My husband and I have only recently become aware of Bouviers
des Flandres and
have come to believe that this just might be the breed for
our family. [...]
I have a few concerns I would like you (any of you) to
comment on, if you
1. We have read about the fragrant nature of these dogs
2. I've also noticed a few people talking about their Bouvs
toward the cats [...]
3. And, just from reading this list I'm beginning to wonder
about those who
write about having "yappy" Bouvs. [...]
[...] I've been thinking about the
questions you raised several days ago & I decided to respond
First of all, I think you've demonstrated great
responsibility in researching different breeds of dogs
before accepting one into your household. My hat's off to
you. It can save heartache & worse both for your family &
However, I'd be interested to know why it is that you "have
come to believe that this might just be the breed for [your]
family"? Most dogs I've ever lived with fart, bark & chase
What were the attributes of the Bouvier that attracted you,
that made you lean towards this breed?
I find the three questions
you asked pretty inconsequential in terms of the entire
Perhaps you already know a great deal from your own life,
from reading Pam Green's article "Don't
Buy A Bouvier" & talking to some Bouvier
owners via email, but let me just run down a couple of
things about the Bouvier which will occupy much more of your
attention than the 3 items you've mentioned:
Bouviers *need* training -- you have to take them to
obedience classes if you don't know how to do it yourself.
And even then, you probably should go anyway. An untrained
Bouvier is extraordinarily difficult to live with because
they are strong willed, extremely intelligent, imaginative,
will fill up a power vacuum in no time flat & run circles
around you, your family, your furniture & cats before you
know what hit you.
Bouviers *need* grooming. I know there are groomers but it's
more fun to do it yourself. This process takes about an
hour or two a week once you get their coat into shape. And
you have to *train* them to accept grooming or it is a giant
pain in the butt -- theirs & yours. During the winter or
rainy seasons, wiping feet, de-icing beards & bodies will
become part of your daily existence because most Bouvs just
love to play in & around water, mud & snow.
Bouviers *need* to be with their families so having them
around means that, like many an intelligent two or three
year old child, they need attention, conversation,
entertainment & *more* training. They go through the
terrible twos but with them, its the terrible ones. They
constantly test, probe, challenge your authority, decide
what's right for them to do & what's not worth doing. They
cannot be beaten or scared into submission; they must learn
to respect you as a strong but *fair* leader. And they will
try your patience, make no mistake. If you perform
admirably then they will follow you anywhere, unlike
Bouviers *need* exercise. Now some breeders, like one
kennel in the Philadelphia region states in their "brochure"
that Bouviers don't need a lot of exercise & therefore make
great apartment pets. Baloney. They *need* exercise just
like you do. Bouviers can live in apartments; I lived with
one in this way for many years but every day we went to the
park to run, play & swim. His name was Bogart.
Many Bouviers, as you've probably read on the mailing lists,
*have* health problems. Pretty serious ones at
heart, eyes, thyroid, hips. Only a good breeder can help
ameliorate these problems thru very responsible breeding,
but even then problems can & do occur. Animal medical
insurance is really non-existent for all practical purposes
so you have to be prepared -- but hopefully never have to --
reach deep into your pockets to take care of your canine
child. Finding the *right* breeder is crucial. I cannot
stress that enough.
Bouviers are big, bulky, playful, aggressive, possessive,
mischievous & sensitive animals. They are, in short, a
handful. They need constant supervision, attention & care.
They don't mature fully both emotionally & physically until
the age of 4 so it can be a long haul.
So whether they fart every once in a while, yap every so
often, or chase the cat is not the question. The question
is are you & your family *committed* to the responsibilities
of owning a Bouvier? I don't know the answer; you do.
If you are, the questions you raise will be taken care of for the most part.
I might suggest that you also go to shows, meet Bouviers &
their owners, research breeders, take your time &
very fine Bouvier Buyer's Guide which can be found @
If *any* breeder tells you they are the best, most famous
Bouvier breeder, turn around & *run* out.
The Buyer's Guide contains extremely good information about
buying or adopting a Bouvier. And if at the end of your
research, you decide that you are going to commit to a
Bouvier des Flandres, the people in the Bouvier community will be
extremely supportive & helpful in answering more questions, making suggestions & guiding you over the
rough spots that
are sure to come.
Whatever you decide, the best of luck. Having a canine
companion as part of your household just can't be beat. If
it turns out that the Bouvier is, after all, not for you,
there are other wonderful breeds or mutts that may be easier
& just as much fun to live with.
JanRif, Truman & Sabrina