The Boerboel is a massive, Mastiff-like breed with a blocky, broad, square head and a flat skull. They have strong necks and shoulders and huge hindquarters. They are longer than they are tall, and when viewed in side profile their elbows should reach to the bottom of their chest. Boerboels are known for their impressive musculature and physical strength, both of which are key elements of correct breed type. They also should be agile, with free-flowing, ground-covering movement. Boerboels have short, smooth coats. A black facial mask covering the muzzle up to the eyes is highly desirable in this breed, especially in show ring competition. Boerboel’s eyes should be brown and as dark as possible. Any other colors may be faulted, and yellow eyes are a serious fault. The Boerboel’s tail is usually docked (surgically shortened) at the third joint shortly after birth, although breeders are increasingly keeping their dogs’ long, slightly curved tails natural.
Size and Weight
Boerboels are big dogs. Adult males ideally stand between 24 and 27 inches at the shoulder. Mature females should be between 22 and 25 inches tall measured at the same place. Adults typically weigh anywhere from 110 to 175 pounds, with females usually weighing a bit less than males. 200 pound Boerboels are not unheard of. Males should look decidedly masculine. To get a sense of their size and proportion, Boerboels are taller, thicker and heavier than Doberman Pinschers and Rottweilers. Their weight range is about the same as that of the Great Dane, but they are not nearly as tall as most members of that breed.
Coat and Color
Boerboels have short, smooth coats that are shiny and dense. Like other Mastiff-type dogs, the skin of this breed is thick and somewhat loose, but it should not hang in folds or be excessively wrinkly. Boerboels have quite a bit of dark skin pigmentation, especially on their lips, inside the mouth (palate; gums), around the eyes and on the nose, paw pads, toenails, anus and genitals. Red, fawn and all shades of brown are common coat colors for this breed. They also come in brindle, piebald (white with colored markings, with white not to cover more than 33% of the body) and Irish marked (white on up to 30% of the body, with colored socks, neck collar and facial blaze). Small white patches are acceptable on the fore chest and legs, but they are not preferred. Full black facial masking is desirable in this breed. Black Boerboels are not allowed in conformation competition, but they do exist and have no “defects” other than being born an unaccepted color.
Boerboels have short hair that does not shed in large quantities. They benefit from a weekly brushing to remove dead hair and keep their coats tidy and clean. They don’t require frequent bathing. Baths are usually only necessary when the dog gets dirty or smelly. Too many baths can dry out the dog’s skin, which can then become flaky. Boerboels should have their teeth brushed regularly to prevent tartar and plaque build-up. Their nails are durable but may naturally file down a bit if they spend much time outside on hard surfaces. Owners should start trimming their Boerboels’ nails early in puppyhood, so that they are used to the process by the time they mature into enormous, powerful adults.