Complete Guide To The Bouvier des Flandres: Health, Personality, Grooming and More

Bred to be an all-purpose dog, there really isn’t anything the Bouvier des Flandres can’t do. From herding to protecting, this dog makes an excellent farm dog and a good family companion. Although large and imposing in size, this breed of dog is relatively low-energy, easily trainable, and a loving family member.  

Bouviers are so distinctive that everyone in my veterinary practice can identify the breed when they first walk through the door. These are great dogs and I’m always happy to see one become a new patient of mine.

How Big Does A Bouvier des Flandres Get?

Male24.5″ – 27.5″ at the shoulder85-110 lbs
Female23.5″ – 26.5″ at the shoulder70-90 lbs

What Does A Bouvier des Flandres Look Like?

The Bouvier des Flandres is a very large dog that is athletic and sturdy. This dog is known for its characteristic weatherproof, thick coat. The Bouvier des Flandres has a double coat that is water-repellent and dense. The undercoat is soft and downy.

This dog comes in a range of acceptable colors, including black, brindle, fawn, and salt and pepper. Some dogs will even feature a white star on the chest. The fur is long, and the dog appears to have a beard and mustache with longer hair around the face.  

What Is The Personality Of A Bouvier des Flandres?

Loving and loyal, the Bouvier is an affectionate dog who cares not only for its human family but also for its farm family. This breed makes an excellent watchdog due to its imposing size and its huge heart. While the Bouvier des Flandres will willingly protect its family and herd, it is not overly aggressive and will only defend its family if needed.  

This dog is happiest when it has a well-defined job to do. Because of its versatility, a job could be anything from babysitting a family member, protecting a herd, or working in dog athletic competitions. The dog is very eager to please and is easy to train.

Their high intelligence and people-pleaser attitude make it perfect for police work and search and rescue work. Although easy to train, the Bouvier can have a strong personality, so it needs steady, consistent, and positive training

How Much Grooming Does A Bouvier des Flandres Need?

The Bouvier has a thick, double-coat that requires some regular grooming maintenance each week. To keep the coat in good condition, use a slicker brush or a large comb to brush the coat about once or twice per week. While you are brushing the dog, pay close attention to the dog’s beard, which may need special attention to remove dirt and debris.

Only bathe the dog when necessary to remove dirt. Be sure to keep the nails trimmed short and the ears cleaned about once a month to prevent ear infections.  

How Much Exercise Does A Bouvier des Flandres Need?

Although this is a large and active dog, it is not necessarily a high-energy breed. This dog likes to stay busy and is happy to roam a large yard or a farm. An enclosed area is essential for this breed of dog, and they do not do well in a small apartment setting. The dog is happy to accompany you on a long walk, hike, or jog, or romp in a yard playing with other dogs or children.  

Because this dog is so easy to train and enjoys work, the Bouvier does exceptionally well at canine athletics. Consider enrolling this dog in canine herding competitions, agility, or obedience trials. This dog is incredibly intelligent and very athletic, and more than capable of outperforming the competition. Canine athletics also gives you a chance to bond with your dog while keeping it active and working.  

Activities That I Recommend With This Breed:

  • Walking
  • Hiking (don’t do this if your dog has any orthopedic issues)
  • Agility Training (these guys do great at this!!)
  • Dog Parks

What Kind of Dog Food Is Good For A Bouvier des Flandres?

For Bouvier puppies, you will need to make sure you don’t feed them too much too fast. It’s easy because they are usually chow hounds, but you want to control their growth. Growing too fast can cause some early bone and joint problems that are easily avoided.

I tend to recommend my clients feed more mainstream dog foods rather than the boutique-style foods that have become popular in recent years. The larger pet food companies have more resources to research and produce their foods and are generally less expensive but still quite palatable and do a great job of providing quality nutrition to your dog.

Best Puppy Food For Bouviers:

Best Adult Food For Bouviers:

Please don’t listen to the folks at the pet store trying to convince you to buy a grain-free diet for your dog. There’s zero science behind that and vets are actually seeing diseases now related to feeding grain-free foods.

How Long Does A Bouvier des Flandres Live?

10-12 years according to information from the AKC

What Health Problems Can Bouvier des Flandres  Have?

One great way to check out how frequently certain breeds have certain diseases is by looking at the statistics compiled by the Canine Health Information Center. This offshoot of the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) keeps track of test results submitted to the OFA from breeders. Bouvier statistics can be found here.

As a giant-breed dog, the Bouvier is prone to many of the other diseases that can affect other dogs of its size. These include:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Arthritis of any joint (most commonly the hips, elbows, and knees)
  • Bloat
  • Obesity

This dog is a very active breed when younger. However, as they age (especially once they hit 3-4 years), their metabolism will start to slow down and they simply won’t need as much food as they used to. Be sure you know what your dog should look like when they are at a proper weight. If you need help, ask your veterinarian.

Where Can I Find Out More About The Bouvier des Flandres  ?

American Bouvier des Flandres Club

AKC Breed Page

Where Can I Find a Bouvier des Flandres?

The Bouvier des Flandres is a popular dog because it is a valuable working dog and a loving family member. Before choosing a Bouvier puppy, be sure to research the breeder thoroughly. Your dog should come with necessary health checks and certifications to ensure the dog is in good health. Make sure your breeder is knowledgeable about the breed and practices good breeding standards and ethics.

Start looking for a puppy by going through the resources provided by the American Bouvier des Flandres Club.

Adopting a Bouvier from a rescue is another great option. Many dedicated rescues specialize in this breed of dog. Start your search with the American Bouvier Rescue League to find a local rescue near you. Not only will you be able to adopt the purebred dog of your dreams, but you can help a dog in need of a home.  

Fun Facts About the Bouvier des Flandres

This breed of dog was originally developed to be a farm dog. Not only can the dog help to herd livestock, but they’re strong enough to pull carts and protective enough to help guard. Today, the Bouvier is still an adaptable farm dog and works as a therapy dog, assistance dog, or law enforcement.  

The Bouvier des Flandres came from the Flandres region as the name implies. Roughly translated, the name can mean either “ox herder” or “cow herder.”

With a strong work ethic, the Bouvier even worked in the World Wars. This breed of dog was used as a sentry, search dog, and messenger through the war.  

The Bouvier is referred to as a Vuilbaard in Dutch, a playful nickname that means “dirty beard.”