The Bouvier des Flanders is a powerful herding dog from the fields and mountains of Belgium. Like many farm dogs, the Bouvier is a fine specimen known for its versatility and work ethic. They can make good family pets, especially in situations where they also have jobs to perform. However, these are not happy-go-lucky ornaments; they take themselves seriously. Read more to learn about the Bouvier des Flanders.
Description of the Bouvier des Flanders
The Bouviers could be confused for a Giant Schnauzer if you squinted your eyes just right. These powerful dogs are thick and solid. Their large heads are partially obscured by tousled hair. Indeed, they look like an extremely capable ball of fur.
These powerful creatures were not built for looks, but rather versatility. They were bred to function as all-around farm hands in Belgium. Today, they are more often found in the suburbs, but their somber majesty remains.
The Bouvier des Flanders can come in a variety of striking colors. Black is most common, but they also may be found in brindle, fawn, gray brindle, and pepper and salt.
Life Expectancy and Size
These dogs can range widely in size, with females normally being significantly smaller. The breed can stand between 23 and 28 inches, and weigh anywhere from 70 to 110 pounds.
Like many large breed, the Bouvier has a relatively short lifespan. They generally live between 10 and 12 years.
The Bouvier des Flanders was bred as a farm dog. Thus, much of their job was to protect flock and family. Today, they are still diligent watchdogs who will guard the family with vigor.
Because of their innate protective instinct, it is essential to socialize these dogs early. A well-trained Bouvier is not aggressive, but rather works as an effective deterrent.
These dogs can function as family pets, but they’ll always retain their versatile roots. It is best to approach training like a series of small jobs. This helps the Bouvier retain focus.
Competent owners have successfully trained this breed to perform important functions like search and rescue. Many Bouvier are proficient herders or even guard dogs.
Remember to remain positive, and always base training in reward- and relationship-based methods.
These dogs were meant to have a job. Consequently, they have a good amount of energy so that they can perform that job. If they are left with inadequate mental and physical stimulation, they will quickly become bored, which may translate to destructive behaviors or nuisance barking.
That being said, the Bouvier does have some variation line to line. Some owners report laziness, especially in show lines. Remember, temperament is always harder to predict than physical characteristics.
What Living with a Bouvier des Flanders is Like
The Bouvier is a steady, powerful dog. These workhorses are more than capable of protecting their family.
They do take up a lot of room, there’s no way around that. Owners need to have plenty of space and time to dedicate.
Unfortunately, this breed does have some serious health problems. Know this going in, and do not expect that they will live past 12 years.
Care of the Bouvier des Flanders
These dogs were bred to be tough. However, they need some specific care to stay healthy, happy, and sane.
In very hot environments, these large and hairy dogs may overheat, especially in direct sunlight. Provide shade and plenty of cool water.
The Bouvier requires plenty of exercise. These dogs are great for athletic owners. The best way to ensure that they get the activity they need is taking them on outings. They’re perfect companions for runners, hikers, and bikers.
Be careful to limit puppies’ exercise. During this time, their growing joints are extremely sensitive.
Shedding and Grooming
These dogs require brushing at least a couple of times each week. Some owners trim or clip the face and feet. This can ease cleaning around these sensitive areas.
Bouvier des Flanders are medium to moderate shedders.
Ideal Home Environment
This breed is a good option for athletes. They may flourish with individuals, as long as single owners can commit to being around enough.
The ideal home will understand the Bouvier’s somber personality. These are loyal dogs that love their people, but do not express themselves with the same happy-go-lucky attitude as many dogs.
Owners should understand the work that comes with owning a big dog. This includes extra health issues and space needs.
This breed definitely has some serious health problems. Many Bouviers live healthy lives, but there is always the potential for problems. Do not expect these dogs to live past 12 years.
Urinary issues are quite common in this breed. Some also have serious eye problems, some of which can lead to blindness. Deafness, hypothyroidism, and epilepsy are not uncommon. Heart and throat problems can also be a concern.
Joint problems are another issue for the Bouvier. Make sure to protect them during puppyhood.
Bouviers that are properly trained are usually quite well-behaved. Make sure to begin training and socialization early to avoid bad habits.
Most of these dogs have behavioral issues when bored. Make sure the keep them stimulated and well exercised. Some Bouvier retain a prey drive that can put small animals at risk. It can also make it difficult to keep their attention off leash.