Bouvier des Flandres
Other names: Belgian Cattle Dog, Flanders Cattle Dog, Vlaamse Koehond
The Bouvier des Flandres was first bred to be a working farm dog, to herd cattle, for guarding duties and pulling the farm carts. While this intelligent and hard-working canine is certainly capable of this harsh employment, he is also very suited to agility and obedience trials. However, the role that he seems to prefer is as a family companion pet.
Key facts about the Bouvier des Flandres
Life expectancy :
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Origins and history
Although his exact heritage isn’t documented, it is thought that the Bouvier descended from the Barbet, the Dutch Griffon and early Sheepdogs. During both World Wars this breed was utilised as a service dog, to locate mines and ammunition, and also as a sentry and messenger. The Breed of Bouvier des Flandres was first recognised in 1912 in Europe.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 1 - Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)
Section 2 : Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)
Physical characteristics of the Bouvier des Flandres
Female : Between 23 and 26 in
Male : Between 24 and 27 in
Female : Between 60 and 77 lb
Male : Between 77 and 88 lb
Black, Black and Brindle, Brindle /Light/Dark/Grey/Dark Grey, Blonde, Fawn
Type of coat
The Bouvier des Flandres boasts a double thickness coat. The outer coat is quite shaggy looking whereas the undercoat is very dense and closer grained.
Dark brown eyes, oval shaped.
This powerful dog breed has been used to herd cattle in both Belgium and France. He has a rather rugged, forbidding look with his beard, moustache and impressive bushy eyebrows, yet actually he is a very kind and gentle dog. A well-developed head and a well-boned muzzle make up this dog’s features. The breed boasts a very strong jaw shape and triangle-shaped ears set high on his head. The breed’s front legs are straight and very powerful.
Good to know
The Bouvier des Flandres, or Flanders Cattle Dog, evolved from the hardiest, working country and farm dogs. In more recent years, the modernisation of farm machinery has brought an end to the need to use the Bouvier as a working dog. More recently, he is employed as a service canine for the Defence and Police forces, or as a security guard dog.
The Bouvier des Flandres is an affectionate dog, totally devoted to his family. He loves nothing better than being the centre of attention.
As a younger pup, this breed certainly has plenty of playfulness and exuberance. However, as the Bouvier des Flandres matures, he appears to become more serious. This doesn’t mean that he won’t enjoy any interactive family games.
When around the home and family, he can be a very quiet and calm dog, although very protective.
Often very strong-willed, protective and highly intelligent.
These dogs have a very high prey drive. Because of this, he will chase after anything he spots on the horizon or running away from him. It’s important that he is trained to a recall and stay command.
Fearful / wary of strangers
The Bouvier des Flandres dog will appear to be wary and aloof around strangers, but will very rarely show any aggressive tendencies.
Certainly a very independent, loyal and devoted dog.
Behaviour of the Bouvier des Flandres
Although these canines form strong family ties with their owners, they don’t generally have any issues when separated from them, or are left alone. However, as with most dog breeds, boredom can soon cause a problem if left for too long, with resulting destructive actions.
Easy to train / obedience
The Bouvier des Flandres dog is usually easy to train, providing sufficient patience, effort and time is dedicated to this task.
Not recognised as excessive barkers. However if the situation demands it, such as when guarding property, they will bark to alert you.
Tendency to run away
As a herding dog, the Bouvier des Flandres likes to stay by his owners side and is less likely to run away than many other breeds.
Providing these canines are given sufficient exercise and aren’t bored, they won’t have any destructive behaviours. It’s advised not to leave them alone for more than one or two hours to prevent these problems.
Greedy / Gluttony
As with many massive size dogs, he always appears to be hungry. Care must be taken to provide several meals during the day to prevent stomach problems and bloat, as this breed is quite prone to these issues.
These dogs make natural watchdogs and they are always alert to let you know when strangers are in the vicinity.
As a canine that is always willing and eager to please his owner, the Bouvier des Flandres makes a good choice for a first time dog. However, care needs to be taken during training, as they are highly intelligent and have a tendency to be dominant.
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Bouvier des Flandres in a flat
Although this Bouvier des Flandres dog is quite happy to live inside the home, due to his size alone he’s not really suitable for a flat or a small apartment. He needs to let off steam and is more suited to an owner with either a large outdoor space or who lives a very active, outdoor life.
Need for exercise / Sporty
He loves lots of exercise and will appreciate a long run each day.
Travelling / easy to transport
As a working breed, he’s happy to travel in the rear of a large vehicle but not so happy on public transport due to his massive size.
Bouvier des Flandres and cats
As a hunting and working dog, care must be taken when around cats, or he will view them as prey, often with terrible results.
Bouvier des Flandres and dogs
Although early socialisation with other dogs will ensure they get along together, the Bouvier des Flandres will try to herd other dogs on the playing field. Some males can display aggression towards other male dogs.
Bouvier des Flandres and children
The Bouvier is fine when with older children, but because of his large size, care has to be taken when playing with toddlers.
Bouvier des Flandres and the elderly
As a strong and powerful dog, he’s not recommended for an elderly owner. It’s very easy for him to be boisterous and knock a person down.
Initial purchase cost between £500 to £800. Monthly costs, including pet insurance, veterinary visits, vaccinations and feeding, are between £80 to £110.
A weekly brushing is recommended to remove the dead hair from the dog’s undercoat. Trimming the coat a few times annually is also advised.
Sheds hair but with weekly grooming this shedding should be kept manageable and under control.
Nutrition of the Bouvier des Flandres
A diet suitable for a large dog breed is necessary. The Bouvier is also prone to stomach problems and bloating, so smaller, more frequent meals are recommended.
Health of the Bouvier des Flandres
As a very active dog, the Bouvier des Flandres is quite a healthy canine. The sturdy dog rarely feels pain and tends to hide any symptoms of illness. Hereditary issues include cataracts and canine hip dysplasia. Their average life expectancy is between 10 and 12 years.
Strong / robust
A very impressive, robust dog.
Although this breed has a double coat, it doesn’t cope very well in a warm or heated situation.
He thrives in a chilly, winter climate.
Tendency to put on weight
Although very agile and athletic outside, he is sometimes rather lazy when in the home. Care needs to be taken with the quantity and quality of food and treats.