Let's talk Bouvier des Flandres

With a large, muscular body, impressive, tousled coat, moustache, and beard, the Bouvier des Flandres is hard to miss. Long bred for herding and guarding livestock in their native Belgium, Bouviers are most content when on a mission. Capable of mastering a range of tasks that includes just about everything but washing the windows, the Bouvier des Flandres is not only intelligent, but also affectionate and loyal, traits that make them treasured companions both on and off of the farm.

Official name: Bouvier des Flandres

Other names: Vuilbaard, Vlaamse Koehand, Toucher de bœuf or pic 

Origins: France

 Drooling tendencies

 Very low

 Warm weather?
 Shedding level  Very low  Suited to apartment living ? Medium
 Energy level*  Low to Moderate  Family pet?* Very high
 Compatibility with other pets  Medium  Can stay alone?*

* We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.

For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs.

Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.

Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.

All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company. However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

62 - 70 cm Height
35 - 40 kg Weight
55 - 65 cm Height
27 - 35 kg Weight

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 15 months
 Adult age 15 months to 5 years  
 Mature age  5 to 8 years
 Senior age  From 8 years


Get to know the Bouvier des Flandres

All you need to know about the breed

Their powerful build, thick, shaggy coat and impressive beard and mustache mean the Bouvier des Flandres do anything but fade into the background. Originally bred for heavy-duty farm work like herding, pulling carts, and even turning milk churns, the Bouvier des Flandres is a lively, adaptable breed that thrives on accomplishing missions and pleasing their humans, making them excellent companions in a wide range of scenarios.

Though the Bouvier des Flandres has a build and an athletic ability ideally suited for barnyard chores, this breed is anything but all work and no play. Well-suited to indoor living, Bouviers can chill with the best of them and are quite content lounging at home with their human families. And when they’re not maxing and relaxing, Bouviers are always up for a romp outside, and thrive when given access to an outdoor enclosure where they can let loose off the lead.

Given the historic drive behind their breeding, it’s no surprise that the Bouvier des Flandres is instinctively protective of flock and family. Never one to back down around suspicious strangers, the Bouvier can be rather strong-willed. But, while Bouviers do stand their ground, they’re not known to be unnecessarily aggressive.

Still, given their strong personality, the Bouvier des Flandres will fare better with an experienced trainer capable of firmly but calmly establishing a consistent leadership position. And of course, the earlier a Bouvier des Flandres is trained and socialised, the more well-rounded they will be. 


2 facts about Bouvier des Flandres

1. The nose always knows

A keen sense of smell makes the Bouvier des Flandres an excellent tracker. This ability coupled with their endurance and intelligence soon earned them jobs as police and guard dogs as well as nighttime message carriers for the military during WWII. They were used by the Dutch Resistance, proving so useful that citizens gave them invaluable food scraps to help sustain their war efforts. 

2. Just brush it off 

Because the Bouvier des Flandres enjoys and needs ample outdoor time, their dry, tousled coats get plenty of opportunities to pick up bits of said outdoors – which they then bring back inside. They didn’t earn their Dutch nickname, Vuilbaard – or “dirty beard” – for nothing. It’s a good idea to get your Bouvier used to regular brushing and beard wipes as early as possible, making the experience more pleasant for both of you over the long run.


History of the breed

The Bouvier des Flandres can be traced back to medieval Flanders, a region that encompassed parts of modern-day France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The breed was originally used to herd and drive cattle, hence their name, which translates to “cow herder of Flanders”.

World War I saw the destruction and abandonment of farmlands and large swathes of the Bouvier population were lost. Luckily, the Belgian army kept the breed going, using them as messengers and sentries. And in peacetime, Bouviers continued to distinguish themselves as K-9 police dogs and seeing eye dogs.

The Second World War all but wiped out the Bouvier population. Thanks to expatriates who took several Bouvier des Flandres to the United States, where the breed was recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1929, the breed survived. In 1969, the American Bouvier Club was formed, and the breed has since continued to flourish.


From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Bouvier des Flandres

1. Head

Head is massive and flat with a thick beard and mustache

2. Ears

Triangular ears are high set and rough-coated

3. Coat

Double coat: harsh, dry and waterproof topcoat; undercoat soft and dense

4. Body

Sturdy, barrel-chested body

5. Tail

Tail is docked and carried high


Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Bouvier des Flandres

Hit the grass, Jack!

Because the Bouvier des Flandres does a lot of growing between 4 and 7 months, this period is very important for healthy bone development. It’s best if your Bouvier puppy’s activity is limited to soft surfaces like grass during this period in order to minimise the risk of bone disorders that sometimes manifest in larger breeds. A Bouvier can safely show off their cart-pulling prowess once they’re fully grown and their joints are formed.

Gut instinct

While the Bouvier des Flandres is a healthy breed overall, like other large, deep-chested dogs, they can develop a condition called gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) - more commonly referred to as bloat. Bloat can occur when a Bouvier eats a big meal quickly and drinks a large quantity of water and or exercises just afterwards. Should you notice your Bouvier has a distended belly, dry retches, or seems off in any way, consult your veterinarian as soon as possible to rule out or treat this condition.


Caring for your Bouvier des Flandres

Grooming, training and exercise tips

The Bouvier des Flandres’ shaggy topcoat tends to be a debris magnet, so they’ll need a good brushing every week. Also, a trim every one to two weeks will keep your Bouvier’s nails in shape so they can run and play in comfort.Ever the task-lover, the Bouvier des Flandres excels in dog sports, obedience, herding – the list goes on. Kind firmness and consistency will get the best results when training a Bouvier. Given their strong herding drive, lead training is recommended. A Bouvier des Flandres makes the ideal companion for a family who enjoys frequent biking, jogging, hiking, etc.  A Bouvier should get at least an hour’s worth of exercise every day as well as access to a large, open-air enclosure where they can enjoy a good off-the-lead romp.

All about Bouvier des Flandres

When compared with other dog breeds, the Bouvier des Flanders is considered an occasional barker. Naturally protective, they can bark if suspicious of a stranger. With early socialisation and training, this and any other less desirable behaviours. 

As with most breeds, the Bouvier des Flanders can be a wonderful addition to any family provided they receive early socialisation, training, and overall care. Because they are quite social and deeply loyal to their family, it’s important that the Bouvier be made to feel secure in the family home, where they can relax with their “flock.”  


1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/