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Bouvier des Flandres

Bouvier des Flandres

Powerful and compact, the Bouvier des Flandres has a rugged and somewhat unkempt appearance, with a long, rough, matt coat, heavy eyebrows, beard, and moustache. Under the incredibly thick coat, there is a muscular dog with a short-coupled powerful build.

The need-to-know
  • Dog suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Enjoys vigorous walks
  • Enjoys walking more than two hours a day
  • Large dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Non hypoallergenic breed
  • Quiet dog
  • Guard dog. Barks, alerts and it's physically protective
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • May require training to live with kids

Key Facts

Lifespan: 10 – 12 years
Weight:  27 – 40kg
Height:  59 – 68cm
Colours:  Bouvier’s coats come in shades of black through to fawn, and brindle,
a small amount of white is permitted on the chest
Size:  Large
UK Kennel Club Groups: Working


Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 4/5
Easy to train: 5/5
Tolerates being alone: 2/5
Likes other pets: 2/5
Energy level: 4/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 1/5


The Bouvier can appear forbidding, serious, and unamused, but to their friends and family, they have an unflappable, amiable nature, and are affectionate and loving. With strangers, they are inclined to be reserved and suspicious but should never be aggressive. Calm and sensible as adults, the Bouvier has the temperament and trainability to perform a variety of tasks and they have been used as police dogs and guide dogs as well as their original farm dog duties.

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Belgium

The Bouvier des Flandres has a rather uncertain history, as many working types do, being selected and bred for working ability rather than appearance. Belgium and France had some similar working breeds including the Bouvier des Ardennes, the Bouvier des Roulers and the Bouvier des Flandres, however these were very much types rather than recognisable breeds with any kind of written breed standard. It is thought that the Bouvier des Flandres was developed from Barbets, Brabanters, Schnauzers, Griffons and Beaucerons, although it is likely other breeds were involved too.

It was not until 1910 that the Bouvier first appeared in the show ring, and this fearless cattle herding, cart pulling, milk churn turning farm dog became known outside the rural areas of Belgium and France.

The Bouvier struggled during the two World Wars as many European dog breeds did, and it wasn’t until 1973 that the breed was fully recognised by the Kennel Club.

Did You Know?

  • The Bouvier may owe its survival to the rather sneaky actions of a young man, Justin Chastel, in Belgium who, unable to afford a stud fee, carefully engineered a walk with his female Bouvier to coincide with the straying of a Bouvier male a few streets away. His mother made him pay the 50-franc stud fee when the resulting puppies were born and this was the start of the famous De La Thudinie kennels.
  • In 1975, the first operational Bouvier police dog, Jango handled by PC Edgar Dyson, ‘passed out’ as top police dog, beating 22 German Shepherd Dogs. He went on to patrol the streets of London and on occasion guarded the Princess of Wales.
  • Bouvier’s are also known as the ‘Vuilbaard’ meaning dirty beard, ‘Koehond’ meaning cow dog and ‘Toucheur de Boeuf’, meaning cattle driver.
  • They’re often referred to as gentle giants by their loving owners.
  • Previously, their tails used to be cropped to prevent damage to them when pulling carts, however this practice is now outdated and is illegal in the UK.


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