The Bouvier is a powerful, compact, rough-coated dog of rugged appearance. Its thick beard and shaggy eyebrows give the dog a distinctive appearance. The broad, strong muzzle is slightly tapered to a large, black nose with open nostrils. The oval, dark brown eyes have a bold, alert expression. The nose is black. The teeth should meet in a scissors bite. Body length from point of shoulder to the tip of the rump should be approximately equal to the height of the dog from the withers to the ground, giving the dog a square profile. The chest is broad and deep, extending down to the elbow. The dog has a double coat. The rough, shaggy-looking outer coat is harsh and dry to the touch, lined with a soft, dense undercoat. The coat protects the dog in all types of inclement weather. The coat colors are primarily black or black-brindle and gray or gray-brindle. Fawn is allowable. A white star is permitted on the chest. The tail is customarily docked and the ears may be cropped to a point, though some breeders now leave them natural.
Bouvier des Flandres means "cowherd from Flanders." The dog was originally used by farmers and cattle merchants to control cattle. They were also used as farm and livestock guardians and as draft dogs. During World War I, they served as message carriers and as cart dogs carrying wounded soldiers. As a result of his exposure during the warfare and the nearly total destruction of Flanders, the breed was almost completely killed off. After the war, the Bouvier was reconstructed from a few individuals, and a breed club was established in Belgium. Currently the Bouvier serves as a watchdog, guardian, family companion, and as a herding and carting dog. This breed has also been used as a guide for the blind.