Bouvier Des Flandres

Want to learn more about the Bouvier des Flandres, the Belgium herding dog? We’ve got all the details below in our latest breed guide.

Bouvier des Flandres looks ahead. The Bouvier des Flandres stands on the green grass.

Height: 23.5-27.5 inches
Weight: 32-50 kilos
Lifespan: 10-12 years
Pedigree? (registered with the KC?): Yes, this breed is registered with the Kennel Club.

Positives and Negatives

Check out the below pros and cons of the Bouvier Des Flandres:

Pros:

  • Hypoallergenic, ideal for allergy sufferers
  • Family-friendly dog
  • Excellent watchdog, protective over their family
  • Sociable and well natured

Cons:

  • Apartments aren’t suitable for this breed
  • High grooming maintenance
  • Prone to weight gain
  • Not ideal for first time owners, difficult to train

Overview

The Bouvier des Flandres is a large breed working dog, popular in their native Belgium. Traditionally, these canines were used to herd cattle, but have since won the hearts of many dog enthusiasts. The breed is highly protective of their family, making excellent watch and guard dogs.

Naturally, the Bouvier des Flandres will develop a deep connection with their owner. They don’t like being alone for long periods and could develop separation anxiety as a result. If bored, the Bouvier dog is known to be destructive. Excessive barking and chewing are some of the behaviors that could follow.

Dominance is common amongst the Belgian cattle dog which could be overwhelming for first-time owners. They may also be dominant towards other dogs, especially those of the same sex. Socialization with strong, firm leadership will be needed to overcome this.

Bouvier des Flandres portrait

As a working breed, the Bouvier des Flandres will need lots of mental stimulation alongside their exercise. You must have the time and patience to dedicate to this breed. A bored and untrained Bouvier can become aggressive due to fear and their instinct to protect.

If raised and trained correctly, you can expect a well-mannered, loveable, and loyal companion. The Bouvier dog loves spending its days side by side with their owner. This breed is a suitable family dog and thrives off activity. An owner with a love for the outdoors will be needed for the Bouvier.

History

Originating from Belgium, the Bouvier des Flandres was primarily used as a cattle herder. Their name is defined by their job title and translates to ‘the cow herder from Flandres’. As time went on their jobs progressively expanded, making them one of Belgium’s most popular working dogs.

The Bouvier became noticed as a breed in the late 19th century. The early Bouvier des Flandres is believed to be related to the Berger Picard and the Matin. The modern canine we know today was then further developed. A harsh coated sheepdog and the Bouvier des Roulers were crossed with the early Bouvier des Flandres.

The first world war almost caused the breed’s extinction. After this period, Bouviers began to migrate to France and the Netherlands. This canine’s skills did not go unnoticed. In the second world war, Holland relied on the Bouvier as a messenger, guard, and tracker.

Officially, the Belgian dog was bred as a cattle herder, whilst also holding the ability to defend their livestock. The farm would always be under constant protection, so it’s no surprise the Bouvier made an excellent police dog. Their bravery and tracking abilities made them useful to the army and search and rescue operations.

In the UK, the Bouvier was officially established in 1972, despite three canines being registered with the Kennel Club back in 1924. The breed was also popular for their working skills in the country and in 1975 Jango, the Bouvier des Flandres officially became a police dog.

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Personality

Bouvier des Flandres Temperament:

Bouvier’s excel the most when working. They are at their happiest when they have a purpose. Whilst this breed can make a fantastic family pet, they will need that extra bit of attention to keep them content. Bouvier’s, if trained correctly will hold a well-natured temperament that perfectly balances itself out.

They’re protective and hold a strong connection to those in their household. If the Bouvier isn’t independently working out on the farm, they’ll expect to be side by side with their owner.

Is the Bouvier des Flandres Good With Strangers?

Naturally, a Bouvier is suspicious of strangers. After all, they are excellent protection dogs! If unsocialized the breed could become aggressive. It’s always important a Bouvier des Flandres puppy has been adequately socialized with people they don’t know. This should occur in different places.

Bouvier in booties resting on the gravel

Is the Bouvier des Flandres Good With Children?

Ideally, the Bouvier is better suited to older children. Their large size could cause an accident. Bouviers are an active breed and love playing games with kids. They adore the extra attention and have the patience to endure the difference in behavior.

Is the Bouvier des Flandres Ok With Other Dogs?

The Bouvier can become aggressive to other dogs they don’t know. They can be dominant to those of the same sex which could spark a fight. Socialization will be needed to overcome this.

Bouviers can live with other dogs in their household, provided they’ve been raised together. Despite their high prey drive, they can live peacefully with cats and smaller animals.

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Exercise

An hour of exercise each day is recommended for the Bouvier, but this isn’t all that’s needed. Mental stimulation plays a big role in preventing boredom and a bored Bouvier leads straight to destruction! An active owner or family is best for this pooch.

Bouvier des Flanders dog on the agility course going over a jump

Adult Bouvier’s make excellent hiking or jogging partners. They also excel in dog sports such as agility, obedience, carting, tracking and herding. Bouvier des Flandres puppies shouldn’t be overexerted as this could affect their growing joints.

Health

Below are the Bouvier des Flandres breed-related health issues:

  • Hip Dysplasia- The ball and socket of the hip do not fit together correctly. This will cause lameness, pain, inflammation, and swelling in the affected area/s. Arthritis will eventually follow.
  • Hypothyroidism- An underactive thyroid will cause symptoms such as dull fur, excessive hair loss, weight gain, and a lack of tolerance to the cold.
  • Elbow Dysplasia- Poor development in one or both of the elbow joints will commonly cause lameness. Most dogs will display these signs aged eight months to two years of age.
  • Glaucoma- A decline in Aqueous Humor drainage increases pressure on the optic nerve. It can cause retinal damage. Symptoms include redness, pain, and a loss of vision.
  • Sub-aortic Stenosis This condition is inherited from the parents. The narrowing of the aortic valve is one of the most common congenital heart defects in dogs.
  • Bloat- The stomach fills with air increasing the chances of the stomach twisting (Gastric Dilatation Volvulus). This will cut off the blood flow and can lead to death.
  • Laryngeal Paralysis- A condition that causes the larynx to close as it should be opening. This disease can be inherited or developed. Bouvier des Flandres more commonly inherit this.

Intelligence & Training

Bouvier’s are deeply intelligent dogs. Over the years, they’ve been used across a wide range of jobs and are still popular working dogs in Belgium. As a herding dog, independent thinking comes naturally, so training isn’t for the faint-hearted. A dominant, firm, and consistent owner will be required for this breed.

Once leadership has been established the Bouvier will listen better. They’re eager to learn and pick up on basic commands fairly quickly. Positive training methods are the best way to get this canine to focus. Food rewards and affection work well but be aware, the breed is prone to weight gain.

Some owners of the Bouvier have found crate training ideal, especially if you intend to travel with the breed. Puppy classes are a good way to introduce your dog to others within a learning environment. If you prefer one to one professional training, be sure you contact somebody who has experience with the Bouvier des Flandres.

This breed is used in search and rescue work. The canine can be trained as a helping hand to humans across a variety of different roles. Whilst dominance can hinder training, once the Bouvier is focused, learning new things will be a piece of cake!

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Grooming

The Bouvier des Flandres has a thick dense coat, designed to protect them from the harsh weather whilst working on the farms. Their distinct eyebrows, mustache, and beard are key noticeable features of this breed. Bouviers are low shedders and are prone to matting if they haven’t been groomed.

Portrait of Bouvier Des Flandres, orange eyes, on a natural green background

This canine should be brushed twice a week with a metal brush such as a grooming rake. This could take up to an hour. Pin brushes and slicker brushes are also ideal tools to use. Their coat will need a trim approximately three times a year. Hand stripping is recommended so a professional groomer may be needed.

Some owners prefer a shaggier look. The breed can get dirty rather quickly so aim to wash them every 4-6 weeks. Nails should also be filed within this time. Like with most breeds, consistent washing could cause skin issues.

Check the Bouvier’s ears weekly, cleaning away debris and removing any fur strands blocking the canal. Aim to brush their teeth 3-4 times a week.

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