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Bouvier des Ardennes Dog Breed: Pictures, Info, Care & Traits

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on May 18, 2024 by Dogster Team

Bouvier_des_Ardennes_-_Ardennentreibhund blue sky profile grey

Bouvier des Ardennes Dog Breed: Pictures, Info, Care & Traits

The Bouvier des Ardennes is a rare Belgian breed you might not have known about until recently. If something still has piqued your curiosity about this dog, you might wonder if it would be a good fit for your lifestyle.

Breed Overview


22 – 24 inches


55 – 65 pounds


12 – 14 years


Black, fawn, dark, gray

Suitable for:

Active families, outdoor living, herding


Loyal, strong-willed, amiable, hard-working

Breeders developed the Ardennes to be loyal helpers for herding livestock. Today, these spunky pooches found their way into homes all over—even after their near extinction. These dogs are scarce, but the breed still thrives, maintaining their hardy, durable attributes and overall agreeableness. Read on while we lay out everything you need to know about this unique breed.

Bouvier des Ardennes Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Bouvier des Ardennes Puppies

The Bouvier des Ardennes is a rare breed. So, if you’re on the search for a puppy, finding a reputable breeder might prove difficult. Travel might be in the cards depending on where you live, so prepare yourself in advance. Pets will be on the lower end of the price range, while show dogs can drastically increase in cost. Even though the possibility might be slight, there are breed-specific rescues all over. If you adopt a dog from a rescue, you can expect to have a beautiful Bouvier des Ardennes, including all necessary vetting like vaccinations, spay or neuter, and overall care.

Make sure to read the full care guide for the Bouvier des Ardennes so you know what type of exercise, food, and grooming sessions they might need. By taking care of your pup carefully, they will grow into happy and healthy dogs.

Temperament & Intelligence of the Bouvier des Ardennes 🧠

Ardennes are worker bees, always on the move—looking for a job to do. These pups are sharp, agile, and on-point, which helps them excel in tasks and training. It is no wonder farmworkers relied on these amazingly receptive dogs for herding.

They’re very good at reading people, so they might initially stand back to observe newcomers. The Ardennes has a keen sense of what’s going on around them—so if you need a protector to alert you of danger, this is your dog.

The typical Ardennes has a cheerful, playful role in the family. They love spending time with their owners and become very attached. Because of their bond with you, they might have separation anxiety if they’re left alone too long.

In addition to that, neglect or rehoming the dog might cause strong distrust, making it hard for them to recover. The Ardennes is sensitive to change and prefer routines and familiar faces.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

The Ardennes can make an ideal companion for many different walks of life. However, these dogs do best when they have lots of space to roam. Naturally rural dwellers, Ardennes thrive on outdoor activities.

If you live in an apartment or densely populated area, this breed might not make the best choice for you. However, if you have a big yard or land for them to explore—they will mesh well with your home life.

The Ardennes loves kids, primarily if they are raised together. They make fun playmates both indoors and out. You can count on the two working together as a team to burn off some energy. They can be amazing first dogs for children who are ready to have their very own pup.

However, since they are herding pros, they might try to wrangle up your kids. Heel nipping is typical behavior of the herding breed, so you just have to keep an eye on it.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

The Ardennes loves having doggy companions around—and they’ll likely be happier in a multi-dog situation. Of course, this can vary depending on the individual temperament. But as a general rule, this breed is totally over the moon to have friends.

These dogs are very compatible with livestock since it is ingrained in their DNA. Though, you might have to teach them not to chase or nip at the barnyard troublemakers, should they get out of line.

The Ardennes can pair well with household cats. It would help if you acclimated them early to reduce the risks of adverse reactions.

Cage animals are a no-go. The Ardennes is far too quick to take any chances. They shouldn’t meet the gerbil on your dresser, so always supervise and protect smaller pets.

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Things to Know When Owning a Bouvier des Ardennes

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

If you bring home an Ardennes pup, always transition them slowly to your food of choice. They should consume a healthy, nutrient-rich recipe that meets all nutritional profile criteria.

You should always feed your dog based on their weight and life stage, so be sure to check portion suggestions on the bag. Try to steer clear of any harmful artificial ingredients and fillers to keep your pet their healthiest.

The Ardennes would do well on dry kibble, wet food, or raw diets. But always check with your veterinarian before making any switches.

A Bouvier des Ardennes has no established dietary restrictions based on breed.

Exercise 🐕

The Ardennes won’t put up a fuss to get out of the house. You can take them out for lots of interactive games or a nice, long walk—they aren’t picky.

You can also take them out for some good old-fashioned work and they’ll be just as happy. These dogs benefit from getting at least 1 hour of exercise per day but will gladly take more.

They are the happiest when they aren’t restricted at all, which is why homes with lots of land to roam work best.

Training 🎾

These dogs are masters when it comes to training. They are gentle, obedient, and work very well with guidance. You won’t have much of an issue teaching this dog the basics and beyond.

These dogs are very receptive to positive reinforcement training. When they know they’ve made you happy, they’re twice as likely to repeat the behavior—and don’t mind a tasty snack of praise while they learn.

Because they take in new information like a pro, the process shouldn’t take long. With perseverance and dedication, this breed can pick up pretty much anything you put down.

Grooming ✂️

Get ready for the reality of Bouvier’s hair. These dogs have a very coarse, wiry coat that can mat and tangle like no other. So, daily brushing is essential to prevent unwanted knots. But this breed doesn’t shed very much, so it evens out.

As standard practice, you should give them a nice scrub once every 2-3 weeks in the tub—no matter how much they dread it. The follow-up should include nail trimming, ear cleaning, and teeth brushing.

Health and Conditions ❤️

The Ardennes has a hardy build with few health concerns to mention. However, they can develop any ailment that shows up in dogs as a species. To get ahead of any health issues, vetting is vital. Take your pup to their annual check-up every year so they can get a complete exam and wellness check.

Minor Conditions
  • Eye Conditions these dogs might suffer from several eye conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, and conjunctivitis.
Serious Conditions
  • Hip & Elbow Dysplasia affecting many large breeds, this condition causes the joints to weaken and bones to rub together.
  • Epilepsy this seizure condition is both genetic and acquired, but it is manageable with proper medication.

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Male vs Female

Males stand taller than their female counterparts, touting thicker bodies and broader heads. Females are a few inches beneath them with leaner muscle and narrower skulls.

Males tend to be a little more social, while females might be more observant. Laidback and relaxed with their family, you might find a male playing chase with the kids in the yard. But the female might interact most in an intimate indoor setting.

Both genders are explorers at heart, so be prepared for lots of adventures. But males tend to be more all over the place on outings, distracted by all the sights and smells. Females have a more scheduled approach to excursions that make them observant and cautious—but still so much fun.

Since males mature slower and tend to be a bit more hyper, they might exhibit nipping behavior more often than females.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Bouvier des Ardennes

1. The Bouvier des Ardennes Breed Dates All The Way Back To The 1600s

This rugged pup is an ancient Belgian breed explicitly developed for herding and livestock maintenance.

2. World War I Nearly Wiped Out The Entire Breed

After World War I, most believed these dogs were extinct. It wasn’t until the 1980s these dogs were found, and breeders could revive the breed.

3. Bouvier des Ardennes Are Inclined To Develop Separation Anxiety

Once these dogs are attached to their people, they don’t want to be without them. This breed works best for owners who are home a majority of the time.

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Final Words

If the Bouvier des Ardennes matches your living situation and personality style, it is time to begin the search. As we mentioned, locating a breeder may be very difficult but not impossible. If you’re willing to travel, you can identify a reputable breeder closest to you.

Don’t skip out on looking at local rescues, either. You never know when a Bouvier des Ardennes will show up due to owner surrender or other reasons.

Featured Image Credit: Bouvier des Ardennes – Ardennentreibhund, Wikimedia Commons, CC SA 4.0 International

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