"Breed Standard & History"
The Bouvier des Flandres, as the name indicates
originated in Flandres - both France and Belgium, as
there are no boundaries separating these two
countries. In the beginning, the Bouvier was used to
herd cattle; for draught and butter churning.
Modernization has changed farm equipment. Now the
Bouvier is used as guard for home or farm, for
defence work or police work. His great physical and
moral aptitudes, his excellent nose, initiative and
intelligence make him an excellent tracker and
GENERAL APPEARANCE - GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS
Cobby, short-bodied and thickset on powerful and
muscular limbs; gives the impression of power,
without clumsiness as a whole. The fire in his eyes
denotes intelligence, energy and audacity. He is
calm, rational and prudently bold.
Bouvier is even-tempered, never shy and not overly
aggressive. He is calm, rational and prudently bold,
never 'pretty' in attitude or behavior. With those
he knows well he is outgoing and almost boisterous.
Shy dogs that back away under normal situations and
overly aggressive dogs that show aggression without
reason should be severely penalized.
Dogs 24 ½ inches to 27 ½ inches (62.2 to 69.8 cm) at
the withers. Bitches 23 ½ inches to 26 ½ inches
(59.7 to 67.3 cm) at the withers. Slightly larger or
smaller size should not be faulted if other factors
are of good to excellent quality. However, the
average size is most desirable. Weight -
approximately 77 to 100 pounds for dogs, 60 to 85
pounds for bitches.
The coat is very full. The top coat plus the dense
undercoat make a perfect wrap adapted to abrupt
climatic changes characteristic of the breed's
country of origin. It must be rough to the touch,
harsh and dry neither too long nor too short (about
2 ½ inches /6.3 cm), slightly tousled without being
woolly or curly. On the head the coat is shorter and
almost shaven on the outside of the ear, but the
inside is protected by fairly long hair. On the top
of the back, the coat is harsh and dry; it becomes
shorter on the lower legs, while still harsh. A flat
coat is to be avoided since it indicates a lack of
undercoat. Soft, woolly, silky, or too long or short
a coat are considered faults. Undercoat - wadding
made of fine and course hairs grows under the
overcoat and forms with it a waterproof mantle. Lack
of undercoat is a fault.
The coat of the Bouvier des Flandres is fawn or grey
often brindle or dark grey, or black. Light-coloured
coats (white, cream) and washed-out colours or
chocolate brown with white spots are not desirable.
A white star on the chest is allowed.
Massive, appearing more so because of his beard and
mustache, it is well proportioned to his body and
size. To feel, it is finely chiseled. Skull well
developed and flat, longer than its width. The top
lines of the skull and muzzle are parallel. The
proportions of the skull to the muzzle are 3 to 2.
Stop is barely perceptible, more apparent than real
because of the raised eyebrows.
powerful, bony, straight in upper profile,
diminishing toward the nose but never pointed. The
muzzle is shorter than the skull - in proportion 2
to 3 and the circumference just below the eyes is
about equal to the length of the head. Cheeks flat
Nose - This
is the continuation of the muzzle, it is slightly
convex at its extremity - must be well opened
nostrils. Spotted, pink, brown or butterfly are
Mouth - Jaws
should be powerful and of equal length; teeth
strong, white and healthy. The upper incisors must
meet the lower ones like the blades of scissors.
Overshot or undershot are faults.
Mustache and Beard - Fully
dry, shorter and harsher on top of muzzle. The upper
lip has a mustache and the chin has a full, harsh
bread which gives the gruff expression so
characteristic of the breed.
Eyes - Bold
and energetic, neither prominent nor sunken. In
shape slightly oval on a horizontal plane. The
colour should be as dark as possible in keeping with
the colour of the coat. Light in colour or haggard
in expression should be severely faulted. Eyelids -
Black without a trace of deficient pigmentation. No
haw should be visible. Eyebrows - These are made of
upstanding hair which accentuate the arch of the
eyebrows without ever hiding the eyes.
Ears - cropped
in a triangle, they are carried well up; attached
high and very mobile. It is recommended that the
size and shape should match the size of the head.
Uncropped ears are allowed.
Seen from the profile or front they remain straight,
parallel to each other, perpendicular to the ground.
They should be well muscled and of powerful bone
Elbows - Close
to the body and parallel. Elbows out or close are
faults. In action they must remain parallel to
median line of the body.
Carpus - (Knee) in
plumb with forearms, except for accessory carpus at
back. Strong and heavy bone.
Pastern - (Metacarpal) of
strong bony structure, very slightly inclined
round and compact. The toes should be close and well
and black. Thick and hard soles.
Powerful, cobby and short. The length of the point
of the shoulder to ischium should be about equal to
the height at the withers. The ischium is the rear
point of the rump. The chest should reach to level
of elbows and never be cylindrical, though the ribs
are well sprung. The depth, i.e., the distance
between the sternum and the last rib must be great -
about 7/10th of the height at the wither. The first
ribs are slightly curved; the others are well sprung
and well inclined to the rear giving the desired
depth of the chest. Flat, too long or overly rounded
and short ribs must be greatly penalized.
Flank - The
flank between the last rib and the haunch must be
very short, especially in males. There is very
Back - Short,
wide, muscled and firm - showing no weakness but
remaining flexible. Long body or sway-back are
Loin - Short,
wide and well muscled - must remain flexible but
Croup or Rump - Must
follow as closely as possible the horizontal line of
the back and follow (merge) smoothly into the curve
of the rump. It should be wide without excess in the
male, more developed (wider) in the female. A
descending (steeply tilted) croup is a serious
and well muscled. The direction will be parallel to
the median plane of the body. The femurs will be
neither too straight nor too inclined. The buttock
will be well let down with good, firm breeches. The
kneecap or patella, is situated on an imaginary line
from the iliac crest to the ground.
Legs - Moderately
long, neither too straight nor too inclined.
Powerful and pronounced musculation is demanded.
Rear legs must move in the same plane as front legs.
Hocks - Rather
close to the ground, broad, well muscled and
stretched. Seen from back they will be straight and
parallel in the "stand" position. In action they
Feet - Round,
strong toes; close and arched. Strong, black nails
and thick, hard soles.
To be docked to 2nd or 3rd vertebrae. The tail
should be an extension of the spine and carried high
during movement. Some Bouviers are born with short
tails and should not be faulted for this.
male animal should have two apparently normal testicles
fully descended into the scrotum.
The Bouvier des Flandres as a whole must be
harmoniously proportioned to permit a gait free,
proud and bold. The walk and trot are habitual
gaits, though ambling and pacing are also employed.
A Bouvier will single track at a trot.
The foregoing description is
that of the ideal Bouvier des Flandres. Any deviation from
the above-described dog must be penalized to the extent of
the deviation, keeping in mind the origin and purpose of the
The History of the Breed
Much of what we know today about the origin of the Bouvier
is due to the research of Louis Huyghebaert, a major canine
authority of the late 1940's. He claims that the Flemish
monasteries of the Middle Ages played a major roll in the
evolution of working dogs of their region. They imported
Scottish Deerhounds and other rough-coated sighthounds to be
bred to the existing regional farm dogs. It is thought the
possibly dogs similar to the Irish Wolfhounds were also
included. They created, through selective breeding, a large
rough-coated guard and chase dog.
The Bouvier continued to
evolve in what are now the modern Belgian provinces of West
and East Flanders. In the late 1800's sufficient dogs of
similar characteristics existed on Flemish farms to give
rise to the Bouvier as a breed. However, they were not
uniform in size, weight, in texture and color of coat, nor
in the shape of the head. There were basically two types.
The Bouvier des Roulers, a large, wiry black dog with a deep
chest, ranged in height to 27-1/2" with coats of black,
brindle, or dark gray. The Paret style was not quite as
tall, ranging from 22-1/2 to 24-1/2 inches, with colors
ranging from true fawn to sorrel, charcoal gray, and
brindle. They were more barrel-chested with a coat which was
not quite as wiry.. These two types eventually developed
into the Bouvier Belge des Flandres, recognized in 1910 by
the Societe Royale St. Hubert, Belgium's national kennel
club. It was not until 1933, that registrations were made
under the current name, Bouvier des Flanders. Today, it
would be hard to recognize the smaller Paret type, as the
Roulers type evolved in most dominant breeding programs.
These early Bouviers were used
on farms to herd cattle. They worked, not by chasing, but by
blocking and moving lead cows. Utilizing the strength and
endurance of these animals to an even greater degree, the
Bouvier became a draft animal, pulling milk and cheese
carts, as well as turning millstones. In order to
accommodate the harnesses worn by the dogs and to prevent
injury to tails, the farmers docked the dog's tails shortly
after whelping. Because pet dogs were at that time were
taxed, the Bouviers ears were cropped to show they were a
working animal, not a pet.
During World War I, the breed
was nearly destroyed. Flanders was devastated and breeding
activity came to a stand still. Most animals were abandoned
and died, and others were acquired by the Germans. World War
II brought further hardship to the breed where those
breeding programs in France were similarly destroyed.
Bouviers were so valued by the Allies in both wars, who used
them for pulling ambulance and supply carts, scenting the
living wounded from the battlefield and sounding alarms,
that the Axis shot Bouviers upon sight. Because of the
efforts of a few dedicated people, well-hidden dogs saved
the Bouvier as a breed from extinction.
The Bouvier today is found
world-wide and continues to evolve as a versatile,
intelligent breed which adapts easily to a variety of work
situations and lifestyles.
Breed History reprinted with
permission from Sandi Lyon, Margaux Bouviers.
present day Bouvier in Holland. This is a sister to our BPIS
Docking of tails and cropping of ears is not permitted in