The Flanders mountain dog breed is very old and its origin is not very certain. There are different currents of thought regarding the origin of this breed. Its standards were laid down very late, in 1937, but before that it had been used since time immemorial in the rough work of cattle driving. The most hostile climate and hard work have contributed to giving it that amazing rusticity through natural selection, to which man has then been able to achieve a homogeneity of type.
Its origins, as its name suggests, are in Flanders, both Belgian and French, and each of the two countries claims paternity. So after years of dispute, a compromise was reached to consider it Franco-Belgian.
Its ancestors are not very certain; some indicate as the ancestor of the Bovaro de Flandres the shepherd of Languedoc, which is a French breed not recognized, which was brought to the area of Flanders by Spanish troops, later there were also attempts to mate with the shepherd of Brie. According to others, it is a cross between a hard-coated Griffon and a Beauce shepherd dog. According to the Belgians, it is also a descendant of the Roulers mountain dog.
According to Professor Reul (a famous cynophile whose work on Belgian dog breeds at the end of the last century proved to be no less decisive than that of Paul Mégnin on French shepherd dogs), the Flanders Mountain Dog, like most European farm dogs and shepherds, is descended from the peatland dog, a wild animal that was gradually domesticated by man.
During the world wars it played a very important role as it was often used alongside the military. During the Second World War the dog risked extinction because everyone wanted it as an auxiliary. It was much sought after because it was a very resistant dog, robust, which adapted to adverse situations, and was very faithful. After the war, efforts were made to restore the purity of the breed, using the few survivors from military use and trying to encourage mating and reproduction.
Today, the Flanders Mountain Dog is mainly used as a guard dog, defence dog and police auxiliary, but it has also become a companion dog in its own right. It is also used extensively for agility dogs and as a competition dog for utility and defence disciplines.
Flanders Beefhound dog breed character
The Flanders Mountain Dog is a reliable dog, very calm, well-balanced, endowed with marked intelligence and sensitivity. It is very close to its owner, to whom it shows a strong attachment, and its calm and quiet character makes it an excellent house and family dog, to whom it is always very affectionate. If properly socialised when young, it is happy to accept other dogs and pets such as cats. It adapts very well and with ease to various situations and contexts.
It is very intelligent and, being very obedient, can understand without any problem what its owner wants it to understand. It is an excellent watchdog and defence dog, in fact it will defend its owner if it feels he is in danger, even before receiving an order. It is an excellent guard dog for isolated houses.
It loves the outdoors and running freely. As a medium-sized dog, it needs a lot of exercise. It hates being bored and sitting still, and is therefore not suitable for elderly or sedentary people.
Totally devoted to its owner, it has no problem adapting to life at home and in the family, making it a good companion dog. It is always a little wary of strangers, so any new person who comes to the house must be accompanied by their owner or family, only then will they be accepted.
It is often used as a guide for the blind, as a police and drug dog, as it has an exceptional nose and above all as a shepherd dog, as it is an excellent worker with particular skills in leading livestock from the farm to the pastures and bringing them home in the evening.
Flanders Mountain Dog breed
The Flanders Mountain Dog is a medium to large dog. Females tend to be smaller, while males are around 68 centimetres tall at the withers and weigh around 40 kilograms.
It has a powerful musculature with a well-proportioned body. It is morphologically classified as a wolf-molossus. It is a dog with a massive appearance and its coat accentuates its image of strength. It has excellent musculature which allows it great speed of movement. Its limbs are strong. The tail is generally cut off in the first weeks of life leaving 2 or 3 vertebrae. If it is present it is not very long and is curled upwards.
The head is robust and solid with a wide, strong muzzle full of shaggy hairs; in fact it also has a beard and thick moustache. The eyes are almost completely hidden by all the hair on the muzzle and can be very dark in colour, usually darker than the coat and are slightly oval and set horizontally. The ears, if cropped, are triangular, well erect, set high and very mobile; if undamaged they are triangular, carried forward in line with the skull and drooping on the cheeks.
The coat is very thick and rough to the touch. It also has an important undercoat which makes it able to tolerate low temperatures. The coat is always slightly ruffled, on the head it is rather short, beard and moustache are very thick, on the other parts of the body it is about 6 centimetres long. The colours are generally fawn or grey, sometimes tigerish or with anthracite-grey stripes, sometimes even completely black.
Care and health of the Flanders Mountain Dog breed
The health of the Flanders Mountain Dog is very good, however being a medium to large dog it can suffer from hereditary disorders such as hip dyspasia, laryngeal paralysis, which can cause noisy breathing and difficulty breathing and in old age it can suffer from cataracts. Its average life expectancy is about 12 years.
The coat of the Flanders Mountain Dog is dry and should therefore hardly ever be washed, only brushed. It is usually recommended that this breed is bathed once a year so as not to damage the coat and undercoat, while a brush with a straight-toothed brush should be used at least once a week.
As a large dog, they have a big appetite and require a different balance of nutrients including minerals and vitamins to smaller dogs. They are also prone to stomach twisting, so it is good to feed them several times a day.