The Bouvier Des Flandres
The rugged Bouvier Des Flandres, French for ‘Cow Herder of Flanders,’ is a Flemish breed of dog. They began as sheepherders, cattle drovers and general farm workers. Monks at the Ter Duinen monastery in Flanders crossed local farm dogs with Scottish deerhounds and Irish wolfhounds to develop the modern Bouvier. Other names include Vuilbaard, or dirty beard. This is due, in part, to claims that the beard collects massive amounts of water when the dog drinks. The breed faced extinction during WWI when the war devastated their habitat and because many of the dogs were used by the military. One of the war heroes, a male trench dog named Nic, is one of the original founders of the breed. Recognized by the AKC in 1931, these powerful dogs are enthusiastic and fearless. They never forget a learned command and have a very high threshold for pain.
While it looks a bit intimidating, the Bouvier Des Flandres is, in fact, gentle and good-natured. Naturally enthusiastic, with the right amount of training these dogs can become calm, consistent and even-tempered companions. The owner should be experienced and able to provide a firm hand to remind the dog who is boss. When walking this breed, do not let them take the lead. Instead, make them walk to the side and a little behind, as instincts tell him the pack leader should be in front. They are very adaptable and will rise to any occasion.
The Bouvier Des Flandres has a long, tousled coat that needs regular brushing and only occasional baths or dry shampoos. Trim the coat at least three times a year. Keep the hair trimmed inside the ears, as well as around the feet.
Be sure to brush the teeth two to three times a week to remove food debris and tartar build up. Also, check for any signs of irritated gums.
Bouvier Des Flandres are medium-sized dogs with long, lean bodies and have life spans of about 10-12 years. Their double-coat is weather resistant and comes in fawn, blonde, black, gray, salt and pepper or brindle. Some even sport a small white star on their chest. Their undercoat is dense but fine and soft. The solid black coated breeds are not favored in show, they are accepted, while blondes are not. The average height for males is 23-28 inches and, for females, 22-27 inches. Weights for males tend to be between 75-110 lbs. while females usually range from 60-80 lbs. Females will produce about eight litters, averaging 5-10 pups.
There are a few facts about the breed that you should think about when you are contemplating bringing one into your family.
- They are prone to eye problems such as cataracts, and hip dysplasia.
- They have a tendency to pass gas.
- They need grooming and plenty of exercise.
- They need dominant human with a firm, yet patient hand.
- They are difficult to treat if injured because they have a very high pain threshold. This makes it hard for a veterinarian to locate the actual place where the animal may be injured.
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