Black through to salt and pepper as well as fawn, gray and brindle are all acceptable. A small white patch on the chest is acceptable. Any parti-colored, chocolate or white coloration is considered a fault in the show ring.
Large, Extra Large
23-28 inches (58-71 cm)
75-90 pounds (34-41 kg)
22-27 inches (56-69 cm)
60-80 pounds (27-36 kg)
The Bouvier des Flanders can live in an apartment provided they have adequate exercise. They do best in a larger space with a yard as they enjoy being outdoors.
The Bouvier des Flanders is a very large and powerful dog that has a wonderful, gentle personality and a natural enthusiasm for everything that it does. They are athletic and strong yet capable of adapting to smaller living spaces provided they have regular outdoor exercise. Originally used as a cattle dog the Bouvier des Flanders is muscular and capable of running and endurance activities as well as herding and obedience type work.
The head of the Bouvier des Flanders, like many breeds, makes it a truly distinctive breed. There is a heavy beard, moustache and thick and long eyebrows that somewhat obscure the features of the head, although that in itself makes the breed easy to identify. The head is covered with long and shaggy hair and the eyes beneath the heavy eyebrows are alert, very dark, intelligent and lively. The muzzle is long and tapered with a large, well developed black nose that is very obvious. The lips are tight to the teeth and are not pendulous or loose. The ears are either cropped to stand very upright or are left natural and fold over. The head is massive and very large on the breed.
The neck and body of the Bouvier des Flanders is powerful and muscular and covered by a very dry to the touch, double steel-wool type coat that can protect the dog when traveling through brush or wooded areas. The coat is wavy and kinky, not smooth, silken or sleek in appearance. Overall the height of the dog at the shoulders should be equal to the dog's total body length, making them appear square in shape. The top line should be flat and level and the tail is either docked or left natural. If docked it is very short.
The neck of the Bouvier des Flanders is noticeable arched or crested and should be moderately long, wider at the base than at the throat. The neck is situated well up into the shoulders giving the head and neck a proud and alert carriage, not horizontal. The shoulders are strong and well developed, sloping into a deep, wide chest and well sprung rib cage. The elbows of the front legs should be close to the body and the legs should be straight when viewed from either the front or the sides.
The hindquarters are well developed and muscular and should parallel the front legs when the dog is viewed from the rear. The legs should have a moderate bend but should not be overly crouched in appearance or completely straight. The dog should move with a level and balanced stride and the hindquarters should remain very level. The overall stride will be long with a good thrust or pushing off by the hindquarters.
The coat should look windblown and somewhat tousled with a harsh, dry outer coat and a softer, finer and denser inner coat. The moustache and beard as well as the eyebrows will be longer than the rest of the coat and are typically straighter. The coat is wavy and slightly kinky in appearance but never straight or flat to the body. In competition the coat may be trimmed only slightly to accentuate the natural lines of the body. Coats that are too soft or are lacking in dense undercoat are considered a fault with the breed.
The Bouvier des Flanders originated in Belgium in the 1600s. They were used on the large farms and cattle ranches in the Flanders area and the name actually means "cowherd of Flanders". The first of the breed was developed by farmers likely by crossing mastiffs with spaniels and sheepdogs and was bred for ability, not for a specific appearance. Therefore in the original Bouvier des Flanders there was a great deal of variation found within the dogs known by the name.
The first showing of the Bouvier des Flanders was in 1910 at the Brussels International Dog Show although the standards were not developed until 1912. Many of the breed were killed during World War l during bombing raids and destruction of the area. The actual Bouvier des Flanders ancestors that are found in most current lines all stem from a single bloodline, a male known as Ch. Nic de Sottegem, which was owned by the Belgium Army.
Currently the Bouvier des Flanders is a relatively uncommon breed outside of shows and breeders kennels. They are recognized by most Kennel Clubs however have not typically caught on as a companion dog probably due to their large size and rather intimidating appearance, although they make terrific pets. The Bouvier des Flanders has been used as rescue dogs as well as for assistance dogs for handicapped and blind individuals with great success.
As a working cattle dog the Bouvier des Flanders needs to be calm, even tempered and very protective towards the herd. They are bold and fearless as well as courageous without the high prey drive associated with some of the other large dog breeds. They will protect their area and may have a tendency to become more protective or even nervous and timid if not socialized. They are known to be standoffish with new people but once they accept the person they will quickly adjust.
The Bouvier des Flanders is very intelligent and has the tendency to be somewhat independent at times. They can be dominant and do need to have someone that has experience with dominant breeds involved in their training and socialization. The breed is generally very easy to train and has a wonderful memory for commands as well as people, often amazing their owners with who they remember.
The Bouvier des Flanders is a good watchdog and guard dog although they are not prone to aggression. Their sheer size and intimidating look is usually enough to keep unwanted people away. They are rather reserved and not an extremely playful breed once they fully mature at three years of age although they get along well with children. They are more of a companion dog rather than a playful dog, typically enjoying going for a walk or simply watching the kids play.
The Bouvier des Flanders can, when properly socialized, learn to get along with other pets although they are not recommended for houses with non-canine pets as they do chase. They will typically get along well with other dogs with socialization, however intact males will have more problems getting along with other intact males than neutered males will. It is recommended to neuter and spay the Bouvier des Flanders unless being used in a breeding program to help with obedience and control of these large dogs and to prevent unwanted or unplanned pregnancies.
As can be predicted from the history of the breed the Bouvier des Flanders has developed a high tolerance for pain as well as a very healthy and hardy constitution. They are not prone to many of the genetic conditions of many of the breeds likely to their selective and controlled Breeding. They are also not a high demand dog in many areas due to their size, making them less likely to be involved in puppy mills and backyard Breeding programs that have severely damaged other more popular breeds.
The most common Health issues with Bouvier des Flanders are:
Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) - common in all large breeds it is the degeneration of the hip joint resulting in decreased mobility and pain. Can be treated with drug therapies and surgery.
Entropion - turning inward of the eyelids, usually the lower, resulting in irritation to the eye. Can be corrected with a surgical procedure.
Grooming the Bouvier des Flanders requires a regular routine to keep the coat looking great and to minimize the amount of hair spread on the furniture and rugs. If groomed two to three times a week there will be little shedding, although in the spring and fall the grooming requirements will increase.
The outer coat of the Bouvier des Flanders is very coarse and dry to the touch and is not prone to matting or tangling. The softer, denser inner coat is more prone to these conditions and care needs to be taken to make sure all debris and tangles are out of the inner coat. Groom with a pin brush or very stiff bristle brush grooming in the direction of hair growth. Since the two coats together provide protection for the dog it is not recommended to clip the coats however trimming the longer hairs on the beard, moustache and eyebrows is considered acceptable for the show ring. Slight trimming of the rest of the coat to accentuate the body and to tidy up the coat is also permitted and usually will only need to occur about once every three to four months. Avoid bathing the dog and only do so when absolutely necessary. They are a very clean dog and don't typically have the doggy smell, largely due to the resistant nature of the coat. Some allergy suffers have reported that they have little reaction to the Bouvier des Flanders but it is important to spend some time with the breed to see if this is true for the individual.
Caring for the ears, especially in Bouvier des Flanders with the natural ears is important as wax and debris can build up causing infections. Pluck all long hair out of the visible inside ear area during grooming to help prevent wax build up. If you are uncomfortable with this a groomer can do this for you every three to four months when they are trimmed.
Starting the young Bouvier des Flanders off with lots of exercise that is not too strenuous or exhausting is very important. The breed is slow to mature not reaching full size until about three years of age and during this time it is important not to over stress the puppy physically. Long walks, shorter jogs and lots of playtime are essential for the growing puppy. Teaching the Bouvier des Flanders to play when they are young is an excellent way to exercise the dogs and to help them stay playful while they mature.
The Bouvier des Flanders, once fully mature, can handle lots of long, regular exercise. They can handle long jogs, hiking time and interaction with other dogs to provide regular and frequent exercise. The Bouvier des Flanders will also self-exercise if provided a large yard or space however they tend to be inactive if left alone in the house.
The Bouvier des Flanders need interaction with people to be happy and well adjusted so exercise provides a great opportunity. Although they are large they do love to go in the car and are ideal trekking and hiking pets, typically staying with the family and not roaming once trained. They are also good in most situations as they are not dog aggressive unless they are intact males with females present.
The Bouvier des Flanders can be taught to fetch as well as compete in obedience and even agility events. They are a very loyal and obedient dog and are naturals at these activities. Of course they can also be used as herding dogs should you live in a rural setting. Many owners train their Bouvier des Flanders in herding, an ideal way to combine exercise with obedience type training.
Training the Bouvier des Flanders requires that the dog bonds with the trainer or owner and understands that he or she is the boss. This means working with the puppy in very positive and consistent manners right from the start. Once the Bouvier des Flanders understands that the human is the leader, they are extremely affectionate, willing learners and very obedient in nature.
The Bouvier des Flanders is a naturally very clean dog and will typically learn the routine of housetraining within a very short period of time, often just a couple of weeks. They are also good both on and off the leash and can be trained to heel off the leash with little effort once they have passed the impulsive puppy stage. A large breed, they do not mature either physically or mentally until about two to three years of age and so trainers should keep in mind not to expect them to have really mature behaviors even though they are large in size at a young age.
Obedience training and lots of early socialization is a requirement of the breed. They can be somewhat independent and headstrong through their teenage phase so consistency is important. They may also become protective and territorial so socialization is key for the breed. Training the Bouvier des Flanders as a herding dog is a true pleasure. They are very astute and intelligent and will catch on to what the trainer is requiring very quickly and easily. They do require repetition of training until the command is mastered, but once they have it down they seem to never forget. The Bouvier des Flanders makes an ideal obedience show dog as well as an agility dog although their large size is often a bit of a challenge if they are not worked with at this event at a young age.