Best Bully Sticks Spotlight on a Breed: South African Boerboel Mastiff

boerWe always love getting emails asking us to feature your dog or favorite breed for in our Best Bully Sticks Spotlight on a Breed blog series. As always we are honored to oblige. Well without further ado, we are proud to spotlight Honey the South African Boerboel Mastiff. Thanks Keree for sending over the amazing picture!

Height: Male 25-28 inches, Female 23-25.5 inches

Weight: Male & Female 154-200 lbs

Coat: The coat of the African Boerboel is uniformly short, relatively coarse and dense.

Color: The coloring can vary from reddish brown, cream, all shades of brindle, tawny with or without a black mask with some white on chest.

Appearance: The African Boerboel is a very large, muscular and impressive looking breed. They are often confused for a cross between a Mastiff and a Bulldog, however they are a unique breed that has been developed in Africa as a protection and working dog. In this breed males are distinctly masculine in appearance as the females are smaller, slighter and should be definitely female in all aspects.

The African Boerboel is very distinctive in appearance. The head is very square in shape with a short, thick muzzle and wide massive head. The skull is somewhat flat between the high set ears and there is a stop that is noticeable but not sharp. The ears are triangular and folded, held very close to the head. The eyes are horizontal in orientation and can be any color of brown that is in keeping with the coat color. The skin around the eyes should be dark regardless of the eye color. The area between the eyes is well filled and solid in appearance, as are the noticeable cheeks. The dogs may or may not have a black mask that covers the muzzle and the top lip. The top lip is somewhat fleshy and thick in appearance but should not hang down over the lower jaw. The nose is black with well developed nostrils. The head is one of the most distinguishing of the African Boerboel breed.

The neck of the African Boerboel is arched and muscular, adding to the breed’s appearance of strength and protection. The shoulders of the dog are very well developed and strong, with the neck positioned high on the shoulders. The chest is deep and broad, flowing into a well developed rib cage and a sturdy, yet not chunky or disproportionately heavy looking body. The front legs are completely straight when viewed from the side or the front and end in thick padded, ball-shaped feet.

The top line is very straight without any noticeable sloping. The back is moderately long but balanced in appearance. The hindquarters are slightly sloping towards the high set tail. The tail is traditionally docked to the first three joints, but may also be left long and natural, in which case it curves up at the hock. The back legs are incredibly powerful with heavy muscling that is common in the Mastiff breeds. The legs should be well bent and carried under the hindquarters and unlike the front legs they should not be straight.

The African Boerboel should move with purpose and a “buoyant” step. They have a fluid and athletic gait, not a heavy or shuffling gait. Their joints are well developed and not loose or bulky. They do not have the heavy wrinkles or deep folds of skin seen on many of the Mastiff breeds, however there will be slight wrinkling of the thick skin on the brow.

Temperament: The African Boerboel is a bit of a study in opposites. As a fierce and loyal watchdog they will bark and loudly announce strangers and strange animals in the area, however they will quickly learn who is friend and welcome them into the house when they have been introduced. The African Boerboel is also a guard dog, using their size and strength to defend their property and family with as much aggression and physical action as required. They are very protective of their yard and house and care must be taken to keep these dogs securely in a fence, as they will expand their area to protect should they get out of the fence or yard.

The African Boerboel is a very loving family dog. They absolutely enjoy spending time with the family. Despite their aggression towards strangers the African Boerboel will play and romp with everyone in the family and are especially good with children. They are very tolerant of even rough play with kids and their large size makes them great companions for kids of all ages. The African Boerboel is exceptionally gentle with younger children although as with all dogs young kids should never be left alone unsupervised. They also tend to be very accepting of other pets including dogs, cats and even other small pets and livestock. Proper socialization is key for these dogs to help them learn how to differentiate between potential dangers and friendly visitors.

The African Boerboel will typically be somewhat standoffish with new people, at least until they learn that they are to be considered a “friend”. This is very important if the dogs need to be cared for if the family has to leave or if they have to be kenneled. Ensure that this breed has time to get to know their caregiver before leaving them with someone other than a family member.

Health: The life expectancy of the African Boerboel is around 12-15 years and overall is a very healthy breed. There are two different conditions that may be problematic in the breed although they are not fatal. The first condition occurs only in females and is VH or vaginal hyperplasia. This condition is genetic and occurs in different grades or levels of severity. Any female with abnormal tissue development of the vaginal area should not be used in breeding programs. The second genetic condition to be aware of is  Canine hip dysplasia or CHD as well as elbow dysplasia common in most dog breeds.

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