The Bouvier

The Bouvier des Flandres was originally bred for cart pulling, sheep herding and cattle droving. The breed’s French name means “Cow Herder of Flandres” and was recognised as a defined breed in 1913. The males can grow up to 71cm and can weigh up to 36Kgs, while the females are slightly smaller.

They have a thick double coat that almost looks curly if left to grow. It makes them look like very large teddy bears! While they don’t shed all year round, it’s important to make sure that they are groomed properly every 2-3 months to keep the hair clean and matt-free. Regular brushing and a styled clip 2-3 times a year are all that is required to keep this dog looking powerful and regal. Special attention should be paid to their beard as it tends to get dirty quite quickly. A Little warm water and some dog shampoo helps to keep it clean. Also, keep in mind that if the beard is dirty, it can land up smelling bad if not cleaned.

Because of their thick coat, they do very well in colder climates and can overheat in warmer climates. Make sure that there is enough shade and cool, fresh water available for them all year round, but especially in the summer months. You may find that when taking your Bouvier to training, they get tired quite quickly due to the heat. Always make sure there is a shady spot that your pup can sit under so that he doesn’t overheat.

As they are herders, they should never bite animals or humans as this is seen as a serious fault in the breed. (A dog that bites and wounds the sheep it herds is one that doesn’t last very long). They are gentle giants and do very well with children as they enjoy the responsibility of being protectors. They are used presently was watch dogs as well as police dogs in some countries because of their intimidating look and stance. However, it’s important to remember that the better the bond between dog and owner, the better guard dog it will be. Training and bonding times are very important with regards to the Bouvier as they thrive on human attention. From their origins, they have always worked very closely with man and you can see it in the current breed’s need for human affection.

The Bouvier is a very calm and laid back breed. They take well to positive reinforcement when training and are happy to learn. Keep in mind that while they learn fairly quickly, they are not fast paced dogs. They prefer to “plod” along and do things at a slower pace than your regular breeds. Having said that, they do take quite well to agility and they are great at carting. With their large chests and square bodies, they make carting look easy! While they may be a calm and gentle breed, they do need to have regular exercise. Walks and jogs are a great way to keep them in shape and once they have expended some energy outdoors, they are quite content to relax indoors with the family.

If socialised from a young age, the Bouvier gets on well with most other dogs, strangers as well as other animals. But remember, early socialisation is a must for any breed so that they can cope with new situations when they arrive. Because of their size, they need to learn to problem solve at a young age so that they do not panic or become frustrated when they don’t get their own way. Few things are worse than a fully grown Bouvier having a temper tantrum!

With the correct training and human interaction, this breed is wonderful for most families. They are incredibly loyal and enjoy playing with adults and children. They are the perfect breed to snuggle up with on a cold night as well as keep you company for as long as they live.

Their lifespan is roughly 10-12 years and because of their size, they are prone to hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. Regular exercise, a good diet and proper training all help to reduce the chance of dysplasia, but I would recommend looking at Pet Medical Aid from as young an age as possible.