Until the beginning of this century Bouviers were mainly farm dogs seen in the area of Flandres,kept purely for their working abilities.They were used primarily as cattle dogs but were also used for guarding purposes and cart pulling and any job that they were suitable for with their great strength. People were not at this point interested in their looks.
In the early years of Bouvier breeding there were great variations in types and construction, but because of the Bouvier temperament and character they became increasingly popular. Small groups of people interested in the Bouvier throughout Flandres started to breed their dogs with 'looks' in mind. Of course everybody had their own ideas as to how the breed should look and at this time there were no guidelines or even a breed standard.The geographical situation of Flandres meant that the Bouvier had also caused interest in Holland and France,so they too had what they thought to be the correct Bouvier.
Eventually in 1912, after many meetings and discussions a breed standard was drawn up with certain attractive individuals in mind.
For many years the Belgians were leading breeders of the Bouvier, the most well known being Monsieur Justin Chastel. The vast majority of Bouviers today will undoubtedly have Monsieur Chastel's Thudine affix in their breeding. He is considered to be the biggest influence on the Bouvier in creating the modern 'showdog'. He did this by breeding animals with a more profuse coat as opposed to the early examples with a flat harsh coat, which most considered not as attractive. The heads of his dogs became more square and short muzzled to complement the square body.
Since these formative years the Bouvier has gained immense success all over the world especially in Holland where they are amongst the most numerically popular breeds, not only being a valued companion to so many families, but also as a highly successful showdog. They have retained their working abilities to a good degree which is what originally attracted people to them at the beginning before they became 'Beautiful'.
The modern Bouvier des Flandres fills a variety of jobs ranging from police dog, guide dog, military dog and baby sitter. They are excellent family dogs that show great devotion to their owners and are well known for their empathy with children. They are not a demanding dog needing extreme amounts of exercise to keep them happy, but companionship is top of their requirements so they are definitely not a yard or kennel dog.
Bouviers have a steady, sensible temperament but have a sense of humour and love to play. In summary the Bouvier is an equable, resolute, fearless, intelligent family dog that will protect you if necessary and will play with you and your children.
by Pam Green (c.1992) firstname.lastname@example.org
(This article, written many years ago, has become a notorious classic in Bouvier circles. It has been reprinted many times by clubs to use for the education of prospective Bouvier owners. I give my permission freely to all who wish to reprint and distribute it in hopes of saving innocent Bouviers from neglect and abandonment by those who should never have acquired them in the first place.)
Interested in buying a Bouvier? You must be or you wouldn't be reading this. You've already heard how marvellous Bouviers are. Well, I think you should also hear, before it's too late, that BOUVIERS ARE NOT THE PERFECT BREED FOR EVERYONE. As a breed they have a few features that some people find charming, but that some people find mildly unpleasant and some people find downright intolerable. There are different breeds for different needs. There are over 200 purebred breeds of dogs in the world. Maybe you'd be better off with some other breed. Maybe you'd be better off with a cat. Maybe you'd be better off with goldfish, a parakeet, a hamster, or some house-plants.