Bouvier des Flandres

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Hardworking, intelligent and loving—what more could you want from the distinctive Bouvier des Flandres dog?

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:
10 to 12 years
Size:

Large

Maintenance Level:

High

Shed Level:

Medium

Temperament:
Gentle GiantAssertiveHard Worker
Coat Color:
FawnSalt And PepperGrayBrindleBlack

Best For

Bouvier des Flandres are best for active pet parents who have access to large swathes of land where this gentle giant can run and play. Bonus points if you love bonding with your Bouvier at the spa, as this breed's spectacular coat will need regular upkeep.

Bouvier des Flandres Traits

What makes the Bouvier des Flandres dog a Bouvier des Flandres? Let's find out how they stack up.

Bouvier des Flandres Temperament

Affectionately known as “gentle giants,” Bouvier des Flandres are assertive, but simultaneously loyal and intelligent. They have a strong, self-confident personality and need a firm hand when training. At the same time, however, they’re loyal and loving—happy to spend time with your family on the couch or going for a long walk. Young Bouviers can be rowdy or destructive, but the breed typically mellows out as they age (Bouviers are considered fully grown by the time they’re 2 or 3 years old).

The Bouvier des Flandres is a working dog, happiest when they’re herding a group of cattle or guarding your home to keep your family safe. Bred to help out with various jobs around a farm, today’s Bouviers are equally as happy acting as police dogs or service dogs. Don’t be afraid to give your Bouvier a job in your household—that’s exactly what they want. (And that laundry isn’t going to fold itself, after all.)

Bouvier des Flandres tend to do well with kids, especially if they grow up alongside them. But Bouviers don’t always get along with other animals; they can be dominant over other dogs, and their high prey drive may interfere with their relationship with cats. Slow introductions and setting firm boundaries can help improve a Bouvier’s relationship with other pets. To people outside your family, Bouviers’ traits may show up as reserved or aloof (that’s where those guard dog tendencies come in). But to the members of your household, a Bouvier will be affectionate and loyal to the end.

How to Care for a Bouvier des Flandres

Between their curly coat, assertive personality and strong work ethic, Bouviers des Flandres have a unique set of needs. For an experienced pet parent, however, a Bouvier won’t be overly difficult to take care of. And your Bouvier will give you ample reward for your hard work—offering their love, dependability and protection of your home.

Bouvier des Flandres Health

Bouvier des Flandres have a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years, and they are a somewhat healthy breed. Like any dog, however, the Bouvier does have a few inherited diseases that pet parents will need to watch out for. Bouviers can also be prone to other health problems, and parents should speak with their veterinarians about those less frequent ailments. Common health problems include:

  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: Hip and elbow dysplasia are congenital defects where the joint wasn’t formed properly and should be screened for through responsible breeding practices. Sometimes, these conditions require surgery. Often, however, they can be managed through anti-inflammatories and joint supplements.
  • Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is an endocrine disorder that develops in middle-aged to senior Bouviers. This health problem can be treated with thyroid hormone replacement.
  • Eye Conditions: Cataracts, glaucoma, entropion and ectropion are a few of the eye conditions your Bouvier des Flandres may develop. Cataracts and glaucoma can lead to blindness, but may be corrected with surgery. Entropion is where the eyelid rolls inward and ectropion is where the eyelid rolls out. Surgery may be a solution for both.
  • Bouvier des Flandres Myopathy: This rare Bouvier health issue is a congenital muscle disease that causes muscle wasting. It often develops between 3 and 7 months of age, causing symptoms like muscle shrinkage; weakness that gets worse after exercise; and a strange gait. While there is no cure, medication may help.
  • Sub-aortic Stenosis (SAS): SAS is a heart condition that is common in large dog breeds and can range from mild to severe. Severe cases cause symptoms like fainting, weakness and difficulty breathing. SAS is generally treated through beta blockers (an oral medication) and by controlling your dog’s level of activity.

Bouvier des Flandres History

The Bouvier des Flandres was first bred in Belgium in the late 1800s. While their exact origin is not entirely clear, experts speculate that Schnauzers, Beaucerons, local farm dogs, and potentially Irish Wolfhounds and Scottish Deerhounds were bred to create the Bouvier as we know them today. Farmers used the Bouvier as drovers (cattle herds), guard dogs and draft animals (to pull carts). Essentially, Bouviers would take on any job that needed to be done around the farm. An official breed standard was established for the Bouvier in 1912.

By the early 1900s, war was brewing in Europe and smart, strong Bouviers were sometimes used to pull ambulances and carry guns and messages during World War I. The dogs who made it through the war were taken to other countries—and that’s how the Bouvier eventually ended up in America in 1920.

The Bouvier des Flandres breed also served during World War II. The Resistance in Holland used Bouviers to carry messages at night. A fun Bouvier fact is that later in the 20th century, this breed became popular among royalty and presidential leadership: Ronald and Nancy Reagan had a Bouvier named Lucky, and a Bouvier police dog named Jango was sometimes used to guard Princess Diana.

The Bouvier des Flandres was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1929. Today, they’re ranked as “somewhat popular” according to the breed’s AKC rating. Not everyone has heard of the Bouvier des Flandres, but those who have are staunchly devoted to the breed. If you’re wondering about the average Bouvier cost, you can expect to pay between $1,500 and $2,000 for a Bouvier des Flandres puppy. Find a list of breeders on the American Kennel Club’s website. Cast a wide net and keep an eye out at local animal shelters and Humane Societies, too. You never know where a Bouvier or a Bouvier mix will turn up.

FAQs

Do Bouviers des Flandres shed?

Bouviers des Flandres are low shedding. However, this rough coated dog has a coat that picks up dust and dirt very easily, and regular grooming is required to keep them clean.

How do you pronounce Bouvier des Flandres?

Bouvier des Flandres is pronounced boo-VYEY dey FLAN-derz.

What does Bouvier des Flandres mean?

Bouvier is a French word that means cowherd or herdsman. The word Flandres simply refers to Flanders, a region of Belgium. The name Bouvier des Flandres, then, literally means “herdsman from Flanders”—an accurate name for a herding dog who originated in Flanders.

Are Bouviers aggressive?

Bouviers are not aggressive. While a Bouvier’s size might make them seem intimidating, Bouviers have a mellow personality and enjoy spending time with people. The breed can potentially be aggressive with other dogs, and they have a strong bite force. Around people, however, Bouviers are gentle giants.

Are Bouviers good family dogs?

Bouviers are excellent family dogs, especially when raised with children.

Do Bouviers bark a lot?

No, Bouviers do not bark a lot.

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Top Takeaways

The Bouvier des Flandres is a special breed of dog who needs an experienced dog parent. Someone who appreciates a Bouvier’s qualities—their mellow personality, intelligent mind and desire for a purpose—will be able to provide this breed with what they need to thrive as a family pet. With plenty of space to run and a job to do, your Bouvier will flourish in your home.

Expert input provided by Erin Askeland, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, Animal Health & Behavior Consultant at Camp Bow Wow, and J. Todd Gross, DVM, of Goodlettsville Animal Hospital in Nashville, Tenn.

Photo credit for “How do I look?” by the New York Times

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