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Get To Know The Bouvier Des Flandres
January 15, 2024

January has already gone to the dogs! Several of our beloved canine companions celebrate special days this month, including the Labrador Retriever, the Boxer, and the fluffy and lovable Bouvier des Flandres, whom we’re putting in the spotlight for this article. Read on as a local Wake Forest, NC vet discusses some of the basics of this Very Good Boy.

Breed Basics: Bouvier Des Flandres

A big dog with a big heart, the Bouviers des Flandres were originally herding dogs from Flanders, Belgium. They are definitely on the larger end of the spectrum, as far as size goes: these guys can weigh as much as 120 pounds. Males usually weigh between 75 and 120 pounds and grow between 24 and 27 inches high, while females typically weigh between 60 and 80 pounds and grow between 23 and 26 inches high. 

FIdo has a thick, shaggy coat. Actually, the Bouvier has a double coat, which helped him survive those tough Belgian winters. The pups can wear several different colors, including fawn, black, gray, brindle, and salt-and-pepper. They have cute pointy ears, and look a bit bear-like. Fido also has fur on his chin, which looks like a beard.

Where Did The Bouvier Dog Get His Name?

There’s not much mystery on this one: Fido’s name literally translates to Cow Herder of Flanders. The breed originated in Flanders, Belgium, in the 1600s as farm dogs.

However, the Bouvier is also known as Toucheur de Boeuf (cattle driver), Vlaamse Koehond (Flemish cow dog), and Vuilbaard (dirty beard). 

They Were Originally Farm Dogs

The Bouvier joined the ranks of the AKC in 1929, but his history starts long before that. As mentioned above, Fido originated in Flanders; more specifically, with the monks who lived at the Ter Duinen monastery. They bred local farm dogs with other pups, including Irish wolfhounds and Scottish deerhounds. 

Over time, local breeders fine-tuned the desired characteristics. The outcome was a robust and diligent dog with a strong work ethic and a desire to please his humans. These intelligent canines excelled at both protecting and herding sheep and cattle, and were also capable of pulling carts to and from the market. Their thick coats also made them well-equipped for the harsh winters of the area. 

It’s worth noting that there were three variants of the breed originally: the Paret, the Moerman, which was also known as the Roeselare, and the Briard. It wasn’t until 1936 that breeders were finally able to agree on official standards; at that time, the issue was settled by a French-Belgian committee.

How The Bouvier Almost Went Extinct

The Bouviers proved to be excellent trench dogs during World War I. Trench dogs served crucial roles during the conflict. They hauled supply carts, carrying machine guns and other goods up and down trenches. They also delivered messages, often while under fire, and also helped wounded soldiers. Sadly, by the end of the war, their numbers had plummeted. 

The breed was just beginning to recover when the second world war broke out. Fido was again recruited as a war dog. According to legend, one of the pups bit Adolf Hitler, who then attempted to eradicate the breed. By the end of the conflict, the breed was once again on the brink of extinction. Fortunately, the Bouviers had made their way to the United States by then. Breeders made a valiant effort to save the line. Fortunately, they were successful. 

What Are Bouvier Dogs Known For?

The Bouvier was a very popular farm dog in and near Belgium for hundreds of years. However,  after the invention of cars, Fido’s job opportunities began to decline. Naturally, he made a career change. Today, the Bouviers are known for their guarding capabilities. They can often be found working as police dogs or guard dogs. In addition to making excellent pets, they excel at agility, carting, obedience, tracking, and herding.

Bouvier Dog Personality Traits

Intelligent, determined, affectionate, and devoted, Bouviers are truly exceptional canines. They are highly loving creatures and make excellent additions to any family. While they do well with kids, we do recommend taking basic precautions with small children, due to Fido’s large size. 

Fido is typically a gentle giant, but can be wary of unfamiliar dogs. As a natural guardian, the Bouvier will often choose a strategic spot to lie down in, so he can watch over his loved ones. However, they generally only resort to biting if provoked.

Although proper training is imperative, this intelligent pup is a quick learner. (Tip: These guys really, really love snacks, and are quite food-motivated learners.)

Caring For A Bouvier Des Flandres

For the most part, Fido needs the same things as any other dog: good food, regular veterinary care, and proper exercise. (Treats, toys, and belly rubs are also not unappreciated.) However, the Bouvier is not a low-maintenance dog. You’ll need to brush your canine buddy a couple of times a week. You’ll have to keep him active. This can be challenging, since the Bouvier tends to get lazy as they age.

A few things to consider? These guys do need a lot of room to run, so they really aren’t a good match for apartment dwellers. Like all working dogs, these pups are very smart and active. Proper training is a must. You’ll also need to keep your furry pal from getting bored.

Although the Bouvier is a wonderful dog, he may not be the ideal fit for everyone. It’s important to choose the dog that is right for your lifestyle and household. Before adopting any dog, do plenty of research and ask your Wake Forest, NC vet for care tips.

What Famous People Have Bouvier Dogs? 

Although Fido may not hold the title of the most popular dog, he has developed a loyal following. His fans include folk singer Joan Baez, who wrote the song Old Blue about Man’s Best Friend. She has a one-eyed Bouvier, named Ginger. Another fan was Merv Griffin, who named his Bouvier dog Keesh. The breed also gained some attention in the 1980s, when Fido became the First Dog to President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy. Their pooch, Lucky, spent a year living in the White House before relocating to the Reagan’s ranch in California.

What Health Concerns Do Bouvier Dogs Have?

The breed standard recommends screening for hip dysplasia, one of the most common issues in both purebreds and large dogs. These guys are also prone to developing eye problems, such as glaucoma, cataracts, and entropion. Keep up with Fido’s appointments, and follow your Wake Forest, NC veterinarian’s recommendations for exams and screenings. 

What Are Some Famous Bouviers?

The Bouvier has served his human buddies loyally, but he really hasn’t done well in show business. However, he has scored a few key roles. The most famous Bouvier is likely Patrasche, the fictional pup from the classic children’s book A Dog of Flanders. (There are actually a few statues of Patrasche in Antwerp.) There’s also Gretel, the furry companion of Dr. Romano on ER. There is also a Bouvier in Strike Match, a manga/anime series.

Do you have any questions about the Bouvier? Please feel free to contact us, your local Wake Forest, NC pet hospital. We are dedicated to offering top notch care! 

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