A FARMER’S DOG
FROM THE ABDFC JUDGES’ EDUCATION COMMITTEE: A Final Thought
First, the dog needed to be power- fully built with an imposing presence. (Cows will challenge a dog, and they are capable of a kick to the side, backed by a thousand pounds.) a dog with well- sprung ribs and strong bone to absorb the kick should he find himself in the wrong place at the wrong time! A com- pact, short-coupled dog capable of quick turns and short bursts of speed to head off the stock if they decided to wan- der from the path. A dog with an easy, balanced, ground-covering gait, so he would not tire. A dog with a thick dou- ble coat because he was asked to work in all weather conditions; a coat that kept him warm and shed water. A dog well- muscled, especially in the rear quarters, and broad across the chest and back to push into the harness to move a heavy cart to market—often miles away. But a dog not too large, for he needed to be agile as well, to dodge the cow kick, to jump the fence, and to chase off an intruder. He needed to be spirited, bold, and fearless. He was loyal and resolute;
a sensible dog that took his rest when he could, for he worked all day and all night. A high-strung dog would not do. He needed to be even tempered, for he controlled a good part of the world he lived in. This is the dog that fanciers were thinking of when they gathered in 1912 to come up with a standard of perfec- tion that would forever change the bou- vier of Belgium into the Bouvier des Flandres. When describing the body of the Bouvier, they used the term “well- muscled” seven times, and “wide” and “broad” five times. This is the blue- collar working dog they admired and wished to advance. While a Bouvier in proper coat and trim can be quite strik- ing, he is never an elegant dog. Under- neath the trappings of the dog show, the Bouvier must still possess the qualities that made him indispensable to a poor Belgian farmer. A Bouvier des Flandres must always remind you, in body and mind, that he is still a farmer’s dog; the Dog of Flanders.
During several recent tele- vised dog shows, the announcers have stated that a Bouvier moves cattle with his head. I believe they are conflating the herding term “to head” stock (which simply means moving to the front of the animals to turn them) and using the Bouvier’s broad, flat skull as a battering ram to move a cow. A nano second of thought should tell you that this is never going to happen! A Bouvier moves cattle by working off its flank, driving them forward using the full power of his presence and an occasional, well-timed heel nip.
216 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, APRIL 2021
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