Bouvier des Flandres
Life span: 10-12 Years
Height: 62-68cm (Male); 59-65cm (Female)
Weight: 70-100 pounds
This loving dog was originally bred to be a farm dog, helping with many things, among which are herding. That means that they have a tendency to attempt to herd small children, pets or even cars. They are loving, caring and calm tempered!
This large dog is strong and muscular, with a well proportioned body. Their tail is normally cropped, but this is not recommended due to its cruelty, and is carried erect when at attention. Its ears are set high atop its head and are also generally cut, although even then they tend to fold down. Its eyes are brown with a black nose. Their double coat is made up of a thick and soft undercoat, and a rough and long overcoat to protect the dog from any weather, although it tends to gather up dirt. Coat colors can be black, red, brown, light brown, white, grey, light grey, blue and cream colored.
They were originally bred to help farmers and cattlemen in their many daily jobs back in the 17th century, in the Northern French Plain and in Southwest Flanders. Their ancestors are unknown and while some believe them to be a result of crossbreeding between Mastiffs, Sheepdogs and Spaniels; others believe their ancestors are the Beauceron and the Griffon. Even though their appearances differed greatly, a breed standard was established in 1912. The ancestor of many Bouviers is a survivor of World War I, who left its mark after appearing in the 1920 Olympics hosted in Antwerp. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1931, when they began being brought into the United States.
This intelligent breed is calm tempered and affectionate with its family. They love playing with children, but can sometimes not measure their strength around them correctly. They tend to retain their puppy attitude until they are around 3 years old, and therefore should never stop receiving training. Early socialization is also very important for this breed given that they have a very protective nature that might result in aggression towards strangers and other pets. They also have a strong herding instinct and should therefore never be let out without a leash and their yard must remain fenced.
Even though this is a healthy breed, they are prone to certain health conditions, such as:
Cancer, noticeable through unusually swollen bumps, bleeding from any orifices, or sores that do not heal, along with difficulty breathing.
Cataracts, in which the lens of the eye clouds, causing partial or complete loss of vision.
Hip dysplasia, a hereditary disease in which there is an abnormal formation in the hip socket, that may eventually cause painful arthritis. It may also be affected by the environment they reside in.
Hypothyroidism, a disease that affects the thyroid gland, its symptoms are ear infections, skin infections, hair loss, lethargy, and depression.
Glaucoma, which causes pressure to build up in the eye and may lead to blindness or cause severe harm in just a few hours. Symptoms can include squinting, red eyes, tearing, eye rubbing, etc. It must be treated as soon as possible.
Gastric dilatation-volvulus, or bloat, is a mortal disease in which large chested dogs are affected by eating quickly, drinking lots of water and exercising after. This causes the stomach to inflate with gas and twist, making the dog unable to get rid of the excess air through vomiting, which impedes the normal blood flow to the heart. Its blood pressure then goes down and the dog goes into shock. Without proper, and immediate, medical attention, this could be fatal. Its symptoms may include: retching without vomiting, bloated abdomen, excessive salivation, restlessness, depression, rapid heart rate, weakness, etc.
Ectropion, a rolling out of the eyelid that exposes the eye to infections and can be corrected through surgery.
Entropion, which affects both lower eyelids, is an inward rolling of the eyelid and is treated through various surgeries to prevent ectropion (a rolling out of the eyelid).
Epilepsy, a neurological disorder that can produce seizures.
Addison’s Disease, or hypoadrenocorticism, which causes a lack of adrenal hormones and can be confused for other diseases. It can be noticed through lethargy, vomiting, lack of appetite, or high levels of potassium, which may lead the dog into a shock and, unfortunately, death.
Cushing’s Disease, or hyperadrenocorticism, in which there is too much cortisol in the body that can be noticed through excessive urination and thirst. It can be treated through medication and surgery.
Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis, which is a heart problem caused by unusually narrow attachment between the aorta and the left ventricle. It can be noticed through fainting and can eventually lead to death through heart failure.
Their coat should be brushed once or twice a week, along with its beard cleaned. Their nails should be trimmed regularly, as well as their teeth brushed and ears checked for any dirt to prevent infections. They need daily exercise and a large playing area, preferably with companions, if not properly entertained the dog might develop destructive behavior, as they were bred to be kept busy doing their jobs. They are easy to train given that they aim to please their owners, but should be trained constantly until it grows out of its puppy phase, at around 2-3 years of age. Early and constant socialization is a must for this breed.