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Common Inherited Health Problems

The UKBC strongly supports testing for hip dysplasia and other common inherited problems and recommends only breeding from dogs which have been tested and achieve an acceptable standard.  The current standards are set out below.

Genetic health

We will not attempt to re-write the text books here.  Suffice to say that most of the major health problems are the result of a complex inter-reaction of genes.  Moreover, all lines potentially carry genetic defects.  Therefore trying to breed away from them in a relatively small gene pool is neither easy nor straightforward. 

This makes it all the more important that breeders apply rigorous standards of selection to all breeding dogs, diligently research pedigrees, follow the development of the dogs they produce and share information as to known problems.   Any breeder may produce a dog with bad hips, eyes etc, however hard they try to avoid doing so.  Good breeders do their best to avoid perpetuating the problem and help others avoid them too.

The Boerboel has a relatively small gene pool, particularly in Europe.  This presents its own dangers; as dog breeds become more inbred, they tend in general to be less healthy.  The UKBC is endeavouring to promote open discussion of health problems and support breeders in making good choices both with regard to health and genetic diversity.

If you are considering buying a puppy, always ask the breeder what health problems, if any, the parents suffer from and whether there have been any health problems in previous litters.  A breeder who answers this honestly is a good breeder, every breeder will have one or two problems over time.


Boerboels are relatively healthy compared to many large breeds but can suffer from a variety of health problems including Wobblers, weak immune system, allergies and, most commonly, joint problems, poor eye conformation and vaginal hyperplasia in bitches.

All large deep-chested breeds are susceptible to bloat (Gastric Torsion) and the Boerboel is no different.
Current Breeding Guidelines

The UKBC recommends that only dogs that meet or exceed the following heath standards should be bred.  Breeding dogs should, of course, also have a stable temperament, overall good health and have passed an appraisal and been registered by one of the South African breed registries.

Hips should be scored under a recognised scheme and average or better. Currently the BVA average is 21. The Pennhip average is currently 0.54.

Elbows should be X-rayed at 12 months or older and formally scored under a recognised scheme.  Elbows should be 0:0 to 1:1 or better.  Dogs born before December 2005, which have been x-rayed and certified in writing as 'normal' or 'clear' by the veterinarian before January 2007 are also acceptable under these guidelines. 

Eyes should be certified as free of entropion or ectropion

Bitches should be certified free of vaginal hyperplasia.

In an ideal world every dog used for breeding would have perfect health in every respect.  The club currently recommends that all dogs used for breeding are at least of average health as specified above.

However, we recognise that given our relatively small gene pool, it may occasionally be appropriate to breed a dog that has worse than average hips or elbows, or other health issues (as in the minus points colums in the chart below), if it has proven strengths that compensate for this weakness (as in the plus points columns in the chart below), always bringing the dog back to the zero/average score.  The following link will download a chart setting out the basis on which the club will support such breeding.

The aim is that any dog being considered for breeding should at a minimum reach 0 on the chart, ie, any deviation from the health standards should be compensated for elsewhere.

REMEMBER - All dogs must be appraised and registered with one of the recognised South African registries (minimum score of 75%) and be free from other serious hereditary health conditions such as Wobblers etc.

AND FINALLY...

Any mating can produce dogs with bad elbows or hips but it is more likely if one or both of the parents themselves have poor elbows and/or hips.  Puppy buyers should insist on seeing the parents' official health documentation to enable them to make an informed decision as to whether to buy or not.



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