The Bouvier des Flandres is one of the dogs from the herding grouping, which originates in the Flanders area of Belgium. They have a lot to recommend them as appealing pets and companions, being both mild-mannered and responsive to commands while also being outdoorsy, robust and full of life. They are a relatively large dog breed that requires plenty of exercise and stimulation, but they are also incredibly loyal and loving as pets, and make a good match for families with children of any age.
If you are wondering if the Bouvier des Flandres is the right choice of dog for you, read on to find out more about the breed.
The Bouvier des Flandres has a long recorded history, and monks of the Ter Duinen monastery in Flanders were some of their earliest known owners. Records indicate that the breed was produced from mixed ancestry including the Scottish Deerhound, Irish Wolfhound and local farming dogs from within the Flanders region.
They became incredibly popular as working farming dogs in the Flanders area, with bags of stamina, lots of strength, and superior responsiveness. They also have thick, water resistant coats, making them able to work happily in all sorts of weather.
Flanders was of course one of the main theatres of battle in World War One, which nearly caused the extinction of the breed altogether, due to the large-scale devastation that the region suffered as a result. Bouvier des Flandres dogs were actually used as military dogs at the time too, and were one of the most popular trench dogs during the war.
World War Two again hampered the advance and spread of the breed, but today, the Bouvier des Flandres is relatively well established within Europe and across the world, and is recognised as a breed in its own right by all the major Kennel Clubs.
The Bouvier des Flandres is a large dog breed that can weigh up to around 95lb for males. They have high set ears, wide muzzles and bearded faces, with a thick and stocky build. Their coats are double-layered, with a tough, coarse topcoat to help to protect them against the elements, and a dense, soft under layer to help to provide warmth. They can be found in a variety of colours including grey, cream, fawn, brindle and black, with black being overall the most popular colour. They also often commonly have a small, white patch of hair on their chests.
The main temperament traits of the breed are of being calm, friendly, open to new environments and generally mild-mannered. They are considered to be among the nicest of dogs to train, being both highly intelligent and willing to please, enjoying the training process and remaining receptive to learning new commands throughout their lives.
They possess the perfect balance in many people’s opinions of both calm, laid back natures and playfulness, inquisitiveness and a strong desire for learning. Some dogs of the breed will have something of a stubborn streak, but this is not usually a problem.
The Bouvier des Flandres is a real people pleaser too, enjoying the company of both children and adults, and not being overly wary of strangers as long as they are properly socialised.
The Bouvier des Flandres breed as a whole is renowned for being full of life and very energetic. They require quite a lot of physical exercise, both in order to keep them fit and to keep them from becoming bored and potentially destructive.
Their history as working farm dogs means that they are most at home outdoors, and so require a family with an active lifestyle that will accommodate for this. A couple of short walks per day is not sufficient for the Bouvier des Flandres. They are, however, renowned for being excellent housedogs, well behaved and respectful when indoors and not prone to becoming destructive. This means that providing you can accommodate for their need for sufficient exercise, the Bouvier des Flandres will be perfectly happy within the urban home.
The Bouvier des Flandres is a relatively robust and healthy breed, with an average lifespan of ten to twelve years, which is towards the top end of the scale for purebred dogs of an equivalent size. It is not uncommon either for the breed to live into their late teens when correctly cared for.
While the breed is considered to be healthy and robust over all, they are prone to a few potential genetically inherited health problems, including hip dysplasia (often common to larger dog breeds) hypothyroidism and cataracts.
As a large breed dog with a deep chest, the breed also has rather elevated risk factors for gastric torsion or bloat, something that all potential owners should be aware of.