Belgian Shepherd Dog

Belgian Shepherd Dog

Belgian Shepherd Dog breed also called Belgian Sheepdog or Chien de Berger Belge has an ancestry which is common to many of the herding dogs used throughout the modern world.

These types of dogs are a result of the rugged Belgian climate and the requirements of the Belgian shepherd for a bright, strong, and agile dog.

In addition to sheep herding, the Belgian Shepherd Dog has been widely used for police and war work and is noted for his intelligence and alertness in obedience work.

Varieties of the Belgian Shepherd Dogs: Long-Haired Groenendael & Tervuren, Short-Haired Belgian Malinois, and the Rough-Haired Laeken or Laekenois or Belgian Laekenois.

Belgian Shepherd Dogs Groenendael Tervuren Malinois Laekenois
From left to right: The Belgian Malinois, Belgian Laekenois, Belgian Tervuren, and the Belgian Groenendael.

Belgian Shepherd Dog Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Let us seek some answers related to the Belgian Shepherd Dog breed. Are they hypoallergenic (non-shedding) or do they shed a lot? Do they bark a lot? Are they good guard dogs? Are they good family dogs? Good with children? and many more questions that a potential Belgian Shepherd Dog owner may be concerned about.

Is the Belgian Shepherd Dog a hypoallergenic (non-shedding) breed?

Belgian Shepherd Dogs are not hypoallergenic. They do shed but require less grooming compared to other breeds of dog.

The smooth Belgian Malinois are constant shedders. They shed heavily twice a year. The rough wiry Belgian Laekenois is known for shedding little to no hair, though what it does shed will occur throughout the year. The long-haired Groenendael and Tervuren shed year-round with at least one heavy shed per year depending on the climate in which they live and how much coat they have. During heavier, seasonal shedding, brushing more often can be helpful.

If you are looking for a hypoallergenic guard dog, consider the Giant Schnauzer.

Do Belgian Shepherd Dogs bark a lot?

Yes and No. A well-exercised Belgian Shepherd Dog should not bark a lot without a reason. However, the Belgian Shepherd needs a lot of exercise, training, companionship, work to do. The Belgian Shepherd should not be left alone for a long time. A bored Belgian Shepherd may bark excessively.

Is Belgian Shepherd a good family dog?

Yes and No. It depends on the family. Belgian Shepherd Dog combines the versatility of a working dog with the gentleness of a family companion. They make wonderful family companions as long as they receive a lot of exercises. However, the Belgian Shepherd Dog is not your typical family dog. They are great dogs. But with a high work ethic, they need the perfect combination of stimulation, physical activity, and socialization.

Of all the traits this breed has, energy is at the top of the list.

Belgian Shepherd Dogs are very active, energetic, intelligent, alert, and sensitive to everything going on around them, and form very strong relationship bonds with the family. They are loyal, intelligent, fun, highly trainable, and can be well suited to family life.

Are Belgian Shepherd Dogs affectionate? Good with kids?

Yes. Belgian Shepherd dogs are affectionate and good with kids of all ages in their families. Well-socialized Belgian Shepherd Dogs are good with children, especially if they are raised with them. But because of their herding heritage, they do have strong herding instincts and may chase, nip, or nudge running children to herd them. If raised with kids, a Belgian Sheepdog may adjust well. Otherwise, older kids may be a better match for an adult Belgian Sheepdog not accustomed to children.

Are Belgian Shepherds good guard dogs?

Belgian Shepherd Dogs are smaller in size compared to typical guard dog breeds like the German Shepherd Dog. They are extremely energetic and can be trained well as a police dog, military dog, attack dog, guard dog. They will perform their duty all day and all night tirelessly. However, the Belgian Shepherd Dog is not the right breed to be left alone to guard property. It performs best when accompanied by a trainer/handler. Here is a list of good guard dog breeds.

Are Belgian Shepherds aggressive dogs? Do they bite?

Though Belgian Shepherd Dogs are often trained as attack dogs used by police and military, they are not bred to be aggressive. They are trained to obey attack and guarding commands.

Dogs with poor temperaments or who have been poorly socialized or trained, however, may be aggressive without reason. Shy dogs may snap or growl out of fear.

Some Belgian Shepherd Dogs may be aggressive towards other dogs of the same sex and smaller animals.

Most Belgian Shepherd Dog puppies bite while playing and this is normal dog behavior. Belgian Malinois puppies love to bite! This biting can be discouraged by training. However, some dogs bite out of fear or frustration, and this type of biting can indicate problems with aggression.

Can Belgian Shepherd Dogs swim? Do they like it?

Yes. Belgian Shepherd Dogs can swim. Belgian Malinois is a strong swimmer and many like swimming. They are known as strong competitors at dock diving events. The Belgian Laekenois, Belgian Tervuren, and the Belgian Groenendael can be taught to swim at an early age. However, they may or may not like it. The Laekenois has sensitive skin and should not be bathed often.

What is the cost of a Belgian Shepherd Dog? How much is a Belgian Shepherd Dog puppy?

Belgian Shepherd Dog puppies cost about $1,500 to $2,000 from a reputed Belgian Shepherd Dog breeder. Some breeders may charge more for a Belgian Shepherd Dog with top breed lines and a superior pedigree. The cost to buy a Belgian Shepherd Dog varies greatly and depends on many factors. Expect to pay less for a puppy without papers, Expect to pay a premium for a puppy advertised as show quality with papers.

The cost to adopt a Belgian Shepherd Dog is around $300 in order to cover the expenses of caring for the dog before adoption.

How long do Belgian Shepherd Dogs live?

The Belgian Malinois and Belgian Laekenois have an average life expectancy of 12 to 14 years. The Belgian Tervuren and the Belgian Groenendael live longer, about 13 to 15 years.

Ok, so let’s assume you have chosen the Belgian Shepherd Dog as the best dog breed suitable for yourself. You have decided to find yourself a Belgian Shepherd Dog puppy as your next family member. How will you choose the best pup? Let us look at some standard characteristics of the Belgian Shepherd Dog breed which will help you select the right puppy, keep reading. 

Choosing a good Belgian Shepherd Dog puppy 

The definition of the best Belgian Shepherd Dog puppy depends on your requirements. Your expectations from an adult Belgian Shepherd Dog can be broadly categorized as follows: Confirmation for show or breeding; obedience; smart guard dog; companion; homely pet.

Although it is tempting to look for all these qualities in one Belgian Shepherd Dog puppy you are planning to buy, it is almost never possible to find all qualities in a single pup.

If you want your Belgian Shepherd Dog puppy to grow up to be a champion in the show ring, you should look for confirmation to the Belgian Shepherd Dog breed standards. We have put together a general guideline for selecting an all-around good puppy for you. Our guideline not just includes breed standards, but also gives importance to temperament, appearance, physical details, gait, health issues, grooming needs, and maintenance.

Look for the following characteristics while choosing a Belgian Shepherd Dog puppy.

Belgian Shepherd’s General Appearance

The first impression of the Belgian Shepherd Dog should be that of a well-balanced square dog, elegant in appearance, with an exceedingly proud carriage of head and neck. He should be a strong, agile, well-muscled animal who is alert and full of life. His whole conformation should give the impression of depth and solidity without bulkiness. The dog should be somewhat more impressive and grand than the bitch. The bitch should have a distinctively feminine look. Like many European breeds, different coat colors, textures, and lengths were preferred by the original fanciers. Today, however, only four distinct coat types are recognized and have become the distinguishing characteristics of the four varieties of Belgian Shepherd Dog. The longhaired Groenendael and Tervuren, the short-haired Malinois, and the rough-haired Laeken variety differ in coat color, length, and texture but are unmistakably the same breed.

Belgian Shepherd Dog Temperament

The Belgian Shepherd Dog should reflect the qualities of intelligence, courage, alertness, and devotion to his master. To his inherent aptitude as guardian of flocks should be added protectiveness of the person and property of his master. He should be watchful, attentive, and always in motion when not under command. In his relationship with humans, he should be observant and vigilant with strangers but not apprehensive. He should not show fear or shyness. He should not show viciousness by an unwarranted or unprovoked attack. With those he knows well, he is most affectionate, friendly, zealous of their attention, and very possessive.

Belgian Shepherd’s Size

Males should be 24-26 inches (61-66 cm) in height and females 22-24 inches (61-66 cm) measured at the withers. The length, measured from the front of the forechest to the rear projection of the pelvis, should equal the height. Bitches may be slightly longer. The bone structure should be moderately heavy in proportion to height so that he is well balanced throughout and neither spindly and leggy nor cumbersome and bulky.

Belgian Shepherd’s Coat and Color

Coat length, color, and texture is the one distinguishing feature between the different varieties of the Belgian Shepherd Dog.

Long-haired Groenendael and Tervuren

The guard hairs of the coat must be long, well-fitting, straight, and abundant. The texture should be a medium harshness. The undercoat should be extremely dense, commensurate, however, with climatic conditions. The hair is shorter on the head, outside of the ears, and lower part of the legs. The opening of the ear is protected by tufts of hair. There should be long and abundant hair forming a collarette around the neck; forming a fringe along the back of the forearm; forming the breeches in the hindquarters and forming a nicely plumed tail.

Two color types are found in the long-haired variety Groenendael and Tervuren:

Groenendael - Belgian Shepherd Dog Groenendael
Belgian Shepherd Dog – Groenendael

Belgian Shepherd Dog – Groenendael

The black, long-haired variety is known as Groenendael. The Belgian Groenendael dog should be completely black or be black with white limited as follows: small to moderate patch on forechest, between the pads of the feet, on tips of hind toes, and frost on the chin and muzzle. White on the tips of the front toes is allowable but is a fault in the Groenendael.

Tervuren - Belgian Shepherd Dog Tervuren
Belgian Shepherd Dog – Tervuren

Belgian Shepherd Dog – Tervuren

The fawn, long-haired variety is known as Tervuren. The Belgian Tervuren dog should be either rich fawn to russet mahogany or distinctly grey, each with a black overlay. The coat is characteristically double pigmented, wherein the tip of each hair is blackened. On mature males, this blackening is especially pronounced on the shoulders, back, and rib section. The chest color is a mixture of black and grey. The face has a black mask and the ears are mostly black. The underparts of the dog, tail, and breeches are light beige or grey. A small white patch is permitted on the chest but should not extend into the neck or breast. Frost on the chin or muzzle is normal. Too light a color or too black a color is a serious fault in the Tervuren. This variety is known as the Tervuren or Belgian Tervuren.

Belgian Malinois
The Belgian Malinois

Short-haired Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois coat should be comparatively short and straight with a dense undercoat. It is very short on the head, the ears, and lower legs. The hair is somewhat longer around the neck where it forms a collarette and on the tail and back of the thighs. The color should be from rich fawn to mahogany with a black overlay. There should be a black mask and black ears. The underparts of the body, tail, and breeches are lighter fawn. A small white patch on the chest is permissible as is white on the tips of the toes. A washed-out fawn color is undesirable. This variety is known as the Malinois or Belgian Malinois.

Belgian Malinois puppy
Belgian Malinois puppy

Laekenois - Belgian Shepherd Dog Laekenois
Belgian Laekenois

Rough-haired Belgian Laekenois

The Laekenois coat should have a rough or dry texture and appear unkempt. The undercoat is thick and woolly. The coat is of medium length on all parts of the body except the head where the hair on the skull is short while the hair on the muzzle is slightly longer forming a beard or whiskers. The coat should be light fawn to red-brown in color. Grey is acceptable as well. Blackening may appear on the muzzle, ears, and tail. The underparts of the dog, tail, and breeches are light beige or grey. The tail should not form a plume. A small amount of white is permitted on the chest and the tips of the toes. This variety is known as the Laeken or Belgian Laekenois.

Belgian Laekenois

Laekenois puppies - Belgian Laekenois
Belgian Laekenois puppies at play

Belgian Shepherd Dog’s Head

It should be clean-cut and strong with size in proportion to the body. Skull should be flattened on top rather than rounded. The width should be approximately the same as, but not wider than the length. The stop should be moderate. The muzzle should be moderately pointed, avoiding any tendency to snipiness, and approximately equal in length to that of the top skull. The nose should be black without spots or discolored areas.

Mouth: the jaw should be strong and powerful. The lips should be tight and black with no pink showing on the outside. There should be a full complement of strong, white, evenly-set teeth. There should be either an even or a scissor bite. An overshot or undershot bite is a serious fault.

Eyes should be dark brown, medium-sized, slightly almond-shaped and should not protrude.

Ears should be triangular in shape, stiff, erect, and in proportion in size to the head. The base of the ear should not come below the center of the eye.

Belgian Shepherd’s Neck

It should be round and rather outstretched, tapered from head to body, and well-muscled with tight skin.

Belgian Shepherd’s Body

Forequarters: The chest should be deep but not broad. The lowest point should reach the elbow of the front leg and should form a smooth ascending curve to the abdomen. The shoulder should be long and oblique, laid flat against the body and should form a sharp angle (approximately 90 degrees) with the upper arm. Legs should be straight, strong, and parallel to each other. The bone should be oval rather than round. The length should be in proportion to the size of the dog. Pasterns should be of medium length and should be strong and very slightly sloped.

Back: Should be level, straight, and firm from withers to hip. The withers should be slightly higher than and slope into the back.

Loin: The loin section viewed from above should be relatively short, broad, and strong, and should blend smoothly into the back. The abdomen should be moderately developed and should be neither tucked up nor paunchy.

Hindquarters: Croup Should be medium-long with a gradual slope. Thighs should be broad and heavily muscled. The upper and lower thigh bones from a relatively sharp angle at the stifle joint. Hocks: the angle at the bock is relatively sharp although the angulation is not extreme. The metatarsus should be of medium length, strong, and slightly sloped. Dewclaws, if any may be removed.

Belgian Shepherd dog’s Tail

It should be strong at the base and the bone should reach the hock. At rest, it should be held low and in action it should be raised with a slight curl which is strongest toward the tip. It should not curl over the dog’s back or form a hook.

Belgian Shepherd dog’s Feet

The front feet should be round (cat-footed). The rear feet should be slightly elongated. Toes on both front and back feet should be curved and close together. They should be well padded. Nails should be strong and black except that they may be white to match white toe tips.

Belgian Shepherd’s Gait

It should be smooth, free, and easy, seemingly never tiring and exhibiting facility of movement rather than a hard-driving action. He should single track on a fast gait – i.e., the legs, both front, and rear converging toward the centerline of the body. The backline should remain firm and level, parallel to the line of motion, with no crabbing. He should show a marked tendency to move in a circle rather than a straight line.

Faults observed in the Belgian Shepherd dog breed

Any deviation from these specifications is a fault. In determining whether a fault is minor, serious, or major, these two factors should be used as a guide: (a) The extent to which it deviates from the standard. (b) The extent to which such deviation would actually affect the working ability of the dog.

Disqualifications: (a) Viciousness. (b) Excessive shyness. (c) Any color or color combination not allowed in the standard. (d) Ears hanging (as on a hound). (e) Tail cropped or stump. (f) Males under 23 inches (58 cm) or over 27 inches (69 cm) in height. Females under 21 inches (53 cm) or over 25 inches (64 cm) in height.

Belgian Shepherd Dog puppy
An ideal Belgian Malinois puppy
Belgian Shepherd Dog Breed
Belgian Malinois

Belgian Shepherd Dog Videos

Forget The Navy Seals, The Marine Corps, we have a dog here who could claim the title for being the toughest, most athletic and most fearless and driven dog in the world – Meet The Belgium Malinois – The Ultimate Super Soldier. Anneka meets James of Wolfstan Kennels and witnesses a mock raid on a terrorist cell which includes abseiling with dogs, multiple takedowns, and taking a hostage from a kidnapper.

Belgian Malinois Video

The Groenendael is an ancient and versatile herding dog. The breed originating in Belgium is a traditional herding dog that has 4 varieties, The Groenendael, Malinois, Tervuren, and Laekenois. Peggy Richter is a Belgian Sheepdog fancier that trains and conditions her dogs at On The Lamb Ranch, in Camarillo, Ca. In this video, Peggy runs down everything about Groenendaels from the breed’s history, health, and working ability.

We hope you enjoyed reading about the Belgian Shepherd Dog dog breed. You may consider sharing your views in the comments section below. Inputs and priceless experiences from dog owners, Belgian Shepherd Dog breeders, and dog lovers, in general, help us better understand the Belgian Shepherd Dog breed. Thank you for your interest.

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