BBS Breed Spotlight: Bouvier des Flandres

The Bouiver des Flandres is a very misleading dog. With a very up class name, the Bouvier des Flandres has very humble beginnings on Belgian farms. (One Bouvier, Lucky, even made it to the White Hosue as Ronald Reagan’s dog.) A formidable looking dog, the Bouvier is a gentle and sweet soul. Find out more about this dog by reading the Breed Spotlight on the Bouvier des Flandres.

History & Background: Bouviers were first bred by monks in Flanders, which is an area of Belgium. These dogs were first bred by monks and other farmers for cattle droving, sheep herding and cart pulling. Watchdog duties were given to the Bouvier as well. Throughout the years, this dog has had many names. The French name of Bouvier des Flandres literally translates “Cow Herder of Flanders” but also called “koehond” (meaning cow dog), “Vuilbaard” (meaning dirty beard) and “toucheur de boeuf” (meaning cattle driver). It’s thought Bouviers get their look from the breeding of Irish wolfhounds and Scottish deerhounds with local farm dogs.

Since this dog was always meant to fulfill the function of a working dog, no breed standard was ever readily sought after. However, in the early 20th century fanciers began noticing this dog and soon after the Bouvier appeared at the International Dog Show in Brussels. After this, Bouviers saw an uptick in popularity. It wasn’t long after WWI began and even though this dog was used a messenger, the breed almost died out. The same was true for WWII, yet by that time the AKC had recognized the breed and Bouviers had been shipped to America from Europe. By the 1960s Bouviers were thriving once more and the American Bouvier des Flandres Club was founded in 1963.

Height: Males 23 to 28 inches; Females 22–27 inches

Weight: Males 80 to 120 pounds; Females 60 to 80 pounds

Coat: Bouviers sport a weather fast coat made up of a hard and course outer coat and a soft and dense undercoat. This dog’s coat was made to withstand just about anything. The coat should have a disheveled look without being curly.  Hair on the ears is rough and Bouviers should have a thick mustache and beard.

Color: Fawn, black, gray brindle and salt and pepper are the accepted breed standard colors for a Bouvier.  Sometimes Bouviers have white stars on their chest. This breed has dark brown eyes and a black nose.

Appearance: A Bouvier is powerful and large without looking clunky or clumsy. The most impressive feature of the Bouvier is most likely its head, which looks very large and is accented by the big mustache and beard. This dogs ears and tail were traditionally cropped as a working dog as not to get trapped in machinery or be in the way. Still today, cropped ears and tail are common.  Eyes are oval and set inside a skull that is flat and seemingly parallel to the muzzle when viewed in profile. Bouviers have a strong neck, back and legs as well as plenty of muscle throughout the body.

Temperament: Though this dog is large and may look formidable, Bouviers are gentle and friendly souls. By nature this dog is obedient, loyal and protective. If trained from an early age, this dog will be fearless but friendly to strangers. This dog has a high exercise drive because of its history as a work dog. In fact, this breed competes in many dog sports such as agility trials, carting, obedience, showmanship, tracking and herding events. Needless to say this dog is very intelligent and willing to work.  If exercised enough, this dog will have no trouble with apartment life. Bouviers stay a puppy for a long time, up to 3 years.

Health & Grooming: Bouviers are prone to hip dysplasia and eye problems. This dog has a very high tolerance for pain. Bouviers live 10 to 12 years.

Breed standards cite that the Bouvier can be trimmed slightly, but overall this dog should be shown in its natural state. Bouviers are considered a non-shedding dog, however this is a misconception. This breed does shed, but what comes out gets trapped within the coat itself. This dog must be brushed frequently to relieve this and prevent matting.

Product Suggestions: With its unique design, the Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Mazee is a perfect match for the Bouvier. This fun, long-lasting dog ball is a puzzle; a brain teaser that is also rewarding. You simply fill it with dog treats and your dog will play and play. The treat dispensing hole in combination with the unique maze inside the dog ball will randomly dispense dog treats.

We think the Bison Femur bone will also be a fun challenge that the Bouvier will be willing to take! This dog bone is extremely large. Weighing up to 4 1/2 lb, this bone is between 14 and 20 inches in length with two large knuckles at each end.

Do you own or know a Bouvier des Flandres? Tell us your favorite Bouvier story in the comments section!

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