Showsight Presents The Boerboel

BOERBEL MENTOR INTERVIEWS

3. How has the breed changed since you became involved with it? Do you see any trends you think are moving the breed in the wrong direction? Any traits becoming exaggerated? When I purchased my fi rst Boerboel there were a handful of breeders in the United States. Now, the breeders are plentiful and the availability of puppies (and dogs in rescue) are plentiful too. A Boerboel, like many other working and/or guardian breeds, is not nec- essarily for everyone and having them end up in the wrong hands is detrimental to the breed. It is incumbent upon breeders AND buyers to ensure they are fully informed about the breed. A precarious trend that I see is advice-sharing from the inexperienced—spawned by social media. Many have not owned a Boerboel or lived with one beyond puppyhood, yet they freely dispense advice. In my opinion, this is a phenomenon that has led, and will continue to lead, to the breed ending up in the wrong hands, which, in turn, leads to the breed going into rescues and/or preventable tragedies. Not to sound overly dramatic or sensational, but I do want to express the need for owners to turn fi rst to their breeder and/ or veterinary professional before making inquiries on social media about important matters such as medical issues, injuries or temperament (particularly biting) incidents. While there are experienced people who can be of assistance, you will need to wade through a plethora of comments and still not know who those people are. Exaggerated traits that I see are not unique to large breeds. “If big is good, then bigger must be better.” We, of course, know that this is not the case and a 200-pound Boerboel is moving in the wrong direction. 4. Is there anything that Boerboel handlers do that you wish they would not? I am not a very good handler and only go in the ring if I HAVE to these days. I work with great handlers. I trust that they know their job better than I do. 5. What are your “must have” traits in this breed?

Dark eye, bone and substance, good topline, and a nice head. 6. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed?

Probably just how new Boerboels are as a “regulated” breed, i.e., controlled and reg- istered by an organization adhering to a breed standard. Th e original organization (and thus, o ffi cially, the breed) was founded in 1983. Th e breed was established with about 73 Boerboels. AMANDA VILJOEN HOPKINS I was born and raised with the breed in South Africa and have been breeding registered Boerboels since 1993. 1. Which fi ve traits do you look for, in order, when evaluating Boerboels? What do you con- sider the ultimate hallmark of the breed? Most of all, I want a balanced dog. All parts need to fi t. A solid temperament; intelligent and obedient. An impressive dog with strong bone and a well-developed and muscular body with sound movement. A good head; it is an impressive and distinctive feature of the Boerboel. A good topline; hard to achieve, but this does not mean we do not have to try. I consider their impressiveness as their ultimate hallmark. Th ey are a complete package and give that “wow” feeling. 2. Which faults do you fi nd di ffi cult to overlook? Weak head, narrow chest, lack of bone, turned-out feet, and unstable temperament. 3. How has the breed changed since you became involved with it. Do you see any trends that you think are moving the breed in the wrong direction? Any traits becoming exaggerated? Th ere has been some change in the breed, and not all for the better. However, the overall look and purpose are still the same. A 200+ lb. dog has never been part of the breed. We have a large breed, not a giant breed. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true and fi ne-boned dogs are becoming the trend. 5. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? Call me crazy, but the fi rst thing I want to see is a thick tail as it is an extension of the spine and a sign of good bone structure. A blocky head, wide chest, and solid rear are also high on my list. Solid temperament is a must. 6. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? I think new judges misunderstand the thickness of bone, which is a very important part of the breed, and also to put the head/height/weight ratio together to get a balanced dog. Th e biggest dog is not always the best dog.

SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, DECEMBER 2020 | 237

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