Bouvier des Flandres, History and Breed Characteristics
The Bouvier des Flandres is a very workmanlike looking dog; he is rugged, compact and squarely built with a coat that is required to be “unkempt-looking”. The Dutch nickname for the Bouvier is “Vuilbaard” meaning “dirty beard”. A thoroughly unpretentious breed he looks a totally honest dog. His name means “oxherd” and he was originally used as a general farmworker; he would herd and drive cattle, guard the farm and pull carts.
More recently his courage and intelligence have led to him being used for police work. During the First World War the Bouvier des Flandres was used extensively for medical support and message carrying in the battlefields of Flanders; exposure to war over such a lengthy period resulted in the virtual extinction of the Bouvier and it is almost entirely due to the efforts of a Belgian army vet that the breed managed to survive.
Coat Colours and Care
His coat takes a little looking after; it knots fairly readily so does need a quick brush through a couple of times a week and his luxuriant beard can harbour the remains of his most recent meals, so a comb through and wash is a good idea. A jug of warm water with a couple of drops of shampoo held under his chin and then rinsed out is quite easy and acceptable once he gets the general idea. The show Bouvier obviously has a lot of time devoted to presenting a perfect picture, but the pet Bouvier’s coat can be treated a little more casually; every groomer started somewhere and there is no reason why, having acquired a few grooming tools you shouldn’t have fun working out what best works for you and your dog. If you get it wrong it grows back all too soon! Colours are from fawn to black, including brindle; white and chocolate are frowned on and all colours should be strong.
Understanding the Bouvier Temperament and Personality
Like all the other working breeds the Bouvier des Flandres has a strong personality which needs to be dominated; this means right from the outset he needs to be clear that he is below the humans in the pecking order and that you are pack leader. For everyone’s sake – including his – he needs to be secure as to his place in the family hierarchy or problems can arise if he tries to challenge for top dog.
By nature the Bouvier des Flandres is a calm and watchful dog; he will guard his home and be protective of his family and good with children, pets and dogs if the right work has been put in early on socialising him. He is not terribly demonstrative but does believe that his place is in the heart of the family. The Bouvier is a a largish dog; measuring up to 68cm he is quite a heavyweight at 88lbs but is not at all clumsy. A good dog for a family who aren’t too houseproud and understand that dogs prefer to be dominated.
British Bouvier Association 01952 770690
Bouvier des Flandres Club of Great Britain Jan Laing 01508 531614
Rescue and Rehoming
In the unfortunate event you need to re-home your dog, or you are looking to give a home to an older dog, contact the Breed Clubs for their assistance. It is always wise to speak to people who are expert in the breed so you can get the best possible help.