Bouvier des Flandres

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AKC Group: Herding

The Bouvier was first noted in Belgium during the 1600s. In the Flanders area, these dogs were used on large farms or cattle ranches to herd the cattle. Their name translates to “cowherd of Flanders.” They were likely a cross of mastiffs, spaniels and sheepdogs. Today, Bouviers are most often found in the show ring or a rescue or assistance dog. They are very rarely kept as pets (which is too bad, they are said to make an excellent pet).

Size: 22 to 28 inches, 60 to 90 pounds

Color: All black, black to salt & pepper, fawn, grey or brindle. May have a small patch of white on their chest.

Life span: 10 to 12 years

Health problems: Entropion (the eyelid rolls inward toward the eye), torsion or bloat, thyroid problems, larynx problems, cancer, cataracts, glaucoma or hip dysplasia.

The Bouvier des Flandres is a large, powerful dog with a gentle personality that has a wonderful joie de vivre. Athletic and strong, they are capable of living in a small space (as long as they get adequate time outdoors). Their coat is coarse and thick with a soft undercoat. Unfortunately to keep your Bouvier looking gorgeous, that double coat requires effort, yet a Bouvier isn’t a heavy shedder. Yes, that is a beard under his chin.

Bouviers are a study in opposites. They are bold, yet steady, spirited yet aloof, serious yet playful, moody but affectionate. (If Bouviers were human, they’d all be born under the sign of Gemini.) A Bouvier is calm and agile but lazy if given an opportunity. The Bouvier is intelligent and needs plenty of mental and physical stimulation to keep him occupied. Naturally protective, he’ll be your watchdog. If the occasion calls for it, a Bouvier knows how to be assertive.

They get along with children and other pets as long as they’re raised together. With other dogs, they may be aggressive. He won’t bite or nip, he’ll use his size to intimidate. As a herder, he’ll revert back to his natural instincts, so be prepared. They know their own mind, so be prepared for that as well.

To get the best out of your Bouvier, you’ll need to establish a bond and get him to see that you’re the boss. Be positive and consistent from the beginning with him. If he turns affectionate and obedient, you’re on the right track — and it means he’s ready to learn. Bouviers are naturally clean so house training should be a snap. A Bouvier does just as well off leash as on. Their large size means a Bouvier doesn’t mature until age 2 or 3. Obedience and early socialization are good first steps in his training repertoire. Otherwise, training should be smooth sailing. Bouviers are quick, easy learners and, like an elephant, they never forget.

Grooming-wise, it’s not so easy. Brushing and combing should be done twice a week. His beard should be brushed daily (for hygienic reasons). Scissoring and clipping are required to keep the coat in tiptop shape. If your Bouvier is shedding lightly, you’re grooming him properly. Check his nails, teeth and ears regularly.

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