JUDGING THE Bouvier des Flandres
by nancy eilks
T his article is not meant to be a thorough guide to judg- ing the Bouvier des Flan- dres. That level of detail is available through the Judge’s Educa- tion Committee for the breed. This is intended to be a refresher of some of the most important aspects of the breed for those judging our Bouviers. The Bouvier is a combination of general farm dog and guardian, being shown in the herding group. He still has a strong work ethic, even temperament and a belief that his teeth should not be used unless necessary. In the general appearance section in the standard the terms used to describe his demeanor are agile, spirited and bold, yet serene, well behaved disposition, steady, reso- lute and fearless character. As such, it is important to treat him with respect but not fear. If you are afraid of this breed, please do not agree to judge it.
Be aware that the dog often has hair in front of its eyes, and if the groomer has left extra fullness, the dog may not be able to see you well. Approach the dog at a slight angle. Reach under the chin and proceed with your examina- tion. Do not be afraid to push the hair back to see the eyes. Those eyes looking back at you should impart confidence, intelligence and maybe the impression that he is examining you as much as you are examining him. Some dogs are trained to stand for long periods of time, but generally Bou- viers tend to become impatient at being made to stand still, or if they think the exam is taking too long. They may start to clack their teeth or chew their mous- taches. Proceed efficiently, and try to ignore their antics. Like most of the herding breeds, we want our Bouviers to have good reach and drive, and efficient movement.
Our standard calls for a square breed, with a short loin and our standard calls for moderate angulation. This con- struction does not allow for excessive reach and drive. There is a tendency to reward pretty flashy movement that may include a lot of lift, especially in the rear. On the opposite extreme is the balanced dog with short mincing steps. Please reward the dog with good reach and drive that is also balanced with a smooth efficient stride having the “har- monious, free, bold and proud gait” described in our standard. The dog should be light on his feet moving with little apparent effort while maintaining a level topline. You may be confronted with a range of styles in your ring. The Bouvier standard was a compilation of three distinct styles. The Bouvier Roulers was a tall black hard coated dog. The Bouvier Ardennes (or Paret type) was a
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