Breed Spotlight: Celebrating The Bouvier Des Flandres

A very special pup is bounding into the spotlight this month. The fluffy and lovable Bouvier des Flandres gets his own special day in Januarly for being such a good boy. The official day of Fido’s celebration was January 16, but we’ll be keeping him in the spotlight for a few more weeks. A local Jensen Beach, FL vet discusses this remarkable dog in this article. 


Breed Basics: Bouvier Des Flandres


The Bouviers is a large, strong dog with a big heart. We aren’t kidding about the large part: these guys can weigh up to 120 pounds. Males usually weigh between 75 and 120 pounds and reach between 24 and 27 inches in height, while females typically weigh between 60 and 80 pounds and are usually 23 to 26 inches in height. On average, the Bouvier des Flandres will live for between 10 and 12 years.


The Bouviers des Flandres’ most notable feature is his thick, shaggy double coat. Fido can wear several different colors, including fawn, black, gray, brindle, and salt-and-pepper. His ears are pointed, and he has thick chin fur that resembles a beard, though his isn’t as defined as the  Scottish Terrier’s. (Think of a giant, serious teddy bear in dog form: that’s the Bouvier.) 


What Kind Of Temperament Does A Bouvier Dog Have?


Intelligent, determined, affectionate, and devoted, Bouviers are exceptional canines. They are great working dogs, but are also loving companions that can fit well into many households. 

Though protective, Fido is usually a gentle giant, and won’t bite unless provoked. He typically gets along with other animals, as long as he knows them well. However, he may not always be welcoming towards unfamiliar dogs. Because of his size, we’d also advise caution with very young children. 


Like other working dogs, the Bouvier is very smart. Training is essential, but this intelligent pup is quick to learn. (Tip: These guys are quite food-motivated when it comes to their petucations.)


What Is The Bouvier Des Flandres Known For?


Some of the chores Fido originally assisted with included herding sheep, pulling cards, and droving cattle. He’s made a few career changes over time. Today, most Bouviers are known as great pets and guard dogs. However, they excel at many dog sports, including agility, carting, obedience, tracking, and herding. They also do well working as police dogs and search-and-rescue dogs.


What Famous People Have Owned A Bouvier des Flandres?


Fido isn’t particularly popular: he typically ranks in the 80’s or 90’s on the AKC list. However, he has managed to garner some dedicated admirers, such as Joan Baez, who composed a song called Old Blue in honor of Man’s Best Friend. Joan adopted a one-eyed Bouvier, Ginger. Merv Griffin also had a Bouvier named Keesh.


The Bouvier’s biggest claim to fame comes from the world of politics: he became a First Dog to President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy. Their pup, Lucky, spent a year at the White House before relocating to the Reagan family ranch in California.


What Are The Drawbacks Of Owning A Bouvier Dog?


There are some specific care needs for the Bouvier, as mentioned earlier. This is not a low-maintenance dog. You’ll need to brush him several times a week. 


You’ll also need to keep your canine buddy active. These guys also need room to run: they aren’t a good match for apartment dwellers. 


It’s important to do a lot of research before adopting Fido, to determine if he’s right for your household. Ask your Jensen Beach, FL vet for care tips before adopting any dog.


Do Bouvier Dogs Have Health Concerns?


Like other purebreds, Bouviers are prone to a few specific issues. The breed standard recommends screening for some specific issues, such as hip dysplasia. They are also fairly likely to develop eye problems, including glaucoma, cataracts, and entropion (inwardly turning eyelids). Make sure Fido receives regular veterinary care, and follow your Jensen Beach, FL veterinarian’s recommendations for exams and screenings.


What Are Some Other Famous Bouviers?


The very good boys have made it into the spotlight a few times. First, we have Patrasche, the fictional dog from the classic children’s book A Dog of Flanders. (You can find statues of him in Antwerp.) There was also Gretel, the faithful canine companion of Dr. Romano on ER. A Bouvier also plays a part in Strike Match,  an anime/manga series.


A Dog By Any Other Name


Fido’s name literally translates to Cow Herder of Flanders. However, he’s also picked up a few nicknames. Most people call these guys Bouviers or Bouvier dogs.They are also sometimes called the Toucheur de Boeuf (cattle driver), Vlaamse Koehond (Flemish cow dog), and Vuilbaard (dirty beard).


History Of The Bouvier Des Flandres Breed


Some of the pups in the Bouvier family tree are descended from dogs that were brought to the Flemish monastery Abbey of Duynen in the 11th century. However, Fido’s official history starts with the monks of Ter Duinen monastery, who bred local farm dogs with Irish wolfhounds and Scottish deerhounds. 


Over time, breeders honed in on the desired characteristics, and found themselves with a robust and hard-working canine that thrived on pleasing its owners. The Bouvier became quite popular in the region, for various reasons. Fido excelled at several tasks, such as guarding and herding sheep and cattle, as well as pulling carts to and from the market. Additionally, their thick coats made them well-suited for enduring harsh winters in the area. However, once cars became prevalent, opportunities for farm jobs for these dogs decreased.


There were originally three variants of the breed: the Paret, the Moerman, the Roeselare, and the Briard. The official standards were not agreed upon until 1936, when a French-Belgian committee settled the issue.


A Close Call With Extinction


Thanks to a few fortunate turns of fate, the Bouvier narrowly avoided disappearing from existence in the twenty-first century. In World War I, many of them worked as trench dogs, hauling supplies, carrying messages, and helping the wounded. The war, unfortunately, took a toll on the dogs, and their numbers plummeted. One exceptional trench dog, Nic, played a vital role in the breed’s history. After the war, Nic became a renowned show dog and ultimately, the founding father of today’s Bouvier.


However, the story doesn’t end there. In the aftermath of World War I, the breed, which had just begun to recover from its losses, was again on the verge of extinction. Because they had performed so well as trench dogs in World War II, the Bouviers again became extremely sought after as war dogs. Fido was once again enlisted as a messenger for the Allies and various resistance movements. According to legend, one of the pups bit Adolf Hitler, who then decided to destroy the breed. While no official confirmation has been provided, reports indicate that German soldiers often shot Bouviers on site.


After the war, a handful of determined breeders worked diligently to save the Bouviers from obliteration. 


Contact us, your Jensen Beach, FL pet hospital, today if you have questions about the Bouvier!


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