a curly-coated black dog with text "bouvier des flandres the belgian shepherd"

Bouvier des Flandres: Complete Breed Information [Pictures & More!]

Imagine you are a young calf roaming the countryside of Belgium, wandering a bit too far off the path. You begin to worry because you do not recognize your surroundings, and the rest of the herd is nowhere to be seen. Luckily for you, a Bouvier des Flandres dog bounds down the road and herds you in the direction you need to go!

The Bouvier des Flandres is a wonderful dog breed that is intelligent and powerfully built. Their work ethic is unbelievable! Despite their scruffy appearance, the calm demeanor of the Bouvier des Flandres lets them thrive as noble watchdogs, guardians, and family pets.

Just because these dogs are hard-working does not mean they don’t enjoy some downtime. When the des Flandres dogs finish working the land, you will find that they make affectionate and fantastic companions for any human.

The following piece will continue to highlight the many unique characteristics of the Bouvier des Flandres, their history, how to best care for this breed, and whether a Bouvier des Flandres is the right dog for you.

Bouvier des Flandres Characteristics

One of the most iconic physical characteristics of the Bouvier des Flandres is its rugged, thick double coat. This double coat offers a great deal of warmth and is water-resistant without being too bulky. Overall, their coat is very curly.

Underneath its shaggy exterior, the build of the Bouvier des Flandres is compact yet powerful.,  This breed is known for its agility in herding, and its stern, steady presence on the field. Des Flandres are sure of themselves and can sometimes come across as somewhat strong-headed. But they can also have a sweet and affectionate side too.

Bouvier des Flandres are bold as far as attitude goes. Despite their short height, they continuously demonstrate their physical dominance with their broad chest, long legs, and muscular exterior.

Some standout facial features of the des Flandres breed include floppy ears, broad muzzles, and bushy hair covering their eyes. With a life span of 10-15 years, des Flandres dogs will promise many wonderful memories for years to come.

Bouvier des Flandres Size



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Bouvier des Flandres dogs are relatively short. Male des Flandres can range from 24.5 to 27.5 inches in height, and female des Flandres reach 23.5 to 26.5 inches.

The weight of a Bouvier des Flandres typically lands somewhere between 70 to 110 pounds, making these dogs a sturdy and robust breed.

Bouvier des Flandres Personality

Falling under the herding breed category, Bouvier des Flandres dogs are unrelentingly fearless, tactical, and persistent. They are hard-working when it comes to farm work and are always seeking new challenges to complete.

Des Flandres dogs are also brilliant and can learn tasks quickly. Because of their intelligence, des Flandres can be headstrong and sometimes impatient. 

This impatience is the breed’s downfall, as it tends to lead to boredom. Destruction can follow as a result of this boredom, and then you may end up with a shepherd-sized mess on your hands! But this personality trait demonstrates how adamant the des Flandres are about learning new things and keeping busy.

Aside from their workaholic personality, des Flandres are quite friendly and affectionate. After a rough day out in the fields, a des Flandres dog loves to kick back and relax with its owner until the sun comes up and it’s time for work again.

a black dog standing against the sunset

Bouvier des Flandres Exercise

Since the Bouvier des Flandres is a working breed, they require a decent amount of daily exercise. We recommend providing your Flandres with 60-90 minutes of intense activity every day. Running, sports, or herding are fantastic ways to keep this canine happy and healthy!

Bouvier des Flandres dogs love being outside and working in the fields with cattle and other animals. Not only do they adore fieldwork, but they also make a great companion to someone who enjoys hiking, jogging, or other outdoor activities. If you’re a fan of staying active, a Bouvier des Flandres is more than willing to go along for the ride and try to keep up with you.

Because of their high energy level, des Flandres need access to an environment where they can run and play, perhaps with other dogs or children. So, an apartment building may not be the ideal living situation for this breed. A house with a big yard or access to a large area of land should suffice for a des Flandres.

Related: Expert Tips for Ensuring Your Dog Walks Are Trouble-Free

Bouvier des Flandres Training

As mentioned, des Flandres are incredibly active and enjoy learning new things. Des Flandres can be a rewarding dog breed to train because they constantly seek opportunities to learn new tasks and different activities to participate in.

Bouvier des Flandres are always eager to please their owners, so they are fantastic breeds for competitions. Des Flandres breeds possess many qualities, such as agility and strength, that make them excellent dogs for performing and showcasing. However, des Flandres are only as responsive to training as their owner is stern and confident in teaching them.

Des Flandres constantly seek new ways to stay engaged. They excel in physical activities but can grow bored when they are not stimulated, resulting in destructive behavior. So, it is crucial to keep des Flandres dogs busy by providing new challenges and learning opportunities through physical movement.

Bouvier des Flandres History

Bouvier des Flandres is translated from French as “Cow Herder of Flanders.” The breed originated from Flanders in Belgium, hence the name. Belgium was once home to several “Bouvier” breeds, but the Bouvier des Flandres is the last one standing in any significant number.

The Bouvier des Flandres breed originated as a working dog, herding cattle on farms in Belgium and Northern France. But the des Flandres breed was incredibly versatile and could perform many other jobs as well.  Their ability to serve as watchdogs, guardians, and cart-pullers made this breed desirable to many people.

This Bouvier breed became very popular at the beginning of the 20th century on farms all across Flanders because of their work ethic. But, many des Flandres dogs were lost or killed during the battles of World War I. 

People admired the des Flandres breed during this time because they served as medical dogs and messengers during the war. If it were not for the Belgium army protecting them, the Bouvier des Flandres breed would not be around today.

In 1929, the American Kennel Club recognized the Bouvier des Flandres breed and imported many dogs to the United States. Years later, in 1969, the American Bouvier des Flandres Club was formed. This organization still operates today, providing owners with educational resources on proper care for their des Flandres friend.

Bouvier des Flandres Health Problems

As with any pet, it is essential to understand the potential health issues that may arise. This prepares you to handle them appropriately. Although some of the following health problems can also be found in other canine breeds, these are the most common ones among Bouvier des Flandres dogs.

Dental Disease

Although dental disease is common among most dog breeds (affecting about 80% of dogs), the Bouvier des Flandres is especially prone to dental trouble. These issues begin when tartar builds up on the teeth, resulting in infections that can damage the liver, kidneys, and heart. The best way to prevent dental disease is by cleaning your dog’s teeth regularly and checking for tartar build-up.

Related: What to Expect After Dog Teeth Cleaning: [Costs & Aftercare Explained]

Obesity

Obesity is a significant problem among Bouvier des Flandres dogs. Excessive weight can lead to joint problems, digestive disorders, and heart disease. To prevent these issues, maintain a healthy diet and exercise your dog often. This can significantly lower their chance of becoming obese.

Bloat and Other Digestive Issues

Bouvier des Flandres are famous for having digestive issues like bloat. Bloat occurs more in deep-chested dogs, though its exact cause is unknown. This condition causes the stomach to twist upon itself, preventing gas from escaping. If left untreated, bloat can be fatal! Besides bloat, des Flandres are also prone to general digestive issues like diarrhea or vomiting.  Maintaining a balanced diet while avoiding excess dog treats and table food is the number one solution to stomach issues.

Laryngeal Paralysis

Laryngeal Paralysis is a disease that paralyzes the vocal cords, blocking the airway and making it difficult to breathe. Although this is prevalent in older des Flandres dogs,  symptoms may occur in a dog of any age when exercising or walking around in hot weather. While you can treat mild cases with medication and care at home, more severe cases may need emergency surgery.

a small cute brindle colored puppy sitting on a towel

How to Care for a Bouvier des Flandres

As we said before, Bouvier des Flandres are very active dogs that need plenty of exercise and space to roam free. Des Flandres is a wonderful breed for hiking, jogging, playing fetch, and any other activities that take place outside.

It’s essential to keep a Bouvier des Flandres mentally healthy by always teaching them new skills and tricks. If these dogs find themselves getting even the slightest bit bored, you may find a mess around the house.

Besides keeping a des Flandres physically and mentally content, there are several other aspects to caring for your curly-haired friends, such as diet and grooming.

Nutrition and Feeding for a Bouvier des Flandres

With any dog breed, a nutritious diet is necessary to maintain a long and healthy life. Specifically for a Bouvier des Flanders dog, they respond best to a diet of high-quality dog food

From the young age of a puppy to the older stages of life, a des Flandres responds best to the highest quality of food available. Their chow can be either commercially manufactured or home-prepared, as long as they munch natural and nutritious ingredients.

Compared to other breeds, the des Flandres requires a diet with low protein. The reasoning for cutting back on protein is that des Flandres are prone to obesity, which can lead to other serious problems such as joint pain and heart disease.

To avoid these problems, following a strict diet and hide the treats when you need to! Although giving your dog treats can be great for training, limiting their treat intake will help stabilize your dog’s weight. 

Similarly, withholding table food away from your dog is favorable for keeping them slim and healthy. No matter how cute they look when they beg, don’t give in!

Coat Color And Grooming

Des Flandres breeds have thick (and sometimes knotted) coats that require plenty of attention and patience to maintain. Their double coats are dense yet soft and water-resistant. This double coat is perfect for inclement weather when out on the farmlands and can protect the dog from other uncertain conditions.

Bouvier des Flandres coat color ranges from fawn to black, and sometimes can be a salt and peppered colored coat.

Because of its rugged texture, it is necessary to brush your dog’s coat at least once a week. Brushing your dog’s coat will ensure softer and slicker fur. Regular brushing also helps prevent tangles and mats from forming. Either a slicker brush or a large comb will suffice for a des Flandres breed.

Related: Shiny Dog Coat: The Best Tips to Achieve Gorgeous, Healthy Hair

You may notice that a Bouvier des Flandres coat can grow rather quickly, especially around the face. Trimming the facial features, such as the mustache and shaggy hair over the eyes, should also be done as needed. Otherwise, your dog may have a bit of trouble seeing! You can always have a professional groomer assist you if your Flandres doesn’t let you do this at home.

Bouvier des Flandres have fast-growing nails, so be sure to trim them every two weeks at a minimum. If you don’t trim their nails, you may get scratched up the next time you go in for a hug with your fluffy friend.

Children and Other Pets

Des Flandres make great family pets because of their loyalty and charm. But, because of their innate herding background, it is best to supervise young children in the presence of a Bouvier des Flandres. It is possible that a des Flandres dog could mistake a small child for a young cattle and start herding the child all around the house. Yes, this is funny to imagine, but it could also be traumatizing for the child.

The des Flandres’ herding instincts can also sometimes make them territorial and over-protective. To discourage these traits, start socializing your dog at a young age. Socialization can help prevent any issues related to possession and guarding. You can do this by taking them to the dog park or allowing them to meet strangers when out for walks.

Naturally, des Flandres are meant to herd other animals. So, they may attempt to assert their dominance among other pets. But with proper training and socialization, a des Flandres can learn to be friendly with other dogs. 

Finding time to schedule playdates with other dogs or take them to a dog park can be very beneficial for a des Flandres. This exposure helps them learn how they should interact with other dogs.

As far as their relationship with children, des Flandres are typically well-behaved and have no serious problems being the family pet. However, because of their background in herding, we recommend keeping an eye on your younger children while they play with the family dog. Again, you do not want to catch your Bouvier herding your child all around the house like a baby cow.

a large brown shaggy dog sitting on the grass

Rescue Groups

There are a few outstanding rescue groups dedicated to rescuing the Bouvier breed and finding loving homes for this magnificent animal.

The American Bouvier Rescue League is a non-profit organization on a mission to bring Bouvier des Flandres dogs to beautiful, caring homes. On their website, the American Bouvier Rescue League has tons of information about adoption, volunteer opportunities, and care for this wonderful breed. 

The American Bouvier Rescue League also has a fun 2021 calendar available for purchase with adorable photos of this dog breed on each month. All funds support their cause and organization.

Rescue Me! is another excellent resource for people looking to rescue a new companion of any breed. Rescue Me! does not exclusively specialize in saving Bouvier breeds, but over 130 des Flandres have been adopted using their services.

Rescue Me! is a great place to look if you are interested in bringing home a new furry friend — their listings are constantly being updated. No matter where you live in the United States, Rescue Me! can help you find a dog to rescue and bring home sooner than you think.

Breed Organizations

The most famous breed organization committed exclusively to the des Flandres dog breed for over 50 years is the American Bouvier des Flandres Club.

The American Bouvier des Flandres Club is dedicated to the well-being and continued breeding of the Bouvier des Flandres dog breed. Established in 1963, the American Bouvier des Flandres Club has a long history of helping the breed flourish by educating owners on adequate care for the unique breed. To become a member of the club, a $35 membership fee is required, as well as an application process.

The organization also holds multiple competitions every year for its members’ dogs. Dogs registered with the club can participate in performance and sportsmanship shows. The winners receive their own bronze statue!

As far as upcoming events, the club is hosting the First Annual Texas Bouvier Carting Roundup in Montgomery, Texas, on May 15th and 16th. This event will test the strengths of the Bouvier breed with a series of different carting exercises and challenges.

More About This Dog Breed

Some fun facts about the Bouvier des Flandres dog breed include the many different nicknames they have. Aside from the translation being “Cow Herder of Flanders.” The des Flandres are also known as “dirty beard,” “cow dog,” and “cattle driver.”

In Belgium, the breed’s birth country, a des Flandres dog cannot win a title championship unless the dog has won a prize working as a police, defense, or army dog.

Also, the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan, had a Bouvier des Flandres dog named Lucky.

Most certainly, the Bouvier des Flandres breed is a beautiful canine that not only can help with many different tasks around the house or on the farm, but they are incredibly loyal, caring, and nonstop joy to have.



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