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To give some background, here is a bit of history about the Boerboel, South African Black Mastiff, Ysterberg Mastiff™ and South African Mastiff®

History of the Boerboel

The word “Boerboel” derives from “boer”, Afrikaans/Dutch for farmer, and “boel”, old Afrikaans/Dutch for dog. Boerboel, therefore, translates as either “farmer’s dog” or “Boer’s dog” and should be pronounced somewhat like “boo-er-bool.” (not Burbull).

Despite the Boerboel’s long breeding history, there is great uncertainty as to how many and which breeds were used to create it. It is generally believed that the breed was created from interbreeding native African landrace dogs, such as the Africanis, with breeds brought into South Africa by Dutch, French, and British settlers.

The most likely origins date back to Jan van Riebeeck’s arrival to the Cape in 1652, who brought with him a “Bullenbijter”, which is Dutch slang for Bulldog. Other original and later European settlers brought large, strong dogs that almost certainly bred with the indigenous domestic dog breeds of South Africa.

In the early 1860s, when military posts were scattered across the South African frontier, bloodhounds, staghounds, greyhounds, bulldogs, terriers, mastiffs, pointers, and occasionally foxhounds were to be found at each post. The Boer dog was a cross between these breeds. It was generally in the vicinity of military posts where the best Boer dogs were to be found. In addition, the best dogs for hunting leopards and baboons were a cross between a mastiff and a bulldog.  Later, in 1928, the diamond mining company De Beers imported Bullmastiffs to South Africa to guard the mines. This breed was also crossbred with Boerboels in the region.

The Boerboel was first introduced to purebred enthusiasts throughout the world, including the United States, by the American anthropologist Dr. Carl Semencic, first in an article in Dog World Magazine and later in his book entitled Gladiator Dogs which was first published by T.F.H. Publications in 1998 and later republished by another publisher in 2013. Semencic credits his early familiarity with the breed to his own travels to South Africa, but especially to his frequent correspondence with the head of the first South African Boerboel club, one Mr. Kobus Rust. Later, the Boerboel Breeders Association was established in 1983 in the Senekal district of the Free State with the sole objective of ennobling and promoting the Boerboel as a unique South African dog breed.  Today, there are more than 10 Boerboel organisations, including countries like Australia, EU, Russia and the USA.

Source: Wikipedia

History of the South African Black Mastiff

The SABMA was found in 2016 after the black dog/black Boerboel was suspended by the Register of AIA. Breeders then found the best possible way to keep the dogs and started the South African Black Mastiff Association.

The Association focuses on breeding and developing the black Mastiff but they accept documentation of dogs registered with other organizations provided the dogs’ origins are known to SABMA.

Source: SABMA website

History of the Ysterberg Mastiff™ 

The Ysterberg bloodline of the South African Mastiff® was developed in the 1940s under the rigors of farm life in the rugged Ysterberg mountain area of South Africa, bred for form and function as a farm and guardian breed, not for purposes of exhibition and commercial sale.  The Ysterberg farm dogs preceded the registration and recognition of large native dogs which came to be called “Boerboels” and became part of the gene pool when the Boerboel was created.  For the past decade, dedicated breeders of the Ysterberg bloodline continued to breed their dogs under a controlled program of the Ysterberg Mastiff Breed Council (YMBC).

About the South African Mastiff®

To address confusion related to the name attached to the “Ysterberg Mastiff” and “Boerboel”, we’re excited to announce that as of November 2019, we’re re-branding. As part of our re-branding strategy, our organisation’s name will change from Ysterberg Mastiff™ Breed Council to South African Mastiff®  – powered by Ysterberg since 1948.

The re-branding initiative coincides with recent changes to the organisations internal structure and processes as well as the introduction of the use of our online IP, paperless technology and eco-friendly approach. The re-branding has provided a platform to evolve the service offerings, to be a true full-service, innovative, and forward-thinking organisation dedicated to the health, form, function and future of the Ysterberg dogs that Oom Klaas Van Waveren created. The South African Mastiff is not limited to only dogs of the Ysterberg Bloodline, but is inclusive of those dogs registered as Boerboels, whose owners agree to follow the strict breeding requirements of the South African Mastiff® Breed Council, which includes health and temperament evaluations prior to breeding.

“This rename and re-brand represents a significant step in the organisations evolution. We are redefining who we are as the ONLY Authentic South African Mastiff breed, driving change and shaping the future of breed societies in the canine world.” said Preenesh Gobindar, International President. “Our brand ethos has always been built on trust, credibility and quality above quantity. We pride ourselves on our relationships and our ability to help, support and connect members and breeders worldwide.”

The new name and logo reflect the organisations passion for our heritage. The name also aligns with the organisation’s mission; to get international recognition for the South African Mastiff®. The colors used are derived from the South African flag and shows the pride for our heritage and the country of origin of this magnificent breed.

The new website offers a warm and engaging design, easy to use navigation optimized perfectly for either desktop, mobile or tablet use. Access to essential information about services, assessments and programs is intuitive and quick. The website also includes a member only section for easy access to resources. Our members are excited by the news that the words Ysterberg Mastiff™ and South African Mastiff® are both registered trademarks and available for use only by members in good standing. This is just another way for us to protect the breed we love.

The standard of the breed

Most Mastiff and large breed dogs are promoted as working dogs, when in fact they are not. The breed standard and evaluation criteria had to be revised in order to support the requirements and testing criteria for a working breed.  The standard of the breed was written with the old Ysterberg farm dogs in mind, not making any drastic changes but rather subtle changes to improve on the build and functionality of the breed.

Adding value to the breed

The name South African Mastiff® was chosen as it better represents the diversity in the breed and will allow for the inclusion of dogs which can add value to the breed but previously did not fall into the required criteria. The name South African Mastiff® is also easier recognized Internationally.  In 2019 the name was successfully trademarked and therefor ONLY members in good standing have the right of use.

Offering a turnkey solution

We are offering a turnkey solution to breeders and owners that will enable efficient and time saving service. We are moving towards paperless technology with an eco-friendly approach. Members in good standing will benefit from our online submission forms and reporting system.  No more buying birth notification books, scanning documents, begging for paperwork to be issued, waiting for pedigrees etc. Everything is available to you the breeder, with the push of a button.

We believe that the South African Mastiff® is the future, it is a modern mastiff breed that will make us proud in terms of temperament and working ability.

Information on this site is designed to promote the responsible and intelligent breeding and ownership of our breed.  Therefore, we encourage you to please contact any of our liaison members for more information.  Our members strive to be true ambassadors for our breed, and we are always available to help you.

We encourage you to please contact any of our liaison members for more information

Our members strive to be true ambassadors for our breed, and we are always available to help you.

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