What’s Wrong with the Bouvier (and a few other breeds)

Here’s what’s wrong with the Bouvier de Flandres…

…at least according to several Internet sites. The Bouvier is a stoic breed, and not in a good way. They have such a strong threshold for pain that when a Bouvier gets injured, vets often can’t tell where it hurts because the dog is so strong. One website reports that a working Bouvier can take a lot of contact with a cow’s legs either without feeling it, or simply ignoring the pain. This doesn’t make them a vet’s favorite patient since the vet can’t tell where the dog is hurting by manipulating the legs and/or other body parts.

Petful.com writes, “It is worth noting that the Bouvier has a high pain threshold. This may make identifying an injury or ailment by moving the legs difficult.”

Dogville’s.com writes, “The Bouvier has a high pain tolerance, probably due to his long history of herding cattle and being able to be kicked by a cow and just keep doing his job.  Just something to keep in mind when you bring him home.”

Dogbreedinfo.com reports: “The Bouvier has a very high pain threshold. They can take a lot of contact with the cattle’s legs without feeling it.”

You get the idea, but do note that the Bouvier de Flandres Club of America, nor the AKC make any such claims, and for a good reason. There are a lot of misguided (or plain ignorant) people out there who might think it’s cool to own a breed oblivious to pain. All dogs feel pain, including the Bouvier, but some are so intent on doing their job that they ignore it to their detriment. Pain – and ignoring it – always catches up to a dog (and the owner). For those of us who own these stoic breeds, it’s actually a serious problem. What’s a caring owner to do? How do you tell when something is amiss in your breed?

Image: Bouvier des Flandres by Ron Krajewski
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9 thoughts on “What’s Wrong with the Bouvier (and a few other breeds)”

  1. Our Bernese Mountain Dogs were very stoical, a breed trait (think pulling carts up and down rough trails in the Alps.) It was very difficult, because by the time they started to show distress, frequently by loss of appetite, if it was cancer it was usually advanced. You learn to read the subtle signals…how the dog moves and carries itself, how readily they get up to go out for a walk, the facial expressions, the smell of their breath. And most importantly, as every good dog person knows, our hands go ALL over the dog EVERY day, feeling for lumps, bumps, muscle tone, cuts/sores, increased heat, and any little tenderness. It’s the best way to learn, in detail, what is “normal” for that dog.
    My Norwich Terrier is stoical too. Luckily my Tibbies are the opposite, and are pretty, um, *forthcoming* when something is wrong with them (*i.e. drama queens,lol.)

    • Our Bouvier Des Flandres is coming up to 12 years of age. His general health is good but just recently he has started dry heaving/retching. He is insured but we cannot pay the excess for a Vet to check him out.
      Wondering if it’s polyps?

      • Danjo, we’re not veterinarians, and have no medical training that qualifies us to give you a reliable diagnosis. We can offer an opinion, but it is an untrained one and urge you to have your old dear companion seen by a vet, the dog deserves it. You could be on the track with polyps but it could also be a tumor. An abnormal growth can press on a dog’s esophagus causing him to cough and dry heave as he tried to get rid of it. It must surely be uncomfortable and a quick look on the Internet suggests that only surgery can help. Please get your boy seen!

  2. Give us the drama queens any time, Sally, it it means being able to spot something amiss early on!!

  3. It’s a fact for sure. I ran sled dogs for 25 years, purebred Alalskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies. While they’re working, nothing stops them. My friend had a dog on her team look like he stepped in a hole, but kept running. No sign of lameness. While unharnessing, saw his front leg swelling, big enough it was hard to get his harness off, but still standing on it. Took him to the vet for an xray, and the leg was broken LENGTHWISE in 3 places.
    Of course, once it was “discovered” he was immediately a Drama King.

    • It’s an almost unbelievable accounting, Holly, except to those of us who KNOW that what you’re writing can absolutely be true. Oh, how often have we wished that our dogs could talk!

  4. Can a bovier knock down cows from a body block. I’ve heard tell is it true!

    • We honestly don’t know, James, if a Bouvier has THAT much strength, but we’ve heard they do use their bodies to “suggest” to a cow that she move along….

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