a Working Bouvier for the Novice Working Bouvier Buff by CHRIS REDENBACH FRENCH
a working prospect Bouvier des Flandres
Is a substantially different process from
buying a pet or a conformation show dog. It has a different culture, a different
process and different goals.
The breeders are usually different and have very different expectations of
your own level of responsibility.
you have become interested in owning a working Bouvier des Flandres,
the first step is to decide whether you want a pet from working lines or whether
you plan to actually work your dog in:
or explosivessearch and rescue (wilderness, disaster, cadaver)
or Herding Dogtrial dogranch dogsmall farm dog
- Generalized All Breed
In order to
determine this, it is realistic and will save you lots of trouble if you
do some preparatory footwork before even contacting any breeders.
- First go to the internet
and research the activities in the list above. See our
NAWBA links page.
- Find out what clubs are
locally available to you and visit them. (You can find local clubs by searching
web sites of their national parent organizations.)
- Do several repeat visits
to the clubs who are nice to you and seem like basically good people with
whom you would like to spend time.
- Decide whether you like
the sport they do and get a feel for the time commitment involved. If they
say that Bouviers can't work, then just tell them that you know that the average
Bouvier can't work, but you are already involved with an group of breeders
who regularly title dogs in their sport or a related sport. They will like
you better if you act like you are preparing yourself well. IF they still
don't seem to want to accept bouviers, then you may have to find another alternative
- Find out how many club
dogs have earned titles having been trained there since pups. Some clubs are
great for working with titled imports for competition, but dont' have the
training expertise to work from the ground up.
- You will need this information.
Don't put anyone on the defensive finding it out. Just ask lots of friendly
questions and observe.
you prepare yourself with advance research about the sport, the better the questions
and answers will be.
you have chosen a working activity and determined that you can
in it in your area and have the time to invest, then go to the internet again
and look at
Working Bouvier site on the
French Working Bouvier site :http://www.bouviers-des-flandres.com
the NAWBA site http://www.nawba.org/
of Flandres site http://www.geocities.com/countofflanders/englishmain.htm
and other links to working sites.
- Find a breeder who has
titled dogs in the sport you are interested in. If there are none, then find
a breeder whose dogs have titled in a closely related sport.
- Research the breeder
as much as possible before emailing or calling them.
- Buying a working potential
or already titled working Bouvier is a two way street which requires a working
relationship between the breeder and you.
you should be treated respectfully, expect not to be taken very seriously
if you have never titled a dog in work before. If you have titled a dog, then
be ready and proud to discuss it and why you are interested in this breeder's
dogs. Let the breeder know about the research you have done and what, if any,
experience you have. Most breeders of proven working dogs are reluctant to put
their best dogs into a totally unproven amateur's hands. This is because most
amateurs never end up completing a title. They get discouraged with the amount
of work and quit.
- So be prepared to give
the breeder information about the quality of the training club you will join
and show that you have an understanding of the amount of work.
- Discuss with the breeder
whether it is better for you to buy a dog who is a baby pup, an
adolescent already started in some work, an older perhaps titled dog
- (remember that buying
a titled working Bouvier is like amputating the breeder's arm). The right
answer for you will depend upon the experience in your club, your experience
and many other factors
- If you get a pup,
then you are taking a bigger risk about whether, between the pup's potential
and the training competance of you and your club, the pup will grow up and
- If you get an adolescent,
it may already be started with training methods that would get you through
the foundation work.With either an adolescent or an adult, you will want
to know why exactly the breeder is selling the dog.
breeder who is quite advanced in their training skills and level of competition
may sell a wonderful dog for a beginner trainer that would not meet the criteria
for top competition, but may be ideal for a beginner who needs to learn to
drive a Toyota before a Ferrari.
Once you and
the breeders you have contacted have determined if and when there would be a
suitable dog for you, find out how much the breeder will be available for Questions
If you are an experienced
buyer who has titled working dogs, you have a better chance of getting all you
want from a breeder because they will have faith that you will honor the good
dog they sell you. One working dog breeder in Belgium offered for years that
he would give a second dog to any buyer who took his first dog to the top level
title of their sport.
concern if you are buying from a very popular working breeder is
how your pup will be selected.
- What breeding will your
dog come from?
- Research the pedigree
and ask why the breeder recommends this breeding for you and the sport you
wish to do.
- Has the breeding or
a similar breeding been done before?
- What has happened to
the dogs from that breeding? Are they titled? Are they healthy? How will your
dog be selected?
- Is it first come, first
- Do you pick the pup?
Does the breeder pick the pup?
- How many reservations
are there ahead of yours for the better pups from a litter?
- If you are at the tail
end of reservations, you may want to reserve a pup from a breeding where you
get an earlier pick. Some more salesman like breeders will promise you a good
working dog even if you only have 5th pick in the litter. This sort of promise
must be regarded with some caution. If you think work is agility then perhaps
the 5th pick pup would be a shining star, but for schutzhund or ring, it may
- How will the breeder
deal with the situation if a more experienced and< reliable buyer comes along?
Will you get bumped down the list? Will they tell you?
that the concept of a pick puppy is a misleading concept.
The pick puppy for you is the best match for what you want to do and what your
level of experience is. A buyer who has titled a dog to the top in a sport may
be able to handle the Ferrari dog that would be above your beginner's abilities.
realize that some show breeders are more concerned with structure
and looks than they are particular working traits when they select dogs for
a breeding. Many of these people sincerely wish to breed dogs with good temperaments
and aptitudes, but if they have not concentrated on developing
proven working stock, then they also will may not be as knowledgeable about
what it takes to develop a working dog. It is not that they are intentionally
misleading you, but rather that they themselves are a bit in the dark.
- Try to personally go
to visit the breeder and the breeder's training club. You should see the dog's
relatives work. You may not be able to see the dam work if the pups are already
on the ground, but try to see the sire and/or related dogs. See if you like
the personality type of the dogs. See if there is any chemistry. What kind
of feel do you get for the breeder? You should be looking forward to an ongoing
- If you will be buying
an older dog, make sure to meet it and see if you get along and can handle
it. If you plan to breed working Bouviers, then buying an older dog may be
very desireable. If you want one because you are afraid that you or your club
has too little experience to successfully train one from puppyhood, then that
is important information for the breeder.
- If all you really want
is a pet from working lines, then be truthful about this. A competition dog
may be unhappy and unsuitable for the lifestyle you plan to give it. In this
case, you would be better off frankly discussing your lifestyle with the breeder
and relying on the breeder's judgement about whether one of the lower drive
dogs would be suitable for you or whether you would be better off with a dog
from another source.
version by Karin Caporal
The Balanced Dog
Arion Bouviers des Flandres
any information please contact