Bouvier des Flandres Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
Bouvier des Flandres Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013
The Bouvier des Flandres is sober and thoughtful, rather than light-hearted or whimsical.
The AKC Standard calls him "equable, steady, resolute, and rugged."
Though they can be athletic and agile, Bouviers are often a bit lazy unless deliberately taken out and encouraged to move. Brisk walks are a must to keep them in hard condition.
Mental stimulation in the form of advanced obedience, agility, tracking, herding, carting, or Schutzhund is even more important to this highly intelligent breed.
Though he is not overly demonstrative -- he shows his loyalty in deeper, more subtle ways -- the Bouvier des Flandres must live indoors and close to his family, his "flock." When his needs are met, he is laid-back and serene.
Matching his stern appearance, he is often aloof with strangers and assertive when challenged. His air of calm appraisal can be intimidating, and he may use his big body to control people, rather than biting. Socialization must be early and frequent so that he learns to discriminate between friend and foe.
Most Bouvers des Flandres are dominant with other dogs, especially of the same sex, and those with a high prey drive are not reliable with cats and other creatures that run or flutter.
He may poke or nudge people and other animals in an attempt to gather them or move them along.
Make no mistake about it, the Bouvier des Flandres can be a pushy, strong-willed dog who requires a confident owner, especially during the challenging adolescent period. This is not a breed for first-time or passive owners.
If you want a dog who...
- Is large, rugged, and shaggy
- Carries himself with a dignified, impressive presence
- Looks stern and imposing and makes an effective deterrent
- Is versatile -- when well-trained, can learn and do almost anything
- Is usually steady-tempered and sensible
- As an adult, is usually calm and quiet indoors
A Bouvier des Flandres may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- A large bulky dog who takes up a lot of space in your house and car
- Rowdiness and exuberant jumping, especially when young
- Destructiveness when bored or not exercised enough
- Aggression or fearfulness when not socialized enough
- Potential aggression toward other animals
- Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
- Chasing and nipping at things that move: children, joggers, other animals, bikes, cars
- Frequent brushing, combing, and clipping of the rough coat
- "Shaggy dog syndrome," i.e. debris clinging to the coat, water soaking into the beard and dripping on your floors
- Gassiness (flatulence)
A Bouvier des Flandres may not be right for you.
- choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
- or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
- training your dog to respect you
- avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy
More traits and characteristics of the Bouvier des Flandres
If I was considering a Bouvier des Flandres, I would be most concerned about...
- Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Bouviers MUST have regular opportunities to vent their energy and do interesting things. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored -- which they usually express by barking and destructive chewing. Bored Bouviers can make a shambles of your house and yard.
- Providing enough socialization. Most Bouviers have protective instincts toward strangers. They need extensive exposure to friendly people so they learn to recognize the normal behaviors of "good guys." Then they can recognize the difference when someone acts abnormally. Without careful socialization, they may be suspicious of everyone, which could lead to biting. Some Bouviers go in the opposite direction -- without enough socialization, they become fearful of strangers, which can lead to defensive biting.
- Animal aggression. Many Bouviers are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs of the same sex. Some have strong instincts to chase and seize cats and other fleeing creatures. If anything goes wrong in the breeding, socializing, training, handling, or management of this breed, it is capable of seriously injuring or killing other animals.
- The strong temperament. The Bouvier des Flandres is not a Golden Retriever. The best Bouviers are versatile working dogs, capable of learning a great deal, but they have an independent mind of their own and are not pushovers to raise and train. They can be manipulative, and some are willful, obstinate, and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.
To teach your Bouvier to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Bouvier des Flandres Training Page discusses the program you need.
- Grooming. To keep their coat short and free of mats, the Bouvier des Flandres requires regular brushing, and also clipping and trimming every few months. But don't expect your pet Bouvier to look like the Bouvier des Flandres show dogs you've seen in books or on TV. That particular look takes hours of work by experienced show groomers.
- "Shaggy dog syndrome." Like all shaggy dogs, the Bouvier des Flandres is a messy dog. Leaves, mud, snow, fecal matter, and other debris cling to his rough coat and ends up all over your house. When he drinks, his beard absorbs water, which drips on your floors when he walks away. When he eats, his beard absorbs food so that when he sniffs your face or presses his head against your leg, YOU end up dirty, too. Big shaggy dogs are not suited to fastidious housekeepers.
- Gassiness (flatulence) that can send you running for cover. Fortunately, Bouviers who are fed a natural diet of real meat and other fresh foods have much less trouble with gassiness. See my Bouvier des Flandres Health Page for more information.
- Health problems. Bouviers are susceptible to hip and elbow disorders, cancer, bloat, and more.
To learn more about training Bouviers des Flandres to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Bouvier des Flandres the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.
Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Bouvier des Flandres. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.
If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Bouvier des Flandres might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.
Once you have your Bouvier des Flandres home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.
Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.
Please consider adopting an ADULT Bouvier des Flandres...
When you're acquiring a Bouvier des Flandres PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.
But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Bouviers des Flandres who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!
Save a life. Adopt a dog.
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