The Bouvier Breed: Personal Protection Dogs with a Rich History
Although it may be difficult to imagine, it turns out that monasteries may be the ancestral home of the Bouvier dog—specifically, Flemish monasteries. It’s important to remember that, back in the Middle Ages, monasteries were constantly under threat from outside invaders. Since these religious institutions often housed some of the most important treasures of their time, they were a frequent target of Vikings and others who would loot their precious resources.
Birth of the Bouvier
It is no surprise that monks, who tended to be very peaceful people, wanted to protect themselves in some way. They knew that having the right kind of protection dogs around would help to secure their property—and their personal safety. With this in mind, it is believed that they decided to initiate a breeding program to combat the problem. It is thought that sighthounds, Scottish deerhounds and other types of dogs were imported to the monasteries to be bred with local farm canines that possessed the protection dog attributes in demand. Imported ancestors of modern Irish wolfhounds are another group that are thought to have played a role in this early breeding program. Not only were these protection canines carefully selected to protect the monasteries, but they were also bred to chase any intruders or unsavory characters who happened to appear.
The Continued Evolution of the Bouvier Breed: Two Types
In the latter part of the nineteenth century, protection dogs that very closely resembled the modern Bouvier were seen on Flemish farms. All throughout the east and west regions of Flanders, these canines were evolving. However, they were two distinct types that would eventually merge into one. Bouvier des Roulers was a canine that was heralded for his height—topping off at over 27 inches—and impressively deep chest. With a wiry coat, his color would normally be gray, black or even brindle. The Paret type of Bouvier differed in color, sometimes showing up in shades of sorrel and fawn. This dog was also about three inches shorter than the des Roulers variation, with more of a barrel chest and softer coat. Sometimes, the shape of the head would differ as well.
Personal Protection Dogs Extraordinaire: Today’s Bouvier des Flandres
It was in 1910 that these two types had finally coalesced and were recognized as one. Over two decades later, the protection dog was officially registered as the Bouvier des Flandres. These days, the Bouvier more closely resembles its ancestor the Bouvier des Roulers. Some of the Bouvier dog’s earliest jobs on the farm included turning millstones, moving cattle and even pulling cheese carts. Famous for their hulking size and extraordinary strength, the Bouviers of the early twentieth century were much more than just personal protection dogs; they had their work cut out for them on a daily basis. Not only were they capable of great power, but they also demonstrated impressive endurance, which was extremely useful for long days on the farm working alongside their human companions.
Farm Life and Physical Accommodations
Before they were personal protection dogs for sale, Bouvier dogs had their tails docked during their early life as puppies. This was to prevent the tail from becoming stuck in the harnesses that they used as working dogs. Ear cropping was another practical cosmetic adjustment, as having a pet dog would cause the owner to incur an extra tax. The cropped ears signified that their status as working dogs.
The World Wars: Troubling Times for the Bouvier
Unfortunately, political problems caused great trouble for the Bouvier during both world wars. With Belgium greatly impacted by World War I, the entire Bouvier breed was almost completely wiped out. The area was ravaged by war, and there were no breeding programs anymore. Unfortunately, many animals on farms were abandoned, including the Bouvier. During World War II, the situation with the breed became increasingly dire to the fact that now the French breeding programs were also halted.
A History of Service—The Bouvier in Wartime
Many of the animals who didn’t die were put into service during the wars, and the Bouvier was no exception. They were used to pull everything from supplies to ambulances, in addition to their duties on the battlefield. These protection dogs were so instrumental to the Allied efforts that Axis powers often shot them as soon as they saw them. However, all was not lost. Some people managed to hide their Bouvier dogs and continued to breed them in secret, which ended up saving them from a fate of extinction. To this day, the Bouvier is known as one of the most adaptable and loyal personal protection dogs for sale. With intelligence, athleticism and strength, this incredible protection dog will remain popular for the foreseeable future.