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The Bouvier des Flandres
Cow Herder of Flanders

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 Bouvier des Flandres

The Bouvier des Flandres is large purebred with talents in many areas such as carting, herding, police work, agility, competitive obedience, military work, schutzhund, tracking, guarding, carting and search and rescue. It was bred to be a farm dog first but its intelligence and personality made it well suited to many roles. Today it is less used as a working dog but it is successful as a show dog and makes a very good family dog.

Here is the Bouvier des Flandres at a Glance
Name Bouvier des Flandres
Other Names Belgian Cattle Dog, Flanders Cattle Dog and Vlaamse Koehond
Nicknames Bouvier
Origin Belgium
Average size Large
Average weight 69 to 90 pounds
Average height 24 to 28 inches
Life span 10 to 12 years
Coat type Fine, dense, water-repellent, harsh, rough
Hypoallergenic Yes
Color Grey, black, brindle, fawn
Popularity Somewhat popular – ranked 83rd by the AKC
Intelligence Above average
Tolerance to heat Moderate – should be watched carefully as can over heat
Tolerance to cold Very good – can handle cold climates just not extremes
Shedding Low – there will not a be a lot of hair around the home
Drooling Low – not a breed prone to slobber or drool
Obesity Fairly high – food should be measured and make sure it gets enough physical activity
Grooming/brushing High maintenance – will need a lot of care
Barking Occasional – does bark but it is not constant
Exercise needs Quite active – will need regular walks, play time and runs
Trainability Moderately easy – training will be a gradual process
Friendliness Very good – quite a social dog
Good first dog Moderate – this is not a great dog for new dog owners, experience is important
Good family pet Excellent with socialization
Good with children Excellent with socialization
Good with other dogs Moderate – socialization is essential, this is not a dog that gets one well with others so supervision will also be important
Good with other pets Good to very good with socialization – does not have a super high prey drive
Good with strangers Moderate – wary around strangers
Good apartment dog Moderate to good – it can adapt but ideally should have more space and access to a yard
Handles alone time well Moderate – does not like being left alone for long periods
Health issues Somewhat healthy dog but some issues it is prone to include joint dysplasia, eye problems, cancer, bloat and epilepsy
Medical expenses $485 a year for pet insurance and basic medical care
Food expenses $270 a year for treats and a good quality dry dog food
Miscellaneous expenses $645 a year for basic training, grooming, license, toys and miscellaneous items
Average annual expense $1400 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1200
Biting Statistics None Reported
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The Bouvier des Flanders' Beginnings

The Bouvier des Flanders was bred in Flanders, north of Belgium by monks from a monastery called Ter Duinen. It is recorded that these dogs used local farm dogs, Scottish deerhounds and Irish Wolfhounds in the mix. Some suggest there may also be Dutch Griffon, Sheepdog and Barbet in there too. The Bouvier des Flanders was developed to be a farm dog, it was able to guard cattle, owners and property, pull carts, herd cattle and perform other farm duties its owners asked of it. At the time tail docking and ear cropping would have been done for two reasons, one to indicate it was a working dog and therefore not subject to pet taxation, and secondly to prevent injuries or amputations while they worked.

For many years, all the way up to the early 1900s in fact, there was no definition of what the breed was. There were three main variants, Briard, Paret and Moerman. Because the supporters of each type could not reach an agreement, the development of the Bouvier was on hold. Then the breed was in huge danger of becoming extinct with the advent of World War One. The war hit that region hard and as many were used as war dogs, many died. There was also the fact that when there are food shortages it is hard to feed large dog breeds like this.

New Lease on Life

After the war, in 1923 work was undertaken to re-establish the breed and a breed club was formed. In 1936 a standard was finally created and the breed seemed to be on its way back. But then disaster struck a second time, with World War Two. In both wars it was used as a messenger, search dog for mines and ammunition and as a sentry. In fact progress was stalled for many years after the war, it was not until 1965 that things changed. Meanwhile the Bouvier came to the US in the 1920s and was recognized by the AKC in 1929. it is currently ranked 83rd most popular registered dog by them.

The Dog You See Today

This is a large dog weighing 69 to 90 pounds and stands 24 to 28 inches tall. It has a double coat the under being dense and fine and the outer being weather-resistant, course and long. Common color are black, brindle, fawn, grey, with sometimes a white star on its chest. It is a compact and powerfully built dog with a rugged look and strength to it. Its back is broad and it has muscular back legs and straight front legs. Its tail is highly set and docked in places where it is still allowed though where it comes from as well as many other countries that process is now illegal. Belgian lines are usually smaller than Dutch ones.

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It has a head that is in proportion to its body and has a squared look. It is flat, a bit longer than its width with a muzzle that tapers a little but is strong. It has a black nose, bushy eyebrows, a mustache and heavy beard. Its ears are triangular and set high in some places still cropped, but in some places now that is banned they are left natural. Its eyes are black rimmed, oval shaped and dark brown in color.

The Inner Bouvier des Flanders

Temperament

The Bouvier is a brave, intelligent, loyal and protective breed, with a gentle side but also with an independent side. It is a great watchdog who will bark to let you know of any intruder and will also act to protect the family and the home. It is a good family dog but is not best suited to new owners as it needs someone with experience who can handle its dominant nature.

This is an enthusiastic dog but quite even tempered, balanced and responsible. It needs an owner able to stay firm and consistent with it, to make it clear they are the boss not the dog. Otherwise a Bouvier can become over protective, dominant and has the potential to be destructive and even aggressive. It is aloof with strangers and in dogs not well socialized or trained that can go further. It is also slow to mature and can remain puppy like in an adult body for a good 2 to 3 years.

Other things to be ready for are its tendency to herd people or pets on occasion. It does not like to be left alone for long periods and can suffer from separation anxiety and it can be gassy! It wants to be a part of family activities and it forms very deep bonds to its family. It may not be as expressive as other dogs in how it feels about you but it will be a quietly devoted dog.

Living with a Bouvier des Flanders

What will training look like?

This is a moderately easy dog to train, it is intelligent but because it tends to be stubborn and strong minded that can slow things down as you establish you are the pack leader not it. Progress will happen but it will be gradual. It is important you be firm and consistent with your approach, use rewards and treats and such to engage in positive methods but still be prepared to set the rules and stick to them. It will try to establish itself as more dominant sometimes and that is something you will have to able to deal with. This is why we recommend experienced owners. There is also the option of using puppy schools, which is a great way to start socialization too, or using professional trainers. Make sure too that the sessions are not too repetitive as when it gets bored it will act out.

Socialization is another area that is very important to undertake as soon as the puppy is home. Teach it how to respond appropriately to different animals, people, places and situations. Because of its protective instincts and its wariness of strangers socialization is key in making sure it does not over react in an aggressive manner.

How active is the Bouvier des Flanders?

Bouviers des Flanders are very active dogs. It can adapt to apartment living as it is fairly calm indoors but it's probably best in a home with at least a little space, and a yard. It would be best if owners were active themselves and happy to take it out at least twice a day for two long walks. It would also enjoy time off leash somewhere safe, a dog park is one option though care should be taken as it does not get along well with other dogs in general. It would enjoy joining you for bike rides, going on hike and so on. Be prepared when it is indoors it likes to laze around and may be less than enthusiastic about going out, but it needs plenty of exercise and will be happy once it is out. Due to its size and tendency to herd leash training will be important for this breed. Make sure it also gets plenty of mental stimulation.

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Caring for the Bouvier des Flanders

Grooming needs

Grooming needs are high for the Bouvier. It will need combing and brushing to maintain its coat, and it will also need regular professional stripping it trimming. It is a low shedding dog – technically it does shed but those hairs get trapped in its coat. The regular brushing and combing will take care of them to prevent matting, and that means this dog could be good for people with allergies. The fact is this dog gets scruffy looking and dirty very easily. It tracks in mud, leaves and so on, gets its beard and mustache wet and dirty when eating and drinking and fecal matter often gets caught in its hindquarters. Give it a bath just when it needs one, though this might be more often than some breeds. Doing it too often can dry out its skin. Because of how intensive grooming and maintenance can be for this dog a lot of owners rely more on professional groomers to help out.

It should have its teeth brushed two to three times a week and its ears need to be checked for infection and wiped clean once a week. Its nails should also be kept trimmed regularly when they get too long. This is another thing a groomer could do as they are experienced and aware that cutting too low would hurt the dog and cause bleeding.

Feeding Time

The average amount of food for this dog when looking at a good quality dog food is three to five cups. This should be split into at least two meals. How much exactly your dog needs may change depending on its metabolism, rate of activity, size, age and health.

How is the Bouvier des Flanders with children and other animals?

A Bouvier is very good with children as it is happy to be around them, is affectionate and interacts well with them. Children should be taught how to touch and play with dogs in a kind and safe way. It is protective of them too but can have a tendency to herd them by nudging them and barking at them sometimes. Being raised with them and being well socialized is very important still.

That socialization is important especially to how it gets along with other dogs. It will have dominance issues with them and will be prone to challenging them particularly those that are of the same sex. With an owner that is consistently able to establish themselves as being dominant the Bouvier is less likely to challenge others. With other pets it can be good when well raised but without it its urge to chase animals like cats can be strong, and it can do serious harm to them.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Bouvier has a life span of 10 to 12 years. It is somewhat healthy but can be prone to issues such as joint dysplasia, eye problems, cancer, hypothyroidism, bloat, epilepsy, Cushing's disease, Addison's disease and heart problems.

Biting Statistics

When looking at reports of dog attacks against people that caused bodily harm over the last 34 years in the US and Canada, the Bouvier des Flanders is not specifically mentioned. However that does not mean it is not capable of having a bad day, snapping or becoming aggressive in certain situations. As the owner it is your responsibility to make sure you train and socialize your dog, have a dog you are happy to be active with, be able to feed it and give it the attention it needs.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Bouvier puppy from a good breeder that is of pet quality is going to cost between $1000 to $1500. From a top breeder and for a show quality dog you can expect it to be more like several thousand dollars plus. If you look at rescues and shelters you could give one a new home for around $50 to $400 and it will have certain medical concerns taken care of too. It is likely though that the dog will be an adult rather than a puppy. Please take the time to research breeders you are considering and be careful with puppy mills and backyard breeders.

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When you have your puppy you should take it to a vet for a physical examination along with some tests and procedures. Things like blood tests, deworming, shots, micro chipping, spaying or neutering. This will cost about $300. Items you might need like a collar and leash, bowls, crate and such will cost around $200.

Annual costs for food will be about $270 for treats and a good quality dry dog food. For medical basic and pet insurance the cost each year will be around $485. For miscellaneous costs including grooming, license, training, toys and other miscellaneous items you can expect to pay around $645 a year. This gives an annual starting figure for the Bouvier des Flanders of $1400.

Names

Looking for a Bouvier des Flandres Puppy Name? Let select one from our list!

  • Male and Female Bouvier des Flandres Puppy Names
  • The Bouvier is a dog you will be aware of, it is not one happy to stay away and be on its own, and it is not one for people who hate mess. It needs a lot of grooming and attention and it needs an owner who can be firm and handle its dominant moments. It has a strong personality and needs plenty of mental and physical challenges to keep it from becoming bored. As long as you are ready for its shaggy messes this is a great dog, devoted and faithful for the right home.

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