Boerboel vs. Bullmastiff

The Boerboel and the Bullmastiff are both large breed dogs that originate from different geographical regions. The Boerboel comes from South Africa and was used as a farm dog, while the Bullmastiff has its origins in England where it was utilized as a gamekeeper’s night dog.

When it comes to temperament, both breeds are known for their loyalty and protective nature. However, Boerboels tend to be more self-assured and confident, whereas Bullmastiffs are usually more reserved and gentle, but can be stubborn at times.

Health-wise, the Bullmastiff has a shorter average lifespan (8-10 years) compared to the Boerboel (10-12 years). It’s also important to note that both breeds can suffer from common health issues related to large breeds, such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and certain heart conditions.

In terms of size, the Boerboel tends to be heavier and larger, with males standing up to 27 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing up to 200 pounds. On the other hand, male Bullmastiffs usually stand around 25 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh up to 130 pounds.

Lastly, in terms of care, both breeds require regular exercise to stay healthy and prevent obesity. However, Boerboels have short coats that are easy to groom, whereas Bullmastiffs tend to drool more and may require more effort to keep clean.

Last Updated on September 20, 2023

Quick Summary: The Boerboel can be twice as large as the Bullmastiff. The Bullmastiff is more relaxed than the Boerboel, which is more active due to their intense energy. Because of this, the Boerboel will need around 60 minutes of exercise daily, while the Bullmastiff only needs about 45 minutes. Positive reinforcement is the best method of training for these two dogs. The Bullmastiff will choose edible treats as his reward, whereas the Boerboel will go for whatever they feel that day. These two breeds have similar coats and the same grooming requirements. Their hair is short and straight, so they only need to be brushed once a week. Although the Bullmastiff is easier to care for, they don’t live as long as the Boerboel.

Are you comparing the Boerboel with the Bullmastiff to find the right guardian for your livestock or estate? They’re two of the most closely related dog breeds, so you would be forgiven for thinking they were one and the same dog. However, you’ll be surprised at how many differences there are between them.

This guide will answer all your questions about the relationship between these breeds. The Boerboel, the largest of both breeds, is the most difficult to care for. Although the Bullmastiff has a lot of popularity with families all over America, he is not suitable for every family.

Both can make wonderful family companions as well as excellent property and home protectors. Despite their size, they are not recommended for novice dog owners. Want to learn more? Let’s get started!

Boerboel vs. Bullmastiff

Breed History and Origin

To understand these gorgeous dogs, it is important to know their origins and breed purpose. Many dog owners rush to get a dog and don’t do the proper breed research. If it does not work out, it can lead to unhappy lives for both dogs and humans.

The Boerboel: An Overview

The Boerboel is a rare dog in America, but if you visit South Africa regularly, you’ve probably met one of these pups. They are one of the most popular South African dog breeds. Dutch for “Boer,” means farmer.

It was the Dutch who bred bull-type and mastiff dogs to make powerful protective machines. What did you get? A Boerboel. He was the canine of choice for farmers who wanted to protect their land and families from predators.

He is not just a fighter, he was raised to be a loving family dog who loves to get along with his family. He is known for his love of children. Because of his sweetness, he is often chosen as a therapy dog.

He was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2015. And in 2020, he was ranked as the 121st most popular dog breed. Because of his natural guardian tendencies, he’s often compared to other breeds like Rottweilers.

The Bullmastiff: An Overview

The Bullmastiff is also known by the name ‘Gamekeepers Night Dog.’ He was created to protect country estates and preserve the English aristocracy.

He was also made from bulldogs and mastiff-type dogs, and to be precise, he is believed to be 60% Mastiff and 40% Bulldog. He was courageous enough to capture and protect estates but not so obedient as to kill them.

He hails from 19th century England, but it wasn’t until 1933 that he officially joined the AKC ranks. He is now the 51st most popular dog in America, making him much more popular with families in America.

His smaller size and more flexible nature is the reason he is so popular. He featured in the film Rocky as Sylvester Stallone’s pet dog and has been a huge hit with big dog lovers ever since.

Size and Appearance

After looking at their histories, it is clear that both breeds were created from mastiff dogs and bull-type dogs. This is why they are so similar. However, a trained eye will see subtle differences.

Their size is the most noticeable. The Boerboel, which can be twice as large as a Bullmastiff, is the largest. Boerboel’s are often confused for the Cane Corso or Mastiffs due to their apparent similarities.

This alone may be enough to convince you to choose the Bullmastiff. Bullmastiffs have thick and long tails, which can cause him trouble at home by accidentally breaking ornaments. Although the Boerboel’s tail is naturally long, it is common to dock it at its third vertebrae.

The Bullmastiffs have shorter muzzles than the Boerboel. You can also see the bull-type links more clearly than the Boerboel. Many prefer the shorter muzzle and a flatter face. We’ll discuss the health risks associated with a shorter muzzle later.

They both have large, fleshy noses and long, triangle-shaped, drop-down ears. They also share their coat colors. The most common color is fawn, with red tones. Both have the rare option of the brindle coat and a black mask. The coat is two-layered and is smooth and sleek to the touch.

Nutrition Guide

The Boerboel will consume around five to six cups of food every day, and the Bullmastiff will finish between three to four a day. It all depends on their size and energy level. Both dogs will need high-quality kibble to provide a balanced diet.

Both dogs are large breeds. This means you’ll need an age-appropriate giant breed puppy food, progressing to a giant breed adult formula which they will likely eat for the majority of their adult life. Adult food for both breeds should have a glucosamine and chondroitin booster before they reach their senior years.

Both of these men are at risk of becoming obese, please be mindful not to overfeed them. They already have enough weight in their joints, so don’t put on anymore. They will be more likely to develop other weight-related health issues. They are also at risk of gastric torsion, which is linked to feeding routines and exercise times. This is a serious condition that can lead to death.

Grooming Requirements

The Bullmastiff and the Boerboel have similar coats, so they need the same grooming. Their hair is short and straight, so they need brushing only once per week all year. A brush two times a week during shedding season will help to manage the shed hairs and keep it from getting on your clothes.

Bathe them once every 8 to 12 weeks to keep them clean and free from dirt and grease. A gentle shampoo for dogs that won’t irritate their skin is a good investment. Both dogs have eye problems, so make sure you check their eyes when grooming them. Note any potential medical issues.

Temperament, Mood, and Personality

The personalities of the Bullmastiff and the Boerboel are very similar. However, there are subtle differences. Both are protective of their families. Due to their nature, neither breed is suitable for a first-time owner. Both breeds can have aggressive tendencies if they aren’t properly trained from an early age.

The Bullmastiff is a better cuddler for the sofa and is calmer when protecting their family. The Boerboel is a very alert dog. The Bullmastiff is more relaxed than the Boerboel. While they can both defend their families equally well, the Bullmastiff tends to be more relaxed.

Both breeds are loving and calm towards their families. Both breeds are naturally attracted to children because they are calm and protective of the pack. Surprisingly, Boerboel is more fond of children than the Bullmastiff and will gravitate towards them. The Bullmastiff, on the other hand, is a sucker for everyone.

The Boerboel prefers to work alone in the vast African landscapes. He is more comfortable working alone than being directed by his master. The Boerboel is therefore more independent. This means that he is more stubborn and harder to train. It is fair to say that the Bullmastiff behaves slightly better than the Boerboel.

They are both fun, and they love playing with their families. Their size can make them a bit intimidating even for adults. Although the Boerboel is not as energetic as the Bullmastiff’s, he is certainly more active due to his intense work energy.

Exercise Requirements

The Boerboel is the most active of the two. This is due to his work history. He was not only an estate protector but also a ranch hand, cart puller, herder, and general ranchhand. The Bullmastiff is more responsive to his master’s commands than the Boerboel, who only react to outsiders. The Boerboel may be a better choice if you want a more active dog.

The Boerboel will need around 60 minutes of exercise every day, compared to the Bullmastiff, who needs approximately 45 minutes. To expel his deep-rooted work energy, the Boerboel should exercise more intensely and participate in mentally engaging activities. The Bullmastiff is content to just stroll around the block for the most part.

They are energetic, playful, and intelligent. This means they will need playtime throughout the day. It’s wise to invest in indestructible dog toys or giant toys for bigger dogs; otherwise, they might turn their attention onto your favorite table’s legs.

Training and Socialization

Both of these guys require intense training from the moment they arrive home. Neither one of them is suitable for inexperienced dog owners. It is a good idea to get them into puppy obedience classes as soon as possible. Before they can assume the title of “top dog” in the household, you need to understand their dominant personality. Do not underestimate their power.

But, dogs will be happy with owners who can be both firm and fair with them. Because he has been used to managing a ranch on his own, the Boerboel can be stubborner than the other breeds. If you’re not an experienced dog owner, the Bullmastiff may be a better choice. If you plan to crate train your pup, ensure you have plenty of space for an extra-large dog crate to properly train your pup.

Socialization is essential because they will each treat cats like an intruder. Positive reinforcement is the best method of training. The Bullmastiff will choose edible treats as his reward, and the Boerboels are whatever he feels that day.

Health Issues

Both the Bullmastiff and the Boerboel are affected by hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as eye problems such as conjunctivitis, progressive retinal atrophy, and entropion. The Bullmastiff should be checked for heart problems and thyroid abnormalities. Although the Boerboel has fewer health issues, he still enjoys less years because of his excess weight.

The Boerboel is more suitable for a hotter climate than the Bullmastiff, which is from England and is known for its cold, wet climate. The Boerboel’s darker skin protects him against the harsh UV rays. The Bullmastiff doesn’t. The Bullmastiff’s brachycephalic profile is also noteworthy. This makes it a good reason to keep him in colder areas.

Puppy Prices

The price of the Boerboel puppy is slightly higher than the Bullmastiff because he’s a little rarer. You should expect to travel to meet a reliable breeder. Don’t be surprised if they ask you if you are ready to take on the challenge of owning one of these guys.

Beware of backstreet breeders and puppy mills who will charge less for their pups. This may sound appealing, but you can be certain that you will receive a dog that is likely to be unhealthy and has never had any love. This can lead to higher vet bills as well as potential behavioral problems later in life.


Now you are aware of the similarities and differences that exist between the Boerboel and Bullmastiff. They share the same breed history. They are, however, distinct because they were used at different intensities and for different purposes.

The Boerboel may not be the most popular choice, but he could be the best option for you and your family. He’s more suited for hot climates and has fewer health issues. Although the Bullmastiff is easier to care for, it doesn’t live as long as the Boerboel.

Both of these protective breeds are family-oriented and will do anything to help you. If you can meet their needs, they will be able to live up to all you have hoped for.

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