Belgian Sheepdog Dog Breed Information and Personality Traits

An obedient, multi-talented breed, the Belgian sheepdog can be difficult to control if the guardian is inexperienced.

Belgian Sheepdog at a glance
The Belgian Sheepdog Breed

The Belgian sheepdog excels in a variety of work from herding and law enforcement to support for the elderly.

Size:

Weight Range:

Male: 55-75 lbs.
Female: 40-60 lbs.

Height at Withers:

Male: 24-26 in.
Female: 22-24 in.

Features:

Upright ears (naturally)

Expectations:

Exercise Requirements: >40 minutes/day
Energy Level: Very energetic
Longevity Range: 10-12 yrs.
Tendency to Drool: Low
Tendency to Snore: Low
Tendency to Bark: Moderate
Tendency to Dig: Low
Social/Attention Needs: Moderate

Bred for:

Stock herding

Coat:

Length: Medium
Characteristics: Varies
Colors: Black, fawn, sable
Overall Grooming Needs: Moderate

Club recognition:

AKC Classification: Herding
UKC Classification: Herding
Prevalence: So-so

The Belgian sheepdog is an elegant, well-proportioned, natural, medium-sized, square dog.

He gives the impression of elegant robustness. He is hardy, developed for endurance, and accustomed to living outdoors with a coat built to resist a damp climate. His elegance and expression denote great strength of character. The Belgian is an enthusiastic and quick dog that shows a natural tendency to be in motion. Males are 23 to 24 inches tall and weigh 55 to 75 pounds (25 to 34 kilograms). Females are 22 to 24 inches and weigh 40 to 60 pounds (18 to 27 kilograms).

The black hair should be rich and dense giving good protection against wet and cold. The undercoat is also dense.

The sheepdog is a double-coated breed and will generally shed twice a year. Bathing when dirty, brushing once or twice a week and clipping the nails will keep your sheepdog in great condition.

Personality:

The Belgian sheepdog is a multi-talented breed. He excels not only in herding, obedience, and tracking, but also in protection and law enforcement; drug, bomb and gas detection; search and rescue; sledding; agility; and therapy assistance to the disabled, ill or elderly. This dog is demanding and needs an experienced owner. A Belgian sheepdog can be difficult to control unless the guardian knows how to handle him. Sheepdogs have a wide range in temperament and aggressiveness. They are people oriented and want to be with their family. This preference makes Belgians unsuitable as kennel dogs because they can become hyper with excessive barking and may dig out.

Living With:

The Belgian sheepdog is smart and obedient. He has strong protective and territorial instincts. He needs extensive socialization from an early age and firm but not harsh training. Unless you are working in a protection sport, you do not need to give your Belgian any protection training as it will come naturally to them.

Belgian sheepdogs make excellent pets for the right homes. They thrive on loving companionship. Belgians instinctively display herding behavior such as chasing and circling, moving effortlessly for hours and nipping at people's heels. They are good for working and competitive obedience, but not for toddlers who run and scream. A Belgian will try to keep the toddler in one spot.

The Belgian sheepdog can live in an apartment if sufficiently exercised. He is moderately active indoors and will do best with at least an average-sized yard. He prefers cool climates but readily adapts well to others.

History:

The Belgian sheepdog, also known as the Groenendael, is one of four varieties of Belgians all named for Belgian villages: Groenendael, Laekenois, Mechelar (Malinois) and Tervuren.

Belgian sheepdogs go back to the 1880s when these dogs (with German shepherds, French shepherds and Dutch shepherds) were called continental shepherd dogs. In 1891, the Belgian Shepherd Dog Club was formed. Judges determined that the native shepherd dog was square and medium-sized with triangular ears. These dogs differed only in the texture, color and length of hair.

The Malinois and Groenendael varieties were the first to appear in the United States in the early part of the 1900s. The Belgian Sheepdog Club of America was formed (the Malinois, Groenendael and Tervuren were all the same breed at that time) and the breed began to show in AKC events in the early 1950s. In 1959 the Belgians separated into the three AKC breeds recognized today, Shepherd, Tervuren and Malinois.

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