Bouvier Des Flandres
Known originally as the Flanders Cattle Dog from the areas of South West Flanders and the French Northern Plains, this wonderful farmers dog was known for his herding ability and as a draught dog. His scenting instincts also lent him to be used as a tracking dog and he was also kept as a messenger dog and gamekeepers dog. What becomes clear is that this dog was very highy valued for his working ability and the standard reﬂ ects this strongly stating that “any changes which could harm this, should be penalised.”
Though he is mostly used today as a farm dog, guard dog and defence/police dog, it doesn’t alter the need for the very attributes that made him what he was bred for. His coat is a huge part of his ability to work and the texture is vitally important, calling for a coat that is rough to touch, dry and Matt. One does not want a shiny, silky coat on this dog. His coat must be abundant and is double coated with a dense undercoat and a harsh outcercoat providing a protective layer that is waterproof. Colours range from grey, brindle through to black with a washed out, light coat unacceptable.
So, the quest is to maintain that tousled, double coat which gives him that all weather protection. Trimming is minimal to maintain the silhouette yet he must not appear over groomed either.
To maintain texture on the Bouvier, use Plush Puppy Body Building Shampoo or Plush Puppy Whitening Shampoo which is in fact a toning shampoo and not a lightening shampoo. Use either of the shampoos at approx 5:1 dilution I.e - 5 parts water to one part shampoo. This allows easier dispersion evenly throughout that dense “waterproof” coat. The Body Building shampoo will give you all the lift and fullness so required and the Whitening Shampoo alllows you to tone any unwanted warmer tones from subleaching or damage or just to give a darker depth to the coat. For a black Bouvier you could use Plush Puppy Black Opal Shampoo which is an ultra toning shampoo - use at 3:1 dilution or for badly reddened ends on a dark coat, use 50/50 and apply to the area ensuring the coat is not too wet. The drier the coat the better the grab factor of the tone. Do not use on any area where black is not wanted I e the small white chest star that is allowed in the standard.
Shampoos are not just shampoos. However, most are used to just cleanse and smell good. Plush Puppy shampoos are very speciﬁ c giving a direct outcome and allowing you the pro exhibitor to achieve the exact silhouette you are seeking. You can intermix the shampoos using say the Body Building and the Whitening together if you require both the outcomes. Or, use Whitening Shampoo on the top areas of the body and the Body Building throughout the sides and legs and head. It does allow you to mold the coat at the bath stage to some extent.
Now in order to hydrate this coat and keep it from getting brittle and to prevent breakage, especially around the beard and moustache, use as a ﬁ nal rinse, Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil diluted 1 tbspn to 1 gal/4 litres water.
Utilising a large car sponge, saturate the coat after shampooing and rinsing with the Seabreeze Oil mix. Leave in and don’t rinse. This is truly an amazing product. It is water soluble so doesn’t go greasy and won’t make the coat soft or alter texture. You will get hydration, moisture, elasticity and minimise breakage. There is nothing quite like it and once hooked on this product, you will get fabulous results not only short term, but long term.
As show people we like to bath and present well but it can dehydrate the coats especially if one is not able to use a conditioner as in the caseof a Bouvier where we don’t want to soften texture as a conditioner will surely do.
You can also add 1 tbspn Plush Puppy Volumising Cream to the Seabreeze Oil mix to save time and add body and more lift if the coat is at all sparse. This coats each hair without giving a sticky, foreign feel to the coat. We love Volumising Cream and use another lot, mixed 1 tbspn to 1 cup water in a water spray as a spritz spray when brushing up the coat at a show. For the legs and head to give more strength and body, use Plush Puppy Puffy Dog which is a strong hold mousse but totally water soluble. Apply at root area around head and all over the legs. Dry as usual. Puffy Dog does not get ﬂ aky, nor leave white build up on the coat.
You should apply extra Seabreeze Oil to the beard and moustache just lightly diluted 1 dspn (dessertspoon) to 1 cup water during the week to keep this area from staining and breakage. This area is a hallmark characteristic of the breed and you don’t want it looking bedraggled, raggedy or damaged.
There is a lot of work to doing a Bouvier as he is a lot of dog and one should minimise the work by putting in the hard work prior to shows. Just a little thought and action midweek is what keeps you from having to chase the coat all weekend at the shows. I do believe in oiling so much I almost preach it. This Seabreeze Oil is just the best there is, formulated from highest quality Evening Primrose Oil, Calendula Oil and other good oils. It is all natural and gives amazing results.
Having decried the worth of conditioners with the Bouvier, I do allow some conditioner such as Plush Puppy Silk Protein Conditioner, on areas that are very very harsh and need some unfelting should this ever happen and heaven forbid! Once matted a double coat is almost impossible to resurrect but sometimes with coat changes it can get a little cloddy looking and a mid week condition through with the Silk Protein 10:1 and worked well through the coat and left for 5 minutes before rinsing. However regular use of Seabreeze Oil will prevent catastrophes such as ugly coat changes or damage.
You could also use Plush Puppy Coat Rescue on beard and moustache diluted 1 tbspn to 1 cup water and applied well through and rinsed after 5 minutes. All of these are for that extra effort but not part of the usual routine.
You should keep in your box of tricks, Plush Puppy Powder Puff Regular and Powder Puff Terrier. Both these are ostensibly cleaning powders that will clean the worst poop or vomit smells and mess without water! The spin off is that they are also deodorisers leaving a clean fresh fragrance and the extra bonus with the Terrier powder is that it leaves an extremely harsh texture.
This is an expensive way to clean a dog so it is just for those spot cleaning jobs such as a mess in a crate or whilst travelling etc and does not substitute for a good overall shampoo and oiling. One also shouldn’t use Terrier Powder to correct a soft coat but instead to ﬁ rm up the texture of a coat that has been perhaps softened through having to condition or use a treatment. Just sprinkle through a dry coat and work well with the hand or brush into the coat and then either brush enough to remove, or blow out with a dryer. This REALLY harshens a coat instantly. The Regular just cleans and leaves a touch of texture. You can use Plush Puppy Wonder Wash for a no rinse waterless shampoo on feet. I dislike using anything wet on the body of the coat after I have gone to such trouble to blow dry etc and prefer if having to clean quickly, to use the Powder Puff cleaner.
The ideal brush when preparing and blow drying a Bouvier, is the Plush Puppy Pin Brush. Likely the cheapest brush on the pro circuit you will ﬁ nd yet the best. I love this brush. It works so well and is sturdy and doesn’t rip the coat to shreds. It has good cushioning without being overly ﬁ rm nor soft and you don’t lose your pins after the ﬁ rst week!!! It is also nice and light in the hand and doesn’t overwork your wrist.
So, show time is here and your Bouvier is all done? Not quite - he could have a light mist of Plush Puppy Odour Muncher applied to the top area of his coat to keep him smelling fresh and clean - not bad if you have to travel with dogs in crates a good distance or the dog has been crated overnight. Judges judge with all senses so make this an olfactory sensation as well as visual.
Your Bouvier with his calm and sensible attitude and frank expression should be looking a treat. His strength and personality should shine through with your presentation and your grooming and handling should be enhancing all his breed characteristics to their best. He is intelligent, energetic and agile with a free and proud gait. Above all he is a Working dog. This dependable and courageous dog is not just another dog to show, he is part of the heritage of good working dogs and it is your mission to maintain the integrity and beauty of this marvelous breed.
- Cheryl Le Court