Hobby & Recreation Group
Mt. Olympus Boerboel
THE BLACK BOERBOEL
Known breeders of black boerboels - The black color was always part of the Boerboel breed. My father told me that at about 1929 the
black color was common in the Ottosdal area where he grew up. A few old people recalled the same about the black Boerboels. Mr Lukas
van der Merwe from Mispah also recalls that the black color was the most popular of all the Boerboel colors in the area he grew up in.
Before the Boerboels were registered as a dog breed, there were well known breeders of black Boerboels of which I only know of a few.
The black Boerboels of Mr Teuns Keyter of Vaalwater was well known for their ability to work with cattle. Other well known breeders of black
Boerboels was Mr Stefaans Erasmus of Hermansdal, Ellisras, and Mr Jan Harm (John) van der Merwe from Nooitgedacht, Kroonstad.
Fear of black dogs - This popularity of the black dog in those years could in part be ascribed to good breeders concentrating on black
dogs and therefore the progeny of his dogs would dominate in that area. What is very important though is that the local indigenous
population had a very deep rooted fear of black dogs because of ancestral beliefs. To this day the black guard dog is very important to the
remote farmers that are prone to farm attacks. In areas in South Africa where farms are under constant surveillance by bands of would be
attackers, black dogs is not a luxury, but a life saving necessity.
Black color popular for guard dogs - Throughout the world the black color is the most popular color for a guard dog. The obvious benefit
of the fact that you cannot see the black dog at night makes it the logical color for a guard dog. Breeds like the German shepherd,
Rottweiler, Doberman, etc, illustrate this point.
Documentary Evidence - The fact that there was an abundance of black Boerboels around, is amply documented. A few photos that I have
seen, confirm this. Many of us that grew up with Boerboels, knew the pre-1983 black dogs first hand. In the SABT “Boerboel News Letter”
of November 1997, on page 2, there is an article on black Boerboels. The article states: “from the Southern Free State up to the far
Northern Transvaal, black Boerboels ... were a common sight.” (Translated) The article states further that in 1983 (at the founding of the
SABT) the black Boerboel was not included because of the fear that the then popular Rottweiler would have been used to cross-breed with
the black Boerboel.
Motivation for excluding black from the original SABT breed standard - When the SABT had to formulate a Breed Standard in 1983 the
black dog was omitted due to the aforementioned fear of the infusion of genes belonging to other breeds. One of the people involved in
this process put it this way: "The black dog was not included because of personal preferences." It was probable that both these factors
played a role in this highly unfortunate decision. Whatever the reasons, the consequence was that for the past 23 years, the Boerboel had
to go without the black color that was a natural part of the Boerboel inheritance.
Old breeders of the black boerboel - Fortunately there were some breeders of the black Boerboel that was adamant to keep on breeding
the black Boerboels. Naturally they lost popularity since their dogs could not compete with the registered dogs that were seen as “pure.”
Most of the breeders of the Black dogs were older people and as they stopped farming and went into retirement so did the breeding of the
black Boerboels. The young breeders only wanted registered dogs. This process has now gone so far that we stand to lose yet more of
those breeders. In this respect I have to mention the name of Bokkie Muller from Marquard. He and people like him, kept on breeding the
black dogs despite the fact that they could not register there black Boerboels and thereby preserve the precious black genes.
Dilution genes in hair colour - In actual fact, it seems as if all our dogs are black as far as the hair color genes are concerned. The brindle,
brown, fawn and white dogs just have “dilution genes” that result in the colors we know. As far as I know there has been no publication
pinpointing the color inheritance of the Boerboel, and therefore I go by the Mastiff information.
Since I started with registered Boerboels I went throughout South Africa to find real black Boerboels. I have bought eighteen so called
black Boerboels, either unseen or as puppies, before I got the first one that was a real Boerboel.
Quality of black dogs - The quality of the black Boerboel compares very favorably with the rest of the Boerboel population. Because the
black dogs I know of at this moment are still 100% farm dogs, they tend to look more like the working dogs of 20 years ago. That usually
means an athletic dog slightly higher on the leg.
Standard dogs producing black pups - From time to time I get calls from people that had black pups in a litter. These pups were never
registered before and were lost to the breed. In future they will hopefully be registered and will help to perpetuate the black Boerboel. They
will off course represent the current breeding trends in the breed. Because all the black dogs to my knowledge so far has always had at
least one brown parent there is really no noteworthy difference between the black dogs and the rest.
Positives and negatives:
Advantage of black dogs - The overwhelming advantage of the black dog is of course the fact that you could not see him at night. The
advantage of the great fear that some people have of black dogs was mentioned as well. What has not been mentioned is the beautiful
shiny black coat. There are few dogs that could really look as beautiful as a healthy active black dog with short shiny hair.
Importance of pigmentation - In the African sun, pigmentation is very important. Breeders are always trying to improve the skin
pigmentation of their dogs to prevent sunburn on the nose etc. In the black dog that is of course not a problem. The skin is totally
pigmented except where you find a white spot that sometimes goes as deep as the skin itself.
Black hair not absorbing heat from the sun - Some people are concerned that the black dog will absorb too much heat from the sun.
Research was done by a society breeding cattle with black hair coloring, and it was found that the short shiny hair was more important
than the color of the hair. It is logical to assume that the heat absorbtion of a dark brindle or brown dog will differ very little from that of a
Importance of recognizing the black dog - Whether any Boerboel breeder intends breeding with the black dogs or not, it is very important
that we unite our efforts to get the black dog recognized and registered and thereby assuring the future of the black Boerboel. This matter
is in the hands of the present active Boerboel breeders, and it is our responsibility to preserve that which is within our power to preserve.
We still have the last few individuals available of the black dogs that were nearly lost forever due to a mistake in 1983. We now have the
opportunity to rectify our past mistakes and preserve the wonderful black Boerboel for generations to come.