By Kathy Rose
The Bouvier des Flandres originates from the farms of Belgium. Their working abilities at herding cattle, cart pulling, family protector and friend, along with their profuse weather resistant double coat, made them ideal farm dogs.
The rough double coat of the Bouvier consists of a harsh outer coat and a dense, soft undercoat. Hand stripping will help to keep the coat harsh and weather resistant, but keep in mind the hand stripping is not exactly like terrier stripping. The dead coat is removed, but not down to a short layer. Some shaping with thinning shears or blenders after the stripping is required. The standard calls for a “tousled” appearance so avoid scissoring and over stylizing.
The coat should be thoroughly prepared prior to bathing. Use a force dryer to separate the coat and blow out some of the loose dead undercoat. Next, brush and comb the coat to remove any mats. Trim the pads and sanitary, cut nails, clean ears and then proceed to hand stripping.
Before the bath:
Fig.1) Hand strip the top skull to about ½ inch in length. Be sure to secure the loose skin when hand stripping. The top skull should appear flat.
Fig.2) Hand strip the sides of the neck to help achieve an arched appearance. Lift the beard and then strip the throat and fore chest. Strip down over the point of shoulder.
Continue hand stripping, down the flanks to the point of rump.
Strip over the rump and the back of the upper thigh, continuing to the upper thigh.
Fig.3) The last part to strip is the topline. The coat on the back will be shorter from the croup forward to the withers, where it blends onto the neck with slightly longer coat. This transition from the back to the neck is important to give the appearance of an arched neck.
The legs can be stripped a little to shape and remove the longer dead hairs. They should, however, remain full.
With hand stripping complete, bath the Bouvier using a clarifying shampoo. Follow up with a force dry blow out, brush and comb.
Fig.4) Use blenders to tip the coat to form a level topline. Remember, this is just shaping, you have already stripped the coat.
Set the rear by trimming the coat from below the point of rump to a few inches above the hock.
Lift the tail and then shape a rounded shelf from the point of rump to the croup.
Shape the tail into a wedge that sits well up on the topline. There should be a smooth transition from the tail to croup to back.
Blend the back portion of the thigh to the outer thigh. Slightly shape the front of the rear leg to show moderate angulation at the knee (bend in stifle).
Tidy the inside of the rear legs so they are parallel.
Shape the hock to appear somewhat low to the ground and then shape the feet for a round appearance. The hocks should be perpendicular to the ground and parallel, with slight angulation on the front of the hock joint.
Tidy the body coat for a smooth transition to the topline. Shape the underline to give the appearance of a slightly held up loin. There should not be an exaggerated tuck-up.
Fig.5) Lift the beard and trim the throat and fore chest.
Trim the coat just below the point of shoulder to show the angulation and trim above the point of shoulder and blend into the neck and chest.
Use a #15 or #30 blade to shave the inside and outside of the ear, all the way to the base. Do not shave onto the top skull. Trim the ear edges, to a point, with small scissors. Use thinning shears to blend the top skull to the shaved portion of the ears.
Blend the top skull to the occiput and onto the neck using thinning shears.
Blend the neck coat to the shaved portion of the ears.
Lift the fall out of the way, and then trim the outside corners of the eyes, blending into the beard. The beard and fall come together from the outside corner of the eye to just behind and under the ear. Only a small bit above the eye is trimmed. The long coat of the “fall” behind the eye grows into the beard. There is no appearance of a cheek.
Blend the shorter top skull coat to the fall. The beard is left untrimmed.
For the show ring, the Bouvier should not appear overly stylized or excessively trimmed. After stripping, very little trimming is required on the correct Bouvier coat.
For the pet, a shorter trim may be requested, but it is still possible to keep inline with the breed profile. Some light stripping and carding of the body will help to keep the desired coat texture. Snap on combs can be used to achieve a shorter “pet” trim for your Bread & Butter clients. The snap on comb length for the legs should be several lengths longer than the body.
The overall picture should be that of a square, rugged dog with a tousled appearance.
For more information on the Bouvier: www.bouvier.org