The Bouvier des Flandres is a working dog that originated in the Flanders region of northern Belgium. This all-around working breed was used for general farm work such as driving cattle, herding sheep, and pulling carts. In French, Bouvier des Flandres means “cow herder of Flanders.”
The original Bouvier des Flandres dogs are descended from Irish Wolfhounds and Scottish Deerhounds that were bred with working farm dogs. Today this breed is used for police work and protection.
A Bouvier des Flandres should be strong willed, yet even tempered; courageous, yet affectionate; and intimidating towards intruders. Due to the breed’s fierce loyalty and bold attitude, individual dogs are easy to train for guard- or watchdog type purposes. In a family setting, Bouvier des Flandres dogs are gentle and patient with children when properly socialized. Beware, however, that their strong herding instinct may result in chasing or nipping of smaller, fast moving children and animals so proper training and supervision is a must. Bouvier des Flandres dogs are not recommended for multi-species households.
Size, Coloring, and Care
Due to this breed’s tradition as a working dog, the Bouvier des Flandres is large and sturdily built. Males typically weigh between 36 and 54 kg, while females are smaller and average 27 – 36 kg. They sport a thick double coat that is coarse and requires regular brushing and grooming to prevent matting. The Bouvier’s fur is hypoallergenic and shedding is kept to a minimum; however, regular trimmings are required. There are five accepted Bouvier des Flandres colorings: black, brindle, fawn, gray brindle, and pepper & salt.
Bouvier des Flandres dogs are intelligent and athletic, making them well-suited to a number of canine activities. This breed excels in Agility, Obedience Trials, Carting, Schutzhund, Herding, and Tracking. Because of their intelligence, athleticism, and inherent desire to work, they require regular mental stimulation and exercise. Without an outlet for their energy, a bored Bouvier des Flandres can develop bad habits such as nuisance barking and destructive chewing.
Training and socialization is a must because of the breed’s innate desire to protect. Bouvier des Flandres dogs are strong-willed and require a resolute leader who is consistent when enforcing boundaries.
Bouviers are known for their gassiness when not fed a diet that is high in quality meat sources. Many Bouvier des Flandres owners also struggle with “shaggy dog syndrome,” meaning all types of mud, feces, and other debris is likely to cling to the dog’s rough coat and get tracked throughout the house.
The most common health issue among Bouvier des Flandres dogs is hip dysplasia, with the Bouvier des Flandres Club reporting 25% of the breed to show symptoms. Elbow dysplasia is also common. Like most large dogs, bone and heart diseases such as osteosarcoma, heart disease, subaortic stenosis, and cardiomyopathy are prevalent. Hypothyroidism, lymphosarcoma, Addison’s disease, and Cushing’s disease all may affect this breed disproportionately as well. Despite these issues, a well-cared for Bouvier des Flandres can live a long and healthy life, with an above-average large dog lifespan of 11.3 years.
Do you own a Bouvier des Flandres? Let us know what you love most about them!