The Bouvier des Ardennes originated in Belgium, specifically the Ardennes region, and is considered one of the oldest Belgian dog breeds. The breed's history dates back to the medieval times, where it was bred primarily for herding and guarding livestock. Despite their historical significance, the breed almost went extinct after World War II, due to the devastation that swept across Europe, and the fact that industrialization reduced the demand for herding dogs. However, thanks to the dedicated efforts of breed enthusiasts, the breed was slowly rebuilt.
The Bouvier Des Ardennes is a generally health breed, but can suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia and eye conditions such as glaucoma, conjunctivitis, and cataracts. Some dogs can be affected by epilepsy. They may be susceptible to bloat, also known as gastric dilation volvulus (GDV). This is a life-threatening condition that can come on suddenly, so it’s important to know the warning signs and get an affected dog immediate veterinary care.
The Bouvier des Ardennes is known for its strong work ethic, intelligence, and high energy levels. These dogs are eager to work and excel in jobs that involve herding, guarding, and even agility training. They are well-suited to active families and are known to be loyal, protective, and affectionate with their owners. Despite their hard-working nature, they also have a playful and sociable side. They get along well with children and can be trained to live harmoniously with other pets. However, due to their strong herding instincts, they may try to "herd" children or other pets, so early socialization and training are essential.
Although Bouvier des Ardennes dogs are friendly and affectionate with their families, they can be reserved with strangers. Early socialization is important to ensure they grow up to be well-rounded dogs. These dogs are also known for their courage and are quite fearless, which, combined with their natural suspicion of strangers, makes them excellent watchdogs. Training a Bouvier des Ardennes is generally quite straightforward due to their high intelligence, but they do require a firm and consistent handler. These dogs are not well-suited to novice owners as they can be somewhat stubborn and independent at times.
The Bouvier des Ardennes was recognized by the by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in 1963, and decades later by the United Kennel Club (UKC) on July 1, 2006.
The UKC states that all coat colors except white are allowed in their Bouvier des Ardennes breed standard.