The Bouvier des Flandres, also known as the Flanders Cattle Dog, the Belgian Cattle Dog, the Koehond (“cow dog”), the Toucheur de Boeuf (“cattle driver”), the Pic (“cattle drover”), the Vuilbaard (“dirty beard”) or simply the Bouvier, is a large, rough-coated breed with its origins in Flanders, an area that covers parts of Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Both Belgium and France claimed the breed as their own, causing the European Federation Cynologique Internationale to dub it the “Franco-Belgian” dog. Bouviers were owned by farmers, butchers and cattle merchants who prized the breed not for its formidable appearance but instead for its unique aptitude for driving cattle. The word “bouvier” translates literally as “bovine herder.” Today, this remains an extremely versatile, protective and powerful breed with great stamina, strength of body and character. It needs to be kept active and given defined responsibilities to thrive in an urban environment. Bouviers can excel in obedience, agility, tracking, herding, search-and-rescue, police and military service, carting, therapy, guiding, personal assistance, guarding and protection. They also can compete successfully in the conformation ring. Not a breed for everyone given its size, willfulness and commanding presence, the Bouvier can be a loyal and affectionate companion to those who lead firmly and fairly. It can be aggressive toward strangers. The Bouvier des Flandres was approved by the American Kennel Club in 1929 as a member of the Herding Group.
Male Bouviers should be between 24½ and 27½ inches in height, while females should be between 23½ and 26½ inches at the withers. They weigh on average between 65 and 110 pounds (the females are usually slightly smaller than the males). Bouviers have a recognizable beard, impressive eyebrows and an exaggerated mustache; their tousled double coat can withstand the harshest of weather conditions. Bouviers can be almost any color from fawn to black, including salt-and-pepper, gray and brindle. Parti-colored, chocolate or white are not desired. Their dense coat requires regular grooming.