Deciding what breed of dog to adopt is a personal journey of discovery. At first glance, two breeds may appear to be equally suitable. But look past size and appearance and it becomes apparent that one may be perfect for your lifestyle and the other less so. For fans of large, athletic dogs, the boerboel and the pit bull may seem equally suited to your household, but they have important differences that may dictate whether one or the other is better for you.
Size, Weight and Strength
Both the pit bull and the boerboel are physically impressive, imposing dogs. The boerboel is the larger of the two, with a male measuring up to 28 inches at the shoulder and weighing in at up to 200 pounds, and a male bull measuring 24 inches at the shoulder and weighing around 80 pounds. But these figures don’t tell the whole story. While the boerboel is larger and heavier than the pit bull, the pit bull is more densely muscular and more obviously athletic in appearance. His squat posture and low center of gravity give him the appearance of a dog with raw power. The boerboel’s taller, leaner physique and elegant stride give him a much more discreet air of physical strength.
Behavior, Intelligence and Trainability
Both breeds are highly trainable, although they do require a confident owner with an assertive manner. Both pit bulls and boerboels thrive with owners who can provide clear strong leadership. Both are famous for their affectionate nature, too. Despite their rather fearsome appearances -- especially true of the block-headed, wide-jawed pit bulls -- these two breeds are big softies around their loved ones. Pit bulls enjoy activities that appeal to their athletic nature. They excel at agility-based activities. Despite their athleticism, they are quite capable of living in an apartment provided they get sufficient access to the outdoors. Due to their size, boerboels are not suitable for apartments; they require large yards in which they can roam freely.
Temperament and Character
The pit bull and the boerboel have decidedly different histories that inform the personality of the breeds we know and love today. Boerboels are farm dogs. Their instincts tell them to be watchful and suspicious of strangers. Pit bulls, despite a dark period in their past where they were used for fighting and baiting, are much more sociable and are typically more welcoming of strangers. Both are friendly, affectionate and gentle with children.
Health and Grooming
Both breeds are relatively healthy and are not closely associated with the more common congenital health defects that affect pedigree dogs, although pit bulls may suffer from hip dysplasia. Pit bulls may also suffer from cataracts, and some develop allergies to grass. Both are short-haired breeds, so neither requires much grooming.