The Bouvier des Flandres is a dog breed originating in Flanders. They are used for general farm work including cattle droving, sheep herding, cart pulling, and as guard dogs, police dogs, and security dogs, as well as being kept as pets. It can be noted that usage of the French name (meaning, literally, “Herdsman of Flanders”) is contradictory with the Flemish origin of the breed; in Flemish, they are known as Koehond, or cattle dog. Other names for the breed are Toucheur de Boeuf (cattle driver) and Vuilbaard (dirty beard).
(Alternative names: Flanders Cattle Dog, Vlaamse Koehond)
Bouvier des Flandres Appearance
Their weight ranges from 80 to 125 pounds or 36 to 56 kilograms; they are powerfully built, with a thick double coat, which can be fawn, black, grey brindle, or “pepper and salt” in color.
Bouvier des Flandres History
The history of this dog is tied to war. During World War I, Bouviers were used by the French for war efforts, from getting messages to the front to hauling equipment. By the end of the war, the Bouvier population was severely depleted and in jeopardy of extinction. A group of dog enthusiasts from Belgium stepped in and successfully bred the Bouviers back to healthy numbers.
In World War II, the Bouvier again faced extinction, but not because they were being used in war. Adolf Hitler was deciding on a breed of guard dog for the Third Reich to use. Having heard of the Bouvier’s strengths and abilities, Hitler requested to meet this dog. When Hitler reached out his hand, the Bouvier snapped at him, biting his hand. Hitler decreed that all Bouviers were to be killed on sight. Again, it was the people of Belgium who successfully re-established the breed.
With the mechanization of even rural farms, few Bouviers are used for pulling carts or for cattle droving or sheep herding any more. Today, they serve mainly as professional guard dogs or as family pets with guardian as a sideline, duties for which their natural stability and good sense make them well suited.
Bouvier des Flandres Health
As a breed, they are not exceptionally long lived, seldom passing the age of ten years. Their deep chest makes them one of the breeds disposed to develop the volvulus and bloat syndrome.