Shoulder height: 56 – 66 cm
Weight: 20 – 35 kg
Age: 12 – 14 years
Color: black, fawn, black-clouded, grey-black-clouded
Use: sports dog, companion dog, the family dog
The Belgian Shepherd is a spirited, active, and alert dog that needs sensitive training and plenty of exercises. It loves exercise of all kinds and is therefore not a dog for easygoing people. Due to its strong protective instinct, the Belgian Shepherd needs to be carefully nurtured and socialized from an early age.
Origin and history
Up until the 19th century, there were a large number of different herding and cattle dogs in Belgium. As interest in pedigree dog breeding increased, the most typical herding dogs were selected, and – under the professional direction of Professor A. Reul – a separate breed was created, the Belgian Shepherd Dog, which was registered in the studbook from 1901. The Belgian Shepherd Dog is bred into four varieties: Groenendael, Tervueren, Malinois, and Laekenois. Although Belgian Shepherd Dogs form a common breed, the varieties must not be crossed with each other.
The Belgian Shepherd Dog is a harmoniously built dog of medium proportions and an elegant overall appearance. Unlike the German Shepherd (which is longer than tall when viewed from the side), the Belgian Shepherd is roughly square in build. It carries his head very high, giving the impression of elegant robustness.
The four varieties of the Belgian Shepherd differ mainly in the color and texture of the coat :
- The Groenendael is long-haired and solid black.
- The Tervueren is also long-haired and can be found in the colors fawn (reddish brown) or grey-black with clouds.
- The Malinois is the short-haired variant of the Belgian Shepherd Dog. As a rule, the Malinois is fawn in color with a black mask and/or black overlay (Charbonnage). In reality, the appearance varies from very light, sandy-colored fur to reddish-brown to dark brown-grey.
- The Laekenois is the wire-haired variant of the Belgian Shepherd Dog and also the rarest representative of this breed. It is usually fawn in color with traces of black overlay.
In all varieties of the Belgian Shepherd Dog, the hair is dense and close-lying and, together with the undercoat, forms an excellent protection against the cold.
The Belgian Shepherd Dog is very alert, always ready for action, and exuberantly lively. With its pronounced temperament, it is not necessarily suitable for nervous people. It is considered playful and mischievous – and only grows up late. Therefore, Belgian Shepherd Dogs should not be trained too early and certainly not with drill and toughness. They need a good six months in which they can let off steam with other dogs and learn the basic rules of obedience playfully before they enjoy learning and working. From then on, the intelligent Belgians learn very quickly and develop an almost unsatisfactory zeal for work. They are great for agility and mass sport as well as all other dog sports that require speed and intelligence.
The Belgian Shepherd Dog is a natural-born guardian. It is reserved for suspicious strangers, and in an emergency, it defends his caregivers without any hesitation, stubbornly and passionately. That is why Belgian Shepherd dogs are also used as service dogs by the police, customs, and security services. They can also be trained well as rescue, avalanche, and tracking dogs.
Right from the start, the Belgian Shepherd Dog needs close contact with its family, a sensitive but consistent upbringing, and meaningful employment. Therefore, it is also not a dog for lazy people or dog beginners.