Boerboels were bred in South Africa to protect homes and farms from ferocious predators. The Boerboel dog breed is:
- Steadfast, affectionate, loyal and calm with family and those he knows well
- Territorial with inborn guarding instincts
- Naturally aloof with and wary of strangers
- Very strong and muscular, ranging from 150 to 200 pounds, and can easily knock someone over
However, if not bred, socialized and trained properly, the Boerboel can be aggressive and a liability. Because of his size and strength, he can inflict a lot of damage to a person or animal.
Age a Boerboel can become aggressive
From eight to 14 weeks old, Boerboel puppies are easygoing and compliant. They rarely show any aggression during this learning window. Novice owners may be lulled into a false sense of security, believing that they’ll remain that way. They won’t.
By three months old, the pup is still learning but might show a little aggression. No longer a puppy at eight to nine months old, the adolescent Boerboel can become aggressive and overly protective depending on his genetic makeup or he may become fearful or shy, which can also manifest in aggressive behavior when he feels challenged.
Training and socialization required
Of course all dog breeds should be properly socialized and trained. But if a Boerboel isn’t, he may attack any person or animal he sees as a threat and because of his large size and strength, can cause serious harm.
A Boerboel puppy must be socialized and have positive experiences with people, dogs and life events from eight weeks on. This should continue throughout his life, which can span eight to 12 years.
Owners must also demonstrate through consistent training that they are the leaders or the dog will dominate the household. Only positive reinforcement training should be used or a Boerboel can become aggressive even to his pet parents.
Training should begin when a Boerboel is eight weeks old and continue throughout his life. The “nothing in life is free” (NILIF) protocol must be used, in which the dog must work (perform cues) for everything. At a minimum, basic cues for training the Boerboel should include:
- Attention work so he focuses on the pet parent not external stimuli
- Loose-leash walking so that he doesn’t pull down someone walking him
- Sit, down and stay — all of which help with impulse control and avoid him knocking someone over
- Recall and emergency recall, which must be rock solid for everyone’s safety
- Leave it, which is crucial for him not to randomly approach people or animals
- Drop it or give, to help prevent resource guarding
- Settle, so that he has impulse control
If the Boerboel dog breed doesn’t get a few hours of physical and mental exercise every day, a Boerboel can become destructive. Long walks, fetching and sturdy puzzle games are necessary. Because of his size, strength and intimidating presence, he should never be left to run free. One of the more agile mastiffs, the muscular Boerboel can thrive if given a job, such as obedience, rally, weight pull, agility, protection sports or stock work.
Boerboels aren’t for inexperienced owners. They need early and ongoing training and socialization to be reliable house dogs. But if bred and raised properly, they can be a welcome member for the right dog-savvy family.