History of Boerboel Dogs

boerboel historyThe history of Boerboel dogs traces back to ancient times. The first available information appears in 640 BC and centers around two Assyrian kings.  The kings hunted wild horses and lions with large dogs. A British museum displays artifacts that support the findings.  Proof that Albanian king gifted Alexander the Great with a large dog has been found.

Alexander the Great wanted the dog to hunt deer, wild boars, and bears.  The dog refused to hunt and was killed so the King of Albania gave Alexander a replacement.  This dog was put before lions and an elephant and the performance was acceptable.

Trading routes were established near the Cape of Good Hope when trading between West and East began developing.  At Africa’ southern tip, a trading post was established by Jan van Riebeck who had been sent by the Dutch Eas Indian Company.  He brought a ‘Bullenbijter’ for protection which was a large mastiff-type dog.

Dogs from strong African bloodlines were crossed with large European dogs. The Boers made the “Great Trek” into South Africa where they took the mixed breed dogs with them.

A tribe from southern Ethiopia, the Cynomones, used dogs they called “Indian Dogs”.  These dogs were strong and able to fight lions.  The dogs were kept for hunting and protection purposes and milk from the females was used for sustenance.  Folklore suggests that the dogs were developed from crossing tigers and dogs. Conserving the breed was not a priority of the Cynomones.  They needed virile, powerful and brave dogs so the best dogs were bred to each other.

The History of Boerboel Dogs Migration

Migrating African tribes took the dogs on their journeys.  From 1652 to around 1900, the Boerboel known today was developed.  Survival of the predators, terrain, and climate was dangerous and challenging so performance of the dogs directed the breeding process.  Very little consideration was made with respect to the heritage or pure breeding.

Boerboel was developed from the most fit mastiff-type dogs South Africa had to offer.  Migrating African tribes, European colonists and settlers, and soldiers brought the dogs to this country.  The Boerboel is now a recognized pure bred dog. In order to be bred true to function and type, a carefully worded breed standard is needed in future years.

Since 1980, the International African Boerboel Breeders Association, the Elite Boerboel Breed of Southern Africa and the South African Boerboel Breeders Association (SABT) have been formed. Selective breeding has resulted in the South African Boerboel known today.

The fine breed has emerged despite a century of indifference and neglect.  A distinctive canine race has stabilized which is a tribute to both dogs and those responsible for the breeding. The history of Boerboel dogs is as rich and significant as the breed itself.