Bouvier Des Flandres
The Bouvier Des Flandres was historically developed by the farmers of the Flandres region of France/Belgium as a general purpose farm worker. The Bouviers tasks involved herding, guarding, churning and draught work. There are many debates as to the genetic heritage of the Bouvier, but it was primarily the result of selective breeding for necessity and usefulness, rather than beauty or fashion.
The breed numbers were decimated during the 1st and 2nd World Wars where many Bouviers lost their lives working as stretcher bearers and messengers on the battle fields.
With the modernisation of farming methods, the Bouvier Des Flandres became redundant as a farm worker and so its skills of scent tracking, initiative, intelligence and guardianship were utilised by the forces and police. The customary present day role of the Bouvier Des Flandres is as a most loyal and devoted family companion.
The Bouvier is large and somewhat forbidding in appearance, with a reserved and considered disposition. Contrary to itís appearance, the Bouvier is in fact gentle, protective and hopelessly devoted to itís family/owner, with an absolute need to be within close vicinity of itís family at all times. Though not observably demonstrative, this is a breed who cannot be isolated or excluded from the heart of the home.
A first class guardian of house and property, the rugged appearance and deep rumbling bark of the Bouvier will keep uninvited guests safely at bay.
An extremely intelligent and rather reserved breed, ownership of the Bouvier does require commitment to clear rules, training and essential thorough socialisation from an early age. This is a breed which benefits throughout itís life from regular social interaction and activity for both healthy mind and healthy body. It should be noted that a Bouvier will never be forced or bullied into obedience, a well mannered Bouvier is one who has been politely convinced to be so.
The abundantly growing, eternally matting, double coat of the Bouvier presents a choice - daily attention, thorough brushing and regular professional grooming or a short clip. Whichever the decision, it is better considered before this challenging coat becomes a painful, dirty and malodorous problem for both dog and owner.
The facets, foibles and contradictions of the Bouvier could cover many acres of sheet paper, but the final most significant characteristic must be the Bouviers retention of itís herding instinct. Despite now being many generations removed from their agrarian ancestors, the Bouvier can and will forget all obedience when tempted with a field full of cattle or a flock of sheep. Something to bear in mind on those country walks.
This is considered to be a healthy breed in general, with a relatively robust disposition and a long life span. There are no current mandatory or recommended health testing schemes in the UK, so there are few health statistics for the breed.
In the USA and Europe statistics suggest a quantifiable incidence of Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, OCD, Hypothyroidism, Glaucoma and Entropion. These countries follow appropriate health testing schemes for breeding stock.
The coat type would appear to lead to the common occurrence of sebaceous cysts. These are usually harmless and normally present no serious health risks following veterinary examination.
Ears can be prone to infections as a result of the abundant hair growth in the ear canal and inadequate ear care.
Careful selection from healthy parentage, appropriate puppy management, good husbandry and suitable environment all significantly influence the good health and longevity of the breed and of many healthy generations to come.