Boerboel breeding in South Africa is overseen by a number of organizations, among them being the South African Boerboel Breeders Association (SABT) and the Historical Boerboel Association of South Africa (HBSA). A third organisation is the Elite Boerboel Breeders Association of Southern Africa (EBBASA), which has more stringent entry and registration requirements than the other two associations. A detailed set of standards regulating the characteristics of the breed has been laid down by these Associations, and all dogs which are registered with an association are required to undergo assessment in terms of these standards. It is a requirement that in order to be registered as a breeding animal, a dog must achieve a minimum qualifying appraisal rating of 75% or 80%.
We have taken the time to provide you below with the breed standard per each of these organizations:
(SABT) South African Boerboel Breeders Association Breed Standard
(HBSA) Historical Boerboel Association of South Africa Breed Standard
(EBBASA) Elite Boerboel Breeders Association of Southern Africa Breed Standard
(ARBA) American Rare Breed Association Boerboel Breed Standard
Scroll down the page to review all standards, or click on any of the links above to shortcut to the standard for that Association.
South African Boerboel Breeders Association
The SABT Standard of the Boerboel breed:
General boerboel appearance
The Boerboel is a big, strong and intelligent working dog, which was bred in south Africa since the seventeenth century. Various mastiff types dogs from Europe as well as big dogs from Africa contributed to the development of the breed. The Boerboel is well balanced, with good muscle development and swift in movement. The dog should be impressive, and imposing. Male dogs appear noticeably masculine and bitches feminine.
The Boerboel is a perfectly balanced dog - all parts of the body should be in proportion.
Boerboel temperament and characteristics
The Boerboel is reliable, obedient and intelligent, with a strong watchdog instinct. It is self-assured and fearless, but perspective to the needs of the family.
The boerboel head
The head is the most important feature of the Boerboel, as it represents its total character. The head is short, broad, deep, square and muscular with well-filled cheeks. The part between the eyes must be well filled.
- Top-line of the head/occiput
The top of the head is broad and flat, with prominent muscle development.
The face should blend symmetrically with the head, and can be with or without black
The stop should be visible, but not prominent.
The muzzle is black with large nostrils that are widely spaced.
- Nasal bone
The nasal bone is straight and parallel to the top-line of the head. It is deep, broad and it tapers slightly to the front. The nasal bone should be 8-10cm long.
The upper lip is loose and fleshly, and should not hang lower than the lower jaw. The upper lip (beneath the muzzle) should cover the lower lip.
The jaws (mandibles) are strong, deep and broad, and narrows slightly to the front.
Teeth should be white, well developed, correctly spaced; a complete set (42 teeth), and should have a scissors bite.
The color of the eyes can be any shade of brown, but darker than the pelt. Eyes should be horizontally set. It should be broad-spaced with firm, well-pigmented eyelids.
The ears should be of medium size, v-shaped and should be in proportion to the head. They are set fairly high and wide against the head. When the dog is interested, the ears should form a straight line with the top of the head.
- Profile: the neck shows a noticeable muscle curve, and is attached high at the shoulder.
- Length: the neck is of medium length and in proportion to the rest of the dog.
- Appearance: the neck is quite strong and muscular, firmly attached to the head and gradually broadens up to the point where it is attached to the shoulder. The neck, head and shoulder should from a unit.
- The skin of the neck: the skin of the neck is loose under the throat and becomes taut between the front legs.
The body narrows slightly towards the loin.
- Top line
The top line should be straight.
The back is straight, broad and in proportion, with prominent back muscles and a short loin.
The rump is broad and strong with good muscle development.
The chest is muscular and strong. The chest should be broad and deeply set between the forelegs, with well-attached and curved ribs. The rib cage should be in proportion to the chest.
- Tail the tail is attached high to the body. It should be straight and preferably short (three joints). Long tails are acceptable.
The forequarter is strong, muscular and in proportion to the rest of the dog.
The withers should be well attached, correctly angled and with good muscle development.
- Upper arm
The upper arm should have good muscle development. Front legs the front legs should be thick, strong, and muscular and should stand perfectly vertical.
- Front pasterns
The front pasterns are short, strong and a vertical extension of the front legs and pastern joints.
- Front paws
The front paws are big well padded and rounded and with strong dark and curved toenails. The paws should point straight forward.
The hindquarter should be strong, firm and in proportion to the rest of the dog, with the ability for effective propulsion.
- Upper thighs the upper thighs are broad, deep, well developed with prominent muscles.
- Second thigh/gaskin
The second thighs should be well developed with prominent muscles.
- Knee stifle
The knees are strong, firm and correctly angled
- Hock joints
The hock joints are firm with correct curving.
The hocks are relatively short, strong and thick. The hocks are parallel. (dew claws should not be present).
- Hind paws
The hind paws are slight smaller than the front paws. They should be well padded, rounded and should point straightforward. The nails are strong dark and curved.
Movement should be easy, smoothly powerful, by means of good propulsion of the hindquarter and parallel movement of the legs. In movement, a straight top-line should be maintained.
The skin is thick, loose, well pigmented with moderate wrinkles.
The pelt is short, sleek and dense. Recognized colors are cream white, pale tawny, reddish brown, brown and all shades of brindle.
The ideal height for a male dog is 66 cm. (26 inches) at the withers. It can, however vary between 64 cm. (25 inches) and +70 cm. (+28 inches) at the withers.
The ideal height for a bitch is 61 cm. (24 inches). It can vary between 59 cm. (23 inches) and 65 cm. (26 inches).
General Boerboel health
The Boerboel enjoys exceptional health, due to natural selection.
The Boerboel is well pigmented, especially on the lips, paws, toenails and genitals.
Boerboel Disqualifications :
- A dog which is too small. / A dog which is too big.
- A noticeable over bite. / An under bite of more than 1cm.
- A sharp mouth. / A narrow mouth. / A long mouth.
- Cows hocks. / Straight hocks. / Sickle hocks.
- A head which is too small and nondescript.
- An overly aggressive dog.
- A narrow chest.
- A hollow back.
- Bandy legs.
- Erect ears.
- Blue eyes.
- A liver colored muzzle.
- Any sign of another dog breed.
- Clumsy and unbalanced movement.
- A piebald dog without sufficient pigmentation.
- A piebald dog without any of the five acceptable
colors around both eyes and on both ears.
Historical Boerboel Association of South Africa
The HBSA Standard of the Boerboel breed:
Boerboel Breed Standard
- General Appearance
The Boerboel is a big Mastiff type, sturdy and smooth coated dog. Although the Boerboel should be strong of limb and muscular, it should also be agile and buoyant in movement. The Boerboel should on no account be leggy, nor must he be too short in the leg. A Boerboel's overall conformation should allow him to attain the highest degree of propelling power, together with the greatest length of stride that is compatible with the length of body. Weight is not a certain criterion of a Boerboel's fitness for his work-general shape, size and contour are the main points – the dog being in proportion the main requirement. . Males should preferably weigh in excess of 50kg. , with the ideal weight being approximately 65kgs.
N.B. . Old scars and injuries, the result of work or accident, should not be allowed to prejudice a Boerboel's evaluation, unless they interfere with its movement or with its effectiveness for work or stud.
- Size, Proportion and Substance
Size In line with present day requirements, a full size, well balanced dog should ideally measure in height from the withers to the ground, 70 centimeters, but in any event should not be shorter than 60 centimeters – The bitch being proportionally shorter with an ideal height of 65 centimeters, but in any event not being shorter than 55 centimeters – height being related to weight.
Balance – This may be defined as the correct proportions of certain points, when considered in relation to certain other points. It is the keystones of a Boerboel's anatomy. The main points for consideration are the relative proportions of skull and foreface; head and back; height at withers and length of body from shoulder point to buttock – the ideal proportion being reached when the last two measurements are almost the same (9:10 ratio) . It should be added that, although the head measurements can be taken with accuracy, the height at withers and length of back and coat are approximate, and are inserted for the information of breeders and exhibitors rather than as a hard-and-fast rule.
Proportion – In proportion, the length of back(length from point of shoulder to tail set) is not equal to distance from withers to ground, or slightly longer than tall, in a ratio of 10 to 9. The Boerboel must not evolve towards a square conformation.
The Head is a very important feature of the Boerboel, as it represents it's total character. The head is short, broad, deep, square and muscular with well filled cheeks. The Boerboel should have an alert and intelligent expression. The top of the skull (occiput) is broad and flat, and from the side the muzzle and head are square. The skull must gradually decrease in width to the eyes and the stop should be visible but not prominent.
Eyes – Eye color ranges in all shades of yellow and brown, but 90% of dogs' eye color is lighter than the pelt. The eyes should be horizontally and wide set and looking straight forward, with firm well-pigmented eyelids. Eyes should not be protruding or set too deep, and haws should not show. Blue eyes must be seen as a serious fault.(disqualification)
Ears – The ears should be of medium size, V-shaped and of moderate thickness. The ears are set high and wide against the skull. Ears should drop side ways close to the cheek. When the dog is interested, the ears should form a straight line with the top of the skull (occiput). The ideal length is when the lower tip of the ear is in line with the eye.
Disqualification – Rose, tulip, pricked or full drop is a serious fault.
The nasal bone is straight and as near to parallel as possible to the top line of the head, and should taper slightly from eye to muzzle, with or without a black mask. The nasal bone should be in proportion to the skull (approximately 8-10 cm long). The ratio between skull and nasal bone being 1/1.5:1
The muzzle - is black with large nostrils which are largely spaced.
Disqualification - Liver colored, white or spotted nose.
Lips – the upper lip is loose and fleshy, and should not hang lower than the lower jaw. The upper lip (beneath the muzzle) should cover the lower lip
Jaws – upper and lower should be strong , broad and muscular. The jaws should not be flat or snipey.
Teeth – The teeth should be white, well developed, correctly spaced, a complete set of 42 teeth and should have a scissors bite- a bite in which the outer side of the lower incisors touches the inner side of the upper incisors. Penalization – badly overshot and badly undershot – i.e. more than 1 cm.
- Neck – The neck is muscular and clean in outline, with no dewlap (the skin must be loose under the throat and stretched taut between the forelegs). The neck shows a noticeable muscle curve and gradually widens toward the shoulder. The neck must be in proportion to the rest of the dog. An over long or short neck should be considered a fault.
- Body - Forequarters – 1. Front legs are thick, strong and muscular to support overall balance of dog.. The forelegs viewed from any direction must beas straight as possible and stand perfectly vertical, without knees or feet turning either in or out.. The front pasterns should are short, strong and a vertical extension of the front legs and pastern joints. The distance from the knee (stifle) joint and pastern (wrist) joint must not be too long to ensure a well balanced dog capable of fluent movement. Shoulders should be well laid back, with good muscle development. The upper arm should have good muscle development. The chest must be strong, wide and deeply set between the fore legs, with well attached and curved ribs. The ribcage should be in proportion to the chest. The front paws are big, well padded and rounded with strong, dark and short toenails. The paws should point almost straight forward. Most large breeds' front paws however turns slightly outward
Top line – the top line should be straight.
Hindquarters - The back is straight, broad and in proportion, with prominent back muscles and a short loin. A straight “tabletop” back is however not ideal for efficient movement, a very slight dip behind the shoulder ensuring better overall movement. The back sloping slightly toward the loin are sometimes seen in young Boerboels. The hindquarters should be firm, strong and muscular and enhance effective propulsion. The hind quarters should be free from droop or crouch. The upper and second thigh (gaskin) should also be well developed with prominent muscles. Knee (stifle) – the knees are strong, firm and correctly angulated. The hock joints are strong and firm with correct curving (45° ) , the hocks are relatively short, strong and thick. The hocks are parallel. (Dew claws , if any are generally removed) The hind paws are slightly smaller than the front paws. They should be well padded, rounded and should point straight forward. The nails are strong, dark and short. Tail – the tail is attached high to the body. It should be straight and is generally docked at three joints, however, long tails are also accepted.
Faults – a prominent dip behind the shoulder, a round back, and a sloping loin, is a sign of poor rib- and or back development. Loose shoulder blades are also considered a fault. A large male has a “saddle” behind his shoulder blades, and behind this “saddle” is a slight “dip”. This “saddle” consists of muscles.
- Coat – the coat is thick, smooth, short and loose, with dark pigmentation on the skin under the hair. Moderate wrinkles on the forehead when the dog is interested. The belly and underside of the thighs should be bare. Long hair is a definite sign of another breed.
- Color – All colors are accepted, although poor pigmentation is penalized
- Gait / Movement – 1. A smooth, powerful ground-covering ability must be seen. Movement is the crucial test of conformation. The principal propulsion power is furnished by hind legs. Perfection of action being found in the Boerboel possessing long thighs and muscular second thighs well bent at the stifles. When approaching, the forelegs should form a continuation of the straight line of the front , the feet being the same distance apart as the elbows. At a trot, both front and rear legs tend to converge toward the center line of gravity. The Boerboel must show good extension both front and rear. Viewed from the side, the top line is firm and parallel to the line of motion – in other words in movement a straight top line should be maintained.
- Temperament – From past history of the Boerboel, the modern dog draws its character of indominatable courage, high intelligence, and tenacity. The Boerboel is also reliable, obedient and has a strong watchdog instinct. This coupled with its affection for its friends, and children in particular, its off-duty quietness and trustworthy stability, makes it a foremost all-purpose dog. The Boerboel has a quick and intelligent mind and is easily trained. He is outgoing and shows a tremendous willingness to please. He makes an excellent family dog as well as a trustworthy hunting companion.
- Disqualifications / Penalisations
- A dog which is too small (D)
- A dog which is too big (D)
- An overly aggressive dog (D)
- A too small and nondescript head (D)
- A livered colored muzzle (D)
- An under bite more than 1 cm (P)
- A noticeable overbite (P)
- A narrow , long or sharp mouth (D)
- Blue eyes (D)
- Erect ears (D)
- A narrow chest (P)
- Bandy legs (P)
- A hollow back (P)
- Cow hocks (P)
- Sickle hocks (P)
- Clumsy and unbalanced movement (D)
- Poor pigmentation (P)
- Any sign of another dog breed (D)
- Additonal Details:
- large and strong. Short, broad and deep
- symmetrical and balanced
- flat between the ears
- the ideal nasal bone length of males is 10cm and that of bitches 8cm and must be straight with no upturn
- the stop not too prominent
- nostrils large and widely spaced
- well formed with well pigmented lids
- no bulge –brow bone not prominent
- medium size and V-shaped and in relation to the rest of the head
- fall naturally against the head and positioned fairly high
- strong, straight and broad
- well shut. The ideal is a scissor bite
- lips must be pigmented and not too fleshy and must cover the teeth
- strong and muscled
- loose dewlap tautening between the legs
- form a well-balanced unity between head and body
- Chest - must be strong, well muscled, broad and deep in relation to the dog and its body, with ample chest capacity.
- Front Legs - straight, sturdy and positioned under the body with slightly angulated but firm fetlocks.
- Shoulders - strong, muscled and supple.
- Elbows - must not stand out or bend in so that the dog has a comfortable movement.
- Body - length must be in relation to the size of the dog.
- Back - strong with a relatively straight topline.
- Loin - fairly short and well muscled.
must be strong, muscled and well constructed.
Legs - sturdy with slightly angulated bur firm fetlocks
Hocks - correctly angulated and under the body when moving
- well padded, noticeably larger in front
- must be in relation to the rest of the dog
- must not turn out or in, pointing straight forward
- preferably docked. (Long tails are allowed).
- forms a unity with the dog and set fairly high with no deformity
Elite Boerboel Breeders Association of Southern Africa
The EBBASA Standard of the Boerboel breed:
Breeding Standards of the South African Boerboel
· The Boerboel must have a good temperament
· The Boerboel must be intelligent with a steadfast and balanced nature and be faithful to his master until death
· The Boerboel must possess the characteristics of a good watchdog and be loving towards his owners with a special liking of children
· The Boerboel must possess good self-confidence
2. General appearance
· The Boerboel must be large, solid, strong and muscled
· The Boerboel must be a well-balanced dog in all respects
· The Head
- Must be large and strong
- Must have a typical Boerboel appearance
- Must be symmetrical and balanced in relation
- Must be flat between the ears
- The bridge of the nose of the male dogs may be a maximum length of 10cm and that of the bitches 10cm. The nose must be straight with no upturn.
· The Eyes
- Must be well-formed
- Must be pigmented
- Must not bulge
· The Ears
- Must be medium and v-shaped and in relation to the rest of the head
- Must fall naturally against the head
· The Mouth
- The jaw must be strong, straight and broad
- The jaws must shut well. The ideal is a scissor bite. The maximum difference allowed between the jaws is 1cm
- The lips must be pigmented and not too fleshy and must cover the teeth
· The Neck
- Must be strong, muscled and in relation to the rest of the dog
· The Forequarters
- The chest must be strong, muscled and broad in relation to the dog and its body
- The front legs must be straight, sturdy and strong
- The shoulders must be strong, muscled an supple
- The elbows must not stand out or bend in so that the dog has comfortable movement of his front legs
· The Body
- The length must be in relation to the size of the dog
- It must form a balance between the chest and the hindquarters
- The back must be strong and straight
· The Hindquarters
- Must be strong and muscled
- The hindquarters must be well formed
- The hind legs must be sturdy and strong
- The hocks must not bend in or out
· The Feet
- Must be well cushioned and not sharp
- Must be in relation to the rest of the dog
- Must not turn in or out
· The Tail
- Must be docked (long tails are allowed)
- It must form a unity with the dog – must not be too high or too low or too sloped or too curved
· The Coat/Colour
- The coat must be short and smooth
- The colour of the dog must fulfil the colour requirements
- The movement of the dog must be powerful
- The movement of the dog must be in line front to rear, when seen from the front or the rear
- The general picture of the dog must be that of a typical Boerboel
- No sign of any other breed of dog must be seen in the picture
· Disqualifying Characteristics
- General Appearance
· Clumsy, unbalanced appearance and/or movement
· Too large and/or too heavy
· Too small and/or too light
· Any sign of any other breed of dog
· Males over 68cm to shoulder
· Males under 64cm to shoulder
· Females over 66cm to shoulder
· Females under 60cm to shoulder
- Aggressive Nature
· Aggressive and uncontrollable when the owner handles the dog
· Too small, characterless head
· Short upper jaw/long lower jaw
· Liver coloured or pigmentless nose
· Sharp mouth
· Blue eyes
· Chest too small
· Cow hocks
· Bandy legs
· Front legs fold in or stand out
· Curly hair/long hair
· Whiskers on mouth
· Straight legs
· With one eye or both eyes white
- Deviations from the Breed Standard should be recognised and faults and the degree thereof will determine the penalisation.
American Rare Breed Association
The ARBA Standard of the Boerboel breed:
Official Breed Standard of the Kennel Union of South Africa
At KUSA licensed events in Conformation (Beauty/Breed) it is only eligible to enter Development Classes t Non-Championship Shows. It is able to enter any Obedience Classes, Working Trials (Classic), Dog Jumping,Agility, Dog Carting events for which it is qualified, with awards.
Must have a good temperament with controlled aggressiveness. Must be intelligent with a steadfast and balanced nature and be faithful to his master until death. Must possess the characteristics of a good watchdog and be loving towards his owners with a special liking for children. Must possess enormous self-confidence.
Must be large, solid, strong and well muscled. Be an impressive, well balanced dog with no obvious signs of any other breed.
Head - large and strong. Short, broad and deep
symmetrical and balanced
flat between the ears
the ideal nasal bone length of males is 10cm and that of bitches 8cm and must be straight with no upturn
the stop not too prominent
nostrils large and widely spaced
Eyes - well formed with well pigmented lids
no bulge - brow bone not prominent
Ears - medium size and V-shaped and in relation to the rest of the head
fall naturally against the head and positioned fairly high
Jaws - strong, straight and broad
well shut. The ideal is a scissor bite
lips must be pigmented and not too fleshy and must cover the teeth
Neck - strong and muscled
loose dewlap tautening between the legs
form a well-balanced unity between head and body
Chest - must be strong, well muscled, broad and deep in relation to the dog and its body, with ample chest capacity
Front Legs - straight, sturdy and positioned under the body with slightly angulated but firm fetlocks
Shoulders - strong, muscled and supple
Elbows - must not stand out or bend in so that the dog has a comfortable movement
Body - length must be in relation to the size of the dog
Back - strong with a relatively straight topline
Loin - fairly short and well muscled
HINDQUARTERS must be strong, muscled and well constructed
Legs - sturdy with slightly angulated but firm fetlocks
Hocks - correctly angulated and under the body when moving
Paws - well padded, noticeably larger in front
Must not turn out or in, pointing straight forward
Tail - preferably docked. (Long tails are allowed).
Forms a unity with the dog and set fairly high with no deformity
COAT - short and smooth
COLOUR - any colour is acceptable providing strong pigmentation is present
MOVEMENT powerful and purposeful in line front to rear
Males - ideal height between 60 and 70cm
Females- between 55 and 65cm
Fully grown and prime condition :
Males - between 60 and 75kg
Females - between 50 and 65kg
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.
Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
(C) Historical Boerboel Association 3/2000
Reprinted with permission