The History of Boerboels
It was said that when Egypt was conquered by Assurbanipal, Assyrian dogs were spread to Africa and to the rest of the world. Alexander the Great also spread the dogs to Europe. From these Assyrian dogs two types were developed, the hound and the mastiff. Hounds were utilized for hunting activities and the mastiffs were primarily used as guard dogs. The mastiff was brought to South Africa when Jan van Riebeeck brought a Bullenbijter to the Cape in 1652 to protect him and his family from unknown dangers. Settlers from other countries also brought along their dogs. This resulted in a lot of in-breeding. A dog would need to be tough to survive the harsh environment and the dangers of the continent. The African Boerboel is the result of the breeding of these tough mastiff-types of dogs.
During the Great Trek that started in 1838, the Voortrekkers scattered their Boer dogs to distant farms all over the land. The Boerboel inbreeding resulted in tougher and stronger dogs. These dogs were developed by the pioneer owners to be loyal, obedient and great protectors that guard and protect his family. These dogs were also developed to work.
In 1938, the De Beers imported to South Africa a bull mastiff to guard the diamond mines. This mastiff, together with a champion obtained from the Hottentots, played an important role in the breeding and development of the Boerboel. During the second Boer War in 1902, the Boerboel was cross-bred with the bull mastiffs and the long-legged bulldogs brought by the Englishmen, resulting into a tougher dog with capabilities to withstand the rigorous trials of time.
Studying further literature, more dogs have been suggested to be included in the breed and much more recently, but none of these are substantiated, however the Rhodesian Ridgeback and its descendants is known to have played a significant part, though no sign of a ridge is any longer present.
In South Africa in the early 1980’s, Lucas van der Merwe of Kroonstad, together with Jannie Bouwer of Bedford, started a search for the original Boer dog. From the 5500 kilometers that were covered, 250 dogs were found. Of these, only 72 were selected for registration. Presently, the breed is still relatively unknown and considered to be rare. However, in 2006 Boerboel was included in the American Kennel Club Foundation Stock Service.
On January 1, 2010, the South African Boerboel was accepted into the AKC Miscellaneous group and the American Boerboel Club was designated the Parent Club for the South African Boerboel.
At the February 2014 AKC Board Meeting, the American Boerboel Club became the official parent club for the Boerboel. The Boerboel became eligible for AKC registration on December 1, 2014, and was eligible to compete in the Working Group beginning January 1, 2015. AKC will maintain an open registry for the breed until January 1, 2020.