A Brief History of Boerboel

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We have to start by saying that Boerboel is a name that native Africans gave to farm dogs that do not have specific origins.

Based on historians who studied dogs and their importance to humankind, two Assyrian kings Ashurbanipal-pal and Esarhaddon used large ones for hunting lions and wild horses seven hundred years before Christ.

In British Museum, you can find Syrian rooms with murals that depicted that canines were much heavier and larger than today’s ones. Another important consideration is a depiction of a large canine on the grave of King Esarhaddon’s son.

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A few references from Philemon Holland’s work stated that a few prominent people with historical significance used large breeds for numerous reasons.

For instance, Cambrians used them to guard their belongings, while Germanic kings used two hundred to return to their kingdom after an exile.

In this particular document, the King of Albania gave to Alexander the Great. Alexander wanted to use it for hunting deer, wild hogs, and bears. However, the dog did not react to an order, which is why he killed it.

The King of Albania sent the same dog to Alexander, after hearing the news, with a specific instruction, he should not waste his time with minor things but use it for elephants and lions.

This particular legend or a true story states that Alexander used it to fight a lion resulting in the lion having back broken after a few seconds of battle. Then, he used it against an elephant that ended up falling to its death due to the dog’s fierce attacks.

British Settlers in 19th Century

We can say that Boerboel’s bloodlines originate in Europe and South Africa. When it comes to Europe, you should know that we could trace Mastiffs back to the Roman Empire, from which they spread to the British Isles and other parts of Europe.

That is when colonists moved them to Africa. On the other hand, the African bloodlines come from Cynomones or the southern Ethiopia tribe with Indian Dogs.

A few historical statements and reports say that everything started with Jan van Riebeeck and Bull-Baiter, a Mastiff-type. Even though Bull-Baiters were extinct, the general assumption is that Cynomones bred with it and created the first Boerboel.

Of course, back in the day, there were no breeding standards and regulations. However, settlers wanted to breed canine that were hard-working, loyal, intelligent, and strong.

Environment factors were harsh, and numerous predators and wild animals were around; they had to survive these issues. That led settlers to breed canines that could protect them from wild animals and hunt for food.

Check out this website: https://dog-breed.fandom.com/wiki/Boerboel to learn more about this particular breed.

As soon as the British reached South Africa, they started to migrate in various areas while bringing their canine along. They bred them to protect their predators’ properties, track wounded animals, and for other productive reasons.

They used canines that featured similar characteristics as Boerboel.

Even though both natural and human selection had pressurized the Boerboels, they have found ways to live in South Africa and endured numerous horrors that happened during the First and Second Boer Wars, the Great Depression, and Influenza Pandemic.

However, Jannie Bouwer of Bedford and Merwe of Kroonstad created and cataloged dogs from South Africa and found this breed.

In 2015, the American Kennel Club had introduced them and admitted that they were working dogs, which increased their overall popularity, especially in North America.

Fun Facts


  • It would be best to remember that this particular breed was the only one created to protect and defend, which is an important consideration.
  • Carl Semencic, an American anthropologist, has introduced them to enthusiasts that enjoy creating purebred dogs.
  • It is 183rd registered canine in an American Kennel Club in 2015.
  • In the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2016, the first Boerboel participated ever, which was an extraordinary situation that brought more attention to this particular dog breed. You should learn more about SA Mastiff dog by visiting a site we shared with you.

Final Word

As you can see from everything we have mentioned above, one part of history includes legend tales and stories that do not have historical references.

However, we can still say that this particular breed is one of the most substantial, most loyal, protective, and largest species in the world. That is the main reason for their overall popularity.