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Bouvier des Flandres
History
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Dr. Adolphe Reul, of the Veterinary School of Brussels, was the first to call the attention of breeders to the many good qualities of the Bouvier. At that time, the Bouvier was a dog of great size (about 26 inches high at the shoulder), with a heavy cylindrical body, rough gray, dark hair, and a rough appearance. It was found in Southwest Flanders and on the French northern plain. As a rule, it was owned by people who occupied themselves with cattle, for the dog's chief aptitude seemed to be cattle driving.

Most of the early Bouvier breeders were farmers, butchers, or cattle merchants not particularly interested in breeding pedigreed dogs. All they wanted was help in their work. No one is surprised that the first Bouviers were not absolutely uniform in size, weight, and color. Nevertheless, they all had enough characteristics in common to be recognized as Bouviers. They had different names - Vuilbaard (dirty beard), koehond (cow dog), toucheur de boeuf or pic (cattle driver).

The Societe Royale St. Hubert took cognizance of the breed when it appeared on the show benches at the International Dog Show of May 1910, in Brussels. The two Bouviers shown there were "Nelly" and "Rex' belonging to a Mr. Paret of Ghent. However, a standard of the Bouvier type was not adopted until 1912. That was accomplished by a Frenchman, Mr. Fontaine, vice president of the Club St. Hubert du Nord. At that time a society of Bouvier breeders, founded in Roules (West) Flanders, invited many of the most famous Belgian experts to a meeting in August of that year. Those attending drew up a standard of perfection which became the first official standard to be recognized by the Societe Royale St. Hubert.

From then on, the Bouvier des Flandres grew to be more and more appreciated, and were listed in the L.O.S.H. (the stud book of the Society Royale St. Hubert).

The breed was making rapid progress when World War I broke out. The areas where the Bouvier was most largely bred and where it was becoming popular were entirely destroyed; the people left the country and most of the dogs were lost. Many were abandoned and died, others were acquired by the Germans. However, a few men succeeded in keeping their dogs all through the war.

The dog whose progeny afterwards did much to revive the Bouvier in Belgium lived in the Belgian army as the property of Veterinarian Captain Barbry. This dog, Ch. Nic de Sottegem, was shown in 1920 at the Olympic show in Antwerp, where the judge, Charles Huge, said: "Nic is the ideal type of Bouvier. He has a short body, with well-developed ribs, short flanks, strong legs, good feet, long and oblique shoulders. His head is of a good shape, with somber eyes and an ideal courageous expression. His hair is dry and dark. The tail should not have been cut so short. I hope that this dog will have numerous progeny."

Mr. Huge's hope was realized. When Nic died in 1926, he left many descendants whose names appear in almost every pedigree. Among those worthy of mention are Prince D'Or, Ch. Draga, Coralie de Sottegem, Goliath de la Lys, Lyda, Nora, Ch. Dragon de la Lys, etc. From these dogs, gathered together one day at Ghent, a group of experts, including Charles Huge,V. Tenret,V Taeymans, Count de Hemptinne, Captain Binon, and A. Gevaert, after examining and measuring each one carefully, established a more comprehensive standard.

The Bouvier was recognized by the AKC in 1929, and admitted to the Stud Book in 1931. American fanciers imported dogs regularly from Europe until World War II. At the end of the war interest revived, and the American Bouvier des Flandres Club was established in 1963.





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