Introducing The Bouvier des Flandres

The Bouvier des Flandres in Brief

The legacy of the Bouvier has produced many admirable qualities in this breed. He is a square, powerfully built dog, rugged and formidable in appearance. His harsh double coat protects him in all types of weather; his keen sense of smell and watchful gaze make him a most suitable farm dog. (He thrives on plenty of room to work and exercise, but he is not an "outdoor dog"; he must live with his loving people -- his "flock," his "pack".) He is agile, alert and intelligent, with character of great spirit and fearlessness; yet, he is serene in disposition, and has an even temperament.

Today, the Bouvier des Flandres acts as a farm dog, family friend, protector, shepherd, and guide dog for the blind or hearing impaired. His intelligence, sense of threat discrimination and keen scent qualifies many Bouviers to excel in police work, tracking and drug detection.

Owning a Bouvier, like many dogs, requires patience, love, a lot of grooming, a willingness to exercise the dog and pay for regular health care, a desire to have a companion who follows you around the house keeping an eye on you, and a commitment to complete at least one set of good obedience classes.

Taken from History of the Bouvier des Flandres - Origin: Belgium


The Bouvier des Flanders and the
American Kennel Club Working Dog Sport

By Carol Walker, ABdFC’s WDS Committee Chairperson
and Bill Walker
March 1, 2014

Working Dog Sport: History

“The Germans call it "hundesport", dog sport. For generations, people from Europe and North America have been drawn into this unique idea of participating in an active sport with a dog. Schutzhund offers this in a way that no other sport can. It is outdoors. It is physical. It is mental. The demands are great, but the sport also offers competition and new friendships. In short, it is what all recreational sports should first be: good exercise, fun and full of rewards.” (1)

“Schutzhund started at the beginning of this century (1903 Author Note) as a test for working dogs. Its initial purpose was to determine which dogs could be used for breeding and which had true working ability. The growing demand for working dogs made more sophisticated tests and training necessary. These dogs were needed for police training, border patrol, customs, military and herding. As these tests evolved, more people participated just for the sheer enjoyment of seeing if their personal dogs could be trained as effectively as these "professional dogs". Now, over sixty years after the first formal Schutzhund rules were introduced, tens of thousands of people participate in the sport each year.” (1)

Working Dog Sport: The Beginning

The process for the American Kennel Club (AKC) Working Dog Sport (WDS) was started in 2003, with the American Bouvier des Flanders (ABdFC) having a major role from the beginning. ABdFC President Carol Walker and North American Working Bouvier Association (NAWBA) President Kathy Heilenman asked Charles Price to represent both organizations on the AKC WDS advisory committee.

Mr. Price (breeding under the kennel name “Crestwood”) was selected because he has an excellent reputation as a breeder, in the conformation ring and in the working arena with the unique qualification of breeding, owning, training and trialing a Bouvier to earn Schutzhund III and IPO III titles. Mr. Price worked with the other committee members and the AKC’s Vice President of Performance Events to create the rules and regulations of the WDS.

AKC has recognized agility and herding as working attributes of the Bouvier. Now, AKC recognized that the breed can “…demonstrate the physical and mental abilities needed to perform scent and protection work, while maintaining a high level of control and a strong degree of obedience.” (2)

In 2007 the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) Board established the Working Dog Sport (WDS). They allowed individuals to earn WDS titles at events held by breed parent clubs. The AKC Board of Directors granted the request of four Parent Clubs to approve the WDS, effective January 1, 2007. The initial breeds approved to compete in WDS were the Bouvier des Flandres, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd Dog, and the Rottweiler.

“The AKC Delegate Parent Club Committee endorsed the WDS and recommended four criteria that have been incorporated into the program:

  • Each Parent Club; the American Bouvier des Flandres Club, the Doberman Pinscher Club of America, the German Shepherd Dog Club of America, and the American Rottweiler Club  are directly responsible for its own events and may not assign this responsibility to others.
  • The Parent Clubs involved are directly responsible for this program. A WDS Advisory Committee will be formed with representatives from the participating Parent Clubs.
  • Each Parent Club may run up to five events in a calendar year.
  • The program will be run on a test basis for three years and then reviewed.” (3)

American Kennel Club WDS Scorebook
Crestwood's Uncommon Valor SchH 3, IPO 3, CGC, NAWBA Select

Working Dog Sport: Current AKC Program

In 2009 the AKC discontinued the WDS event program but created a method for breeds to have their Schutzhund/IPO titles recognized.  They allowed the Parent Clubs to identify an organization that they would partner with so that tiles obtained under the partner organization’s rules would qualify for AKC’s listing for individual dogs.

At the Board meeting in 2009 the AKC stated: “Effective December 31, 2009 – The AKC will record Working Dog titles earned in events held by existing organizations, if requested by a breed Parent Club. The organization must be approved by the AKC Performance Events Department. Titles to be recorded require Board approval. The recording of the title on an AKC pedigree will be done at the request of the dog’s owner for a fee set by the AKC. In addition, AKC clubs will be permitted to invite the other organization to hold its Working Dog event in conjunction with the AKC club’s AKC event, as long as it is clear in the publicity that the former is being held under the auspices of another organization.” (4)

AKC Recognized Working Dog Organizations & Titles by Breed

AKC Parent Club Event Giving Working Organizations
American Belgian Malinois Club American Working Malinois Association
American Bouvier des Flandres Club DVG American
American Rottweiler Club DVG American
Belgian Sheepdog Club of America American Working Malinois Association
Doberman Pinscher Club of America United Doberman Club
German Shepherd Dog Club of America Working Dog Association

Working Dog Sport: Schutzhund/IPO Format

In order to earn a title at each of the three levels, dog and handler must first pass a temperament test (Begleithund). Then the team is eligible to compete in a Schutzhund/IPO trial. Those trials have three distinct components:  tracking, obedience and protection - all on the same day.

Begleithund (Bh) is the first level of the Schutzhund/IPO program and consists of three main phases: temperament test; companion test; and, testing in traffic. The temperament test is done to confirm the dog’s ID entity (microchip or tattoo). The companion test is done on the field as is the basic obedience routine that is used in all phases. This phase includes: heeling and sitting on leash; heeling off leash; down with recall; and down under distraction.

The testing in traffic consists of the dog encountering: a group of people; a bicyclist; a car(s); joggers or inline skaters; other dogs; and behavior toward other dogs when tethered and left alone by handler. (5)

FCI Conformation W/ Jean Yves Reguer - FCI Judge
Handled, Owned, Trained “HOT” by Charles Price
Judges Helper – Carol Rauch

Crestwood's Uncommon Valor SchH 3, IPO 3, CGC, NAWBA Select “Toby”
Handled, Owned, Trained “HOT” by Charles Price

Tracking: In Schutzhund/IPO tracking the dog works with his nose deep into the track, must work slowly, methodically and identify multiple articles. Each level becomes more difficult due to length and age.

IPO Tracking
Briarlea Spice of High Rolls; CGC; ABAB 1:2 HCT;SchH1;AD
Handled, Owned and Trained by Carol Walker

Obedience: The exercise basic pattern is the same from Schutzhund 3/IPO 3, with each level becoming increasingly difficult. Teams work in pairs, with one doing an honor down when the other works the obedience pattern. Enthusiasm of the dog is highly regarded.

IPO Obedience

IPO Dumbbell Retrieve over 1 meter hurdle
Briarlea Spice of High Rolls; CGC; ABAB 1:2 HCT;SchH1;AD Handled, Owned and Trained by Carol Walker

Protection: Tests the control and the working relationship of dog and handler. The dog is under control at all times and responds to obedience commands as given.

IPO Blind Search IPO Blind Search Bark & Hold
Crestwood's Uncommon Valor SchH 3, IPO 3, CGC, NAWBA Select “Toby”
Handled, Owned, Trained “HOT” by Charles Price

Other Dog of Note

Briarlea Solamente en la Luz BH - AKC TD CDX SchH 2; (Solo) Owned and Bred by Sunny DeYoung (Briarlea Kennel); Handled by Joanne Fleming-Plumb; High in trial – Obedience at DVG Nationals.

ABdFC’s Working Dog Sport Partner

The ABdFC has chosen Deutscher Verband der Gebrauchshundsportvereine (DVG) as the partner club for the WDS program. The AKC will recognize / record Schutzhund/IPO titles issued by DVGv America. (Note: Schutzhund is now referred to as IPO) AKC will recognize titles earned back to January 1, 2000. (Effective August 1, 2013) (6)

DVG is an organization that has been in existence since 1903. The DVG America organization is a member of the DVG parent organization.

Recoding of Titles

The AKC will record the following titles for the Bouvier des Flanders: BH, IPO1, IPO2, IPO3, SchH1, SchH2, SchH3, SchHA, FH1, and FH2.

The recording of these titles is at the request of the owner, who fills out a form and pays a fee. The titles must be confirmed prior to being recorded by the AKC. (6)

For information on how to record a title; titles that Bouviers are eligible for and an application for the title, please go to the AKC web site at http://classic.akc.org/events/working_dog_sport/index.cfm.

For more information about Schutzhund/IPO trials see the DVG-America website, dvgamerica.com,

To find a DVG club in your area go to http://www.dvgamerica.com/ Clubs and Officers by state.

For additional information contact ABdFC’s WDS Committee Chairperson; Carol Walker, email bouvier90@woh.rr.com or call 937-675-9077.


1. DVG America. DVG America. [Online] [Cited: Jan 23, 2014.] http://www.dvgamerica.com/.
2. AKC. Working Dog Sport Regulations. New York : The American Kennel Club, Inc, 2006.
3. —. AKC Board Approved Parent Clubs Request for New Competition. 2006.
4. AKC Board Minutes. AKC. s.l. : The American Kennel Club, Inc, 2009.
6. AKC. AKC Board of Directors Minutes. s.l. : American Kennel Club, Inc, 2013.
7. —. Bouvier des Flandres Bouvier des Flandres. s.l. : American Kennl Club, 2002.

Carol & Bill Walker have been in pure breed dogs for 40 years. Carol has been a Board Member of ABdFC & NAWBA; President of ABdFC and Regional Director for ABdFC Rescue. Bill has shown in AKC conformation; taught conformation classes; Board member of NAWBA, Official Photographer for the 2011 UScA Mid East Regional Championships; and, President of Miami Valley K-9 Search team.

Carol & Bill own two Bouviers. Both have working “Careers”; Spice in IPO, SAR, AKC Obedience and tracking; Creed in Herding

Special Thanks to Charlie Price & Patric Taylor for their editing, knowledge and support.


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