The Bouvier des Flandres is not an attention hound, but it definitely needs a lot of attention. A large dog, bred for herding and farm work is a loving dog that needs to be around their human ‘flock’ or ‘pack’.
Earliest records show Belgium monks at the Ter Duinen monastery in the Flanders region (northern region of Belgium and France) mixing Irish wolfhounds and Scottish deerhounds with local farm dogs until they arrived at the Bouvier standard. Bred to be large and tireless, they quickly became the standard for farm dogs in Europe. Damage done to the Flanders region during World War I and II and the military’s use of the dogs almost led to the extinction of the breed in Europe.
A prized Bouvier, Nic, trained as a trench dog during WWI that later became a champion show dog is believed to be the founder of the Bouvier des Flandres line that exists today.
– Life expectancy is 10-12 years
– Males can be up to 28 inches tall and weigh 75-110 pounds
– Females can be up to 27 inches tall and weigh 60-80 pounds
– Females can have liters ranging from 5-10 puppies in size
– Double coat of fur with the outer coat being coarse and long and the inner coat, fine and dense
Brought to the United States in the 1920s, the Bouvier became a recognized breed by the American Kennel Club in 1965. Protective, strong and intelligent; Bouviers are extremely devoted to their family and love being in on the action. However, do not expect the happy husky puppy treatment when you walk in the door. It is just not their style.
The Bouvier des Flandres is a hairy dog. If not properly groomed on a regular basis their coat becomes matted and will hold onto debris such as leaves and twigs. A good brushing at least once a week will alleviate these issues and keep you and your Bouvier happy. Commonly, they will have cropped ears and a cropped tail. A practice believed done to protect them during skirmishes with farm predators.
Looking very stern and unwavering, any intruder into the Bouviers domain would think twice about any bad intentions. To watch the Bouvier move through the house or outside is an impressive sight, as they appear extremely dignified yet imposing.
Bouviers are excellent family pets. They are extremely intelligent and once trained will respond to a number of commands. Even-tempered and responsible, they are very social pets. Protectiveness is a trait inherent in the breed. They do not need training for it, nor is it something that can be trained out of them. Once bonded with their ‘flock’ the Bouvier will protect it with its life.
Bouviers love children. They are playful with their family. Socializing on a regular basis is a good idea so they do not become sheepish around people or uncomfortable in new situations. They will be naturally aloof around strangers and need to learn the difference between friend and foe. Not prone to biting, but they will start nudging with their nose to move people.
Exercise is important for their happiness and yours. If left with nothing to do, they can become bored and trouble will usually follow.
Bouvier des Flandres does not demand attention, but as stated prior, they need a lot of attention. Lack of proper training, socialization with people and if needed other animals and plenty of playtime with their human ‘pack’ can result in a very unhappy relationship for owner and dog.
If not properly cared for on a regular basis, their fur will start collecting around the house along with any debris picked up outside. Their double coat will make them very uncomfortable if not properly cared for causing them to be temperamental. They also tend to have “shaggy dog syndrome,” because of their type of coat. When they drink water, it absorbs into their beard and drips around the house or food will get into their beard and then deposited on you or the furniture. If you consider yourself a fastidious house cleaner, the Bouvier des Flandres may not be for you.
If not trained properly, they can develop the idea that they are the ‘alpha’ dog. Aggressiveness or shyness can become problematic and lead to unwanted chewing or chasing of moving objects such as kids or other animals.
Because of their intelligence, they require some mental stimulation. Some playtime and a nice walk best accomplish this at least once a day.
Bouviers are very hardy animals. They are not prone to many illnesses, but being a large breed, hip and elbow dysplasia can be concerns. Hip dysplasia tends to be hereditary; a competent breeder will be able to tell you if it is a concern. Elbow dysplasia is a degenerative condition that could result in surgery if it becomes serious enough.
The biggest complaint about the Bouvier des Flandres is if not fed a proper diet they develop flatulence to a degree that cause people to run from the room. A natural diet seems to work best.
References & Resources
Pet Insurance Companies – petinsurancehq.com