Someone once told me that they had read in some dictionary or other that the boel part of the name Boerboel means a lot of dog. I was unfortunately unable to trace this particular definition, but if I were to create my own dictionary I am almost positive that this would be my description as well, only more so. According to the 1987 edition of the Verklarende Handwoordeboek van die Afrikaanse taal the meaning of the word Boerboel is given as a farm dog of uncertain origin. This is most certainly no longer true, as I am sure you will acknowledge once you have read through this chapter.

According to information portrayed in the Syrian rooms of the renowned British Museum in London, two Assyrian kings, Asarhaddon and Ashurbani-pal, were already using large dogs to hunt wild horses and lions in the 7th century before the coming of Christ. The stories depicted by these murals in the museum’s displays show that the Syrian dogs were much bigger and heavier than the dog breeds we are familiar with today. The author, Darwin, also makes mention of a large dog being shown on the grave of King Asarhaddon’s son, which dates back to the year 640 BC.

In one of Philemon Holland’s works, translated from Pliny’s Natural History, 1601, there are several references to prominent persons who used large dogs for various purposes. For instance, a Germanic king who returned from exile used 200 dogges to reconquer his dominion. Reference is also made to the Cimbrians who used dogges to guard their belongings whilst they where engaged in bloody battles.

In the same document reference is also made to the King of Albania giving Alexander the Great the gift of a dog. Alexander was very impressed with this giant animal, until he tried to use it to hunt bears, wild boar and deer – the dog did not show the least bit of interest or inclination to participate in any way. Alexander the Great, mighty king and conqueror, was livid at the dog’s “laziness” and subsequently had it destroyed. On hearing this news, the King of Albania immediately sent a replacement dog to Alexander with the instruction: “Do not waste the dog’s time with minor things.
The Breed

This is the title

Various documents explain the origins of today’s modern breeds from these ancient dogs – from a time well before the coming of Christ. The Canis Molossus (during the time of the Roman Empire) played an important part in the derivation of modern large breeds. The activities of the Romans resulted in the importation of these dogs to the British Isles. However, there are major differences of opinion about the order of events. Some authors are of the opinion that the Romans took this Canis Molossus to the British Isles, whilst others maintain that the Romans took some English dogs back with them to Europe. Both these claims could well be valid.
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