The Breeding of the Bouvier des Flandres
by Fernand Malaquin
( Translators notes: This is the text of a speech given by Fernand Malaquin, French Bouvier Breeder of the kennel "de la Vallee de I'Ecaillon" in the early 1960's. Translated by Kathy Heilenman with commentary by Jim Engel. Commentary throughout the text in italics.)
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The presidents of the two Clubs, Belgian and French, have asked me to speak to you about the breeding of the Bouvier des Flandres.
It is with great pleasure that I have responded to this call and I am very grateful to them for the confidence they have shown me in asking me to treat a subject as complex as the breeding of the Bouvier des Flandres. I will attempt then to deliver to you, with objectivity, the few pieces of knowledge that I have been able to acquire during the course of a long career dedicated to dog breeding in general and to the Bouvier des Flandres in particular.
Given that I am not a medical or biological professional, I must ask your indulgence as you listen to my remarks and if from time to time I use informal terminology, please excuse me. Before beginning, however, it is good to look back on the past, not to lament it but in order to understand the present and to try to catch a glimpse of the future.
THE HISTORY OF THE BOUVIER
The origins of the Bouvier des Flandres are in fact quite obscure. Bouviers were, above all, the dogs of cow herders who used them to drive their herds through the countryside from one region to another, indeed from one market to another.
These dogs had a harsh coat but were of quite different types. Breeding had been haphazard, subject to chance meetings, and the criteria retained were above all intelligence, courage, and exceptional vigor. These dogs were meant to safeguard the conduct of the herds as well as serving as guardians of their masters during rest periods and nights spent outdoors.
We can be sure that present day Bouviers have inherited and preserved those mental qualities that are so much appreciated in our dogs and it is those same qualities that have contributed to their world-wide fame since Bouviers are now found on several continents.
I would now like to mention the major stages of the breed's evolution across time.
In my opinion, there are three important stages marking this evolution:
At this point, with your permission, we will examine together how the breeding of the Bouvier des Flandres evolved during the course of each of these periods.
First period: 1911 - 1914
The type and quality of these dogs made them stand out and it was in Ypres in 1911 that the first Bouvier des Flandres appeared in a show.
Several fanciers who were interested in this type of rough-coated dog got together on April 21, 1912 at a special show at Courtrai and it was there that the first standard of the Bou vier des Flandres was worked out.
The prototype chosen was that of the veterinary doctor Domincent's dog, Djinn de la Warnave, whose pictures had been seen on numerous show catalogs for quite a while now. This dog was of the Paret type.
In March 1912, the Club Cynophile de Roulers established a standard for a variety of Bouviers that were encountered in the Roulers region and known under the name of the Roulers or Moerman type. The prototype chosen was Marius des Baies.
The Societe Royale Saint-Hubert, in a communication published on August 9, 1912, made it known that it recognized the Bouvier de Roulers; on the other hand the Kennel Club Belge and the Societe Centrale de Paris officially accepted the Bouvier des Flandres of the Paret type.
These two quite distinct varieties both had their proponents and the homogeneity of each was nearly perfect for several years—at least until 1914 when the world war broke out during which numerous breeding animals disappeared, their owners no longer being able to feed them.
It was during this first period whose beginnings are situated around 1910, that the first founders of the breed are to be found registered with LOSH (without a number designation). Their names were Pic de Moerman, Laura de Wilaert, Bella de Moerman, Lise de Van der Heeren, and so on.
I have been able, thanks to the aid of our late and greatly missed friend, Felix Verbank, to reconstitute the origins of these first Bouviers, the ances tors of our present day dogs. I hope to interest you by introducing you to their pedigrees.
Going back into time, we can establish the fact that, if we go back far enough in the history of any bloodline, we will find common ancestors. (See the table of major breed ancestors A and B)
Second period: 1920-1939
The war having come to a close, each person counts his marbles and it is necessary to reconstitute the stock.
With the Lys separating Belgium from France, how did the breeding of the Bouvier evolve on each side of that natural frontier?
Several breeders took the breeding of the Bouvier into their own hands, using several dogs spared by the war, gleaned here and there on Flemish farms, a sire here, a breeding there, notably among the descendants of the kennels de la Lys, de la Barriere, de la Surete, de la Digue, all names with evocative force. (All of these kennels bred the Roulers type.)
Both on the Belgian and on the French side, stock is being reconsti tuted and breeding is going forward in an orderly manner.
But then, in 1931, the Societe Saint-Hubert, as a result of who knows what aberration, acknowledged that it was necessary to reunite the two varieties—Paret and Roulers—and estabish a common standard. This was a decision which seriously complicated things and from which present day breeding suffers still . As a result of this imbroglio, what happened and what were the reactions on the one side as well as the other?
The two varieties were cross bred—something that appeared so simple in the mind of the directors but was, in reality, much more complicated in its application.
The breeding of the Bouvier was in the hands of a small number of breeders both from the Paret as well as from the Moerman side. We can say that the establishment of type was done inside families, or more exactly, blood lines.
But we know from experience that nature does not lend herself as easily as that to human fancy, and it would be too simple if one were to put large together with small to obtain medium and rough coat together with soft to have an acceptable coat.
Puppies born of these breedings, litter mates even , represented each variety as well as hybrids? We will return below in a moment to establish ng the type.
Certain breeders, however, do not accept this fusion of the 2 varieties and want to carefully preserve the type they had developed and obtained as a result of judicious breedings.
On the French side, Jean Cott6eand his kennel, de la Boheme come to mind. Until 1939, excellent examples of the Paret types appeared and were shown. Examples include Ch. Asti de la Boheme, Purotin de la Boheme, Luck de la Boheme, and Isidore de la Boheme. It should be noted, however, that the ancestors of these dogs were, for the most part, from dogs registered with LOS H, for example Erix, a son of Dragon de la Barriere, himself a son of Milton de la Barriere whom we have seen before among the founding stock,Ch Asti being the son of Prius de la Lys and of B abylone, both LOSH, etc.
(This is the great paradox of French Bouvier history: most of the lines put forth as exemplifying the type Paret)
Table A Principal Ancestors
Kis de Ramillies '17 LOSH.10263 Sire
Duc (J.Mottoulle) Sire
Liske (Moutoulle) Sire
Filou '10 LOSH.9569 Sire
Pic (J.Moerman) born about 1906
B Ch Nic '16 LOSH.12066 Sire
Cora '17 LOSH.9575 Sire
Filou '10 LOSH.9569 Sire
Pic (J.Moerman) born about 1906
Roma '13 LOSH.10284 Sire
Table B Principal Ancestors
Beau Cesar '22 LOSH17086 Sire
Duduc '13 LOSH.12872 Sire
Filou '10 LOSH.9569 Sire
Pic (J.Moerman) born about 1906
Lise (VanderHeeren) Sire
Mirza (F.DeMeyer about 1908)
Marianne '17 LOSH.13923 Sire
B. Ch Zola '08 LOSH.8892 Sire
Mariette '14 LOSH.13922 Sire
B. Ch Zola '08 LOSH.8892
Jax du Pandore '28 LOSH.32820 Sire
Dragon de la Barriere '25 LOSH.21555 Sire
Milton de la Barriere '24 LOSH.18580 Sire
Milton '19 LOSH.15936
Myarka de Turnhout '20 LOSH.18292
Mirza de la Barriere '23 LOSH.18578 Sire
Harry '20 LOSH.14721
Myarka de Turnhout '20 LOSH.18292
Blida du Pandore '25 LOSH.21453 Sire
Milton '19 LOSH.15936 Sire
Asta de la Suerete '21 LOSH.11848 Sire
B. Ch Nic '16 LOSH.10266
Flandria '18 LOSH.11736
Both France and Belgium had their own standard.
On the French side, brindles were desired, black being excluded because of the Roulers types.
In Belgium, all colors were accepted, from fawn to brindle to black.
But on one side as well on the other, these types are very heterogeneous and we arrive at the period where there was little progress.
In order to get a rough coat, the Berger Picard was used. But if the coat improved, the undercoat disappeared, the muzzle became elongated and the furnishings less abundant.
The rough coating Griffon might have perhaps remedied these disadvantages. We still find, it would appear, traces of those days in the dark fawn coats typical of certain lines.
Le Briard is often blamed but if the use of this breed improved the furnishings, coat texture suffered.
The Airedale would perhaps be the antidote, but his gait is to choppy.
As for the Schnauzer, the use of this breed would change the morphology of the head.
This was how things stood around 1938-39 when the bouvier stock was once more reduced to almost nothing by the second world war.
(Again, this is a French perspective. According to the records, and in the face of enormous hardship, both the Dutch and the Belgians were able to preserve their pre war lines and carry on with very little use of undocumented dogs. Indeed, Chastel was breeding the foundations for the recovery in 1943 and 1944 in such dogs as Soprano de la Thudinie.)
All of that, you may tell me, is ancient history, but it has been necessary to evoke it in order to measure the complexity of this breeding and the numerous difficulties encountered there.
Third period: 1945
We now arrive at the period that I term contemporary and which begins in 1945.
We found a significant number of Bouviers in the very first shows after the war, Bouviers which had escaped the anguish. 30 dogs and 24 bitches, from the four corners of the globe but representing a great disparity of type and with a large percentage not being registered, were at Lille for the first show of 1946. (Lille is a major city in northern France.)
All the work remained to be done. With great good fortune, good sires were quite often used and the stock was rapidly restored. Certain kennels quickly became predominant, in particular
—the kennel de la Boheme, in France with Quasimodo de la Boheme
—the kennel de la Thudinie in Belgium with Soprano de la Thudinie.
These sires were used, of course, with brood-bitches of different lines and we are able to say that today's breeding of the Bouvier descends from these two principal lines.
(Although there are gaping holes in what is known about Quasimodo's pedigree, what can be traced beyond one or two generations invariably leads back to Belgian LOSH lines.)
I will not cite all the breeders which have grafted themselves onto these two lines that I will call the Thudinie bloodline and the Boheme bloodline, the latter, since the passing of Jean Cotte, currently being comprised of very few representatives.
How is breeding currently evolvng from these two lines?
1.The Boheme line survived on its past accomplishments without the support of new blood until the disappearance of Jean Cotte. The kennel of Chateau Marocain has continued to work with this line but with recourse to outside sires of LOSH origins with brood-bitches of Bohemian blood from the kennel du Riff by Jim 11 de la Groue of President Pouchain (of the French Club), Boheme through Hussard de la Boheme and from a LOSH bitch Elite. The Boheme type continues to be dominant however, in this kennel, whose owner has ceased activity due to age.
There have been, of course, numerous fanciers who have bred the Boheme line but who have more or less rapidly disappeared.
The kennel de I'' Epee. —Perhaps the only kennel to function using the Boheme blood line, the first two founders of this kennel being Blue de l'Orme and Dolce des Hauts Chesnaux, both 100% Boheme. A first litter produced several good examples of the breed, among which were Gringoire and Gueline.
The kennel went out to Jal du Chateau Marocain who was also of Boheme lines, grandson of Igor des Hauts Chesnaux, to breed Gueline and the kennel has been inbreeding on 1/2 brother and 1/2 sister and then on first cousins.
The products of this kennel are homogeneous and characterized by their dark fawn color.
II. The Thudine line - This is now the most important, and it has been established well beyond the European continent.
There would be much to say on the subject of this line and its development but my friend Chastel has prepared an excellent work on the origins and development of his kennel. I wouldn't want to tread on his patch so I will limit myself to citing only the principal stages of the development of his kennel.
A bitch, Mirette de la Thudinie, grand-daughter of Klass du Pandore, bred to Kloudel Roque du Moulin, produced Rakina de la Thudinie, bred to Joris du Ble d'Or, produced Soprano de la Thudinie. From Soprano de la Thudinie and Rakina de la Thudinie, half-brother and half-sister, we have Ucaba. This bitch will play an important role in the de la Thudine kennel.
From the father Soprano on the daughter Ucaba, we obtain Zolla dela Thudinie. From this bitch Zolla bred by Ygor des Coudreaux, a son of Falon de la Thudinie et Wanda des Coudreaux, we get Canaille de la Thudinie.
Meanwhile, Ucaba, bred by Ch Volpi de la Vallee de I'Ecaillon, to your servant (a son of Quasimodo and my old Sapho), we obtain Argus de la Thudinie.
From Canaille, bred by Argus, we obtain Demoiselle de la Thudinie who remains at Chastel's and a sister from another litter, Eliane de la Thudinie, who went to the Grulois'. (Felix Grulois of du Posty Arlequin kennel in Thuin, Belgium.)
From these two bitches, will come all the future blood combinations in the kennels de la Thudinie and du Posty Arlequin.
With Bonzo l'Ideal de Charleroi on Flambe de la Thudinie, we find Hulotte de la Thudinie.
But the important event was the breeding of Cendrillo de I'Ile Monsin, a son of Urmin du Gratte Saule, of Thudinien blood and of Tamia de I'lle Monsin, of which one of the products, Hion de la Thudinie, provided a new lease on life infusing that vigorous quality which had been missing in those Bouviers. (Thus Cendrillo went back to the old Belgian Ring lines of Edmund Moreaux. Chastel, citing the decline in character of the breed, bred back heavily on these dogs to restore vigor.
These have been the important stages. Afterwards, this kennel, which had been enriched by new blood, continued to develop and using this new bloodline and guided by the great qualities he has as a breeder that we recognize in our friend Chastel.
I must still speak to you about breeding:
<within a bloodline
<between different blood lines
1. - Within a bloodline
You have been able to notice that the breeding of the Bouvier des Flandres is characterized by a line of dogs of whom the establishment of type and homogeneity in reproduction has been established by inbreeding that has often been very close at the beginning. Breeding of father on daughter — which I prefer to son on mother—The pedigrees of the founders of establish the type within a breed.
If we breed within the products of one and the same line, there are hardly any problems except some throwbacks that are easy to eliminate.
We should always choose, for breeding, sires which have the qualities we seek in our kennel but especially, we should not begin from the idea that a dog with a straight shoulder, for example, will be corrected by a dog with shoulder that is too oblique. That would be a serious mistake. Let us search out the example which is the most correct in order to correct the fault which we would like to have disappear.
2. — Introduction of a different blood line
But where difficulties appear is when we introduce a foreign blood line into a family. We witness in this case a true battle between the genes and we have the impression that the genes that I will call "ancestral" are the strongest since examples of the initial type, examples which can represent traits from the far past, often reappear.
In this case, the first generation is often a catastrophe and it is indispensable to eliminate the products which deviate too far from the desired type.
Several cases can be present.
First case — Where one type is dominant in the litter. Is this the type which we want to preserve?
This is the first question which we should ask ourselves. If this type is not the one which we want, we must search out another foundation dog from the same family as that which we first used but whose genes will perhaps be a little more susceptible to being domi nated by the receiving bloodline.
Second case —The litter is divided in two, half on the paternal and half on the maternal side. You choose the type which is the closest to your aspirations and you eliminate the others, without pity.
The battle is not won even so, for in the second generation, you must come back into the desired type by using a sire from the maternal or paternal bloodline according to the direction you wish to go.
You proceed until the moment when you obtain again great homogeneity in the offspring.
I believe that I have been talking too much and I would like to finish this presentation by telling you how happy I am to see the Bouvier des Flandres established in numerous foreign countries and I am particularly happy to see the unified view which exists among all those who have adopted the Bouvier.
We maintain excellent relations with our friends the Dutch and from what I have heard from those who go to Holland to judge, great progress has been made. We find very good examples of the breed in the shows, dogs capable of winning in France or in Belgium. The long type with a flat coat is disappearing and we are glad of that.
I judged in Italy several months ago and I found very good examples of the breed and quite acceptable homogeneity.
The English have imported several dogs but here I think that it will be necessary to be prudent and to observe future developments attentively.
The Americans remain in contact with the counties of origin. They continue to import good examples of the breed. But it is also indispensable that we preserve good relations with them if we want the single standard between the Belgians and the French to be respected.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for having listened to me.
clockwise from left top:
Roquepine de la Franche Pierre C.A.C. - C.A.C.I.B
Witou de Baugy C.A.C
Phare du Grand Tarsac and Tahiti de la Franche Pierre C.A. C. - C.A.C.I.B.
Surboum de la Franche Pierre C.A.C. - C.A.C.I.B.