Bouvier des Flandres Breed Guide

The Bouvier des Flandres is a compact, but well-muscled and powerfully built breed. These dogs have a double coat and rugged appearance. Their coat ranges in color from black to fawn and may appear gray, brindle, or salt and pepper. The outer coat is harsh and rough, while the undercoat is soft, fine, and dense. Bouviers have oval, dark brown eyes, and a large head that is framed by the breed's unique beard, mustache, and eyebrows. The muzzle is broad and the nose is large and black. The Bouvier des Flandres measures 23.5 to 27.5 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs 70 to 110 pounds. With proper care, this breed lives up to 15 years.

Bouviers are athletic farm dogs and are made for harsh weather, which makes them best suited for suburban or rural areas. These dogs are resolute, fearless, intelligent, and friendly, and they make great companion animals for families.

Bouviers are athletic farm dogs and are made for harsh weather, which makes them best suited for suburban or rural areas. These dogs are resolute, fearless, intelligent, and friendly, and they make great companion animals for families.

In Belgium, Bouviers went by many names before a breed standard was created. Some of these names included cow dog, dirty beard, and cattle driver.

Bouvier des Flandres dogs are friendly, intelligent, affectionate, and independent. They are best suited for active families who live in colder climates. They tend to be reserved, but not unfriendly, toward strangers, and they are great with children. However, they should be supervised around smaller children due to their large size and tendency to play rambunctiously. These dogs do not get along very well with other animals, and they may become aggressive with unfamiliar dogs.

Athletic and active dogs, Bouviers are not good choices for apartments or urban settings. These dogs love spending time outdoors and they need adventure in the form of long hikes or jogs through new or unusual places. A long walk or jog every day, combined with a vigorous play session or two, is usually enough to tire them out and satisfy their desire for physical activity.

Bouviers need a lot of attention and they require daily exercise. Because of this, families without much time to devote to their canine companions should reconsider adopting or purchasing this breed.

Although they are generally healthy dogs, Bouviers may develop a number of potentially fatal health conditions, including gastric torsion, cancer, and laryngeal paralysis, a condition that can lead to serious breathing problems or even death. Laryngeal paralysis most commonly affects older dogs and the symptoms may come on slowly.

Bouviers are also prone to subaortic stenosis, a type of heart condition caused by narrowing of the area below the aortic valve. It may or may not be congenital. Congenital hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and certain eye disorders, including entropion and glaucoma, are also known to affect these dogs.

Routine veterinary care, timely vaccinations, proper nutrition, and regular exercise help ensure the Bouvier des Flandres lives a full life of 10 to 12 years.

Bouviers are obedient and intelligent and respond well to training. Provided these dogs are given plenty of daily exercise, they are well mannered indoors and rarely exhibit behavioral problems. These dogs are stubborn, but learn quickly. They need firm and consistent training, but sessions should be kept short and training methods must be gentle and kind. Bouviers respond best to praise.

This breed is happiest when given a job to do. They also enjoy dog sports, such as herding, agility, tracking, and carting. Without mental and physical stimulation, negative behaviors may appear. Barking can become a problem, and these dogs need to be taught that they are not the boss of the house. Bouviers should never be aggressive or hostile. Early socialization and training can help prevent hostility and negative behaviors from developing.

Bouviers need a fenced yard to run and play in. To contain these dogs, the fence must be secure and at least 5 feet high. Otherwise, their high prey drive will have them chasing down squirrels, rabbits, and other small animals and terrorizing neighborhood cats.

Bouviers are fairly low-maintenance when it comes grooming, unless they will be shown. The coat should be brushed weekly for about an hour to remove loose and dead hair. Regular brushing will also prevent matting, which can be a problem for this breed. A stiff bristle or pin brush is recommended. Additionally, scissoring and shaping with blunt-tipped scissors should be performed every few months.

These dogs only need bathing when they become dirty. Unfortunately, their coat gets dirty easily and quickly. Plus, their beard tends to find its way into food and water at mealtimes, and many Bouviers will need cleaning with a wet washcloth after every meal. These dogs are also known for flatulence, and anyone sensitive to such odors should reconsider before purchasing or adopting a Bouvier des Flandres.

The ears should be checked weekly for dirt, wax, and signs of infection. Cleaning the outside of the ear with a cotton ball and otic cleanser will help keep the ears clean. The nails need trimming every few weeks, and the teeth require regular brushing to keep tooth decay and gum disease at bay.

The Bouvier des Flandres was developed in Belgium by butchers, farmers, and cattle merchants who needed help with work. These early breeders were not concerned with breeding pedigreed dogs, and little attention was given to the breed's size, color, or weight. Because of this, Bouviers were known by many different names and none looked exactly alike, although all share enough characteristics to be recognized as belonging to the Bouvier des Flandres breed.

During the World Wars, Bouviers excelled at search and rescue and helped hunt for wounded soldiers. They also acted as couriers. Sadly, only a few dogs survived the wars, and those were probably retired to farms to pull carts and drive cattle.

Although these dogs make ideal farm dogs, they've also been used successfully as messenger and ambulance dogs. Today, the breed is often chosen as a family companion due to its intelligence, affectionate nature, and ability to act as a guard dog. Bouviers may also be found working as tracking dogs or as guide dogs for the blind.

The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Bouvier des Flandres in 1931.