The African Boerboel is still considered to be somewhat rare outside of its native South Africa, but the breed is quickly growing in both number and popularity thanks to its reputation as both a wonderful family dog and an effective guard dog. Not only does the Boerboel tend to respond well to all members of the family, taking directions not just from one master but from all the people in his household, but this tireless watchdog will change from doting playmate to fierce protector as soon as he perceives a threat, going to any length to protect his family. It is for this reason that the Boerboel is much loved for his ability to be a fearless watchdog.
For centuries, the African Boerboel was the prized working dog of the descendants of the Dutch colonists that arrived in South Africa in the latter half of the 1600's. In fact, the word "boerboel" means "farmer's dog" in Afrikaans. Descended from the large mastiffs the Dutch brought with them from Europe to act as protectors and the native dogs, these working dogs not only protected the women and children while the men were working out in the fields, but they also hunted and performed other duties as well. Even today, the boerboel is remembered by South Africans as the farm dog that could accompany the children out to the fields to watch the cattle, hunt down a hare for their lunch, escort them home and protect the family all night.
Today, fanciers of the breed maintain that the Boerboel has not only maintained its high intelligence but also its fierce loyalty to its family. Naturally territorial, all these dogs need is a patch of land to protect, whether it is a large backyard or a small front garden, and a family to love them. This is perhaps the most important thing to remember about this breed - they are not meant to be left out to guard something, whether it is a building or a warehouse or even a house, without any contact from their owners. Just like any other dog, it does need to be socialized, not only in order to be able to interact safely with its family and their friends, but also to be able to distinguish friendly people and those that wish to do harm.
While the Boerboel certainly needs socialization skills, don't expect your Boerboel to become accustomed to large crowds or a light stroll in a shopping district. Of course, he can be trained to tolerate these outings, be it must be remembered that these dogs can grow to be rather large and they are certainly athletic. If they don't have a large yard to run around in to get their exercise, they will at least need a daily romp in a park or another outlet for energy. After their exercise, they will gladly rest and keep an eye out for threats for the rest of the day. While a Boerboel may appear to be harmless while resting, the truth is that when it comes to his family, this fearless watchdog is always on the alert.