There was no such thing as a black boerboel when I entered the breed. Nobody discussed it, or even thought of it. The idea of the black boerboel was a concept of a breeder who was also an SABT (SABBS) board member, he professed to breeding 2 brindle dogs together to produce a litter of black boerboels.
The trouble with the above is that it is a genetic impossibility for 2 brindle parents with no black in their pedigree to produce a litter of black pups.
The SABT (SABBS) in their ignorance of genetics or feigned ignorance, accepted the dogs as they were highly marketable, the novelty colour was worth more money, and the dilute of the black (which is blue)was also accepted, even though the colour of the nose was against the breed standard, also because the market wanted them.
Instead of stopping the obvious cross of the black like they should have, many breeders jumped onto the new fad, cashing in on the novelty band wagon. These people were not aware of the history or the genetic mistake they were propagating by the SABT, therefore breeding many more of the black dogs.
The Boerboel is a new breed, still forming, it only started with a club and breed standard in the early to mid 80’s. The problem with the colour black is that none of the original foundation breeds that forged the Boerboel was black.
The Boerboel is basically an African version of a traditional mix that has formed the building blocks for other recognised new breeds. The Mastiff/Bulldog cross, when I say this, I do not mean the modern type English Mastiff, rather the more functional Mastiff from a few hundred years ago, also when I say Bulldog, I don’t mean the short, unathletic modern bulldog, I mean the taller, more athletic bulldog from the bull and bear pits of the era.
The Bullmastiff is an English variety of this mix the Dogue De Bordeaux is a French version, although the now extinct Toulouse variety typifies it better in this example. No doubt the English Bullterrier has contributed to the Boerboel mix, again not the modern type. My point being none of the foundation breeds which are found in the history of the Boerboel came in black, none of their cousins come in black either.
The stardard of black dogs has not been as high as the original colours, the last 2 African National Shows that I judged ( I judged one in 2003, but the blacks didn’t exist then) none of the black dogs, although well represented, placed in any class. I think this shows that the blood used to produce the black was too removed from the breed’s origins, so manifested in the distance from breed standard in construction and temperament. I believe we need to stop calling them Boerboels in the traditional sense, and accept that a new sub-species of the Boerboel has been created – with Boerboel stock as its base.
I believe it is an exciting and important time, we get to contribute and help form a new breed, we should endeavour to promote the black boerboel, help it stand apart from the original boerboel, whilst safeguarding the genetics of the original dog.
The last few years Boerboel Australia Incorporated (BAI) has supported the strengthening and broadening of the black boerboels gene pool, and the emerging of the black boerboel will continue to require infusions from the original breed.
I have a few recommendations to help the black boerboel improve and become stand alone breed of boerboel, whilst protecting the original boerboel from introducing a cross from a breed that was not part of the original boerboel recipe.
The introduction of colour breeding rules will ensure this.
One of the problems is that black doesn’t just come by itself, other colours and variations come with it, like the previously mentioned blue, its a different blue to the blue that was already in the breed, the original blue was a dilute of brown/red/fawn whilst the new blue is a dilute of black. There will also be Bostons created, black Irish, Pied blacks and white dogs with eye patches and blue variations. All of these variations created by the black gene should be accepted as black boerboels.
Black to any colour is a Black Boerboel
Black dilute Blue to black dilute blue is a Black Boerboel
Black dilute blue to standard colours is a Black Boerboel
Any variation like a Pied black to a Boston is a Black Boerboel
So a brown dog from a black parent can be used as a stud dog in the black boerboel program, but not in the original program.
This keeps the genetics in the Black Boerboel program, making the genetics of the original pool available, whilst keeping the newer, non original cross out of the original population.
Rules concerning percentage of tolerance for using a dog with a black ancestor can be set, for use in the boerboel population; there could be zero tolerance or maybe a limit of for example 12.5% in a puppy, meaning a brown dog with 25% black blood may be bred to a clean bitch as the pups would be 12.5%, or 2 x 12.5% coloured dogs could be used together. It needs more discussion with Kobus Rust, one of the founders of the original Boerboel.
Boerboel Colour Rules:
Acceptable colours ; Fawn in all its shades – brown, red, yellow, cream, brindle etc
ANP Colours (Accepted, not preferred)
Irish (of accepted colour above)
Pied(of accepted colour)
Blue (dilute of accepted colour)
I do not believe accepted colours, not preferred (ANP) colours should be bred together unless agreed upon by the Board on a case by case basis.
Colours I believe should be against the breed standard should be liver nose to liver nose, blue to blue (colour dilute).
The emerging breed is a Black Boerboel, it is much more accurate than African Black Mastiff, no introduced Mastiff blood was used, the original Boerboel provided all of the Mastiff components the breed. The Mastiff and Bullmastiff do not come in black, so the colour comes from possibly a Labrador, Pitbull or Great Dane, or all of them. Not naming them a Boerboel denies their origin.
Other countries and clubs can all do as they please, but we should look to produce the best quality Black Boerboels in the world and endeavour to protect the original, traditional Boerboel, working to improve both populations.
When I started 20 years ago, the lines I imported were Boerboels, there were no black dogs. So as caretaker of the breed (we all are as Breeders), I need to pass on Boerboel lines with no black blood to the next generation of caretakers and so on, but we all should be interested in being pioneers in creating a successful sustainable sub-species of Boerboel, the Black Boerboel.
BAI can stand for all Boerboels, original and black. In the future our shows can have seperate classes, prizes and a different (slightly so) Breed Standard.
This article was written by Mr Craig Bloom.