The Braunvieh is probably one of the oldest and purest cattle breeds, with records dating back as far as 800 BC. The breed originates from the Alps of Europe and today is found in all cattle breeding countries. Romania has more than eight million and Italy more than ten million; both countries separately have more Braunvieh cattle than all the cattle combined in South Africa.
The first Braunvieh bulls were imported to South Africa in 1907 as part of a crossbreeding program initiated by the Department of Agriculture, to breed cattle fitted for the cold highlands of South Africa. The Braunvieh breeding society was founded on 2 April 1925 with the goal of keeping and promoting a pure breed.
In 1974 a split occurred between the breeders searching to breed a dual-purpose breed and the breeders who primarily focused on the dairy characteristics, which lead to the dual purpose Braunvieh society being officially recognized as a separate society in 1996.