HISTORY OF THE BOERBOEL
castle. Th e truth is that the castle was just a mud hut that was built upon arrival, and 19 of Van Riebeeck’s companions died during the fi rst winter because of the cold and wet conditions of the hut. If the original dog did not survive the journey, others may have. I found literature that indicates there were other Bullenbitjers on ships that followed van Riebeeck and these could have survived their journeys. In an article in the Agricultural Journal of the Cape of Good Hope , Volume 34, Issue 2 Feb 1909, p 186-188, a dog called a Boer Dog or Boer Hunting Dog is mentioned. Th e author of the article wrote that it was a cross between a Masti ff and a Bulldog, and was used for hunting tigers and baboons. Th ey were seen round 1865-1870. “J.J.K. from Lady Frere” claimed to have seen these dogs in 1860. He mentioned that dogs, including Terriers, Bulldogs, Masti ff s, Bloodhounds,
Greyhounds, and Pointers were kept at the posts during the war at that time. Th e only thing that is bothering me about the article is the tiger part. I cannot fi nd any evidence of tigers in Southern Africa, so I would assume he is talking about the leopard. During September of 1900, British troops were fi ghting the Boers when a troop res- cued a dog after a farm was burned down. Th e dog was named Billy Botha, after the farm own- er. Billy stayed with the troops and was awarded two medals. He became the Regimental Mascot until he died in 1915. Billy is on display with the Royal Ulster Ri fl es collection on Waring Street. His breed is not mentioned on the website, but in a hand-drawn image he is called a Bull Ter- rier. Billy is worth mentioning here as he was part of the farm dogs and gives us an idea of how the dogs may have looked in the early 1900s; may- be part of the Boer Dog or Boer Hunting Dog mentioned earlier.
Where does the name Boerboel come from? Th ere are many answers to this question and, according to the South African Boerboel Breeders Association, they gave the name “Boerboel” to a Masti ff formed over time in South Africa. Appar- ently, there were breeders who claimed they were breeding Boerboels for 30 to 40 years prior to 1983 when the registry was established. Th e Rhodesian Ridgeback is a dog breed developed in Rhodesia, now Zimba- bwe. Its origin can be traced to the semi-domesticated ridged hunting dogs of the Khoikhoi. It was created as a breed on purpose. Some of the Ridgeback’s traits can be seen in the Boerboel, and we can assume that they are most likely part of the breed.
Th e fi rst import recorded of a pedigreed dog of the Masti ff -type comes from 1928, when several Bullmasti ff s were imported to guard the diamond mines of Kimberley. Th ese dogs may also be contributors. All of the above may have played a part in creating the Boerboel, but there is still no cer- tainty who or what are actually in this beautiful breed. We do know, however, that they were not created by a breeder with a speci fi c dog in mind. Maybe it was the absence of human interference that made them what they are. Only the strongest survived and continue to form the Boerboel of today. Did the Boer Dog become the Boerboel over time as the Afrikaans language developed? We will never know.
SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, DECEMBER 2020 | 247
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