The Boerboel is considered by most authorities to be a relatively reliable, obedient and highly intelligent breed. They have a unique combination of roughness and gentleness that can make them good family pets, when they are raised and treated properly. Generally, they are affectionate, playful, loyal, loving and confident with their families. However, this is a dominant breed. Boerboels have strong watch and guard dog instincts and are fearless and extremely protective of their people. They can be dangerously aggressive when threatened or provoked. Owners should be careful about the situations they put these dogs into, because a Boerboel will protect its family with its life when it thinks it needs to. The consequences of such an event will never be good for anyone involved. Fortunately, with proper introduction by their owners, Boerboels usually accept visitors and family friends into their territories, although they may do so reluctantly and remain on guard. They probably will refuse household access to anyone who they were not introduced to properly or perceive as a potential threat.
The powerful jaws of a Boerboel can easily destroy almost anything, including toys during playtime. However, these dogs are considered to be very good with children that they know, and even with other children as long as they are used to being around kids. Still, it would be foolish to leave any small child unattended around any breed of dog, including this one. With proper introduction and training, Boerboels can be good pets in homes that have other dogs, cats and even birds. They probably should not be given free access to smaller pet mammals, like rabbits, ferrets, rats, mice or guinea pigs. It is not unusual for Boerboels to be belligerent and even aggressive with unfamiliar dogs.
Boerboels need lots of space to move around and exercise, in order to keep them healthy, happy and stable. A large, securely-enclosed yard and plenty of room to stretch inside the house are very important for this breed. Boerboels should be taken on long daily walks for exercise and socialization with the outside world. They love to play fetch. Owners will have happy Boerboels if they get to play fetch frequently. This is a great way to provide exercise and cement the bond between dog and owner. Boerboels thrive when given specific tasks to accomplish. They can compete in obedience, rally, weight pulling, agility, livestock work, protection sports and therapy work, as well as conformation shows. As with any breed, individual animals can vary widely in terms of temperament and intelligence. Because the Boerboel has so much muscle mass, regular activity is important to prevent obesity and ward off other health problems. Activities that help maintain muscle mass and agility of these athletes are critical. A 200-pound obese, bored Boerboel with pent up energy can quickly become incredibly destructive, and maybe even dangerous, in the wrong hands.
Boerboels are intelligent and have natural pack instincts. Puppies can be fairly easy to train, as long as their pack instincts are taken into account and training is started before adolescence sets in. Strong leadership by a firm, confident owner is essential. Boerboels need dominant but kind owners who are willing to give them clear commands that are reinforced regularly and consistently. Because of the Boerboel’s size, temperament and intensely-ingrained guarding and protective instincts, it is vitally important for its owner to be absolutely alpha and leader-of-the-pack from day one of their relationship, and every single day thereafter. Due to the Boerboel’s easy-going attitude during pre-adolescence, some people mistakenly think that formal obedience training isn’t necessary. That is a wrong and risky assumption. Puppies should be exposed to as many different sights, sounds, smells, animal species, people, environments and experiences as possible during their formative months, to improve their trainability, manners and ultimate trustworthiness. Boerboel puppies should also be protected from interactions with aggressive dogs, to reduce the chance of their own fearful or aggressive tendencies later in life. As Boerboels mature, they become increasingly confident, strong, dominant, protective and willing to react aggressively. Owners should be sure they can keep their Boerboels under control in any situation, even when distractions, strangers and unfamiliar dogs are part of the mix. Reward-based training works better than harsh punishment.
Properly trained Boerboels make excellent guard and watch dogs. Nothing quite protects a home or business from intruders like an angry, aggressive 200-pound dog that distrusts strangers and has an attitude. Boerboels are known for being protective when necessary, without being overly aggressive in normal situations. Boerdoels are keenly aware of the presence of wild animals within their territory. With the right introduction, they will accept new companion animals into the family and add them to their list of charges to be protected. Boerboels do best when they live indoors and are integrated into the family. If left alone or outside away from their humans for long periods of time, they can become bored, depressed and destructive. This is a dominant breed that is not well-suited for off-leash romps with strange dogs at the local dog park. They must be introduced to unfamiliar dogs and people carefully. Boerboels don’t respond well to dominant behavior from other dogs, especially large dogs of the same gender. Puppies are much more adaptable and willing to settle into an existing hierarchy. If a large dominant dog already lives in the household, choosing a Boerboel puppy of the opposite gender is probably the best bet for a peaceful household.