Belgian Shepherd Dog

Breed Description

The Belgian Shepherd Dog is the only breed in the world that comes in 4 varieties: the long - haired fawn, red or grey 'Tervueren', the long-haired black 'Groenendael', the short-coated red, fawn or grey 'Malinois' and the rarer rough-coated reddish fawn 'Laekenois'. Originating as herding/watch dogs from Belgium, they are named after the areas in Belgium from which they came: Malines, Tervuren, Groenendael and Laeken.

They are a medium sized dog (dogs 24" - 26", bitches 22" - 24"), square in outline, with arched neck, accentuated withers, graceful curved underline and legs long but in proportion. They are completely balanced without exaggerations. They have a long, finely chiseled head, with small to medium high set triangular ears, and dark, almondish shaped eyes, obliquely set so that they look straight forwards and at you. Although they are often confused with the 'long-haired GSD' by the general public, they are a much more elegant breed in all respects, squarer in profile, lighter in bone and more refined in head, with a light, brisk movement.

As pets they are devoted companions and do not make ideal kennel dogs becoming bored and destructive. They need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation and to this end they excel at agility and obedience. They will protect their home and family but it is not advisable to encourage their guarding instincts when young as they can get confused and start guarding you in inappropriate situations. Their natural guarding instincts will kick in, if and when necessary.

The long-haired varieties need a fair amount of grooming and shed their abundant undercoat twice a year in the case of bitches and in males,generally once a year. They are very active dogs and should not be considered as pets if they are to be left alone all day. At around 9 months of age they often enter a 'juvenile delinquent' stage and all your training will appear as though its gone 'out of the window'! Just go back to the beginning with basic training and by 18 months your little angel will reappear!

They have a great sense of humour and learn very quickly - not many people have just 'one' Belgian which speaks volumes for the breed. They have beauty and brains, are very affectionate and totally devoted to their family. Not a breed for those wanting 'just a dog'. The Belgian wants to join in with everything including doing the washing up, digging the garden etc.

Anyone looking for a puppy should make sure that both parents are hip-scored and eyes are tested. Hip status in the breed is generally excellent but that's not to say that there haven't been the odd high scores and some Tervuerens and Groenendaels have been diagnosed with juvenile cataracts. Epilepsey has occured (and still does occur) in the breed but breeders have worked hard to reduce the incidence to a minimum.

A good breeder will ask you a zillion questions before allowing you to own one of their pups - but don't be afraid to ask as many questions of the breeder. They should be able to produce the paperwork to prove health checks have been carried out. The KC papers may not have been returned from the KC as this can take some time, but do get it in writing that the pup will have KC papers. Some breeders endorse their pups so that they can't be bred from. This is either to ensure that health checks are carried out before the dog/bitch is bred from or if the pup was sold purely as a pet, then to ensure it can never be bred from. Get everything in writing at the time of purchase - it will save confusion and disappointments later on. Prices may vary, but this is not an indication of quality. If nothing else, at least see the mother of the pups (the sire may live some distance away) and make sure that the dam is friendly, not nervous or aggressive. Bear in mind though that bitches are more protective of their environment when they have pups - and may bark at you.

Belgian Shepherd Dog breed guide written by : Marcelle King