Originally the Bouvier des Flandres was used as a herding dog, as a draught dog and as a churning dog. The modernisation of farm equipment has affected these first tasks and nowadays the Bouvier des Flandres is above all used as a guard dog for the estate and the farm, as a defence and police dog. Its physical and behavioural aptitudes, its great qualities of scent, initiative and intelligence warrant its use as a tracking dog, a messenger dog and a gamekeeper's dog. (1)
The monks at the Ter Duinen monastery in Flanders were among the earliest known breeders of Flanders. The Bouviers bred by them are recorded as having been bred from imports such as Irish Wolfhounds and Scottish Deerhounds with local farm dogs, until a breed considered to be the predecessor of the modern Bouvier des Flandres was obtained. This became a working dog able to perform tirelessly, herding and guarding cattle and even pulling cargo carts, thanks to its strength and temperament, and to withstand the local weather conditions due to its thick coat. (2)(3)
The Bouvier is a powerfully built, compact, rough-coated dog of rugged appearance. It gives the impression of size and strength without clumsiness or heaviness. Perhaps its most notable feature is the impressive head which is accentuated by a heavy beard and moustache. (2)
The Bouvier des Flandres has the calm, thoughtful character of a sensible, but fearless dog. Its lively look indicates intelligence, energy and audacity. (1)
Bouviers should be socialised well, preferably starting at an early age, to avoid shyness, suspiciousness, and being overly reserved with strangers (although the breed is naturally aloof with strangers). Protection of the family when danger is present is not something that needs to be taught, nor is it something one can train out of them. The dog will rise to the occasion if needed. A good family dog, the Bouvier likes, and is excellent with, children. The Bouvier is very adaptable and goes about its business quietly and calmly. Obedience training starts when they are young. Their behaviour depends on the owner's ability to communicate what is expected, and on the individual dominance level of the dog. They are usually good with other dogs if they are raised with them from puppyhood. Dominant individuals can be dog-aggressive if the owners are not assertive and do not communicate to the dog that fighting is unwanted. Slow to mature both in body and mind, the Bouvier does not fully mature until the age of 2–3 years. (2)
Height at withers: 62-68 cm for males (24 ½ to 26 3/4 ins) 59-65 cm for females (23 1/4 to 25 ½ ins) For both sexes the ideal size is the middle range, ie 65cm for males, 62 cm for females.
Weight: Approx 35-40 kg for males (77 to 88 lbs) 27-35 kg for females (60 to 77 lbs) (1)
Now you know a little about the Bouvier des Flandres you may have think that this is the dog for you. Before you make a decision, please make contact with the breed club or your State controlling body for purebred dogs. They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog shows where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the Bouvier des Flandres and its needs and whether this breed would suit your lifestyle.