Meet the Breed: The Bouvier des Flandres

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Overview:

  • Height: 22"- 28”
  • Weight: 60-110 pounds
  • Historical function: Herding, guarding, cart pulling
  • Modern function: Companion, guard dog, herding
  • AKC classification: Working

Physical Characteristics:

The The Bouvier des Flandres is a large, shaggy, and somewhat intimidating-looking breed, but is a gentle giant. It has a very large head that has a heavy beard and mustache. The heavy double coat can be black, fawn, gray brindle, or salt and pepper. The tail and ears have often been docked, though this practice is falling out of favor and is now illegal in Europe.

History of the Breed:

The Bouvier des Flandres (pronounced BOOV-yay day FLAHN-druh) was developed in Flandres by monks and working class people who also needed a hardy working dog. These dogs were used as guards, herders, and cart pullers. The breed nearly became extinct during the World Wars but were revived by an enthusiasts club in Belgium.

Temperament:

The Bouvier des Flandres is indeed a gentle giant, particularly when this active breed is given adequate daily exercise. They need a brisk walk or, better yet, a run next to a bicycle. But as this dog is a slow developer both physically and mentally, care needs to be taken with young dogs not to overtax them when their bones are developing (use a daily walk instead of running.) As with all breeds, it is particularly important to be their pack leader so this large dog knows his place, feels safe, and will not display dominant, aggressive behaviors. This dog is naturally easy to get along with, easy to train, and will remember lessons indefinitely with consistent leadership. This intelligent dog gets bored if there is too much repetition in training, so keep training varied.

  • Best suited for: Active families. Excellent with children. Needs a large yard, at least. Good for police work, tracking, search and rescue, competitive obedience, as a guide dog, guard dog, and family companion. 
  • Preferred living conditions: This dog is adaptable to many living situations. Does best with a job, and will perform his duties well and without fanfare.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: The Bouvier des Flandres requires a lot of grooming. Dry shampoo and brushing is helpful since bathing is a challenge with this large dog. Trim regularly around the feet (including between the pads), eyes, beard, and under the tail to keep neat and sanitary.
  • Exercise needs: Daily walk for growing dogs (up to age 3) and can run after maturity.
  • Life expectancy: 10-12 years.
  • Health concerns: May be prone to hip dysplasia and eye problems. Has a high pain tolerance so any complaint is to be taken seriously.

Breed Club Links: The American Bouvier des Flandres Club

BaxterBoo.com Perfect Pairings: WalkyDog Stainless Steel Bike Leash (after the growth period). Dry Clean Blueberry Muffin Waterless Spray Shampoo.

Have any stories about a Bouvier des Flandres? Please share!

Photo courtesy of raddewey.

This entry was posted by Mary.
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