Those that are thinking about adopting an African Boerboel may be concerned about aggression. Like other members of the mastiff family, this large dog does have aggressive tendencies, but these are usually manifested through poor breeding and training. Over the years, the Boerboel's purpose in life has been that of a protector rather than a fighter, but this breed also happens to be among the most dominant of dogs. Here we'll take a look at what factors can cause a Boerboel to be aggressive and what you can do to make sure your Boerboel grows up without aggression.
For centuries, the Boerboel was the traditional working dog for Afrikaners in South Africa. Their duties primarily consisted of guarding the women and children while the men worked in the fields, as well as hunting small game from time to time. While the guarding instinct has always been very natural in the dogs, often appearing as early as eight weeks, they have never in their history been bred solely for fighting. Yes, it's true that they will go to extraordinary lengths to protect their families, but these weren't dogs that went looking for a fight.
It is also important to understand the difference between dominance and aggression. While all dogs live with a pack mentality, some are more likely to assert themselves in the pack's hierarchy than others. Boerboels naturally are quite dominant and in the "pack" that you have created with your Boerboel and your family, he will constantly try to improve his rank in the pack. It is up to you to be consistent in your training to make him understand his place. Sometimes, dominance is mistaken for aggression when an incident happens in the home. Often incidents happen because of overindulgence and a lack of consistent training.
So what can you do to make sure your Boerboel isn't aggressive? The first thing to do is to purchase your Boerboel from a reputable breeder. Good, reputable breeders that care more about quality than quantity will take special care to only breed dogs with good temperaments and have the dogs in their breeding program evaluated by a professional. Boerboels do mature slower than other breeds, with males not reaching adulthood until nearly three years of age, and in some cases a dog's aggression will not be obvious until they've reached adulthood. Beware of "backyard breeders" or others that breed for money as opposed to a love of the dog.
Once you've brought your Boerboel home, whether the dog will be aggressive or not will be entirely in your hands. These dogs need a constant reminder of where they stand in the pecking order and those that give inconsistent or unintentionally bad training may find themselves with a dog that considers itself to be the leader of your family pack. Enroll yourself, your Boerboel and your family into a puppy obedience class as early as possible and learn the best ways of training your dog so that you can enjoy a dog you'll be proud of, instead of a dog you'll be afraid of.