South African Boerboel Breed Standard, According to SABBS

The South African Boerboel Breeder's Society has in their constitution a set of standards that Boerboels should adhere to. In an effort to educate ourselves and other enthusiasts we have made note of Chapter 3 in the SABBS constitution below. This chapter is a great read. Hope you enjoy learning more about the South African Boerboel in it's desirable form.



The Breed Standard is a guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance of the breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. The aim of this Breed Standard is to provide guidelines to breeders, appraisers and judges, who should at all times be vigilant to avoid obvious conditions or excessiveness, that would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or absolute soundness of the Boerboel.

Type, conformation, functional efficiency, mentality and composure are equally important in the evaluation of the Boerboel as a whole. The protective character of the breed is evident, as well as its impressive demeanour, good temperament, controllability and mobility. Although the Boerboel has become a popular breed internationally, the centre for breed specific knowledge remains in South Africa, as this is where its character is embedded.

Faults: Any departure from the Breed Standard shall be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault shall be regarded, shall be in exact proportion to the degree and its effect on the health and welfare of the dog.

Disqualification: Any serious deviations and/or combinations of deviations from the Breed Standard that may affect the dog’s health and/or performance negatively shall lead to disqualification at the discretion of the senior appraiser. (Refer to 3.3: Disqualification).



The Boerboel is:

a)manageable, reliable, obedient, trainable and intelligent;

b)self-confident and fearless;

c)a dog with a strong protective instinct and loyal to members of the family;

d)shows courage when threatened;

e)steadfast and calm, with a balanced and confident nature when approached and

f)a dog requiring training and firm handling from an early age.



The Boerboel is:

a)a large dog with a strong-boned structure;

b)perfectly balanced within the desired proportions for the breed. The main structural components of the dog should show acceptable proportions to each other. The body is approximately 10 - 15% longer than the height (at the withers) and is measured horizontally, from the prosternum (breastbone) to a vertical line at the rear of the rump;

c)a dog with prominent and well-developed musculature;

d)impressive and imposing in appearance, created by a combination of conformation, carriage, confidence and powerful, buoyant and unencumbered movement - notwithstanding its size.

e)Males are distinctly masculine, larger and more heavily built with stronger bone, while females are distinctly feminine, but without weakness of substance or structure. Sexual dimorphism must be clearly evident.

f)The ideal height of a male is 66 cm but not lower than 60 cm.

g)The ideal height of a female is 61 cm but not lower than 55 cm.

h)Height must always be in relation to mass (the ideal ratio for a fully grown dog is 1:1 – 1:1.2 cm per kg), overall balance and conformation of major body components.



The shape and size of the head is a typical feature of the breed. The head

a)is large and typically Boerboel with no signs of another breed, and in proportion with the rest of the body components;

b)circumference equals the height to the withers (upper point of scapula);

c)is short, broad, deep, cube shaped - seen from all angles - muscular and has well-filled cheeks.

Head characteristics are quantifiable in terms of:


a)The skull is like a cube seen from all angles, large, and well-muscled.

b)The width of the skull is equal to the length and depth thereof.

c)The length of the cranial roof (measured from the middle of the eye to the end of the occiput) must be relative to the length of the nasal bone in a ratio 2:1. Nasal bone should be third of total length of head. (See

d)The plateau is wide and flat with prominent musculature.

e)When the dog is alert, the upper level between the ears appears flat.


a)The face gradually blends with the skull.

b)The face may be with or without a black mask.


The ears are defined by:


i.The earflaps are set high and wide.

ii.The earflaps are carried close to the head.

iii.When attentive, the top of the earflaps must form a straight line with the plateau.


i.Obviously V-shaped; creases and

iii.a broad base.


i.The earflaps are medium sized and in proportion to the head.

ii.The bottom edge of the earflap is in line with the dentition.


The eyes are defined by:

a)Size and setting:

i.Medium sized, rounded, forward facing, and widely spaced;

ii.set on the same horizontal level and

iii.not protruding, slanted or deep set.


i.Firm, well pigmented; structural deviations such as entropion, ectropion, disticiasis or signs of surgical intervention.

iii.The third eyelid (haw) should not be visible.


The colour of the eye is any shade of yellow or brown.


a)The stop is visible, but not prominent/pronounced or absent.

b)The section between the eyes is well filled.

Nasal bone (Muzzle)

The nasal bone is defined by:


i.Deep, broad, cube shaped, and tapers slightly towards the front, but not snipey.

ii.Straight and parallel to the line of the cranial roof.

iii.Well attached and filled below the eyes.

iv.The nostrils are large and widely spaced.

b)Width and depth:

i.The width is almost equal to, but less than the length.

ii.The depth should equal the length.


The nasal bone is in proportion to the head, and measures approximately a third of the total length of the head, i.e. approximately 10 cm for a male of 66 cm and 8 cm for a female of 61 cm.


The nose leather is black.


a)The upper lip (under the nose) just covers the top of the lower lip and teeth.

b)The upper lip does not extend below the lower jawline.

c)The lower lip is moderately tight (not too loose and fleshy), without open or excessive lip.


a)Dentition is complete.

b)Teeth are correctly spaced.

c)Teeth are ideally in a scissor bite.


The jaws are strong, deep and broad and taper slightly towards the front.



The neck is defined by:


i.Forms a unit with the head and the shoulders;

ii.muscular and ideally with a discernible crest.


The neck is of medium length and in proportion to the rest of the dog. The length equals about 1/3 of the height at the withers.


Scruff and dewlap

i.The scruff is loose.

ii.The dewlap is noticeable and loose from under the chin.

iii.The dewlap becomes taut between the front legs.



The forequarter is well muscled and correctly angulated from the well-sloped shoulder blade down to the elbow at an angle of approximately 90° - 100̊°. The forequarter characteristics are quantifiable in terms of:


The chest is:

a)strong, muscular and broad;

b)well pronounced and placed deep between the front legs with good volume;

c)the point of the prosternum is level with the point of the shoulder.


The shoulder blades are well attached with an approximate 70 mm space in between.


a)The elbows are stable, parallel to and carried close to the body when in a stationary position and during movement, not limiting the optimal volume of the centre piece/torso.

b)The height of the elbows is equal to ½ of the height at the withers.

Front legs

The front legs:

a)have a substantive bone structure;

b)are thick, strong and sturdy;

c)have a well-defined musculature on the in- and outside of the upper parts and

d)are vertical, as seen from the front and the side.


The front pasterns are:

a)short, strong and of adequate girth as seen from the front and the side and

b)are a vertical extension of the front legs as seen from both the front and the side, but slanting forward at a slight angle.

Front paws

The front paws are defined by:


The front paws are large in circumference.



i.Well padded, ball shaped and tight;

ii.strong, curved, with dark pigmented toenails.


The front paws point and tread straight forward.



The centre piece (torso) must be of adequate width and depth with a level, straight top line and a slight abdominal tuck-up. The length of the chest, loin and croup (rump) is approximately proportioned (2:1:1). The centre piece characteristics are quantifiable in terms of:


The ribcage (the area from the first chest vertebrae to the last rib bone)

a)is well-sprung with a deep, rounded brisket;

b)must ideally have a length proportion of 2:1 to the loin;

c)the depth is equal to ½ the total height of the dog at the withers, descending slightly below the elbow;

d)is filled behind the shoulder blades and elbows.


The back (from a point behind the withers/top of the scapula to the last rib bone) is:



c)straight and

d)well muscled.


The loin (from the last rib bone to the front of the primary thigh) is:

a)of adequate depth (slightly less than the length of the loin);

b)short (ideally ⅓ of total torso length);

c)wide and flat when seen from the top;

d)strong and muscular and

e)moderately tucked up.

Top line

a)The top line (from a point behind the withers to the beginning of the croup) is straight without any deviations.

b)A very slight, non-flexible dip just behind the shoulders is normal.



The hindquarter is broad, of substantive depth, well muscled, in proportion to the rest of the dog and correctly angulated. The hindquarter characteristics are quantifiable in terms of:


The croup is:

a)of adequate length, broad, strong/muscular;

b)correctly angulated and slopes slightly towards the haunch;

c)the height should not exceed the height at the withers.


a)The tail is a natural extension of the spinal cord; therefore it is set fairly high, of adequate girth and straight.

b)Docked tails should ideally be docked at the third caudal vertebrae, leading to an ideal adult tail length of about 8 cm.

c)Long tails are permissible and are sabre shaped and should reach approximately to the hocks when the dog is standing.

Primary/Upper thigh

The upper thighs are broad, deep and with well-developed muscular definition when viewed from the side and the rear.

Secondary/Lower thigh

The lower thighs are well developed and display adequate, visible musculature down to the hock.

Stifles (Knees)

a)The stifle joint is strong and firm.

b)The angulation between the femur, tibia and fibula must be approximately 90°-100̊ as seen from the side.


a)The hock joints are strong and stable;

b)correctly angulated as seen from the side without lateral deviation when standing or moving; and

c)parallel with each other when viewed from the rear.


a)The hind pasterns are relatively short, strong and of adequate girth.

b)When viewed from behind, they are parallel with one another.

c)When viewed from the side, they are vertical.

d)The front of the hind pastern is in line with the back of the haunch.

e)Dewclaws may be removed.

Hind paws

a)The hind paws are as the front paws but should be slightly smaller than the front paws.

b)The hind paws point and tread straight to the front.



The skin:

a)is moderately thick and loose; and

b)should show black eumelanin pigmentation.

c)There are moderate wrinkles on the brow when the dog is attentive.



The coat is: Short and sleek with dense hair coverage. The recognised colours are:

a)Brindle, yellow, brown and black.

b)All shades of brown (tan, red) or fawn and black.

c)Brindle: a colour pattern with irregular apparent vertical lines of only black hair on a brown (tan, red) or fawn base colour.

d)All the colours and associated patterns should be accompanied by good pigmentation.

e)No other colours or colour patterns or markings are acceptable.

f)Undesirable colours are:

i)Excessive/large white areas in all colours are undesirable, and must be eliminated.

ii)More than a third white of the total body surface is undesirable as it may influence pigmentation. (See 3.3.6 g) i))

(Definitions: “Undesirable” means: Not recommended, but acceptable. “Unacceptable” means: Disqualification)



The Boerboel is well pigmented, especially on the lips; nose; palate; the skin and hair around the eyes; footpads; toenails; the anus, the nipples and the skin and hair around the genitals.



The general health of the Boerboel is of a high standard. Animals presented for appraisal must be in a good general condition and weight must be in relation to the size of the dog. Physical handicaps and former surgery must be supported by acceptable certification.

Reproductive organs

a)Both females and males should have at least eight nipples.


i.Male dogs must have two well-developed testicles, both in the scrotum.

ii.The penile sheath is short and firm and holds the penis close to the body.

iii.Castrated males, monorchids or cryptorchids, may be taken up in the Pet Register.

iv.Castrated males, monorchids or cryptorchids are not allowed in the show ring.


i.The vulva must be firm.

ii.Sterilised females may be taken up in the Pet Register.

iii.Sterilised females are not allowed in the show ring.



a)The movement is balanced, effortless, though powerful, purposeful, buoyant and fluent with comfortable reach in the front and powerful drive from the rear.

b)The stride is sufficient, long, free and unrestricted.

c)The legs move on parallel planes at all times. Whilst converging to the centre line of travel, the legs should never cross.

d)At all gaits the top line is stable (fixed), without any swaying, dipping or excessive body roll.

e)Limited, weak or unsound movement shall be severely penalised.


Body length measured from A (prosternum) - B (rear of the rump/croup)

Body height measured from C (withers) to the ground (D)

Forequarter: A - C

Back: C - E

Loin: E - F

Centre piece C – F

Croup/Rump: F - G (tail setting) 1.Nose leather 2.Nasal bone (muzzle) 3.Stop 4.Cranial roof 5.Plateau 6.Ear 7.Muscular arch on neck 8.Withers (top of scapula) 9.Dewlap 10.Shoulder blade (scapula) 11.Shoulder joint (point of shoulder) 12.Upper front leg (humerus) 13.Elbow 14.Lower front leg (radius and ulna) 15.Front paws 16.Pastern joint 17.Front pastern 18.Tail 19.Ilium (point of hip) 20.Ischium (point of buttock) 21.Primary thigh 22.Femur 23.Knee (stifle) 24.Secondary thigh 25.Tibula and fibula 26.Hock 27.Hind pastern 28.Hind paws



To gain comprehensive statistical and genetic data on all Boerboels, SABBS urges members to present all dogs for appraisal. Dogs that do not meet the minimum score at an appraisal and dogs that have been disqualified (for whatever reason) shall not be registered, but shall be recorded in the PET Register. (Refer to 3.3.3).


The senior appraiser has the discretion to disqualify a dog without the appraisal process having been followed through, in which case the fees paid shall be reimbursed. He shall also notify the Office providing reasons for the disqualification.


A dog that is disqualified because of aggression, timidity or was not fully developed at the time of appraisal, may again be brought forward for appraisal, provided that it has improved and/or matured.


The Society retains the right to disqualify and/or remove a specific dog from the database of which documentation presented proves to be fraudulent and/or incorrect.


Any serious deviations and/or combinations of deviations from the Breed Standard that affect the dog’s health/performance/functionality and/or mobility negatively are considered unacceptable and can lead to disqualification and/or the placing of breeding restrictions, at the discretion of a senior appraiser in order to retain breed integrity.


Traits that shall lead to disqualification are:

a)Any indication of another dog breed


Any behavioural abnormalites, i.e.

i.An overly agressive and/or uncontrollabe dog.

ii.A timid or insecure dog.

iii.A dog that bites its owner.


i.A dog not meeting the prescribed height.

ii.A dog with insufficient bone structure.

iii.A petite dog.

iv.A clumsy/unbalanced dog.

v.Unacceptable proportions of body components.


A head that is not typically Boerboel.

i.A too small or nondescriptive head.

ii.Erect or semi-erect ears.

iii.Structural deviations of the eyes.

iv.Any other colour than yellow or brown eyes.

v.A nose leather that is not black

vi.Excessive deviations of dentition

vii.A narrow, too long or sharply pointed muzzle.


i.A chest that is too narrow.

ii.Bandy or crooked legs.

iii.A top line that is too hollow.

iv.A top line that is roached.

v.A top line that is S-curved.

vi.Serious cow hocks.

vii.Serious sickle hocks.

viii.Retroflexing hock joints.

ix.Straight hind legs.

x.Deformed spines.

xi.Kinked, corkscrew, deformed or tightly curling tails.

f)Skin and pelt

i.Long and/or curly hair.

ii.Excessive skin.

iii.Insufficient pigmentation of skin around key areas (lips; nose; palate; the skin and hair around the eyes; footpads; toenails; the anus; the nipples; and the skin and hair around the genitals.


i.Unacceptable colours and patterns in respect of the breed standard:

  • Liver colour on any basic breed standard colour.

  • Excessive ticking on any basic breed standard coat colour.

  • Split face on any basic breed standard colour.

  • Dilute powder and solid blue colour dogs.

  • Black-and-tan dogs.

  • Coat colour of more than one-third white overall.

  • Tri-colour

  • Any colours not part of the Breed Standard.

ii.Insufficient pigmentation

h)Reproductive organs

i.Males without two natural and well-developed testicles.

ii.Females with signs of vaginal hyperplasia or prolapse.


i.Clumsy or unbalanced movement.

ii.Any visible impairment that seriously affects mobility.

iii.Physical handicaps which are not the result of an earlier injury.

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