Those unfamiliar with the Bouvier des Flanders dogs are in for a treat the first time they see one. These dogs are very large and have a powerful body that is nothing short of amazing. Let’s start with the head and face of these gentle giants. The head of the Bouvier des Flanders is unbelievably large as it would have to be for such a huge dog. The observer can recognize this breed of dog by its unique facial hair. The entire head is covered by long, unkept looking fur. The eyes are highlighted by thick eyebrows. Unlike many of the other dog breed, the lips of these large dogs are set close to the teeth. None of the dangling lips like the Saint Bernard or other large breeds.
The body of the Bouvier des Flanders is nothing less than amazing either. You can expect this dog to hold its head up high. The tail of the dog is either left in its natural state or the owner has decided to have it clipped. In cases when the tail is clipped it is done very close to the body of the dog. These dogs have a coat designed to allow for speed and comfort in the woodland areas.
Another fascinating aspect about the appearance of these dogs are the wide, powerful chests and legs. In short, these dogs are some of the most impressively built of the dog kingdom and they look and carry themselves like the princes and princesses they are.
Overall the Bouvier des Flanders has a very attractive coat. The underside is soft and silky and may hold onto debris from the woods and fields so careful brushing is required. The topside of the coat is rather wiry and a bit stiff. It typically looks a little untidy which only adds to the breed’s charm.
For show, the breeder will want the coat of the Bouvier des Flanders to appear with a white patch on the chest, the rest of the body may be a combination of white and black or gray. The brindle coloring or fawn is acceptable as well.
It has already been mentioned that these dogs were used for work on farms and ranches. The Bouvier des Flanders had their beginning in Belgium during the 1600’s. some enterprising farmer had the bright idea to breed sheepdogs and spaniels with the ever powerful mastiffs breeds. The original idea didn’t include room for appearance, so in the early days especially, these dogs often had a very diverse appearance.
Like so many pure breeds of dogs, the Bouvier des Flanders suffered near extinction during the World Wars. To this day, they are still considered to be fairly rare.
More current history has the Bouvier des Flanders still working. Sure some of them are employed as the breed always has been, but with their impressive intelligence, experts are finding they are wonderful as service dogs for the blind or physically disabled.
One of the first things most people want to know about such large dogs as the Bouvier des Flanders is how they get along with other animals. Females are pretty laid back with other canines though both male and female are prone to chasing cats and aren’t a good match. Male dogs that haven’t been neutered have a harder time getting along with other dogs period. Most experts suggest that these strong and powerful dogs be fixed unless the owner plans to breed them.
In other ways, Bouvier des Flanders owners can expect their dog to be very intelligent, emotionally stable, and protective. Throughout history, these dogs have been used in cattle herding and for various other purposes in a ranch or farm setting. As part of their traditional job, these dogs are known to be independent as well as very good at remembering their functions, people, and commands. Training is generally pretty simple with such brilliant animals.
It is important to note though that if early socialization doesn’t happen, these dogs can become rather shy and fearful. A responsible owner will make sure young puppies are around people and other animals as soon as possible. Once they are comfortable with their surroundings, owners can expect to enjoy a wonderful companion as opposed to a playmate.
It shouldn’t come as any huge surprise that the health of the Bouvier des Flanders is typically pretty good. However it is has to be considered that these dogs are a large breed and as such are prone to certain health problems. One of the most common is entropion, an infection of the eye. It is caused by an irritation of the eye and fortunately can be fixed surgically.
Another common health issue to be on the lookout for is CHD or Canine Hip Dysplasia. Lots of large dog breeds have problems with this disorder. It causes stiffness and pain in the back hips and behaves much like arthritis in humans. Depending on the dog and the severity of the case, it can be treated with drugs and possibly surgery.
It almost seems laughable considering that these dogs appear so powerful, but they sometimes have problems with their diets and bloating. This challenge can be overcome by feeding the animal several small meals a day instead of one or two very large ones.
Going the other direction, the Bouvier des Flanders breed is well known for having an amazing high tolerance for pain and are in general incredibly hale animals. With careful observation and normal visits to the vet, these dogs will be just fine.
Overall taking care of the grooming for a Bouvier des Flanders is pretty simple. Along with their massive size, they were gifted an amazingly effective coat. They will need brushed two to three times a week, but that is only to ensure that no debris is caught in the soft undercoat and allowed to create skin irritation.
As far as bathing the dog is concerned, most owners find that it is on an as needed schedule. These dogs are pretty serious about staying clean on their own and don’t tend to need over bathing. Too much bathing is harmful to their skin anyway.
It’s also important to note that these dogs do need a bit more help with their ears. They are prone to dirt and wax build up and those things may cause infection. A professional groomer or the owner can help by clearing the ear of any visible hairs during regular grooming every 3 or 4 months.
It is amazing how easy it is to train the Bouvier des Flanders breed. These dogs are so smart that many owners claimed they can pretty much train themselves. It is important to understand a bit about these dogs as they have some special needs most of the other breeds don’t. the Bouvier des Flanders breed doesn’t reach full maturity until the dog is about 3 years old. During those years, it is vital that the dogs be given moderate, not difficult physical training.
Once these dogs reach maturity, and complete training, these dogs are wonderful for taking on hikes and other outdoor adventures. Considerate owners will remember that these dogs simply don’t have the energy of dog breeds like labs or smaller and mid sized dogs.
While the Bouvier des Flanders breed deal with children just fine, it’s important to note that they aren’t the best playmates. These dogs will interact with kids safely but aren’t the right dog for running through the yard or playing fetch. If a person is considering a dog for a child, another breed would serve the purpose better.
The good thing about smart dogs is that they are pretty easy to train. The biggest challenge with the Bouvier des Flanders puppy is that he or she will mature rather slowly but have the challenge of their large size. The best way around this obstacle is to have patience and work at the dog’s pace. Another absolute when it comes to training this breed is to ensure that the trainer has the control. A good trainer will establish dominance over the dog very early or become ineffective.
The Bouvier des Flanders species is pretty clean anyway, so housebreaking these dogs takes very little time. A few weeks is standard to expect. Like every other command they are taught, once they learn the behavior, they never forget it.
Socialization is key with these big dogs. For the safety of people and the dog, he or she needs to allowed humans and other animals early. This cuts down on the possibility of fearful behavior later.