Belgian Shepherd

Group 5: Working
Male: 62 cm
Female: 58 cm

Energy Level:  Moderate – high
Original Function: Herding, guarding
Lifespan: 10 – 15 yrs

Recommended for: Working homes and families.

About This Breed

The Belgian Shepherd  a necessary part of farm life in Belgium, herding and guarding. In the late 1800s studies were done in Brussels, which resulted in the division of the breed into four varieties. The four varieties have quite large differences in appearance.

The jet-black, long-coated Groenendael (called the Belgian Sheepdog in the US), the long-coated fawn dogs with black overlay known as Tervuren, the rough-coated fawn dogs with traces of black known as Lakenois, and the smooth-coated charcoaled fawn with dark mask known as Malinois. In the beginning, the Malinois was simply referred to as the shorthaired type.

Initially, breeding produced dogs of the different coat types in the same litters, so the types share common ancestors. As breeders selected coat types, they founded the base stock for the modern Belgian sheep-herding dogs.

Three types took names from the area in which they developed. The Parc du Laeken section of Brussels gave rise to the Laekenois; and the Malines region was home to the Malinois; and the town of Tervueren perfected the Tervuren. The Groenendael got its name from Chateau Groenendael, a restaurant owned by breeder Nicolas Rose.

Today they serve as police dogs, search and rescue aides, sentries, guardians (schutzhund), and leader dogs for the blind. They also excel in  agility, obedience, and flyball competition. They have also retained the herding instinct and compete in herding tests and trials.

They make excellent pets and are loyal loving companions. They are easily trained but like most highly intelligent breeds, they need consistency and firm handling to establish leadership. Firm handling is not the same as harsh correction or punishment; Belgians treated to rough training methods may become fear-biters.

General Characteristics

Appearance: A well-balanced, square dog, elegant in appearance with an exceedingly proud carriage of the head and neck. Skull is flattened rather than rounded, muzzle is moderately pointed. Eyes, brown, preferably dark brown, slightly almond shaped. Ears erect & triangular shaped. Tail long & low-set.

Temperament: Vigilant & attentive, his look alert and inquiring, denoting his intelligence.

Characteristics: By the harmony of his shape and the proud carriage of his head, the Belgian Shepherd Dog must give the impression of that robust elegance which has become the heritage of the selected representatives of a working breed. He combines the valuable qualities of the best guard dog for property with his inborn aptitude for guarding flocks.

Coat & Colour:
Groenendael – long coated black Tervueren – long coated, fawn with black overlay Malinois – short coated, charcoaled fawn with dark mask Laekenois – rough-coated, only fawn with traces of black overlay, mainly on the muzzle and the tail.

Groenendael & Tervueren – longhaired dog that needs a fair amount of grooming. They have a long, straight and profuse outercoat with an extremely dense undercoat.
Malinois & Laekenois – shorter coat needs less grooming.

Exercise: They need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation and to this end they excel at agility and obedience. They are very active dogs and should not be considered as pets if they are to be left alone all day.

Health: This breed has few genetic diseases, but watchout for hip dysplasia and eye problems.