Bouvier des Flandres: Breed of the Week

Ever meet someone whose name hides who they really are? If you’re not familiar with the breed and don’t speak French, when you hear the name “Bouvier des Flandres,” I’m sure things like French chateaus, tall powdered wigs, high heels, and tiny, fluffy lap dogs all come to mind. But the Bouvier des Flandres is anything but a fussy little house dog. From all accounts, the Bouvier des Flandres is one of the hardest working, large herding dogs ever bred.

Bouvier des Flandres
Bouviers des Flandres

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis and Ronald and Nancy Reagan were just three famous owners of Bouviers des Flanders. (You’ll note Jackie O and the breed share a name!)

“Bouvier des Flandres” translates to “cow herder or ox herder from Flanders.” That name alone should give you an idea of what the Bouvier is capable of. It’s a large powerful dog and was bred to herd large bovines. According to the American Kennel Club they weigh in at 70 to 100 pounds, and they stand about 27 inches at the shoulder. As you can see the Bouvier is a lot of dog!

Like most large dogs the Bouvier will require training. Mary Deklyn, a friend of Sean’s mom and the proud owner of 4-year-old Bouvier Kora, says they can be trained to do a variety of things. Kora runs agility course, will be tested to be a therapy dog, and is one of the most obedient dogs Sean has ever seen.

Bouvier des Flandres
Kora Doing an Agility Run

One of the things they are quite adept at is free style dacing. Bailey, a rare fawn colored Bouvier des Flandres from West Hartford CT, along with owner Ellen, has won several intermediate free style dance titles!

Bouvier des Flandres
Bailey

These dogs are bred to work and will excel at any task as long as you invest time and training. Training should begin as soon as your new puppy comes home. They require a strong consistent owner who can lead.

Bouvier des Flandres
Kora as a Puppy

The Bouvier has a thick double coat, and, although they don’t shed excessively, they do need regular grooming, at least brushing several times a week. The Bouvier is a rough and tumble dog and you may find yourself cleaning mud, removing burs, grass and sticks from your Bouvier’s coat. Bouviers’ colors are either black, grey, brindle or fawn, black being the preferred and dominant color. The AKC’s standards stipulate that tails are docked three days after birth. Ears are cropped at seven weeks or left natural for show, but have to be properly placed on the head.

The American Bouvier Rescue League, After the Jump

Bouviers are a healthy breed, but are subject to conditions common to other large breed dogs. Hip and elbow dysplasia, bloat, and cancer are conditions to be aware of. As always, find a reputable breeder or even better, check with the American Bouvier Rescue League. Not only do they help find homes for displaced Bouviers, they provide a wealth of information worth reading before you get a Bouvier.

Bouvier des Flandres
Kora

Bouviers are working dogs and working dogs to the nth degree. So if you are considering one to be your urban dog, think it through. This may not be the best choice for an apartment dweller. This dog requires exercise and companionship. They need to have tasks. So if you cannot devote time to a Bouvier, it may not be such a good idea to get one. As with most intelligent dogs, if you don’t find a way to keep the Bouvier busy, he will find a way to stay occupied on his own, which may result in mischief! If you are interested in the Bouvier des Flanders, watch this Animal Planet Dogs 101 video to learn more.

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