A very special pup is bounding into the spotlight this month. The fluffy and lovable Bouvier des Flandres gets his own special day in January for being such a good boy. The official day of Fido’s celebration was January 16, but we’ll be keeping him in the spotlight for a few more weeks. A local Plano, IL vet discusses this remarkable dog in this article.
The Bouviers is a large, strong dog with a big heart. We aren’t kidding about the large part: these guys can weigh up to 120 pounds. Males usually weigh between 75 and 120 pounds and reach between 24 and 27 inches in height, while females typically weigh between 60 and 80 pounds and are usually 23 to 26 inches in height. On average, the Bouvier des Flandres will live for between 10 and 12 years. Ask your Plano, IL vet for more information
The Bouviers des Flandres’ most notable feature is his thick, shaggy double coat. Fido can wear several different colors, including fawn, black, gray, brindle, and salt-and-pepper. His ears are pointed, and he has thick chin fur that resembles a beard, though his isn’t as defined as the Scottish Terrier’s. (If you think of a giant, serious teddy bear in dog form: that’s the Bouvier.)
Intelligent, determined, affectionate, and devoted, Bouviers are exceptional canines. They are great working dogs, but are also loving companions that can fit well into many households.
Though protective, Fido is usually a gentle giant, and normally won’t bite unless provoked. He typically gets along with other animals, as long as he knows them well. However, he may not always be welcoming towards unfamiliar dogs. Because of his size, we’d also advise caution with very young children.
Like other working dogs, the Bouvier is very smart. Training is essential, but this intelligent pup is quick to learn. (Tip: These guys are quite food-motivated when it comes to their petucations.)
Before adopting any dog, it’s important to do a lot of research. All breeds have their own unique characteristics, so you want to pick the one that is the best fit for your household. Fido is quite large, which is definitely something to consider. You’ll need to keep your canine buddy active and busy, and adjust his care to account for his size and age. Ask your Plano, IL veterinarian for care tips.
Some of the chores Fido originally assisted with included herding sheep, pulling cards, and droving cattle. He’s made a few career changes over time. Today, most Bouviers are known as great guard dogs. However, they excel at many dog sports, including agility, carting, obedience, tracking, and herding. They also do well working as police dogs and search-and-rescue dogs. Of course, they are also ‘pawesome’ pets.
There’s no mystery here: Fido’s name literally translates to ‘Cow Herder of Flanders’, which is clearly a reference to the breed’s origins in Flanders, Belgium. Today, most people just refer to them as Bouvier dogs. However, Fido also goes by Toucheur de Boeuf (cattle driver), Vlaamse Koehond (Flemish cow dog), and Vuilbaard (dirty beard).
Fido’s history starts back in the 1600s, when monks bred local farm dogs with Irish wolfhounds and Scottish deerhounds. Over time, breeders in the area further perfected the desired characteristics. Their efforts resulted in a robust and diligent canine that was a great help on the farm and also thrived on pleasing his owners.
The dogs soon gained significant popularity in the region, for various reasons. They excelled at tasks such as guarding and herding sheep and cattle, and were strong enough to be able to help with pulling carts to and from the market. Additionally, their thick coats made them well-suited for enduring harsh winters. However, once cars became prevalent, opportunities for employment for these dogs decreased. Fido responded by making a career change, and soon became a wonderful family pet.
The Bouvier is a fairly rare dog, even today. However, we’re happy he’s here at all. The breed narrowly avoided disappearing from existence twice in the twenty-first century. Fido rose to prominence as a trench dog during World War I. These dogs played a vital role in the war effort, hauling supplies and delivering messages amidst intense battle conditions. Unfortunately, the conflict took a huge toll on their numbers. One exceptional pup, Nic, became a show dog after the war. That pooch is considered the founding father of today’s Bouviers.
That wasn’t the breed’s only close call. The second world war also threatened the line, and nearly pushed them into extinction. As they had proved to be such good trench dogs in World War I, the Bouviers became extremely sought after when World War II broke out. According to legend, one of the pups bit Adolf Hitler, who then attempted to destroy the breed. In fact, German soldiers would often shoot the Bouviers on sight. Fortunately, by then the breed had crossed the pond over to America. After the war ended, handful of very dedicated breeders stepped in and worked diligently to save the Bouviers.
It’s worth pointing out that originally there were three variants of the breed: the Paret, the Moerman, the Roeselare, and the Briard. The official standards were not agreed upon until 1936, when a French-Belgian committee settled the issue.
Fido may not be the most widely recognized dog breed. The Bouvier typically ranks in the 80s or 90s on the AKC’s popularity list. However, he has managed to garner some dedicated admirers, such as Joan Baez, who composed a song called Old Blue in honor of Man’s Best Friend. The popular folk singer had a one-eyed Bouvier, Ginger. Merv Griffin also had a Bouvier; his was named Keesh.
The Bouvier took his biggest turn in the spotlight back in the 1980s, when he became a First Dog to President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy. That particular pooch, Lucky, spent a year at the White House before relocating to the Reagan family ranch out in California.
While there aren’t many Bouvier celebrepups, there are a few. First, we have Patrasche, the fictional dog from the classic children’s book A Dog of Flanders. (Travelers’ note: there are a few statues of him in Antwerp.) There was also Gretel, the faithful canine companion of Dr. Romano on ER.
Like most purebreds, the Bouvier is at elevated risk of a few things. The breed standard recommends screening for hip dysplasia and several eye problems, including glaucoma, cataracts, and entropion (inwardly turning eyelids). These pups are also prone to bloat, a potentially fatal condition that affects large breeds. Make sure Fido receives regular veterinary care, and follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for exams and screenings.
Do you have questions about the Bouvier? Are you considering adopting one? Contact us, your Plano, IL pet hospital, today! We are dedicated to providing top-notch care.