Bouvier des Flandres, pronounced boov-yay day flahn-druh
Bouviers are powerful, solid dogs that range in height from 22 to 28 inches. Males weigh between 75 and 110 pounds, and females weigh between 60 and 80 pounds. The average life span is 10 to 12 years, but some have lived longer. They have a double coat built to withstand extreme temperatures and vary in color, the most common being fawn, brindle, black and shades of gray.
Bouviers originated in Belgium as herding dogs. They were not bred to a standard but for working the farm herding cattle, pulling carts and other duties. Sizes, weights and colors varied until a standard was created in 1912. The AKC recognized the breed in 1929, and the American Bouvier des Flandres Club was formed in 1963. The dog almost became extinct during World Wars I and II; survivors were taken to France and the Netherlands while some dogs remained in military service.
Originally herding dogs, Bouviers have much different roles today. They are kept as companion pets and competition show dogs, but they have many other jobs: They are excellent guide dogs for the deaf and blind, perform agility and obedience trials, serve as guard dogs and law enforcement tracking dogs, and most can learn a multitude of commands. This breed is hearty and solid and built for movement.
The following video shows a Bouvier named Nobel following commands, running difficult courses and even scaling walls:
Bouviers are friendly with most people but have a great ability to sense danger or threats. They are good with children but need supervision since their large size can easily knock children over. They should be discouraged from jumping on people. This dog usually barks only for alerting purposes and has an even and consistent temperament. Bouviers are intelligent and rugged animals. They are slow to mature, taking about two to three years, and training should start early. It is said that Bouviers learn a command once and remember it for life.
Bouviers need regular exercise. They are best suited for open spaces, country living or on a farm. They can jump very high, so a tall fence is needed. The dogs are bred for work and if Bouviers are not allowed to expel energy, behavioral problems can form, such as chewing or ignoring commands.
People with allergies to dogs can usually tolerate the Bouvier quite well. The dog’s double coat does need brushing on a weekly basis if not more, and the entire coat should be trimmed a few times per year. The coat should not be ignored because of the undercoat’s tendency to mat easily. Trimming the nails, cleaning the ears and the teeth should be done regularly. They don’t need to be bathed often unless dirty.
Be prepared when grooming a Bouvier; you will need to brush the entire dog — the head, the legs and other areas — to ensure mats are not formed. To give you an idea of a brushing session, see this Bouvier grooming video:
Common Health Problems
Common health problems for this breed are not many, but Bouviers are susceptible to problems normally seen in large dogs. Some are caused by age and others by genetic factors.
- Hip dysplasia
- Eye problems (cataracts)
It is worth noting that the Bouvier has a high pain threshold. This may make identifying an injury or ailment by moving the legs difficult.
Is the Bouvier des Flandres the Right Dog for You?
Allergy sufferers, dog lovers and families enjoy their Bouviers and suggest them often. They are friendly, protective dogs with a consistent and even temperament. They will require regular exercise and grooming, so small apartments or confined areas are not recommended. If you have the space for a super-smart and energetic dog, this could be a perfect candidate for your next pet.
Adopt, Don’t Buy
If you consider getting a Bouvier for your next pet, please check adoption resources — even purebred animals end up in shelters. Try Pets Adviser’s dog adoption page. (You can filter your search results by breed and ZIP code.)
Photos: raddewey (top), audrey_sel/Flickr