Boerboel Owners Club Australia, Inc.
Buying a Boerboel in Australia
Once you have learnt about the breed or met your first Boerboel, it’s a common reaction to get excited and want to get one of your very own, but like all good things in life there are always pitfalls to be had. So before you decide to rush in and hand over your hard earned $$’s for that seemingly perfect dream puppy, please do your homework and don’t take everything on face value.
It’s important to find a credible society and a breeder who is diligent, health tests, and carefully selects their breeding dogs as this will greatly increase your chance of getting a pup that is healthy and sound in the long term. It’s definitely not for the faint hearted, and your pup will need to be raised carefully so that they don’t damage their joints while growing and require close monitoring of their diet in addition to all the other demands a puppy will bring.
Boerboel Societies in Australia:
At the time of writing this, there are breeders in Australia currently belonging to 6 different Boerboel societies (that I know of). Unfortunately it’s more than just politics at play here, some of these breed societies actually facilitate breeders to cut corners which is resulting in untold damage to the breed.
A quick search on the internet will soon reveal puppies and dogs in Australia that not only don’t resemble the breed in appearance, but are also having significantly more health and temperament issues and shortened life expectancy, when a lot of this could (for the most part) be avoided.
It varies between societies; some that seemingly require no health checks or lack the willingness to enforce it. The words “health tested” on its own means very little, it could just equate to a quick visual inspection at the vets during their vaccination or nothing at all! Be careful also of misleading documents or vague verbal responses as well. If you are getting your puppy transported to you, then also ask for a veterinary “fit to fly certificate” before it’s shipped.
These are some of the more commonly accepted health tests that Boerboels should have done before breeding:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia reports
- Vaginal Hyperplasia certificate (for dam)
- Eyes for entropion and ectropion
- DNA genetic analysis report for known testable diseases found in the breed. (This is to make sure that both parents are not carriers of the same problem, so that the resulting puppies will not suffer from diseases that are easily avoided).
- Appraisal report. The appraisal sheet will also give results on how well the dog is constructed, temperament, movement, eyes, and bite.
Any dog that has health concerns should be de-sexed and only kept as a pet, and definitely not passed onto someone else to breed. Unfortunately this does not always happen, and the problem then ends up getting replicated into more unhealthy litters. From what I have seen there is a close correlation of dogs getting put to sleep early in life for health related issues, and pedigrees that have problematic dogs in them. It should also be noted that some breeders are over represented for producing unhealthy puppies, so it pays to be diligent.
Each society issues their own pedigree certificates for breeder member litters. Unfortunately some of these certificates are not even worth the paper they are written on (in my opinion), and are a direct reflection on how reputable the society actually is.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of buying a pup that although “registered”, still won’t be recognised as a Boerboel in the breed’s home country or almost anywhere else outside their individual club for that matter. There are lots of reasons for this, but the main two are DNA and Appraisals (or lack thereof).
What is the point of going to all the trouble of health testing and trying to breed good puppies if you can’t even prove who the parents actually are! Unfortunately there are societies in Australia that don’t require DNA profiles on their breeding dogs, so it’s little wonder that many of the Boerboel pedigrees in Australia are under question, or even worse, facilitating cross breeding to be continually getting swept under the carpet, something that can never be repaired and will easily muck up a bloodline. DNA is something that should be embraced by all breeders and all societies that truly have the breed’s interest at heart.
Appraisals are an improvement strategy and a form of quality control, so that only the dogs that are fit to be good representatives of the breed with good sound bodies and minds warrant perpetuating the best puppies in forward generations.
Some societies do a watered down version of appraisals or no appraisals at all. Yet all societies have a breed standard that they claim to work towards, so what is the point of even having a standard if the dogs are not going to be compared to it? Running appraisals is a proven way of achieving this and it’s a good tool to help preserve favourable traits and improve on others that are lacking, and in my opinion something all breeders should embrace.
A high appraisal score is an indication of a good dog, but it’s not a case of higher is always better. You want to see the breakdown of points, as the sum of the parts can be higher than the value of the dog if it lacks in the areas that are important to you. Similarly you don’t want to breed dogs together that were both marked down in the same areas.
Try and find a society that uses trained and internationally recognised appraisers. Anyone can call themselves an appraiser, but accredited appraisers have gone through years of formal training and re-testing.
It always pays to read the fine print. While its peace of mind and music to your ears when you hear or read the word “guarantee” when buying a new puppy, you need to know how it will unravel. Breeders tend to fall back on their breed society rules but some will have their own contracts. Be careful of the ones that only offer a refund if the dog is returned to the breeder, by which time the unhealthy pup has probably already become a valued and much loved member of your family. Unfortunately some societies allow breeders to exploit this.
Choosing a Breeder:
This is probably the hardest thing, but do your research and look at the whole picture. If a litter comes up it’s important to look at not only the parents, but siblings, uncles, aunts and grandparents and ensure they are also what you’re looking for and preferably all alive and well or lived healthy long lives. As you probably already realise, the breed is still very diverse, so you need to find a breeder that has the same style of dog that you like. If a breeder tries to talk their dogs up a lot, I would be cautious as the quality of the dogs should speak for themselves. Its best in the long run to find a breeder that is ethical, can offer ongoing help, and are nice people in general that you’re comfortable with. It’s not uncommon to wait a year for the right pup to come along.
Wanting a breeding dog:
If you want to buy a puppy with the intent on becoming a breeder yourself it can be a lot harder, as breeders that own better quality dogs & bloodlines will tend to be more reluctant and cautious selling fully registered pups to anyone new that isn’t already a well known Boerboel owner, relative or friend.
If you end up buying a pet registered pup that turns out to be an excellent example of the breed, some breeders are willing (at a cost) to upgrade the certificate at a later date after passing all of its health testing and an appraisal. It might also work out favourable to start with a male pup that has retained breeding rights with the agreement that you can also use him yourself should you decide to become a breeder in the future. I would personally avoid a retained breeding rights contract on a female, as they tend to be a lot more complicated and messy, and more often than not don’t end well. But for any of these options to work you really do need to find a breeder (from a legitimate society) that you believe to be honourable and trustworthy, and come to an agreement.
There are of course many good breeders and dogs overseas, and some kennels are very professional and willing to export dogs to Australia. It can be a good option if all else fails or looking for something specific that interests you. But there are two big hurdles, one being cost (expect to pay upwards of 3x the price with added import costs compared to buying an Australian pup), and the youngest they can arrive in Australia from most countries is 9 months (spending 6 months at the breeder and 10 days in Australian Quarantine).