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  • Temperament: Affectionate, Courageous, Strong-Willed
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 83 of 194
  • Height: 24.5-27.5 inches (male), 23.5-26.5 inches (female)
  • Weight: 70-110 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
  • Group: Herding Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Bouvier des Flandres standing sideways facing left
Bouvier des Flandres standing facing forward
Bouvier des Flandres sitting, head turned right
Bouvier des Flandres coat detail
Bouvier des Flandres

Find a Puppy: Bouvier des Flandres

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GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Bouvier des Flandres is a powerfully built, compact, short-coupled, rough-coated dog of notably rugged appearance. He gives the impression of great strength without any sign of heaviness or clumsiness in his overall makeup. He is agile, spirited and bold, yet his serene, well behaved disposition denotes his steady, resolute and fearless character. His gaze is alert and brilliant, depicting his intelligence, vigor and daring. By nature he is an equable dog. His origin is that of a cattle herder and general farmer’s helper, including cart pulling.

HEAD

The head is impressive in scale, accentuated by beard and mustache. It is in proportion to body and build. The expression is bold and alert. Eyes neither protrude nor are sunken in the sockets. Their shape is oval with the axis on the horizontal plane, when viewed from the front. Their color is a dark brown. The eye rims are black without lack of pigment and the haw is barely visible. Yellow or light eyes are to be strongly penalized, along with a walleyed or staring expression. Ears placed high and alert. If cropped, they are to be a triangular contour and in proportion to the size of the head. The inner corner of the ear should be in line with the outer corner of the eye. Ears that are too low or too closely set are serious faults.

NECK,TOPLINE, BODY

The neck is strong and muscular, widening gradually into the shoulders. When viewed from the side, it is gracefully arched with proud carriage. A short, squatty neck is faulty. No dewlap. Back short, broad, well muscled with firm level topline. It is supple and flexible with no sign of weakness. Body or trunkpowerful, broad and short. The chest is broad, with the brisket extending to the elbow in depth. The ribs are deep and well sprung. The first ribs are slightly curved, the others well sprung and very well sloped nearing the rear, giving proper depth to the chest. Flat ribs or slabsidedness is to be strongly penalized. Flanks and loins short, wide and well muscled, without weakness. The abdomen is only slightly tucked up. The horizontal line of the back should mold unnoticeably into the curve of the rump, which is characteristically wide. A sunken or slanted croup is a serious fault.

FOREQUARTERS

Strong boned, well muscled and straight. The shoulders are relatively long, muscular but not loaded, with good layback. The shoulder blade and humerus are approximately the same length, forming an angle slightly greater than 90 degrees when standing. Steep shoulders are faulty.Elbows close to the body and parallel. Elbows which are too far out or in are faults. Forearms viewed either in profile or from the front are perfectly straight, parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground. They are well muscled and strong boned.

HINDQUARTERS

Firm, well muscled with large, powerful hams. They should be parallel with the front legs when viewed from either front or rear. Legs moderately long, well muscled, neither too straight nor too inclined. Thighs wide and muscular. The upper thigh must be neither too straight nor too sloping. There is moderate angulation at the stifle.Hocks strong, rather close to the ground. When standing and seen from the rear, they will be straight and perfectly parallel to each other.

COAT

A tousled, double coat capable of withstanding the hardest work in the most inclement weather. The outer hairs are rough and harsh, with the undercoat being fine, soft and dense. The coat may be trimmed slightly only to accent the body line. Overtrimming which alters the natural rugged appearance is to be avoided. Topcoat must be harsh to the touch, dry, trimmed, if necessary, to a length of approximately 2½ inches. A coat too long or too short is a fault, as is a silky or woolly coat. It is tousled without being curly. Ears are rough-coated. Undercoat a dense mass of fine, close hair, thicker in winter. Together with the topcoat, it will form a water-resistant covering.

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About the Bouvier des Flandres

Standing as high as 27.5 inches, with heavy bone and powerful muscles beneath a weatherproof coat, and an impressive head accented by beard and mustache, Bouviers can do anything that needs doing in a barnyard or pasture except milk the cows. And yet, Bouviers are more than just farm equipment. Their sterling character, huge heart, and keen intelligence endear them to dog lovers the world over.

The Bouvier work ethic must be accommodated, and happily the breed’s versatility allows them to do myriad tasks. Bouviers are excellent watchdogs and guardians, and eager participants in dog sports, especially herding trials. These strong-willed dogs do best with owners who can devote ample time and space to a top-of-the-line working dog.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Bouvier des Flandres

Find a Puppy: Bouvier des Flandres

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Bouvier des Flandres Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Bouvier should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior), and the Bouvier requires a diet lower in protein than most other breeds. Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

The Bouvier’s coat needs brushing once or twice a week. A good slicker brush or pin brush and large comb will work for this. The beard may need cleaning at the same time, and the dog’s toenails should be trimmed every week or two.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Daily Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

The Bouvier was bred to do everything that needs doing in a barnyard and pasture except milk the cows. They are happiest when they stay busy. A bored Bouvier can be a very destructive one. They are an excellent fit for an active household with an owner who hikes or jogs or even bikes. The Bouvier needs a large, enclosed exercise area where he can romp and play, preferably with other dogs or kids who will keep him in good condition both mentally and physically. Heavy exercise should be limited while he is a growing puppy.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Energetic

TRAINING

The Bouvier is happiest when he has a job to do, whether that job is babysitting, herding, obedience, or guard dog or rescue work. Bouviers are easily trained to do almost any type of dog sport or activity, and they usually excel at it. They have a strong prey drive so should be well socialized from the start. They are consummate showmen and enjoy working or competing with their owner at their side. Extremely eager to please, once they know what you want them to do, they will do their best to satisfy you. This breed is well suited for search and rescue work and adapts to the training easily.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Agreeable

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Alert/Responsive

HEALTH

Bouviers are generally healthy dogs, and responsible breeders will screen their stock for health conditions such as Bouvier des Flandres myopathy, cataracts, deafness, ectopic ureters, epilepsy, glaucoma, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, laryngeal paralysis, megaesophagus, elbow dysplasia, portosystemic shunt, and subaortic stenosis. Like all large and deep-chested breeds, the Bouvier can experience gastric dilatation and bloat. Owners should learn how identify this potentially life-threatening condition and learn what emergency steps to take to address it.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Cardiac Exam

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Bouvier des Flandres
Bouvier des Flandres
Bouvier des Flandres
Bouvier des Flandres
Bouvier des Flandres
Bouvier des Flandres

History

Bouvier des Flandres roughly translates as “cowherd of Flanders.” In the breed’s formative years, it was called “vuilbaard” (“dirty beard”), “koehond” (“cow dog”), and “toucher de boeuf or pic” (“cattle driver”)—apt descriptions of this majestic herder. Belgium once had several “bouvier” breeds; the Bouvier des Flandres is the last to exist in any great numbers.

In medieval times, when the Bouvier was first conceived, Flanders was a principality encompassing parts of modern-day France, Belgium, and The Netherlands. (To this day, both France and Belgium claim the Bouvier as a native breed.) As the breed’s many early names suggest, moving cattle was the Bouvier’s primary occupation. But the thrifty farmers of France and the Low Countries preferred owning one versatile dog instead of a team of specialists, so Bouviers earned their keep as herders, watchdogs, guardians, and cart-pullers.

By the turn of the 20th century, Bouviers were attracting the attention of international dog fanciers far from the farms and pastures of Flanders. A Belgian breed club was formed, and French and Belgian experts drew up a written standard. With the outbreak of World War I, however, the Bouvier’s bucolic homeland became a nightmarish battlefield. The region’s farmers were displaced, and their dogs lost or destroyed.

The Belgian army was responsible for keeping the breed alive, and Bouviers distinguished themselves as courageous and resourceful dogs of war. In peacetime, Bouviers burnished their résumé as European police K-9s and guide dogs for the blind.

After the second world war the Bouvier was again nearly extinct, but European expatriates kept the breed alive in America. The American Bouvier des Flandres Club was formed in 1963.

Did You Know?

The Bouvier originated in Southwest Flanders and on the French northern plain.
Other names for the Bouvier include Vuilbaard (dirty beard), koehond (cow dog), toucheur de boeuf or pic (cattle driver).
In Belgium, a Bouvier cannot win the title of champion unless he has also won a prize in work-competition as a police, defense, or army dog.
The owners/farmers needed help with their work. They needed a dog to churn the butter and grist mill, haul the product to market, drive the cattle and guard the farm and stock.
The Bouvier was first exhibited at the international dog show in may 1910 in Brussels, although a standard did not exist until 1912.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Bouvier des Flandres is a powerfully built, compact, short-coupled, rough-coated dog of notably rugged appearance. He gives the impression of great strength without any sign of heaviness or clumsiness in his overall makeup. He is agile, spirited and bold, yet his serene, well behaved disposition denotes his steady, resolute and fearless character. His gaze is alert and brilliant, depicting his intelligence, vigor and daring. By nature he is an equable dog. His origin is that of a cattle herder and general farmer’s helper, including cart pulling.

HEAD

The head is impressive in scale, accentuated by beard and mustache. It is in proportion to body and build. The expression is bold and alert. Eyes neither protrude nor are sunken in the sockets. Their shape is oval with the axis on the horizontal plane, when viewed from the front. Their color is a dark brown. The eye rims are black without lack of pigment and the haw is barely visible. Yellow or light eyes are to be strongly penalized, along with a walleyed or staring expression. Ears placed high and alert. If cropped, they are to be a triangular contour and in proportion to the size of the head. The inner corner of the ear should be in line with the outer corner of the eye. Ears that are too low or too closely set are serious faults.

NECK,TOPLINE, BODY

The neck is strong and muscular, widening gradually into the shoulders. When viewed from the side, it is gracefully arched with proud carriage. A short, squatty neck is faulty. No dewlap. Back short, broad, well muscled with firm level topline. It is supple and flexible with no sign of weakness. Body or trunkpowerful, broad and short. The chest is broad, with the brisket extending to the elbow in depth. The ribs are deep and well sprung. The first ribs are slightly curved, the others well sprung and very well sloped nearing the rear, giving proper depth to the chest. Flat ribs or slabsidedness is to be strongly penalized. Flanks and loins short, wide and well muscled, without weakness. The abdomen is only slightly tucked up. The horizontal line of the back should mold unnoticeably into the curve of the rump, which is characteristically wide. A sunken or slanted croup is a serious fault.

FOREQUARTERS

Strong boned, well muscled and straight. The shoulders are relatively long, muscular but not loaded, with good layback. The shoulder blade and humerus are approximately the same length, forming an angle slightly greater than 90 degrees when standing. Steep shoulders are faulty.Elbows close to the body and parallel. Elbows which are too far out or in are faults. Forearms viewed either in profile or from the front are perfectly straight, parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground. They are well muscled and strong boned.

HINDQUARTERS

Firm, well muscled with large, powerful hams. They should be parallel with the front legs when viewed from either front or rear. Legs moderately long, well muscled, neither too straight nor too inclined. Thighs wide and muscular. The upper thigh must be neither too straight nor too sloping. There is moderate angulation at the stifle.Hocks strong, rather close to the ground. When standing and seen from the rear, they will be straight and perfectly parallel to each other.

COAT

A tousled, double coat capable of withstanding the hardest work in the most inclement weather. The outer hairs are rough and harsh, with the undercoat being fine, soft and dense. The coat may be trimmed slightly only to accent the body line. Overtrimming which alters the natural rugged appearance is to be avoided. Topcoat must be harsh to the touch, dry, trimmed, if necessary, to a length of approximately 2½ inches. A coat too long or too short is a fault, as is a silky or woolly coat. It is tousled without being curly. Ears are rough-coated. Undercoat a dense mass of fine, close hair, thicker in winter. Together with the topcoat, it will form a water-resistant covering.

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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Black Check Mark For Standard Color 007
Brindle Check Mark For Standard Color 057
Fawn Check Mark For Standard Color 082
Gray Brindle Check Mark For Standard Color 107
Pepper & Salt Check Mark For Standard Color 139
Black & Brindle 008
Black & Brown 009
Black & Fawn 011
Black & Gray 012
Black & White 019
Blue 037
Blue & Gray 048
Brown 061
Silver & Gray 180
White 199

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Black Mask 004
Brindle Markings 007
White Markings 014

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