as far back to the time when Jan van Riebeeck (the founding father of the Dutch settlement at Cape of Good Hope) first set foot in southern Africa in 1652.
More about the history of the Boerboel
Article on the boerboel written by Kayye Nynne