Did you know?
During the excavations at Pompeii which was destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, workers found the body of a dog lying across a child, apparently trying to protect the youngster. Legend has it that he was wearing a medallion that noted that he had saved his young master three times.
Bouvier des Flandres
The bond with a true dog is as lasting as the ties of this earth will ever be. – Konrad Lorenz
The Bouvier des Flandres came from the Flanders region of Belgium and France. His name means literally “Cow Herder of Flanders”. Other names he is known by are “Toucheur de Boeuf” (cattle driver), “Vlaamse Koehond” (Flemish cow dog), and “Vuilbaard” (dirty beard)!
The monks at the Ter Duinen monastery in Flanders were among the earliest known breeders of Flanders. They recorded that Irish Wolfhounds and Scottish Deerhounds were bred with local farm dogs, creating the predecessor of the modern Bouvier des Flandres. The Bouvier was originally bred to herd and drive cattle to market and pull carts, and for butter churning. With modernization came mechanized farm equipment which changed the role of the Bouvier.
During World War I, this loyal and courageous dog carried messages across enemy lines and rescued the wounded. As a result of his bravery, the breed was nearly wiped out by the end of the war. A Bouvier named Nic who trained as a trench dog and served during the war is considered to be the founder of the early Bouvier des Flandres breed.
Today, Bouviers perform guard duties for the home or on the farm. They are used for defense work and police work. The breed’s great physical size and abilities along with a keen nose, initiative and intelligence make him very valuable as a tracker and gamekeeper’s aid. Bouviers have also been used as guide dogs for the blind.
Photos displayed courtesy of Colleen Smith-Wilson, Amtrak Reg’d, Ontario
Standing not more than 27.5 inches (69.8 cm) tall at the shoulder, the Bouvier is a strong, powerfully built, rugged dog with a thick, harsh, double-coat able to withstand harsh weather conditions. Coat colour is fawn or grey, often brindle or dark grey, or black. The coat requires regular brushing and grooming to prevent matting.
This is a large, heavy, powerful dog. Males weigh approximately 100 pounds (45.35 kg) fully grown. Their most impressive physical characteristic is their large head and heavy beard and mustache.
Historically, the ears and tail of the Bouvier have been cropped. This may have been done to prevent injuries caused by herding or cart-pulling or it may have been done to identify a working dog rather than a pet. Working dogs were not subject to taxation. The practice of cropping is currently falling out of favour and in some jurisdictions cropping has been forbidden.
The Bouvier is alert, responsive, agile, and spirited. He projects a calm and steady manner and loves the company of people. The Bouvier makes an excellent guard and watch dog as he is naturally aloof with strangers and very protective of his family.
Although he makes a gentle companion for children, especially when socialized early, he may be intolerant of children outside the family.
An intelligent dog, the Bouvier needs a firm, strong leader so he does not lose sight of who is the boss. Therefore, an experienced owner is the best choice to curb a tendency to dominance and over-protectiveness. All dogs should be socialized from a young age and the Bouvier is no exception. An un-socialized Bouvier can become fearful when in new situations. Fearful dogs can become aggressive.
The Bouvier prefers to be put to work. This breed learns relatively quickly so training will be less challenging than with other breeds. However, he can get bored easily so variation in training methods is best.
This breed has an extended puppyhood, not fully maturing until the age of 2–3 years. This is a large dog who needs lots of space and plenty of exercise. He does best in a rural environment. Due to his size, he is not suited to cramped quarters and should have a fenced backyard.
A Bouvier once occupied the White House as the pet of the United States President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan. His name was Lucky.