Bouvier des Flandres Guide

Herding Dog Breeds

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This is a versatile breed able to perform a variety of functions, including cattle herder, draft dog and guard. As such, it combines great strength with agility and endurance. The bouvier is a compact, short-coupled dog, of square proportion and rugged appearance. Its gait is free, bold and proud. Its weatherproof coat is tousled and double, with a fine undercoat and a harsh, dry outer coat. It is trimmed (if necessary) to a length of about 2.5 inches. The head is accentuated by a beard and moustache, which adds to the dog's bold and alert expression.

The bouvier is a steady, stalwart companion that is loyal, devoted, fearless and protective. Given daily exercise, it is calm and well-mannered indoors, but ready for an adventure in the great outdoors. It is independent and confident of its own judgment, yet biddable and willing to please. It can be domineering. It is reserved, even protective, toward strangers and can be aggressive with strange dogs. It is very good with children, although it may nip at heels in play.


FAMILY livestock, herding



ORIGINAL FUNCTION cattle herding

TODAY'S FUNCTION security, herding trials

AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 24.5-27.5 Weight: 69-90

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 23.5-26.5 Weight: 69-90

OTHER NAME Belgian cattle dog

Energy level Medium energy

Exercise needs High

Playfullness Not very playful

Affection level Moderately affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly

Friendliness toward other pets Friendly

Friendliness toward strangers Friendly

Ease of training Moderately easy to train

Watchdog ability High

Protection ability Very protective

Grooming needs High maintenance

Cold tolerance High tolerance

Heat tolerance Low tolerance

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The bouvier des Flandres is not a breed that can be put aside until the mood strikes to play with it. It needs daily exercise and daily interaction, and a lot of both. It loves the chance to herd, but its requirements can also be met with a good jog, a very long walk or a vigorous play session. It can live outdoors in temperate to cool climates. It makes a good house dog, however, and would prefer access to both house and yard. Its harsh coat needs combing once or twice weekly, plus scissoring and shaping (clipping for pets and stripping for show dogs) every three months.
• Major concerns: CHD
• Minor concerns: gastric torsion
• Occasionally seen: entropion
• Suggested tests: hip
• Life span: 10 – 12 years
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The bouvier des Flandres served farmers and cattle merchants in controlling cattle in the great farmlands of southwest Flanders and on the French northern plain. In fact, bouvier means "cowherd" or "oxherd" in French, although the dogs were formerly more often called vuilbaard (dirty beard) or koe hond (cow dog). Besides its main duty as a cattle drover, the bouvier was an all-around farm dog, functioning also as a livestock and farm guard and draft dog. As expected from a dog selected to perform a variety of tasks, these working dogs were of a variety of types, colors and even sizes. This wide variety also reflected the fact that this was a working dog, and breeding stock was chosen by ability, not pedigree or esthetics. The derivation of the breed is not documented but may have included mastiff, sheepdog and possibly even spaniel breeds. The first breed standard, drawn up in 1912, reflected this diversity of types and signaled a growing interest in the breed from dog fanciers. In the midst of the breed's rising popularity, most of the bouviers were lost in World War I — although some served as ambulance and messenger dogs during the war. One of the few survivors was of such superior quality that the breed was successfully revived through his progeny. This dog, Ch. Nic de Sottegem, can be found in virtually every modern bouvier pedigree. In 1922, a revised standard further defined the desirable bouvier type, and helped pave the way to a more homogeneous breed. When the first bouviers entered American show rings in the 1930s, they aroused much attention among dog fanciers. The breed has never become extremely popular, but it is well-known at dog shows and herding trials.
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