The neck is powerful, of medium length, strong muscled and with a pronounced crest.
I have already talked about how important the neck is to contributing to the impressiveness of the Boerboel. I think one of the main reasons the neck has been overlooked by most breeders is that only a small percentage of dogs (less than 5%) actually have a good neck, with the pronounced crest that we are after. Because there are so few dogs with the desired neck, it is hard for people to imagine, in their own mind, what a good neck should look like, and there are so few dogs to breed to with this trait.
The length of the neck is very important. When a neck is too long it looks like the head is too far in front of the dog and not entirely part of the dog. Also, it is harder to get the correct muscling and pronounced crest on a long neck. Necks that are too short can be overly muscled and look quite impressive, but the dog will lack movement in the neck. I have seen an inbred son of Lourina Mac who had such a short, muscular neck that whenever he went to see what was happening behind him, he would need to turn his entire body around, because his neck was so restricted due to the short length and over-muscling. Usually, if a dog has a nice crest on his neck, it is because everything is attached correctly. If the neck lacks muscle and a crest, it is harder to judge if it is the correct length. Necks that are either too short or too long can effect movement.
I think the term “powerful” describes a neck that is well muscled and has a crest. Sometimes, dogs will have thick necks when you put a measuring tape around them, but they do not display the correct shape, which is the crest on top of the neck, when viewed from the side.
Many of the old Ysterberg males had great necks. I will bring attention to the photos of dogs that have good necks throughout this book so that people can be more aware of this magnificent trait. (In the female the muscles are less accentuated but should remain in balance with the head and body).
The female should have a less pronounced neck, with softer muscle, due to the sexual dimorphism we have already discussed. A thick neck with a prominent crest is a masculine trait. It also needs to be much larger to attach to a larger, wider front torso area, and a larger head. The male’s neck also needs to hold a larger, heavier head.
It is set medium high, flows smoothly into the sloping withers and forms a unit with the head and shoulders. This dog below has a great neck that flows smoothly into both the sloping withers and the head. It is also set medium high because there is a definite change in direction, where the top of the withers joins the base of the neck. If it was set low, there would be a lesser angle at this junction. If it was set high, like an Arabian horse, the angle between the neck and the top of the withers would be closer to a right angle. Notice how this dog does not have a lot of muscle on his body, but still has a pronounced crest on his neck.
Mouzer and Ysterberg Ben at 9 years of age. He has lost a lot of muscle on his body due to age but still keeps that amazing neck.
The dewlap is noticeable but disappears towards the sternum.
The dewlap on the underside of the dog’s neck, which seems to be a common Mastiff trait, actually has an important function. The loose skin under the neck can help to protect a dog from snake bites and in fights, with either other animals or dogs.
Dogs that tangle with snakes will often get bitten on the chest and dewlap area, due to the Boerboels size, and the ability for disturbed snakes to rear up and strike at that height. The loose skin serves as a protection against the venom, by trapping most of the venom in the loose, fatty tissue of the dewlap and lymph nodes in the neck and not allowing the venom into the circulatory blood stream, where it can do the most damage.
Only recently (late 2010) a breeder in Australia found a dead snake in his female Boerboels run. By the time he found the snake, it had already been dead for over a day. The Boerboel bitch had a swollen neck where the snake had obviously bitten her. The owner rang the vet to ask for advice on what to do. The vet said that if she wasn’t already dead, she should be fine, and all he should do is monitor her health. She seemed a bit off colour, but fine. The swelling on her neck and dewlap went away after about one week, and the Boerboel returned to normal health.
The dewlap is also helpful in fights. If another animal has a hold of the loose dewlap, the Boerboel is still able to manoeuvre and defend himself. The loose skin also makes it hard for an animal to get in deep and get a good grip of the throat area, which would cut off vital air and blood to the Boerboels brain.
The negative side to the dewlap is that when the dog’s collar gets wet, it can trap moister and cause infection.