These shady breeders are operating in an area where no standard exists across a breed of a very large dog almost exclusively bred for protection. And, under a statement issued by the registrar Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Boerboel could be facing extinction as a recognised breed.
“As with most things, the bigger it is, the harder it bites,” said Nelspruit veterinarian Dr Albertus Coetzee. “There has to be greater responsibility by breeders to ensure only the very best genetics are bred into their animals.
“Backyard breeders are the biggest problem causers and regulations need to be much stricter. I have had to put down a number of Boerbuls because of their aggression.”
SA Boerboel Breeders Association (Sabba) chairman Koos van der Westhuizen said that unscrupulous people cross-breed Boerboels, creating ill-tempered dogs.
“As soon as people see it is a big brown dog that has bit somebody, a Boerboel is blamed. If a Boerboel is not registered with a legally registered society, it is only a dog.”
According to Sabba’s website, the Boerboel is South Africa’s very own breed. The website also states its breed standard will always be the only norm whereby the visible qualities of the Boerboel will be established and measured.
But the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has ruled that it is not a Boerboel until it has given you permission to say it is. It suspended the South African Boerboel Society’s certificate of genetic superiority.
“Until a definition of genetic superiority for the Boerboel breed as required in terms of the Animal Improvement Act, 1998 for all Boerboels and Boerboel genetic material to be exported or imported is agreed upon to the satisfaction of the Registrar’s office, the Registrar reserves the sole right to determine standards for the import and export of all such materials,” said the Registrar of Animal Improvement, Joel Mamabolo.
The breed’s natural tendency towards biting is exacerbated by poor genetic material, which led to heightened aggressiveness. But Dr Coetzee said that with proper breeding, training, and socialisation it was generally not a problem breed. But it was still one which should be respected.
Something that Johannesburg vet Dr Leanne Kleynhans concurred with. “I know of a dog weighing in at nearly 80kg with the sweetest temperament. I myself have not had any personal problems with the breed but Boerboels need to be socialised from very young to prevent problems.”
But, until breeders sort out the certification conundrum with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, would-be owners without that magic piece of paper will only be entitled to call their Boerboel a mutt.
A final word of warning from Mamabolo: “All breeders should take notice that all Boerboels being exported must first receive permission from the Registrar’s office. To claim, after marketing and exporting a dog as a Boerboel, that the dog was not registered or should now be considered as a cross-breed, will not be tolerated and action will be taken against such breeders and the registry or club they belong to.”