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Get To Know The Bouvier Des Flandres

January 15, 2024

We’re celebrating a very special puppy this month. Actually, we’re celebrating several Very Good Boys, including the Boxer and Lab Retriever. However, today we’re putting the fluffy and lovable Bouvier des Flandres in the spotlight. These brave and smart dogs definitely deserve their own special day. Here’s a quick guide to this cute dog from a local Fayetteville, NY vet.

Basics Of The Bouvier Des Flandres Breed

Fido’s name clearly reflects his origins. The breed originated in Flanders, Belgium, in the 1600s, helping farm workers with tasks like herding sheep, pulling cards, and cattle droving. In fact, Fido’s name literally means Cow Herder of Flanders.

Speaking of names, Fido also has a few nicknames. Most people refer to them simply as Bouviers or Bouvier dogs. They’re also sometimes called the Vlaamse Koehond (Flemish cow dog), Toucheur de Boeuf (cattle driver), or Vuilbaard (dirty beard).

The Bouviers des Flandres is a big dog with a big heart. These shaggy pups can weigh up to 120 pounds. They usually weigh between 75 and 120 pounds, grow from 24 to 27 inches high, on average, while females usually weigh between 60 and 80 pounds. As far as lifespan, they usually live about 10 to 12 years.

Which Celebrities Own Bouvier Des Flandres?

While Fido may not be the most widely adored dog breed, he has certainly gained a loyal following. One of his famous admirers is Merv Griffin, who had a Bouvier named Keesh. Another fan is Joan Baez, who penned the tune Old Blue in tribute to Man’s Best Friend and owns a one-eyed Bouvier named Ginger. Ronald Reagan was also a fan. One special pup, known as Lucky, even spent a year living in the White House as First Dog before heading off to the Reagans’ California ranch.

What Health Problems Do Bouvier Des Flandres Dogs Have?

It is not uncommon for purebreds to develop certain issues. The Bouvier is no different. The breed standard recommends screening for hip dysplasia and other specific issues. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for exams and screenings.

Fido is at risk of developing eye issues, such as glaucoma, cataracts, and entropion (inward-turning eyelids). They’re also susceptible to bloat. Be sure to keep up to date with your canine buddy’s veterinary care!

What Are Some Famous Bouviers?

Many of these Very Good Boys have achieved fame. There’s Patrasche, the fictional dog in the classic children’s book A Dog of Flanders. (Note: There are a few statues of the famous pup in Antwerp.) There was Gretel, the canine companion of ER’s Dr. Romano. The manga/anime Strike Match also ‘stars’ a Bouvier, though this one is animated.

What Is The Bouvier Des Flandres Good At?

Aside from being cute and devoted, Bouviers are known for their ability to serve as excellent guard dogs, and are often found working as police dogs or guard dogs. They excel in many dog sports, including agility, carting, obedience, tracking, and herding. They make absolutely wonderful companions as well.

History Of The Bouvier Des Flandres Breed

The Bouvier Dog’s origins begin with the monks at Flanders’ Ter Duinen monastery. The monks bred Irish wolfhounds and Scottish deerhounds with local farm dogs, many of which were descended from dogs that were brought over to the Flemish monastery of Duynen in the 11th century.

Over time, nearby breeders further refined the breed’s desired characteristics, ending up with a strong, resilient, and hard-working canine with a desire to please and a coat that would withstand the area’s fierce winters. Not only were these intelligent dogs proficient at protecting and guiding livestock, they also had the strength to haul carts back and forth from the market. However, once automobiles became prevalent, Fido found his job prospects diminishing.

The Bouvier’s Close Call

The arrival of the automobile wasn’t the only thing that threatened the breed in the twentieth century. Many were trench dogs in World War I. These dogs played vital roles, performing tasks such as hauling carts and delivering messages amidst enemy fire. They also aided wounded soldiers. By the end of the war, there were few of them left. One surviving canine veteran was a dog named Nic, who was known as a remarkable trench dog. After the war, he became a renowned show dog and went on to become one of the fathers of the Bouviers we see today.

There were three variants at the time: the Paret, the Moerman, also known as the Roeselare, and the Briard. Disagreements over different lines of the breed delayed its official recognition. It wasn’t until 1936 that breeders agreed on the official standards, which were settled by a French-Belgian committee.

That wasn’t Fido’s only close call, though. As a result of their excellent performance as trench dogs during World War I, the Bouviers became extremely sought after during World War II. Fido was once again enlisted as a courier, this time for the Allies and resistance movements. Legends say that one of the pups bit Adolf Hitler, who, true to form, tried to destroy the breed. German soldiers often shot the Bouviers on sight.

By the end of the war, the Bouviers, which had just begun to recover from World War I, were again on the verge of extinction. Fortunately, by then the breed had made its way to the United States.That, and the work of a handful of devoted breeders, saved them from extinction.

Bouvier Dogs: Physical Appearance

The Bouviers’ most notable characteristic is his thick, shaggy fur, which he wears as a double coat. Fido can sport a variety of colors, including fawn, black, gray, brindle, and salt-and-pepper. He has pointy ears, and chin fur that resembles a beard, though it’s not as defined as the Scottish Terrier’s. (Note: these big fluffy dogs often resemble giant teddy bears.)

What Is The Bouviers’ Temperament?

Intelligent, dependable, affectionate, and devoted, Bouviers make exceptional canine companions. They will truly thrive in a loving home and are particularly well-suited for families.

However, while they are generally great with kids, it’s important to be mindful of their large size. They can easily knock a toddler over, even if unintentionally.

Fido is often described as a gentle giant and typically gets along with animals he has been raised with. Just keep in mind that he may not be as welcoming towards unfamiliar dogs.

Bouviers are natural watchdogs, though they rarely bite unless provoked. Because of their innate protective instincts, Bouviers often take on the role of guarding their loved ones and will position themselves so they can keep a watchful eye over the entire household.

Training is crucial for all dogs, but it’s extra important with larger breeds, such as the Bouvier. Making sure Fido is properly socialized and trained is crucial. (Tip: These guys love snacks, and are quite food-motivated when it comes to training.)

How Do You Take Care Of The Bouvier Des Flandres?

As far as the basics go, the Bouvier needs the same things as any other pooch: good food, regular veterinary care, and proper exercise. 

Something to note: these guys need plenty of grooming. You will need to brush your fluffy buddy several times a week.

Exercise is also crucial. Like many working dogs, the Bouvier is quite active, especially when young. These are not low-maintenance dogs. They also need room to run: they’re not a good match for apartment dwellers. You may also want to note that these guys have rather long puppyhoods, though they do get a bit lazy as they age.

Before adopting a Bouvier dog, or any other pooch, do plenty of research and ask your vet for care tips.

Contact us, your pet Fayetteville, NY hospital, if you have any questions about the Bouvier. We’re here to help!