The Bouvier des Flandres
Belgian Cattle Dog

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Bouvier des Flandres
Belgian Cattle Dog
Weight: 70 — 90 lbs
Height: 24” — 28”
AKC Rank 2008 #81
Lifespan: 10—12 yrs
Group Herding
Origin: Belgium

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Dog Breed Info - Bouvier des Flandres

Breed Overview

Origin: 1600’s. Original function: Cattle herding, guarding. Today, Guarding, herding. Colors: fawn, black, salt and pepper, grey and brindle.

Farmers on the French northern plains near Flandres, France and The Netherlands used the Bouvier des Flandres to control cattle on the farmlands. Bouvier means ox driver or cow driver in French. They were also called “koe hond” meaning cow dog. The dog’s main job was to drive and guard cattle. The Bouvier was an all purpose farm dog, guardian and draft dog. The Bouvier possibly had some mastiff, sheepdog and maybe even some spaniel breeds in it’s line of heritage. The first breed standard was completed in 1912. The breed was nearly wiped out during the two world wars even though some of the dogs worked as messengers and ambulance assistants during the wars. The first Bouviers came to America in the early 1900’s. The AKC recognized the breed in 1931. They still serve as herding, guard dogs and personal companions.


Fairly easy to train. She listens and wants to please. She has been trained in guard work for many years and is intelligent. You teach, she'll learn, especially with clicker training and positive reinforcement.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Bouvier des Flandres puppy? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

The Bouvier des Flandres puppy is usually easy to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.


This is not a breed for warm, moist climates! The Bouvier des Flandres has had many jobs including herding and guarding. She is a mostly gentle, stable, even-tempered companion dog that is very protective of the family, children and property. She is known to be loyal and fearless. However, this dog needs plenty of exercise in the form of jogging or walks or play sessions. Once exercised, she is calm and well mannered around the house. She’s an excellent watch dog and guardian. This dog is fiercely loyal. The Bouvier des Flandres needs early socialization and training, as she can easily become dominating if given the chance. This breed must be kept at the bottom of the pack and submissive. This is not a breed for a beginner or for just anyone.

If you happen to get a Bouvier with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."


Friendly Toward Other Dogs

Might be a problem. She may pick and choose her dog friends. She does not hate all dogs, just some.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

Good idea if she’s raised with other dogs and cats. Anything else in the house is likely to be chased.

Friendly Toward Strangers

Good with strangers, considering her guarding attributes. May be wary with some people.


A little playful, but mostly business. Kind of falls short here.


Somewhat affectionate. The Bouvier des Flandres is a very devoted, loyal household dog that’s reliable and protective but not a lapdog or couch potato. She will bond and curl up beside you though.

Good with children

Yes, generally, especially with well-mannered kids but her herding instincts may cause her to nip and bite at heels in play and running. Ouch!

Good with Seniors over 65?

Yes. The Bouvier des Flandres is well matched to Seniors as long as they can walk or jog a bit every day or throw a ball in the yard for a half hour at a stretch. This is a loyal, dependable and moderately affectionate companion that can be excellent company for a senior on a cold winter nights.

Living environment

House with medium size fenced yard, farm or ranch, preferably in a cool, dry climate. This breed can NOT be left out in the heat and humidity. It has a heavy coat that will cause a trip to the vet.

If you have a property with a secure, fenced yard, the dog will appreciate playing fetch with a ball or Frisbee for exercise.


Energy level

Moderately high.

Exercise needs, daily

Moderate. Some jogging, OR a long walk OR some vigorous fetch in the yard is good the the Bouvier des Flandres. You can’t put the exercise off, as the Bouvier will become inventive and create her own activities.


Excellent watchdog. The best.

Guard dog

Excellent guard dog.


A little. Low dander, saliva count, Good with allergy people.


Heavy coat. Brush three times a week. Trim to maintain shape quarterly.



Suggested Reading - Bouvier des Flandres
Click on the cover photos for more book information and reviews.

  • First two books are general history, care and information for Bouvier owners and are considered collectibles.

  • 3rd book takes your dog way beyond normal obedience training and into THERAPY DOG training. "A Dog Who's Always Welcome" is the most friendly, polite dog you can imagine and you can take him anywhere!

  • Book on the right is "101 Dog Tricks" which is great for providing your dog with mental stimulation and interesting things to do. The book teaches things I had never thought of!

Bouvier des Flandres Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Bouvier des Flandres puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training. It's not often that Bouvier puppies turn up in dog pounds and shelters.
Bouvier des Flandres Breeders with puppies for sale.

Bouvier des Flandres Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of an older dog and are looking for a Bouvier des Flandres Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Bouvier des Flandres Rescue As I write this, Petrfinder is showing only 17 Bouvier's available for adoption in the entire country! That figure can vary of course.
Adopt A Pet Based on the findings at Petfinder (above)) this appears to be a very scarce breed. You may want to go online and search for Bouvier des Flandres Rescue,kennels, etc..


Dog Health Issues For The Bouvier des Flandres
Below are the Dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the Bouvier des Flandres by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog health and medical issues this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain, lameness, arthritis and difficulty walking for the Bouvier des Flandres. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

  • Cataracts — Hazy or cloudy vision similar to humans and can cause blindness if not treated.

  • Glaucoma - Painful pressure builds in the eye and if not treated eventually leads to total blindness.

  • Canine Muscular Dystrophy—Hereditary. Progressively debilitating muscle disorder. First signs show at six to nine weeks. Weakness, muscle atrophy, stiff walking and awkward movements refuses to exercise, .trouble swallowing, trouble moving the tongue, drools excessively and by now you should be worried because there is no cure for MD and the only hop is through stem cell research, the same as for humans with MD.. Breeders, be aware!

  • Gastric Torsion—Sometimes called Dog Bloat or “Twisted stomach.” Mainly in larger, deep-cheated dogs. Here's a brief description of the problem:
    Symptoms include excessive drooling, nervous pacing, agitation, weakness, attempt to vomit, bulging stomach area, heavy breathing, retching and gagging, shock or total collapse.

  • Elbow Dysplasia—This, as with hip dysplasia, is something the dog is born with. Wear and time in the front legs (elbow joints) cause lameness by the time the dog is roughly a year old. If you have a dog prone to this disease, have an early x-ray to see if surgery to the joints will stave off further damage to the joints. Typically, there has been no cure, but recently doctors have come up with some ideas. 1) Keep the weight of your dog down. 2) Use anti-inflammatory medication. 3) Look into injections of stem-cells to help regenerate bone-covering cartilage to cause the bones to line up properly again. (This is new research and some vets may not know about it so ask around.)

  • Subvalvular aortic stenosis—(SAS) Hereditary, possibly congenital heart disease. An obstruction in the heart causing a murmur. Has been detected at 4 weeks and up to 4 years of age. Newfoundlands, Bouvier des Flandres, and Golden's are named among others. Treatment for very mild cases is do nothing as the dog will live a normal life EXCEPT for accidents and dental work where the heart will be stressed and then antibiotics will be given. For more moderate to severe cases, medication is given but there is a chance of sudden death.

  • Entropion—Eye irritation caused by the eyelids and lashes rolling inward. The problem is usually inherited and found in young, adult dogs. It can come from an eyelid spasm. Affected eyes will be held partially shut and tear excessively. Both eyes will usually be affected the same. Treatment for the condition requires eye surgery.

  • Laryngeal paresis— A paralysis of the larynx. Found in middle aged and older, larger dogs like Labs, Bouvier des Flandres, St. Bernard's, and Retrievers. It’s a malfunction or weakness of the muscles of the larynx or the controlling nerves. The larynx does not function properly causing difficulty breathing. This can also be caused by an injury to the larynx, illness and other factors. If you notice a change in voice, trouble breathing, coughing, gagging, fainting or any other odd symptom, get to the vet right away.

  • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the dog's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the dog’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

Other health problems could occur with your Bouvier des Flandres. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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