Although known simply as Belgian Sheepdogs in the United States, this breed is well known in many parts of the world as the Belgian Groenendael, or Chien de Berger Belge. They were first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1912 and classified with the herding dog group.
There are four different varieties of Belgian Shepherd dogs - the Belgian Groenendael, Laekenois, Tervuren and Malinois - all of these herding dogs are named for the towns from which they originated.
The main difference between them is in their coat color and coat type, the Groenendael bearing a full long coat of jet black color. Each of these varieties now have separate recognition by the AKC.
These Sheepdogs are impressive, displaying a proud carriage that is well defined and indicative of both strength and balance. The head is finely sculpted and compliments a squarely built athletic body.
Their heritage is distinguished by their working contributions to both World War I and II, where they were successful in carrying messages between the battlefields, providing ambulance assistance, and even pulling armaments when needed.
Many of these herding dog breeds were also assigned to guard duty at military bases.
Today, for the most part, Belgian Sheepdogs are no longer working as herding dogs. None the less, they enjoy a job to do and excel in tracking, competitive obedience, police work, search and rescue, assistance and therapy work.
Belgian Sheepdogs are intelligence, confident, loyal and very devoted to
their family. They thrive in a family that can give them a lot of
interaction and make them part of everything they do.
Consistent with most breeds of herding dogs, their nature is inherently alert and protective. These traits make them viligant watch and guard dogs, though not aggressive.
The Belgian is gentle, affectionate and friendly, seeks attention and is eager to please his master. He does best
with owners who are experienced, capable of providing strong leadership and training, but without
Early socialization to people, a variety of venues and situations, is very desirable
Height: 22-26 inches
Weight: 61-66 pounds
Color Variations: Black, or may have patches of white on forechest, on chin and muzzle, on tips of rear toes and between pads of feet.
The medium textured coat is straight, abundant and long, being especially thick around the
neck like a collar. The coat also forms a fringe on the back of the forelegs as well as the
Maintenance involves daily brushing to remove loose hair and prevent mats from forming. Heavy seasonal shedding occurs a couple of times a year.
The Belgian Sheepdog Club of America indicates the following areas that should be tested in the breed throughout its lifetime and particularly by professional breeders who should make test results available to prospective buyers of puppies
Hips, Elbows, Eyes, Thyroids, Patellas, and Cardiac evaluation.
Detailed health information available at the Club site here.
Herding dog breeds, originally developed as working dogs, need quite a lot of exercise.
Potential owners should be prepared to provide a couple of vigorous walks on a daily basis, along with frequent opportunities for other energetic activities, as the ideal.
In addition, running off leash in a safe open area whenever possible, will be greatly enjoyed.
Does best in home with a good-sized, fenced, outdoor area that can be used for training, playing and the other normal dog needs.
While he enjoys being be outside for short periods of time - preferably with you, he mostly wants to be inside or wherever the family is.
Does best with children if he is raised with them from a puppy. A parent should take into consideration that this breed
is quite large and might be overwhelming for toddlers.
As with any breed of dog, it is recommended that interactions between pets and children should always be supervised.
Belgian Sheepdogs are not recommended for senior owners or sedentary environments due to high exercise needs.
But don't rule out this protective and loyal breed if you can arrange for his needs to be met with outside help.