The Belgian Sheepdog is the definition of a hard-working dog. This herding dog is trainable and very intelligent. It’s a breed that has been bred for hard work—but is also very sensitive, sociable and very temperament that fancies human company, making them the ideal family dogs.
As a strong-willed and exquisite breed, the Belgian Sheepdog is commonly referred to as “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed,” and this is with good reason.
The Belgian Sheepdogs are particularly loyal dogs that strive to please their owners and are always super ready for any fun experiences.
As such, these amazing, athletic dogs will always deliver their all when participating in any sort of sport or activity, especially when they have their human around.
Table of Contents
- Breed Overview
- Characteristics of the Belgian Shepherd dog
- History of the Belgian Sheepdog
- Belgian Sheepdog Care
- Common health complications associated with the Belgian Sheepdog
- Diet and nutrition
- Group: Herding
- Height: 22-26 inches
- Weight: Males can weigh up to 55-75 pounds, while females can weigh up to 45-60 pounds
- Coat and color: Thick double-coat, mainly black color
- Life expectancy: 12-14 years
Characteristics of the Belgian Shepherd dog
- Affection Level: High
- Friendliness: High
- Kid-Friendly: High
- Pet-Friendly: High
- Exercise needs: High
- Playfulness: High
- Energy level: High
- Trainability: High
- Intelligence: High
- Tendency to bark: Low
- Shedding: Medium
History of the Belgian Sheepdog
The productive Belgium’s climate and the terrain are ideal for both dairy farming and livestock. Presently, the country can be said to be the world’s leading trader of milk chocolate, but Belgian farmer’s major focus at some point was on cattle herding, which included the breeding of herding dogs.
There were once, in fact, eight unique varieties of shepherd dogs native to Belgians. It wasn’t until the 1890s that they gained official recognition, and remained Belgian Sheepdog to date.
Also known as “the Chien de Berger Belge or the Groenendael”, Malinois, Tervuren, and Laekenois, which are identical anatomically but with coats that are distinctively different in terms of color, texture, and length.
The Belgian Sheepdog can be characterized by its solid-black, long-haired variety among the four Belgian shepherd dogs that still exist today.
Back then, the dogs were named Groenendael by a man known as Nicolas Rose, who was a prolific breeder who managed a restaurant close to Brussels called “the Chateau Groenendael.” We could, in fact, say Mr. Rose owned the foundation couple of what we now know as the Belgian Sheepdog breed.
The Belgian Sheepdog was classed in the Chien de Berger de Races Continentales, also known as the Continental Shepherds. This is a group that also includes Briards, German Shepherds, Hollander Herders, Beauceron, and Bouviers.
Also, It was in the late 1800s that steps were taken to propagate a “Belgian” dog for nationalistic reasons, which led to the establishment of the “Club du Chien de Berger Belge”, or “Belgian Shepherd Club”, which finally paved way for the development of the Belgian Sheepdog.
Belgian Sheepdogs, by the turn of the 20th century, were well-known for their hard-working nature and versatility both inside and outside of their native region.
In fact, both New York and Paris started relying on Belgian Sheepdogs as police and guard dogs in this era. They were also adopted by customs agents working on border patrols to help in identifying smugglers.
They also worked as messengers, ambulance dogs, and freighters of massive gunnery during World War I, and as war dogs during World War II.
The “Belgian Sheepdog Club of America” was established in 1949, and the breed has been since been known to do almost everything from working as guard dogs, search and rescue dogs, to police and service dogs.
They also engage in competitions as show dogs. They are of course very loyal and loving family dogs as well.
Belgian Sheepdog Care
Caring for the Belgian Shepherd isn’t as hard as you might think. The double-later coat of these dogs doesn’t require much work to maintain.
Nonetheless, they would need thorough brushing to expel all loose hair from their coat once they start shedding heavily. This heavy shedding happens once every year and would need extra attention to remove dead hair.
As the year goes on, weekly brushing is enough, and only need to be bathed periodically (unless when they do get dirt like mud on their coat). It’s also important that their nails are trimmed regularly.
Since these are herding dogs, it is completely important that the Belgian Shepherd gets a sufficient amount of exercise daily. They don’t do well laying or lazying around the house all day; especially since their energy levels are high and would need some form of activities to thrive on.
It’s best if they get the attention of their owners when it’s time for exercise. This means, leaving them alone to run around isn’t just enough.
They are not ideal for owners who are too busy or do not have enough time on their hands. These are not the type of dogs you want to leave alone for too long, as they are likely to become destructive when they become bored. They’ve also been known to develop separation anxiety.
Belgian Sheepdog owners may also have to ensure a safe environment for their dog, as these dogs are naturally hard-wired to go after sheep and almost never hesitate to chase after joggers, cyclists, animals, or even cars. So fenced-in yard and leashed walks are compulsory necessities for these dogs.
Exercises like jogging, running, daily long strolls should be expected. Owners can also play fetch, or and other jumping exercises to mentally stimulate with their Belgian Shepherd.
The Belgian Shepherd is surprisingly an ideal breed for special training and obedience competitions, especially since they are highly trainable.
Common health complications associated with the Belgian Sheepdog
The Belgian Sheepdog is a strong, robust breed and is generally a very healthy dog. Some complications that may affect it include eye conditions like cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy
Some conditions that may affect this breed include eye issues like and cataracts. Other health complications that may affect the dog are elbow and hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and some forms of cancer.
Should the need for surgery ever arise, owners should note that these dogs generally sensitive to anesthesia. Their ears should be constantly checked for any signs of infection. They also require regular brushing of teeth.
Diet and nutrition
The Belgian Sheepdog should perform well on high-quality dog food, either home-made or manufactured. You can discuss with your vet for the best dietary option for your dog. Ensure to provide clean, freshwater for drinking and regular visits to the veterinarian as well.
- Can become bored easily
- Needs plenty of exercises
- Prone to separation anxiety
Be sure to do enough research on the Belgian Sheepdog to help determine if the breed is right for you. As stated earlier, this dog is very demanding and it requires plenty of exercise and attention.
You may have to visit a reputable breeder to adopt one of these Belgian Sheepdog. You could also visit local rescue groups to get more information about the Belgian Shepherd.
You may be interested in reading about other similar dog breeds. With more research, you’d be sure to find the right breed for you and your family!