Barking up the Boerboel Family Tree

Boerboel HistoryThe Boerboel is the only dog breed that has its origins in South Africa. They were originally bred for protection against wild and feral animals. Today the Boerboel is sometimes classified as a working dog, as they are relatively easy to train. They are mainly used in task forces, as sniffer dogs for explosives, drugs and cadavers. It Brazil they are even used as hunting to dogs to hunt for jaguars in particular. Boerboel dogs are known as a rare dog breed though this is however a relative term, in their native country they are quite abundant and not really rare at all.

The History of the Boerboel

The Boerboel breed has quite a fascinating history that can be traced back to ancient times. The history of the Boerboel can be traced back to Assyria in 640BC.

Recordings where discovered of two Assyrian kings; King Esarhadon and King Ashurbanipal-pal. These records states that the kings used enormous dogs to hunt Wild Horses and Lions. These records are housed in the Assyrian chambers of the British museum. There are also records available that states the King of Albania gave Alexander the Great a large dog as a gift.

Initially Alexander was greatly impressed by the size of the animal, but that soon turned into disappointment as the dog refused to hunt for bears, wild hogs or deer. Sadly the disappointments lead to the dog’s demise. When the Albanian king found out about the tragedy he quickly replaced the dog; the new dog came with an explicit set of instructions. They were not to waste the dog’s time; if they wanted the dog to hunt they should give it a challenge. The dog was offered both an Elephant and Lions, needless to say the dog performed and the Great was happy.

The Canus Molossus often referred to Molossers; a now extinct type of mastiff breed was widely used in Roman times in the Roman games. The breed quickly spread to Europe including the British Isles. As the trade routes were established around Africa, Jan van Riebeeck was appointed by the Dutch East Indian Company as governor on the Southern tip of Africa. Van Riebeek brought his Bullenbijter or better known as bull baiting dog along. The other colonialists brought their own large mastiff types of dogs along.

This is where Africa and Europe met, in the dog sense anyway. The large European mastiffs quickly crossed with the Strong and agile African breeds.

The African aspect of the Boerboel history has its origin from the Cynomones a tribe in Ethiopia. They used large fighting dogs from a Babylonian descent. These dogs where used to protect the tribe from wild animals such as Lions and the females were even used as a source of milk. As the African migration to the South started the dogs started spreading too.

The Boerboel as a breed developed between 1652 to around 1900. The original Boerboel dogs was only bred for protection on rough pioneer farms, by breeders that bred for functionality and not size, color and purity. These dogs needed to be tougher than nails and able to fight everything dark Africa threw at them.

Selective breeding of the Boerboel only really took off from the 1980’s.

Boerboel dogs have a unique history and had to face hardships only a few other breeds can imagine.