Belgian Shepherd Dog
Who loves me will love my dog also. – St. Bernard of Clairvaux
As their name suggests, Belgian Shepherd Dogs were developed in Belgium as sheep herding dogs. They were introduced to North America after World War I.
Belgian Shepherds are known in their own country for their intelligence, and were used during the war as messengers and rescue dogs.
This dog used to be known as the Belgian Sheepdog.
There are four different varieties of shepherds who are named for the Belgian towns where they were most popular.
Photos displayed courtesy of Jo Gauthier, Chenil du Josar, Alberta
The Belgian Shepherd Dog stands up to 26 inches (26 cm) tall at the shoulder. The four different varieties correspond to the four different coat types. The Groenendael has a long-haired, solid black coat. The Tervuren is also long-haired and is fawn or gray with black overlay. The Malinois has a fawn and black short coat. The Laeken is rough-haired and comes in red brown, fawn, or gray. Regular grooming is important, particularly for the long-haired varieties.
The Belgian Shepherd is intelligent, courageous, and devoted to his master. Protective and possessive of his people and territorial of his property, this dog is always on the alert. As a natural guardian, he is watchful and observant of strangers but not vicious or aggressive. With his family he displays the qualities of loyalty, friendliness, and affection.
As the name suggests, this dog was bred to herd and he is truly born to work. Always in motion, if left to his own devices he will create his own work by herding whatever is around: people, children, other pets, etc.
An attentive and sensitive breed, the Belgian Shepherd is always aware of, and monitoring what is going on around him.
As one might expect of a dog bred to herd, he is very active and requires lots of daily outdoor exercise. He will best suit an owner who enjoys lots of outdoor activity such as walking, jogging, cycling, etc.
As a breed, these dogs form very strong relationship bonds. Because they are excellent guard and watch dogs, they need early socialization to gain confidence in their owners and to accept other pets or children in other families.
Highly trainable and responsive, Belgian Shepherds do very well in obedience training. Agility, tracking, and flyball are other activities at which they excel. Today’s Belgians are used as assistance and search and rescue dogs, and by the police, the military, and as narcotics dogs.
The four varieties of Belgian Shepherd Dog: