If you're in the market for a large canine, either the boerboel or the bullmastiff may fit the bill. These two dogs resemble each other, although boerboel dogs have a more square head than bull mastiffs. Boerboel simply means "farm dog" in Afrikaans. The breed is also known as the South African boerboel. The breed was accepted into the American Kennel Club registry in 2015. Bullmastiffs have been recognized by the AKC since 1934.
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Effective guard dogs
South African farmers bred the boerboel as both a protection and all-around working dog. He was later used for guarding diamond mines in his native land. The bullmastiff originated in England, where he was developed as a guard dog for large estates and a deterrence against poachers. His name gives away his lineage, as the breed originates from a cross of mastiffs and bulldogs. Both dogs still make good watchdogs, although neither barks much. Their sheer size is enough to scare away most intruders.
Boerboel and bullmastiff size differences
A male, full-grown South African boerboel grows to be between 24 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder, weighing between 140 and 180 pounds. A female boerboel mastiff is smaller, standing between 22 to 25 inches tall and weighing between 110 and 150 pounds.
The male bull mastiff stands between 25 to 27 inches tall when full grown, with females 24 to 26 inches high. They weigh slightly less than boerboels, with males maturing between 110 and 130 pounds and females tipping the scales at between 100 and 120 pounds.
Boerboel and bullmastiff coat and color
The South African boerboel has a short coat that appears in various shades of brown, including tawny, cream, and reddish-brown. It also appears in brindle, or dark striping on a brown undercoat. Boerboels may have white markings and a dark mask. Large amounts of white on the body are also acceptable.
The bull mastiff's short coat appears in fawn and red, with red brindle, fawn brindle, and red fawn as acceptable shades. The black facial mask is the only acceptable marking in the AKC breed standard, except for a tiny white spot on the chest.
Dominant dog breed considerations
Both breeds are dominant dogs, and not recommended for novice dog owners. Neither particularly cares for other canines, and males especially dislike other male dogs. If you ever bring another dog into your household, it's recommend that the dog be the opposite sex of your boerboel or bull mastiff.
Because of their strong prey drive, neither breed does well with cats or other small pets. However, the boerboel can accept non-canine pets with whom he's grown up. The bullmastiff can make a good family dog, as can most boerboels. That doesn't mean a dog who is fine with the household's children will do well with strange kids, though.
Training and exercise requirements
It's important to train and socialize both breeds from puppyhood since they are independent canines and need firm boundaries. Obedience training is a must, and both breeds usually do well. It's important to consistently reinforce that training, so you're confident you can control your giant dog in any situation.
The boerboel is far more active than the bullmastiff and requires a fair amount of daily exercise. The bullmastiff is less energetic and a couple of daily walks can fill his exercise needs.