Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Bouvier Des Flandres
Average Cost to keep/care for a Bouvier Des Flandres
The Bouvier des Flandres is a powerful looking dog that was bred to herd livestock both in France and Belgium. They are handsome dogs with impressive eyebrows, moustaches and beards which gives them a bit of a forbidding look about them. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth because the Bouvier is known to be a kind character with an even temperament that's made them a firm favourite as a family pet both here in the UK and elsewhere in the world, more especially as they are so good around children of all ages.
Although the origins of the Bouviers are a bit hazy, what is known is that all working and herding dogs were referred to as "Bouviers" from the 16th century onwards with each region naming their dogs differently. For centuries these dogs were highly prized in their native lands for their ability to herd and guard livestock.
It is thought that the earliest examples of the Bouvier were bred by monks - supposedly by crossing imported dogs which included the Irish wolfhound and Deerhounds with Belgian herding dogs. The result of these crossings was a breed of dog capable of working tirelessly thanks to their strength, stamina, steady temperament and their heavy coats which offered these dogs a tremendous amount of protection against the elements.
However, at the time of World War I, the various "Bouvier" breeds almost vanished altogether with many of the rarer ones disappearing forever. Luckily, two Bouviers did survive being the Bouvier de Ardennes and the Bouvier des Flandres. Interestingly, the breed is claimed by both the French and the Belgians, but it was an army vet in the Belgium army by the name of Captain Darby who ensured they did not die out.
A breed standard was established in 1965 and the Bouvier des Flandres was accepted as a unique breed in its own right by the Kennel Club and other clubs of the world. Today, the Bouvier des Flandres remains a popular choice as a family pet thanks to the wonderful looks and even kind natures both here in the UK and elsewhere in the world.
Height at the withers: Males 58 – 71 cm, Females 56 – 69 cm
Average weight: Males 36 –54 kg, Females 27 – 36 kg
The Bouvier is a compact, strong looking dog that boasts a rather rugged appearance which is nicely highlighted by their bushy eyebrows, moustaches and beards. They have well developed heads with the depth of their stops being nicely accentuated by their bushy eyebrows. Their muzzle is well-boned, broad and strong with a straight upper line that slopes nicely towards a well-developed nose. Their cheeks lie clean and flat with dog’s boasting wide open nostrils.
A Bouvier's eyes always have an alertness about them and are slightly oval in shape, being set neither too far apart or too close on a dog's face. Their rims are always black which accentuates their eyes nicely. Ears are set high and triangular in shape but always in proportion to a dog's head. The Bouvier has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones.
They boast having a powerful, well-muscled neck that thickens towards a dog's shoulders. Their neck is slightly arched at the nape. A dog's front legs are powerful and extremely straight. Shoulders are well muscled and placed obliquely. Bouviers have strong, short, compact and broad bodies with virtually no tuck up and ribs are well-sprung. Their croup is broad with a gentle curve at the rump. Females tend to have broader rumps than their male counterparts.
Their hindquarters are well-muscled and firm with dogs boasting powerful thighs and strong back legs. Feet are round, compact and short with dogs having tight, well-arched toes. Their nails are strong and black with pads being both hard and thick. Tails follow the line of a dog's spine which they carry high and gaily when they are alert and on the move.
When it comes to their coat, a Bouvier boasts a double coat, having an abundance of thick hair that’s coarse to the touch for their outer coat which always has a shaggy look about it and which is always shorter on a dog's legs. Their undercoat is closely grained and very dense. The hair on a dog's head and the outside of their ears is short with Bouviers having a nice moustache and full beard. Their eyebrows sweep back which accentuates a dog's eyes and should never fall over so they interfere with a dog's vision. Accepted breed colours include the following:
The Bouvier des Flandres might be an imposing looking dog, but they are one of the kindest characters around which is why they are such a popular choice with families in Europe, here in the UK and elsewhere in the world. They are known to be calm and quiet dogs around the home getting on with children and other animals with no trouble at all especially if they have all grown up together. They tend to be very protective of their families and their homes which in short means the Bouvier is always quick to let an owner known when there is anyone around.
They can be a little aloof and wary around people they don’t know, but a Bouvier would rarely show any sort of aggressive behaviour towards strangers, preferring to just keep their distance. With this said, the Bouvier is a good choice for first-time owners because they are so eager and willing to please which makes them easier to train, especially as they are such smart dogs. However, anyone wanting to share a home with a Bouvier has to know just how big these dogs are and as such be able to provide the sort of space they need to live and move around in.
The Bouvier des Flandres is an intelligent dog and one that quickly understands new things they are taught. However, this means they are just as quick to pick up bad habits too which is why their training has to start early and it must be consistent and always fair. Bouviers are a great choice for novice owners, but it cannot be stressed enough that these large dogs need to know their place in the pack and are never happier than when they know they can look up to an owner for both guidance and direction.
Although very large dogs, the Bouvier is known to be gentle around children, but care has to be taken that they don't accidentally knock a child over which could frighten or hurt them. As such, adult supervision is always necessary when the kids are around a Bouvier to make sure things don't get too boisterous.
When Bouviers are well socialised from a young age and they grow up with other pets and cats in a household, they will generally get on well together. The same applies to when they are around other dogs. With this said, care has to be taken when they are around cats and any smaller pets because a Bouvier may see them as "prey" with disastrous results.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Bouvier des Flandres is between 5 and 10 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Like so many other breeds, the Bouvier is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active and good looking dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
As with any other breed, Bouviers need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
A Bouvier's coat is profuse and boasts a coarser outer coat with a much closer and denser undercoat which means they are quite high maintenance when it comes to keeping things looking tidy and a dog's skin in good condition. Particular attention has to be paid to their moustaches and beards because they get quite wet when dogs drink and food tends to stick in them when they eat too. If not cleaned every day, not only do their moustaches and beards get a bit smelly, but it provides the perfect environment for bacteria to flourish.
A Bouvier's coat should also be hand stripped a couple of times a year which is especially true during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when, like most dogs, they tend to shed the most hair. It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
Bouviers are not high energy dogs, but they do enjoy being out and about as often as possible. They need to be given a minimum of 60 minutes a day and ideally this should be a shorter walk first thing in the morning and then a longer, more interesting walk in the afternoon. They also love to be able to spend as much time as possible in the garden, weather permitting. However, garden fencing has to be very secure to keep these large dogs in.
With this said, young Bouvier puppies should not be given too much exercise because their joints and bones are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in causing a dog a few problems later on in their lives. They should not be allowed to jump and down off furniture, in and out of the car or up and down stairs because it puts too much pressure on a puppy's growing joints.
If you get a Bouvier des Flandres puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
If you are looking to buy a Bouvier des Flandres puppy you may have to go on a waiting list because only very few puppies are registered with The Kennel Club every year. If you do find a breeder you would need to pay anything from £500 to over £800 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Bouvier in northern England would be £25.57 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £64.18 a month (quote as of May 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £50 - £60 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Bouvier and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Bouvier des Flandres would be between £95 to £130 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.
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