Acquired: Breeder (professional)
Training: I’ve taught bird care / training techniques
Tennessee, United States
Posted February 14, 2014
The South African Boerboel was a new breed to me, when my husband said he met the dog breed he wanted. He is a veterinary pharmaceutical salesman, so he comes in contact with almost every breed regularly. He had previously had an Akita and I a Rottweiler, so we were both familiar with large, dominant aggressive dogs. Boerboels, need to be put in their place as puppies, because they like to be the alpha. Once they know who is boss, they're the best companion and protector you can find.
As puppies, they are the cutest little things with all their extra skin and wrinkles. The black muzzle and the short jowels (in comparison to a Bull Mastiff) are standards of the breed. We chose not to dock our puppies tail, and while it looks nicer and more natural in my opinion, I understand why they are docked: that thing is a whip! If you have coffee tables with valuables, and decide to get a Boerboel, either lose the valuables or dock the tail.
Very trainable, can be stubborn: They are very attentive to their master and happy to please. My girl loves and thrives off of our learning new tricks and exercises. We're always training, but we also have dedicated training times where we play hide & seek, she has to sit and stay while I hide the toy, then she has to do a trick: shake, hi5, roll over, "bang" play dead, or the like and then I tell her to go find whatever name of the toy we have first learned. Then she has to use her nose to go retrieve it. They're very smart dogs, but can be stubborn because of this.
Active, yet sedentary: She loves trail hikes, running, and swimming. They have webbed paws and are great swimmers. If she sees water, then she's in it. She has the perfect energy level for me: will run for 60 minutes easily and hike for 4 hours, just as easily, she'll relax contentedly all day inside or out while I'm working. At first, she didn't like fetch, but once I trained her to play it, she actually loves it & it's a great way to quickly burn off some energy in short bursts.
Dog Friendly: Boerboels need to be socialized when they are young and correct any behavior that could lead to aggression. Don't play tug of war and let the dog win.
My girl loves certain dogs and dislikes others, she has displayed Fear Aggression, which stems from an initial attack on her at a dog park that I am still working to correct. Most often, she loves other dogs and plays great with our friend's dogs that she has known since a puppy. Others, she will either tell the dog to stay away, or turn away and not be interested. If the dog comes after her, even playfully, she will growl bark meanly at it, but has never bitten or attacked. I would not say this is across the board for Boerboels, and it is something I need to further socialize and train with her to correct.
People/Protection: She loves people and cuddling. She only barks when something is not in its place (they are very attentive to detail) or if someone is approaching our home. The mailman loves her and even asked me to train his dog, but the UPS man just saw her face and ran. They do look intimidating, and they can get the job done if the time calls for it, but otherwise, they are just big lovers.
With Kids: I started bringing her to the kiddie park to get her familiar to the sounds and all the action as a puppy. She's very gentle and kids love her. Her tail could easily knock a toddler down or hit them in the eye, so I always stay close. Plus, she is just a dog, so it's better to be safe than sorry. If the kids get excited, she gets excited.
Health: They are susceptible to elbow and hip dysplasia. My dog, at 2 years old, already has arthritis in one elbow.
Overall, of course I wouldn't trade her for the world. She can be my shadow and like velcro at times and other times she's completely independent. I'm very active, but like to relax as well, and she's right along with me. I feed a mix of raw and Acana Ranchlands dry dogfood topped with water. She loves me, but I love her more.