Bouvier des Flandres
Description: The Bouvier des Flandres is a powerfully built, compact, rough-coated dog of rugged appearance. They are agile, spirited and bold with a calm and steady manner. The Bouvier des Flandres is easy going but aloof, they can sometimes be serious or moody. Their herding instincts will keep them close to home. They are stocky, heavy boned and fierce when confronted with a threat. Bouviers are actually quite intelligent, as they can distinguish a fake or staged threat from a real one. They are gentle and mild with their families, and always faithful and protective. They have a sensible temperament, and are hardy and trustworthy. They are easily trained and love to work. Bouvier des Flandres were originally used to herd sheep and cattle, and to guard their property in Belgium. Used in police work and helping the blind, they love the company of people. Bouviers are quick to learn, are apt to obey, and have an air of dignity about their presence. Loyal and sturdy, the Bouvier des Flandres is one very respected dog.
Other Names: Belgian Cattle Dog, Koe Hond (Cow Dog), Toucheur de Boeuf (Cattle Drover), Vuilbaard (Dirty Beard), Vlaamse Koehond, Flanders Cattle Dog.
Type: Herding Dog, Guarding Dog
Height: Males: 24.5 - 27.5 inches; Females: 23.5 - 26.5 inches.
Weight: 59.5 - 100 lbs.
Colors: The color may be fawn, gray, brindle, salt and pepper, or black. Some have a white star on their chest. Some shades of these colors can have a washed out look.
Coat: Rough, thick, harsh with a soft dense undercoat. It is "like steel wool". The fur is tousled and from medium to long length. They have a double coat in which the undercoat is fine and dense, while the outer coat is rough and tousled with a thick mustache and beard. This is why the breed is sometimes referred to as "Dirty Beards". The coat is short on the upper skull and upper parts of the body.
Temperament: Bouvier des Flandres are alert, responsive, even tempered, and great guard dogs. They are protective of their family and property, and will voraciously defend them. But, they are gentle with the ones who care for them, courageous and intelligent. Some Bouviers can actually distinguish imaginary threats from real danger, which serves as an incredible advantage to their personalities.
With Children: Yes, gentle with family children but may be intolerant of other children.
With Pets: Yes, if raised with other pets. They need to be socialized early on. Bouviers may not be friendly towards strange dogs, or new dogs.
Special Skills: In the past, a cattle driver, cart puller, sheep herder, and guard dog. Today, a guard dog, defense dog, and family pet.
Watch-dog: Very High.
Guard-dog: High. Bouviers are excellent guard dogs and brave protectors, they will watch out for strangers and other dogs. They were bred for this very purpose, and can be very fierce when confronted.
Care and Training: Regular attention should be given to the Bouvier des Flandres' teeth, nails and ears. Weekly brushing is a must, their hard wiry coats also need scissoring and shaping every three months. The Bouvier des Flandres needs plenty of exercise, but be careful not to jog with them over long distances as they are heavy in structure and are predisposed to hip problems. Ample space is necessary. Bouviers need to be put to work and have their minds kept active with mental stimulation. A vigorous play session will do fine for exercise.
Special Needs: Fenced yard, grooming, positive training, and socialization.
Learning Rate: High. Bouviers are intelligent dogs. Obedience - Medium. Because of this, firm and consistent training is necessary. Problem Solving - High.
Activity: Outdoors - High. Bouviers were bred to herd sheep, cattle, and pull carts. They are active dogs in their natural environment. Indoors - Low.
Living Environment: They will adapt to country or suburban living, but they do best in the country. A fenced yard is a must and they should not be kept in cramped quarters. An owner of a Bouvier des Flandres needs to be a firm, strong leader. The best owner for this dog would be a firm, strong, active, dog-experienced person in a rural or suburban environment.
Health Issues: Hip and elbow dysplasia, glaucoma. Other health concerns include autoimmune disorders, cancer, hypothyroidism, subaortic stenosis, and bloat. Bloat is a health issue to most dogs, being the second largest killer of dogs other than cancer, but Bouvier des Flandres can be particularly susceptible to it because of their deep chests. Ears are often clipped to create a fiercer look.
Life Span: 10 - 12 years.
Litter Size: 5 - 10 puppies.
Country of Origin: Belgium
History: Bouviers date back to the sixteenth century, originating from the Flanders border of Belgium and France where they were used to pull cards and drive cattle. They were also used for sheepherding, hunting, and to be fierce guard dogs. Bouviers were developed specifically to do all kinds of things, and were known to be an all-arounder. The name Bouvier means "driver of oxen" or "bovine herder". Bouviers are often called Cow Dogs, or Dirty Beards. During World War I, Bouviers almost became extinct due to the ravages on the country. Sadly, several sub-species of Bouviers did not survive the War. The Bouvier served as a draft dog, ambulance and messenger dog. Thanks to a Belgian Army veteran named Captain Darby, the Flandres survived another year and lived on. Fortunately his dog happened to be a well proportioned and award winning champion named Nic de Sittengem and was bred to keep the line of dogs alive. Most modern pedigrees of this day trace back to this specific dog. More recently, Bouviers have continued their jobs as military and defense dogs. The breed standard for Bouviers was developed in 1912. They were imported into the U.S. in the 1930s. Being the dog of Ronald Reagan, today they serve as guard dogs and family pets.
First Registered by the AKC: 1931
AKC Group: Herding
Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 1), KC (GB), UKC