Belgian-Sheepdog Dog Breed Guide

Belgian-Sheepdog Dog Breed Guide

An intelligent working dog which emerged in Belgium during the 19th century, the Belgian sheepdog is a loyal worker and has delivered impressive service in police forces and the military around the world. Also an excellent pet, the Belgian sheepdog is affectionate but requires a huge amount of exercise and constant stimulation. This breed is also known as the Chien de Berger Belge and the Belgian shepherd.

Which breed group is the Belgian sheepdog in?

Breed group: Pastoral

Belgian sheepdog breed history

The Kennel Club recognises the Belgian sheepdog as a single breed but there are four types which are recognised as distinct breeds in some countries. These are The Malinois (fawn-mahogany, short coat with black mask), the Tervuren (fawn-mahogany, long coat with black mask), the Laekenois (fawn, rough coat), and the Groenendael (black, long coat). The first breed standard for the Belgian shepherd was written in 1892 and the breed was officially recognised by Belgium's equivalent of the Kennel Club in 1901.

The four types of dog evolved in different regions of Belgium but share many of the same ancestors. In consequence, they also share many physical characteristics and personality traits. Bred to herd livestock but also acting as guard dogs on farms, they have served with distinction in both the military and the police. Belgian shepherds are now also utilised as drug detection dogs.

Belgian sheepdog breed characteristics

Medium to large and with a square appearance, the Belgian sheepdog is a confident and Energetic working dog of distinction. Coats vary between the four types but these dogs are all powerful, muscular and well-balanced. They carry their heads proudly and are never overly bulky. They always appear alert and excel in the working environment.

Belgian sheepdogs are very affectionate with their families but can be wary of strangers. They will generally protect their family and property with only an appropriate level of aggression, but they tend not to be very friendly to other dogs.

  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Height: up to 66cm
  • Weight: up to 30kg
  • Somewhat square appearance
  • Muscular
  • Coat colour and length varies according to type
  • Energetic
  • Hard-working
  • Obedient
  • Affectionate
  • Wary of strangers
  • Not fond of other dogs
  • Good watchdog
  • Easily bored
  • Can be destructive when bored

Health issues with the Belgian sheepdog

  • A robust dog which benefits from a lengthy lifespan for a large breed, the Belgian sheepdog is generally a healthy dog but is prone to the following conditions:
  • Cataracts
  • Epilepsy
  • Thyroid disease
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Anaesthesia sensitivity

What is the Belgian sheepdog bred for?

This dog was originally bred to herd livestock and guard farms but is now a popular choice for police and the military.

What sort of owners does the Belgian sheepdog suit?

All four types of Belgian sheepdog are highly energetic and intelligent. They are best suited to working lives or living with active owners who can devote a considerable amount of time to their dog. As Belgian sheepdogs are not fond of other dogs and will chase small animals, it is best of they are the only pet in the household. They shed throughout the year and Tervuren types require extensive grooming due to their long, dense coats. These dogs are easily bored and can become destructive if not sufficiently stimulated. They are good watchdogs but may be a little too vocal when bored and should not be left home alone for too long.

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