Bouvier des Flandres
Breed Group: Herding
Temperament and Behavior
Bouvier des Flandres (BOO-vee-ay day FLAHN-dra) have the need to work. Bred to herd everything from sheep to cattle and as a protector, they are loyal to family and watchful of children they have been raised with. They make outstanding watch dogs and very good guard dogs using their voice and size to intimidate the unwary. They are sociable with most other animals except dogs of the same sex with whom they should never be confined. Bouviers are intelligent, independent, and willful. Neither exercise nor training is optional. Without someone who understands dogs that exert dominance, the dog will do as they please. As large, working dogs, Bouviers need an above average amount of exercise daily. Low key indoors; getting them outside where they become active is key. But don’t count on him just being a playmate for children. He is a more serious worker than that. Easily bored, a Bouvier that does not get the needed exercise and mental challenge will become a nuisance or destructive. They are also more flatulent than most breeds.
Physical CharacteristicsBouviers are large, strong dogs that grow to be 24 to 28 inches tall and weigh 70 to 90 pounds. Their coat is usually black, but can also be fawn, wheaten, or salt and pepper. It is a thick, weatherproof coat that serves them well in cold weather. They do not do well in heat. Shedding is about average but their hair sticks to carpet like Velcro. The coat needs brushing and combed thoroughly twice a week to prevent mats and smelling. Their coat traps dirt they bring in from outside. Bouviers also have a beard that acts like a sponge for water that is trailed behind them after drinking.
Trainer's NotesAs with any dog of high intelligence and working abilities, Bouviers require strong socialization and advanced training that starts early. Without it, they will try to seize the role of leader. But with a skillful trainer who uses food rewards, they progress well. This is unquestionably a breed that needs an experienced owner who knows how to handle a dominance seeking dog.
Bouvier des Flandres
HealthBouviers do not have significant health concerns unique to the breed. Of concern because of its life-threatening consequences is Bloat. Nine percent suffer from Elbow Dysplasia another about 15% suffer from Hip Dysplasia. Cataracts, Glaucoma, and Entropion, all problems associated with their eyes, are sometimes seen. The heart condition SAS is present in some lines. As a side note, vet bills are always higher with large dogs. They typically live to 10 – 12 years of age.
PopularityNever highly popular in the U.S., the Bouvier des Flandres is ranked around 86th in popularity within the AKC with about 1,000 dogs registered annually.
Breed HistoryBouvier, in French, means cowherd and that is what the Bouvier des Flandres was bred to do. Created in Belgium in the 1600s, farmers relied on the breed to herd cattle and other farm animals, to pull small carts, and to protect the farm. The breed was nearly lost in World War I when dogs protected many Belgians while they escaped the advancing German troops. The survivors then worked as messengers and drovers for ambulance carts. They gained modest popularity in the U.S. in the 1930s mainly as show dogs, never achieving the same status in the US as they have in Europe.
Additional InformationThose who have enjoyed the company of a Bouvier des Flandres include Bill Cosby, George Lucas, Barbara Mandrell, Reba McEntire, Ronald Reagan, and Ringo Starr. The National (US) Breed Club is the American Bouvier des Flandres Club.