Table des matières
- The most dangerous dogs of the apartheid era make a bloody comeback
- Pit bulls lethal as ever
- Boerboel mauled churchgoer
- Boerboels kill two in three days
- More boerboel mayhem
- Pits out-kill boerboels by ratio of 12-1
- “Canine defense of white privilege & property”
- Banned in Denmark
- Boerboel history
- South Africa’s own mastiff – The Boerboel
The most dangerous dogs of the apartheid era make a bloody comeback
(Beth Clifton collage)
BLOEMFONTAIN, South Africa––Adriana Salomina van Deventer, widow of David van Deventer, on July 4, 2019 in the High Court of South Africa, Bloemfontain Division, won an eight-year battle to establish that her husband was killed by a boerboel belonging to former friend Hennie Botha, not by pre-existing medical conditions.
The appellate verdict confirmed that boerboels are back in contention with pit bulls for the dubious distinction of deadliest dogs in South Africa, after killing two people in first 52 days of 2019 and nearly killing two others.
But rivaling pit bulls as perhaps canine Public Enemy #1 has not come easily for boerboels.
(Beth Clifton collage)
Pit bulls lethal as ever
Eight pit bulls over the same 52 days took part in killing a five-year-old foster child in White River and a gardener in Roodepoort.
Then, on March 12, 2019, two pit bulls nearly tore the breasts off of mother-of-four Samantha Steyn, 27, of Heideveld, near Cape Town, leaving her unable to nurse her youngest child, age two months.
The pit bulls’ owner gave Steyn a can of baby formula, admitted to Daily Voice reporter Genevieve Serra that she had left her gate open, and after trying to dissuade Serra from writing about the attack, said “I won’t let them put my dogs down.”
(Beth Clifton collage)
Boerboel mauled churchgoer
The only good news for South Africans minding their own business while others’ “protection” dogs run amok may have been a March 14, 2019 ruling by the Gauteng High Court that boerboel owner George Jones, of Andeon, northwest of Pretoria, is 100% responsible for injuries inflicted on his tenant Susanna Mostert on December 5, 2015.
Mostert fell while walking Jones’ wife home from church, was mauled by the boerboel, and was hospitalized for 33 days.
Jones had previously been warned about the boerboel’s habit of rushing Mostert, but had not fulfilled a promise to keep the boerboel contained.
(Beth Clifton collage)
Boerboels kill two in three days
The first boerboel victim of 2019, Dharmaseelan Aubrey Moodley, 49, of Northcroft, was mauled by both a boerboel and a pit bull (misidentified in some early reports as a Labrador retriever) on February 18, while walking to a friend’s house.
Moodley, whose windpipe was crushed, was also bitten on the head, and lost flesh from his arms, torso and legs. Moodley died at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital after a week in intensive care.
Two boerboels kept by a relative killed an elderly woman on February 21, 2019, Roodepoort/ Krugersdorp SPCA director Mandy Cattanach confirmed to media. As is often the case in South Africa, the victim’s name was not disclosed.
(Beth Clifton collage)
More boerboel mayhem
That attack came only 24 hours after boerboel/Rhodesian ridgeback crosses and two Dobermans mauled dentistry student Kayleigh Penniken, 20, also in Roodeport. Penniken apparently got between the dogs who injured her and her own pit bull.
The string of boerboel attacks continued on March 1, 2019 when a 60-year-old resident of Verulam, near Durban, reportedly suffered extensive blood loss from bites to the head inflicted by his own three-year-old boerboel.
Boerboels are little known outside of South Africa, though the breed drew a flurry of attention in the U.S. in May 2017 after a boerboel killed breeder Jane Marie Egle, 59, in Buncombe County, North Carolina.
(Beth Clifton collage)
(See Boerboel dogs: “bull-biters” became symbols of apartheid.)
Pits out-kill boerboels by ratio of 12-1
Within South Africa, the boerboel reputation has for about 15 years been eclipsed by pit bulls. Since 2004 South African pit bulls have out-killed boerboels, 60 to five, a ratio of 12-1, and have out-killed all other dogs, 60 to 21, a ratio of 20-7
Until the recent explosion of pit bull mayhem, however, explained Lance van Sittert and Sandra Swart in “Canis Familiaris: A Dog History of South Africa” (2003), published by the South African Historical Journal, boerboels were for centuries considered the scariest dogs in the region.
Boerboels were also were living symbols of the era of racial segregation, called apartheid, enforced by the South African government from 1948 to 1991.
“Canine defense of white privilege & property”
Wrote van Sittert and Swarth, “The canine defense of white privilege and property was miniaturized to the private farm and home where breeds renowned for their fierceness were kept or created – such as the boerboel and colossus – as deterrent to the real and imagined threat of black revolt and redistribution. Dogs, as much as people, patrolled and maintained the white cities and countryside of post-colonial South Africa and time and again were catalysts and actors along its social frontiers.”
The Dutch Afrikaan word “boer” means “farmer,” but boerboels were always guard dogs much more than farm dogs used for herding or other actual farm work, such as pulling carts or running on treadmills to power butter churns.
(Beth Clifton collage; Jane Egle photo from Facebook)
The proto-boerboel was a “bullenbitjer,” or “bull-biter,” a bullmastiff-type baiting and fighting dog imported by Jan van Riebeeck, one of the first Dutch settlers to land at Cape Horn, the future site of the city of Cape Town, in 1652.
Current breed histories identify boerboels as a dog developed to hunt lions, keep caracals and jackals away from sheep, and roust baboons from field crops. Reality is that boerboels, much larger and more aggressive than the native mutts kept by the indigenous black majority, were used chiefly to help Afrikaaners maintain political and cultural dominance.
Older breed histories acknowledge that boerboels share ancestry and history with Rhodesian ridgebacks, likewise used to maintain apartheid in the nation which in 1980 became Zimbabwe. Boerboels received a genetic infusion as well from European bull mastiffs imported as guard dogs by the De Beers diamond mining empire.
(Beth Clifton collage)
The most recent fatal boerboel attack in South Africa before those of 2019 apparently came in April 2016, when Mpho Mokoena, 32, of Maritzburg, was torn apart by her own boerboel and two Rottweilers while hanging laundry.
“She is the one who used to feed and play with them,” Mokoena’s sister Mmabatho Brown told Taschica Pillay of the Johannesburg Times.
Only two months earlier, in February 2016, two boerboels killed seven-year-old Twiggy Buchisa at her home in Ndola, Zambia, a nation under South African governance during the British colonial era.
Outside of Africa, boerboels are as yet little recognized as close kin to pit bulls and other “bully” breeds, with a comparable history, but there are exceptions.
(Merritt Clifton collage)
Banned in Denmark
Denmark in 2010 added boerboels to the national list of banned breeds, begun with pit bulls and tosas in 1991, now also specifically including the “American bulldog” and “Staffordshire” pit bull lines, along with ovtcharkas, Dogo Argentinos, Fila Brasileiros, Kangals, and Sarplaninacs (a Central European mastiff variant.)
The Turks & Caicos islands, a small Caribbean nation, in March 2014 added boerboels to a “restricted” list, which may only be kept within “premises on which the dog is secured by a fence or wall of suitable height and that such fence or wall is constructed and maintained as to prevent the escape of the dog,” behind warning signs, by persons who must be more than 21 years of age.
Beth & Merritt Clifton
(Anthony Marr photo)
In addition, the Turks & Caicos require that boerboels must be sterilized and microchipped.
South Africa’s own mastiff – The Boerboel
The history of the Boerboel is a fascinating story, which can trace its beginnings way back to ancient times. We find that the boerboel history and that of the Arabian horse are very similar to find out more about the equally fascinating Arabian horse’s history. We take up the Boerboel story in about 640 BC, in Assyria.
Two Assyrian Kings, King Asarhaddon and King Ashurbani-pal, were recorded as having used large dogs to hunt lions and wild horses. This information is evident from the Assyrian chambers at the British museum. Later we find evidence that the King of Albania gave Alexander the Great a gift of a large dog.
Alexander the Great was suitably impressed by the size of the beast, but was soon greatly disappointed when the dog refused to hunt firstly bears, then wild boars and deer. The poor dog was then killed. On hearing of the tragedy, the Albanian king quickly replaced the dog. This time the king gave explicit instructions not to waste the dog’s time, if it was going to be used for hunting, it would need a challenge. The dog was offered both lions and an elephant. Without going into any graphic details, the dog impressed the leader greatly.
Canus Molossus has had an important effect on the large dog breeds of today. It was originally used in the times of the Roman games. The activities of the Romans resulted in the spreading of the breed throughout Europe, including the British Isles. As trading between East and West started developing and the trading routes around the Cape of Good Hope started being established, Jan van Riebeeck was sent by the Dutch East India Company to establish a trading post at the southern tip of Africa. For his protection, van Riebeeck brought with a « Bullenbijter ». Other colonialists brought other large mastiff-type dogs with them.
This is where Europe met Africa in the dog sense. The large European dogs crossed with the strong African bloodlines. These dogs then accompanied the Boers on the Great Trek into the northern parts of South Africa.
The African side of the boerboel story starts in southern Ethiopia, where a tribe called the Cynomones used dogs described as « Indian Dogs ». These dogs had their origin in Babylon. They are described as large, strong dogs, able to fight with lions. The Cynomones used their dogs to protect them from migratory wild animals as well as for hunting. They even used to milk the bitches. Folklore, or maybe just ancient marketing techniques, suggested that these Indian dogs were a cross between a dog and a tiger. As many African tribes migrated southwards, they brought their dogs with them.
The Boerboel developed, from 1652 up to about 1900, in a hard school by tough farmers in South Africa, who were threatened by every kind of dangerous predator, in testing terrain and a challenging climate. Hard-pressed pioneer farmers, however resourceful, didn’t have the circumstances which exactly encouraged the conservation of rare breeds of dog. They had a need for brave powerful virile dogs and breed good dog to good dog untill they obtained the desired result. Performance directed every breeding program. Pure-breeding, handsomeness and a respect for heritage doesn’t usually feature highly in a pioneer hunter-farmer’s priorities.
It should be a matter of pride that the Boerboel was developed from the best mastiff-type dogs available in South Africa and brought here by soldiers, colonists and settlers from Europe as well as migrating African tribes. It is a breed to be proud of for this reason alone. As a registered, pure-bred, recognised breed of dog, the Boerboel will need a well-worded breed standard if it is to be bred true to type and function in future years.
Since 1980 and with the forming of the SABT and later the HBSA and the EBBASA, selective breeding of the dog has resulted in what we know today as the South African Boerboel. The emergence of this fine breed, after a century of neglect and indifference in its native land, and its subsequent stabilisation into a distinct canine race, is not only a tribute to its loyal fanciers but also to the dogs themselves.
« How virile they must be to survive the climate; how robust to survive the terrain and fearsome wild opponents; how dependable in remote locations to inspire their owners to continue with them and how strong the genotype to triumph after a century of anything but pure-breeding. This information accounts for the fact that the boerboel has a structure far superior to any other mastiff-type breed. Perhaps the biggest threat to the Boerboel in the long term is misuse, MISGUIDEDNESS IN THEIR FUTURE DESIGN BY SHOW BREEDERS and a closed gene pool, which they have managed well enough without in their whole history.
These pressures face all pure breeds once recognised; the closed gene pool receives undeserved worship and sickly, unathletic dogs, quite unlike their ancestors, are perpetuated in so many pure-bred dogs in far too many developed allegedly civilised countries. In Britain the lurcher men breed excellent dog to excellent dog regardless of breed, FUNCTION RULES. The working Basset Hound has been outcrossed to the Harrier to enhance performance. The show Basset Hound continues to be bred to an unhealthy design. The English Mastiff is now bred for bulk rather than activity. The Bullmastiff is in danger of becoming a small Mastiff with a Bulldog’s head as breeders lacking skill decide its future. »
The admirable Boerboel devotees need to be alert and open-minded if our breed is to survive in the 21st century – please, don’t leave a heritage of small unhealthy designed Boerboels with a Bulldog’s head.