The exact origin of the Bouvier des Flanders is unknown, though its believed the breed is the result of a cross between the Griffon and Beauceron, both of which are Belgian breeds. They were originally used as cattle-herding dogs until World War I, when their incredible loyalty and determination had them put to use as message carriers and rescue dogs sent to look for wounded soldiers. The dogs were so single-minded in completing their given tasks that they would often brave machine-gun nests and artillery-shell barrages without hesitation. This led to the near-extinction of the breed; fortunately, their numbers have since increased to safe levels, and they are much loved throughout the United States as excellent family pets and faithful watchdogs. Here is a how to identify a Bouvier des Flanders.
Identifying a Bouvier des Flandres
Observe the general size and shape of the dog. It should be square-shaped, up to 28" in height at the shoulder and of roughly equal length. The dog should be heavy, between 80 and 90 lbs. You should get an overall impression of size and strength, though never aggression. Its tail should be cropped to a stub 1" or 2" long. The chest should be rounded and very deep. Its front legs should be perfectly straight. The legs of a full-grown Bouvier des Flanders should be very thick, almost equaling the upper leg of a full-grown man in circumference.2
Examine the dogs fur. The Bouvier des Flanders has two coats: one soft and very dense undercoat for warmth, and a shaggy, steel-wool-like outer coat for protection from the elements and foreign matter. This outer coat should be roughly 2" long and can be black or salt-and-pepper in color. Occasionally, the dog will have a small white star on its chest as well.3
Finish by looking at the dogs head. It should be truly massive, with a thick coat of fur, shaggy eyebrows and a mustache. The muzzle should taper from front to back only slightly and be very wide, as should the jaw. Its eyes should be dark brown and appear to be recessed thanks, to the wealth of surrounding fur. If the dog matches this description, its a Bouvier des Flanders.