The Bouvier des Flandres has a rich and exciting history for a dog whose name means cattle chaser....
Developed in the farmlands of Flanders in southern Belgium, this breed is the result of crossing the Berger Sheepdog, Barbet, and Dutch Griffon.
After faithfully serving Belgian farmers as watchdogs, herders, and draft animals for hundreds of years, the first breed standard was finally drawn up in 1912. As discussions were still going on about what exactly the breed should look like, World War I broke out, turning their native home into a battlefield. During the war, some of the Bouviers worked as military dogs, but the majority of the breed was wiped out.
Some Bouviers had made it to France and the Netherlands. In order to save the breed, these dogs became part of a selective breeding program, and in 1922, the Club National Belge du Bouvier des Flandres was formed in Gent.
The Bouvier des Flandres was introduced to North America in the 1920s. A decade later, it was recognized by the American Kennel Club.
This breed was threatened with extinction yet again in World War II. Allegedly, when Adolf Hitler was looking for an official guard dog, the Bouvier was presented as an option. When Hitler met the dog, it promptly bit his hand! Hitler ordered the breed to be wiped out, but the Bouvier des Flandres still flourishes to this day.
Although not a staple of farm life any more, the Bouvier des Flandres is still used as watchdog and loyal family pet.