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American Pitbull Terrier vs. Boerboel: Breed Differences & Similarities


Last Updated: July 20, 2023 | 10 min read | 1 Comment

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The American Pitbull Terrier, more commonly referred to as just the Pitbull, is a very misunderstood pup. And so is the Boerboel, who is much bigger and has a very large head! These poor pups have had a rough time when it comes to their reputation.

Although both of these dogs are quite intimidating in appearance, they are softer than most of us think! They also both make great four-legged additions for the right family.

In this Pitbull vs. Boerboel breed comparison, we will compare both dogs against each other in every category. You’ll learn about their history and why they earned their feared reputation. You’ll also learn about their exercise and nutritional needs, as well as which dog is easier to train. So, don’t listen to the rumors. Let’s find out the truth about these dogs and how they compare to each other.

Breed Comparison


  • Height 17 – 21 inches
  • Weight 30 – 65 pounds
  • Temperament Affectionate, energetic, loyal
  • Energy Intense
  • Health Above average
  • Lifespan 12 – 16 years
  • Puppy Prices $1,000 and up


  • Height 22 – 27 inches
  • Weight 150 – 200 pounds
  • Temperament Confident, intelligent, calm
  • Energy Moderate
  • Health Above average
  • Lifespan 9 – 11 years average
  • Puppy Prices $1,500 and up

Breed History

Breed history can tell us a lot about a dog’s personality and why they are the way that they are. It can also go a long way to explain why certain dogs have earned their reputation as being a mean dog breed. And that’s certainly true in the case of both of these pups. Let’s take a look.

American Pitbull Terrier

Tan and White Dog Posing For Camera
American Pitbull Terriers were bread by mixing the English Bulldog and different Terrier breeds.

Pitbulls are a human creation, and he was designed to be the perfect fighting dog. A mixture of different terriers and the English Bulldog were used to create this tough and tenacious canine. He was used in the sporting ring to fight other dogs when cruel bloodsports were in fashion.

When the cruel sport was banned in England, ringmasters took their fighting dogs to America. There, the largest and strongest were bred with one another to create the American Pitbull Terrier. While there are other dogs that are often mistakenly classified as Pitbulls, the APBT is the dog that’s had to shelter the burden of their aggressive history.

With education, we humans are slowly but surely learning that the Pitbull is a sweet pup. He is popular on the ranch and as a therapy and emotional support dog because he is super in tune with human emotion. He is not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). But he is recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC).


Large Tan Dog Standing in Grass
Boerboels were bred by mixing the Bull and Masitff breeds.

In the 1600s, Dutch, German, and Huguenot workers settled in South Africa to farm the land. They brought their giant guard dogs with them. Over time, these dogs were mixed to create another large breed suited to the African environment. It is believed that Bull types and Mastiffs were the main breeds to create the Boerboel. His two main roles were to protect farmers’ land and animals and to hunt big game to feed his family.

His huge size and impressive power allow him to fight off lions and packs of snarling baboons. And this alone is enough to put most people off inviting him into their homes. But as the old saying goes, you should never judge a book by its cover. The Boerboel was bred to protect his humans, and as such, he forms a close bond with those he loves. And he is particularly fond of most children. Like the Pitbull, he is also successful as a therapy dog. The AKC recognizes this breed.


Black and White Dog Next to Large Tan Dog
Although both very tough dogs, there are very significant differences between the two.

To the knowledgeable eye, you can tell that both pups are different dogs. But they are both powerful-looking dogs. And for this reason, many people lump both breeds into the ‘scary dog group.’ They are both formidable-looking dogs. The Pittie is athletic in appearance, and his muscles are defined for all to see. Boerboels are colossal canines, and although his muscles aren’t defined, he is strong enough to take down a lion.

Their size difference is the obvious place to start. The Boerboel is the largest of the two dog breeds. Boerboels are a giant-sized breed, and Pitbulls are medium to large-sized dogs. Boerboels weigh between 150 and 200 pounds. Compared to Pitbulls, who usually weighs between 30 and 65 pounds. Meaning Boerboels can be over six times the weight of a Pitbull. For those trying to decide between these two pups, size alone can decide for them.

Pitbulls have an average-sized tail that is thin. The Boerboel’s tail is long and thick, but it is common to dock it at the third vertebrae. They both have large eyes, a square fleshy nose, and a big head. The Boerboel has large drop-down ears, and the Pitbull’s ears can also be drop-down or erect rose-shaped. All of the Boerboel’s features, such as neck and paws, are much larger than the Pitbull.

They both have a short, straight double-coat that is smooth to the touch. Their easy-maintenance coats come in a rainbow of canine colors. They both sport colors, including red, fawn, brown, reddish-brown, cream, black, and brindle. Pitbulls also enjoy blue, red, and white coat colors. And the Boerboel often has a dark facial mask. They also both have spots of white, mainly around their chest.

When it comes to canine lookalikes, Boerboels are often confused with the Bullmastiff. And the Pitbull is often confused with the American Bully, as well as others.


Two Tan Dogs Laying Down in The Grass
Both of these breeds are very loyal and loving to their families.

Both dogs are more different than similar in their personality, and both are social canines. They both love most humans, especially their family pack. They both crave human companionship and love to snuggle on the sofa in the evening. Pitbulls are notoriously inseparable from their master’s lap when watching the telly. The Boerboel might pick the floor, but he is likely to jump on your lap too. All 200 pounds of him!

They are both fond of most children and are both known as ‘nanny dogs.’ Although you should never leave children alone with any dog, your children are likely to find a caring canine sibling in both of these breeds. This is why they are both regularly used as therapy dogs who visit children’s hospitals. If you have small children, a well-socialized and smaller-sized Pitbull might be a better choice when parents are there to supervise.

That’s about as far as the similarities go. The Pitbull is a friendly dog who is quick to make friends with strangers. This surprises many people who have never met a Pitbull before, and it often makes him a poor guard dog. Boerboels, however, are fantastic guard dogs. Bred to guard his property against lions, taking a few humans on is no problem if he has to. But don’t view him as a brute because he will only defend his family when he really needs to.

Boerboels are the calmer of the two breeds, and he’ll often be found snoozing on the porch enjoying the rays. With one alert eye open, of course! The Pitbull is an excitable dog who has lots of fun beans to burn. He will pester his mom and dad for constant games throughout the day and needs a lot of physical and mental stimulation. If you are looking for an independent dog who is not dependent on his master, the Boerboel is the better option for you.


Two Big Dogs Playing With Toys
Both dogs will need around 6o minutes of exercise per day.

Both dogs are relatively similar when it comes to their exercise needs. They both need around 60 minutes of exercise a day. Boerboels need regular low-impact exercise to meet his big body needs.

He is great at pulling heavy carts, and it would be great to put his power to use in his exercise. The Pitbull also needs intense exercise, but exercise that requires agility rather than power. Without adequate exercise, both of these guys will become destructive and problematic.

In between exercise sessions, the Boerboel needs less mental stimulation throughout the day. Keeping an eye out for intruders and protecting the property is stimulating enough. But Pitbulls will need various active play sessions to remain healthy, happy, and out of trouble. Pick a tough toy for the Pitbull and one that challenges his mind too. He is more intelligent than he looks!


Two Tan Dogs Posing and Sitting for Camera
When it comes to training, Pitbulls will be much more eager to please than the more stubborn Boerboel.

Training is a big difference between these two breeds. Usually, Pitbulls are eager to please their master. They are also very intelligent, meaning that he is relatively simple to shape into an obedient pooch. This makes him a great option for first-time dog owners. However, the Boerboel is a headstrong canine who is much more difficult to train. Anyone thinking of taking this breed on needs to have plenty of experience with large dominant dog breeds.

Both dog breeds need socializing as a puppy. Start the process as soon as you get them home. Take them out to local doggy parks to meet other puppies and people. Although it’s not that common, both of these dogs are known to display fear-aggressive tendencies towards other dogs, more so than other breeds. But this can be overcome with regular and positive experiences with dogs. This can be a lifelong process for both breeds who need reminding of their manners.

Positive reinforcement training is the best way to train both of these guys. You need to explore what your pooch is motivated by and use that to encourage good behavior. It could be yummy treats, toys, or verbal praise, or a combination. Neither of these guys will respond well to harsh training methods; they just need firm but fair training. The Boerboel is a stubborn dog who thinks he knows better, so training can take much longer and requires much more patience than Pitbull training.


Two Tan Dogs Running in Water and Snow
Both of these breeds come with some health concerns. Make sure to do your research beforehand.

Thankfully, both dogs enjoy better than average canine health. All purebred dog breeds are prone to a selection of health concerns because of their genetics. Meaning it’s important to learn about the most common conditions in each breed. As a giant-sized breed, the Boerboel can be more costly when it comes to the overall cost of vet bills and insurance. And he has a shorter lifespan of the two. So this is something to consider.

Pitbulls are predisposed to hip dysplasia, which is one of the most common canine health conditions. This congenital condition occurs when the hip socket and the ball portion of the upper thigh bone are misaligned. This can cause hip dislocation and painful arthritis in later life. Like many terriers, Pitbulls are prone to various skin conditions such as ichthyosis, zinc responsive dermatosis, and other allergy-related problems.

Boerboels also suffer from hip dysplasia, as well as elbow dysplasia. He is also prone to various eye conditions, such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), ectropion, and entropion. Good quality breeders will also test for heart disease too. The Boerboel is a great option for those who live in hotter climates, thanks to the darker skin on his head and back. This keeps him better protected against the UV rays compared to most other breeds.


Two Tan and White Dogs Licking Lips
Food costs for these two breeds will be on the higher end.

Another key difference between the two breeds is the monthly food bill. A typical Pitbull will consume between two and three cups of food a day. Compared to the enormous Boerboel, who will consume between five and seven cups. Meaning the Boerboel sometimes eats over three times more than the Pitbull. Like many giant dogs, Boerboels are an expensive breed to care for.

The Pittie will do well on a kibble recommended for the Pitbull. The Boerboel will need a kibble that is designed for the specific nutritional needs of giant breeds. Always feed both of these guys age-appropriate food, especially during puppyhood. Because it will set the foundations for a healthy body and lifestyle. Always feed any dog a high-quality kibble that is rich in healthy fats and sources of omega-three fatty acids. These are great for skin conditions, joint health, and the cardiac system.


Two Tan Dog Freshly Bathed Sitting in Grass
Both of these breeds are fairly low maintenance and will only need to be brushed once a week.

Both dogs have simple grooming regimes thanks to their short and straight coats. They will both need brushing once a week to keep them looking and feeling their best. Brushing helps to spread natural coat oils, remove dirt, and stimulate blood circulation in the skin.  It is also great for bonding with your pup, so everyone’s a winner!

The only difference is that because the Boerboel is bigger, it’ll take slightly longer to brush him. Both Boerboels and Pitbulls are moderate shedders. This means a simple bristle brush will work for both when it comes to grooming. Both dogs need bathing once every two to three months, or as and when they need it.

When shampooing your pooch, be sure to use a shampoo designed for dogs with sensitive skin. All of their other grooming requirements are the same. Their teeth need brushing at least twice a week. And their nails need clipping once a month to prevent sore paws.

Puppy Prices

Two Tan Puppies Laying in the Grass
The Pitbull will cost around $1,000 whereas the Boerboel will cost around $1,500 plus.

The puppy price of the Boerboel is, on average, much higher than the Pitbull. The Pitbull is one of the most common dog breeds in America. You’ve only got to look at how many of them there are in rescue shelters! This makes the price of the Pittie much lower. Plus, like all giant dog breeds, Boerboels are more costly to breed. The price of a Pittie from a reputable breeder starts from around $1,000. Compared to $1,500 for a Boerboel pup.

Talking of rescue shelters, always consider adopting before shopping. But if puppy shopping is the route you want to take, always work with a reputable and responsible breeder. Sadly, there are many irresponsible breeders out there who breed dogs simply to make money. They lure dog lovers in with a lower price but do not care for the puppies’ health.

And remember, puppy prices are not the only cost that you need to consider. You need to purchase all the things that puppies need, such as beds, crates, toys, harnesses, etc. You then need to remember the ongoing costs of taking care of a dog. Including vet bills, insurance, food, and much more. As a bigger canine, Boerboels are more costly than Pitties. You also need to consider the insurance and license costs for dogs like the Pitbull and Boerboel. These can make them more costly than the average dog breed.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, these two dogs are more different than they are similar. They are both thought of as scary and fearsome dog breeds. Sure, they are formidable in appearance. But those who know both breeds know that they are sweet and lovable canines who just need the right family. They both crave the company of people and love to snuggle on the sofa.

The Pitbull is the smaller of the two, meaning he is instantly more suitable for most families. The Boerboel needs a large home for his giant body. The Pitbull is also easier to train and better suited to first-time dog owners. The Boerboel is a dominant dog and needs an experienced and strong leader. And he is less hyper and needy than the Pittie too. But overall, both of these dogs can make awesome family pets when supervised and well-socialized. You just need to decide which pup better suits your lifestyle!

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