The Belgian Shepherd Dog is intelligent, alert, attentive, watchful, serious and obedient. Female Belgian Shepherd Dogs tend to be more outgoing than the males. They appear wary, but are not timid or aggressive. Belgian Shepherd Dogs respond best to gentle and calm training. These dogs have strong protective and territorial instincts and need to be well socialized with a variety of animals and people from puppyhood. They are generally good with children but can be dominant towards other dogs. The Belgian Shepherd Dog performs best as a sheepdog or watch/guard dog, but also makes a good family companion.
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Belgian Shepherd Dogs only need periodic grooming to remove the dead hairs during moulting.
Belgian Shepherd Dogs do require plenty of exercise and most of these dogs love retrieving and playing with a ball. If they have adequate exercise then they will be calm when indoors.
Belgian Sheepdogs were already established as an important part of farm life in the 1700s, in Belgium. In the 1800s a group of breeders in conjunction with a veterinary school in the Brussels area, studied the variations found in these local sheepherders. This resulted in the division of the breed into four varieties – the classification being dependent on their color and coat. The four varieties are named after their area of origin: Groenendael, Tervuren, Laekenois and Malinois. The breed standards are identical except for coat color, texture and length.
General Appearance: Well proportioned, elegant and hardy.
Color: Black or black with white on designated areas. White is allowed on the chest, between the pads of the feet, on the tips of the hind toes and frosting (white or grey) on the muzzle.
Coat: The outer coat is long, straight and abundant. The texture is of medium harshness and is not silky or wiry. The undercoat is extremely dense and the hair is shorter on the head, outside of the ears and the lower parts of the legs.
Tail: Medium length, hanging when at rest with the tip curled slightly backwards. In action the tail is lifted.
Ears: Set high, triangular, rounded at base, stiff and straight.
Body: Long, oblique shoulders, deep and low chest but not too wide. Level, broad, muscular back and a curved stomach from the chest.
- Classifying the Belgian Shepherds is extremely difficult as national kennel clubs have different ways of naming them. There are four different types of sheepdog in Belgium that are recognized nationally and in many countries all these varieties are classified as a single breed. The varieties include the Groenendael, Laekenois, Malinois and the Tervuren. In the US the Groenendael is the Belgian Shepherd, with the Malinois and Tervuren recognized separately and the Laekenois is not recognized at all.
- Belgian Shepherd Dogs have intelligent minds which can easily lead to mischievious habits, if the owner doesn't keep them occupied and well trained.
- Some strains of the Belgian Shepherd Dog can be somewhat timid, so it is important to buy from a reputable breeder.
- The Belgian Groenendael and Tervuren are most often used as companion dogs while the Laekenois and Malinois are used as guard dogs.