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This herding dog is a rugged working breed bred to herd cattle. They served as determined messengers and rescue dogs during World War I, when they almost became extinct during the destruction of Flanders, his hometown. Today, these large dogs can weigh over 100 pounds. This unique breed makes a thoughtful guard dog and a hardy family pet for those who are willing to devote significant time to training and grooming. The Bouvier des Flandres are intelligent dogs who love to become part of the family and take the responsibility of protecting their "flock" very seriously.
Bouviers are brave dogs who are always up for an adventure or a long hike with their owners. These guys will vehemently defend their families. They are sophisticated guard dogs whose complex intelligence and impressive problem-solving skills make them adept at determining friend from foe and identifying dangerous situations. They have a tendency to be over-protective and dominant, but their true potentials are best brought out through experienced, firm trainers who establish dominance from the beginning. If they are frequently left alone, or if they are not properly trained and socialized from a young age, they will give in to destructive, mischievous and dominant behaviors.
Bouviers des Flandres are not effusive with those they love, but they will demonstrate their loyalty through subtle affections and displeasure at being left alone. Bouviers like children and take pride in protecting them, but they must be taught to handle children with care and courtesy. The Bouvier prefers activity to targeted exercise. He especially enjoys activities on which he can focus intently.
These dogs are built for rugged outdoor exposure. Their coat is a thick, water-resistant double coat. The outer coat is rough to the touch and shaggy. The coat should feel harsh and rough. They are characterized by their long, thick beard, shaggy eyebrows, and the tousled hair on their heads. They are available in black, gray and brindle combinations. Their coat is rough and thick and rarely sheds, so it often starts to appear silver or gray with age.
Originally, farmers docked their dogs' tails and ears to distinguish them as a working animal instead of a pet to avoid expensive taxes on pets in provincial France. Today, this practice is still popular because it makes grooming easier and prevents troublesome longer hair from getting in the Bouvier's way.
Show dogs are trimmed in a way that accents the body shape, but they are not trimmed excessively in order to preserve the coat's rugged, tousled appearance. These dogs have thick coats with copious amounts of hair, so they require weekly grooming. Shaping, clipping and frequent brushing help the Bouvier stay clean and tidy. The Bouvier sheds lightly, but consistenly, and the dead hairs get stuck between the two coats. Stripping with a slicker brush will prevent mats and help the Bouvier stay comfortable.
Without regular brushing, the Bouvier's coat catches dirt and debris and becomes unruly and unmanageable. The Bouvier's coat is long and dense, and Bouviers enjoy romping outdoors. As a result, Bouviers will frequently return with burrs, sticks and other debris caught in their fur. This can be very painful for your otherwise intrepid pup, so make sure that you brush him and check his coat after he comes in from playing.
With preparation, perseverance and a positive attitude, bathing can become a fun and fulfilling part of the regular grooming cycle, while helping your dog avoid many diseases and infections.
The general rule of thumb for dog bathing is every three months but breeds with curly and wavy hair should be done more frequently, usually in the six-to-eight week range. The coat should end up fresh smelling, shiny, with no loose or shedding hair. First give the dog a good brushing to remove dead hair and mats. Place a rubber mat in the tub to provide secure footing and fill the tub with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Use a spray hose, pitcher or unbreakable cup to wet the dog, taking caution to avoid getting water in the eyes, ears and nose. Massage in pet shampoo, saving the head for last. Immediately rinse thoroughly, starting with the head to prevent soap from dripping into the eyes. Towel dry.
It is recommended that Bouviers are taken to a professional groomer for clipping due to the nature of their coat.
Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.
Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience. As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.
You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.
Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.
It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Curly and wavy coated dogs have large, sensitive ears covered in hair that need to be checked weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. Poodles are prone to developing tear stains around the eyes, so clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes.
Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.
Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.