Bouviers des Flandres are intelligent and affectionate dogs with huge hearts. A working dog breed, the Bouvier des Flandres is a strong-willed and courageous animal that excels in the roles of watchdog and guardian.
The Bouvier des Flandres was once known as koehond (cow dog), toucher de boeuf or pic (cattle driver) and vuilbaard (dirty beard). The current breed name translates to cowherd of Flanders and honors its work as herding dogs.
The breed dates back to medieval times, originating in Flanders, a region that encompassed areas of the countries now known as France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The Bouviers des Flandres were well-rounded working dogs that helped with herding, guarding livestock, protecting farms, and pulling carts. It is their strong work ethic that might have saved the breed from extinction.
During World War I, farms across Europe became battlefields, displacing farmers and their dogs; Bouviers des Flandres found work as ambulance and messenger dogs for the Belgian military. The breed is still used for important work in farming, military and police K9 units, and as service dogs.
Bouviers des Flandres are compact dogs with a powerful build and rugged appearance. These dogs move with a bold, proud gait, driving forward from the strength in their hindquarters.
Bouviesr des Flandres have a double coat that includes a fine, soft, and dense undercoat with an outercoat of rough, harsh hairs that are tousled but not curly, and capable of withstanding the elements. The hair on the overcoat should be no more than two-and-a-half inches long; it is shorter on the upper back and upper side of the muzzle, while the upper lip and chin have longer hair, creating the hallmark moustache and beard that give the Bouvier des Flandres its gruff expression. Their hair can be trimmed slightly to accent the body line but should not be over trimmed.
The Bouvier des Flandres comes in several colors, including black, brindle, fawn, gray brindle, and pepper and salt. A small white star on the chest is allowed in show.
These powerful working dogs are strong-boned and well-muscled with broad chests, muscular shoulders, long legs, firm hindquarters, and docked tails. Bouviers des Flandres have heads that are impressive in scale with broad muzzles; ears placed high and alert; and oval, dark brown eyes that convey a bold and alert expression.
Described as steady, resolute, and fearless, Bouviers des Flandres are the quintessential working dogs that eagerly tackle a task and persist until it’s complete. Their legendary work ethics must be accommodated; without myriad things to do, Bouviers des Flandres become bored and unhappy.
Bouviers des Flandres also have huge hearts and are affectionate, loyal companions. They thrive in homes where owners devote ample time to their physical and emotional wellbeing and help these strong-willed dogs channel their energy in positive directions. The Bouvier des Flandres is not an apartment dog; the breed does best in homes where there is room to roam and lots of opportunities to engage in high-energy activities.
Feed Bouviers des Flandres a high-quality dog food that is appropriate for their life stage (puppy, adult, senior) and consider a diet formulated for active breeds. To keep the Bouvier des Flandres fit and trim, portion out their food with a measuring cup and limit treats to no more than 10% of their daily calories.
Brush Bouviers des Flandres at least once per week to remove dead hair and keep their coats free of tangles, mats, and debris. Their beards may also need cleaning. Bouviers des Flandres have fast-growing nails that will need to be trimmed every one to two weeks to prevent them from becoming overgrown and causing pain or discomfort when they walk.
Like all breeds, Bouviers des Flandres benefit from a regular dental care routine that includes at-home teeth brushing and professional cleanings.
Bouviers des Flandres are working dogs that require ample exercise. In active households, these dogs love brisk walks, hiking, and trips to the dog park. These highly intelligent dogs also excel in dog sports such as agility, obedience, rally, and, of course, herding.
Without adequate exercise, Bouviers des Flandres can become bored and destructive. Games and puzzle toys can help Bouviers des Flandres keep their minds engaged.
Bouviers des Flandres are smart and eager to please. With consistent training, Bouvier des Flandres can learn everything from basic commands and tricks to important jobs such as search and rescue. Focus on positive reinforcement and rewards-based training. Avoid repetitive activities, which will cause these dogs to lose interest in training.
These dogs love spending time with their owners and will see training as a bonding experience. Invite Bouviers des Flandres to tag along to new places and introduce them to new people to provide important socialization; these experiences, coupled with training, can help reduce or control their strong prey drive.
Exercise-Induced Collapse (EIC) is a neuromuscular disorder which can cause incoordination and weakness, resulting in collapse, after periods of strenuous exercise.
Knowing if your Bouvier des Flandres is a carrier or at-risk for these conditions can help you and your veterinarian plan for your pup’s lifelong care. With Wisdom Panel™ Premium, you can get results for over 200 genetic health tests.
Reviewed July 26, 2020 by Laura Inman, DVM