Bouvier des Flandres

By PetMD Editorial on Jun. 2, 2009

The Bouvier des Flandres is a compact, powerful dog. It looks tough, with no sign of heaviness or clumsiness in the overall makeup. Agile, spirited and bold, yet serene and well-behaved, the Bouvier des Flandres is a fearless, efficient farm dog.

Physical Characteristics

The Bouvier des Flandres is a breed that exhibits a square-proportioned, compact body shape with tremendous physical strength. It is a short-coupled breed with a rough look. They are versatile animals that can perform the work of a draft dog, cattle herder, and a guard dog.

The Bouvier's beard and the mustache accentuate the head and its strikingly bold, alert expression. Its rough body enable it to cope with harsh conditions, while the Bouvier's double coat is weather-resistant and tangled, with the outer coat being dry and harsh, and the undercoat being fine in texture. The Bouvier des Flandres also has a gait that is free and easy, giving its movement a majestic touch.

Personality and Temperament

Bouvier des Flandres dogs have a pleasing personality. They remain gentle and calm when kept inside the house but are very active outdoors. Very devoted and loyal to their master, Bouvier des Flandres dogs are independent in nature and sometimes tend to show a dominating attitude. They make great companions.

Their steady and courageous nature is one of their major characteristics. Always very confident, these dogs are protective of their family. They are generally obedient but can show signs of aggression towards other dogs and strangers. They are playful with children.


Although the Bouvier des Flandres breed is capable of living outside, they are at their best when given access to both house and field. They love human companionship and should be given a great deal of regular exercise. They enjoy playing for hours, which is a good exercise choice. Jogging or walking for long hours also keeps them healthy. Herding is one of their favorite games. Occasional combing and trimming of their coat is essential to keep them at their best. They can be great house dogs.


The Bouvier des Flandres, which has an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years, is prone to minor health problems such as hypothyroidism and major issues like elbow dysplasia, canine hip dysplasia (CHD), sub-aortic stenosis (SAS), and glaucoma. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may conduct regular hip exams on the dog.

History and Background

The Bouvier des Flandres breed is known for its versatile character. The word "bouvier" means ox-herd or cowherd in French. They are popular today as show dogs and herders. They received their name from southwest Flanders where they were used by farmers for managing cattle in the farmlands. This breed was also used by farmers on the plains of northern France.

The Bouvier des Flandres was also known as koe bond (cow dog) or Vuilbaard (dirty beard). They existed in a variety of colors, types, and sizes. Besides managing cattle, they had to work as a draft dog and a farm dog as well. It is assumed that this breed originated from the Sheepdog, Mastiff, and certain spaniels to some extent.

The first standard that was drawn up in 1912 created a great interest in the breed. A large number of the Bouvier des Flandres dogs were, however, lost during the First World War, when they served as ambulance and messenger dogs. A dog named Ch. Nic de Sottegem survived the war and proved to have great quality. All the modern Bouviers are descendants of this dog.

It was in 1922 that a revised standard led to the production of a more homogeneous breed. They earned huge popularity as show dogs in the 1930s, when they first entered the United States.

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