12–15 years old
herding and cattle dogs, except Swiss cattle dogs
History of the breed
The Belgian Shepherd is an unusual breed. If you ask in the USA what it looks like, they will show you a photo of a long-haired black dog Groenendael. But in Belgium you will be asked to clarify what kind of shepherd you want to know more about. And it’s not confusing at all.
The fact is that until the 19th century there were many shepherd dogs in Belgium. Sheepdog, in principle, was considered a shepherd dog. Sheepdogs (from English. Sheep dog, literally “a dog with sheep”) were originally used by peasants as helpers on pastures to guard livestock, so their owners were primarily concerned with working qualities, and not with the appearance of dogs, which, before the introduction of a common breed standard, looked very motley. Gradually, the significance of the dog as an assistant in agriculture decreased, and the Belgians had the need to bring out a special breed, which would be considered their popular treasure.
In 1891, dog breeders decided to create the first club for their pets. A meeting of the Club of Belgian Shepherd Dog Lovers was held, headed by a veterinarian, Professor Rijul. In the process of the formation of a single breed, the main object of disagreement between scientists was the color of animal hair. Of over a hundred dogs, only 40 were recommended for further breeding. A year later, the Belgian Shepherd Standard was developed. The breed was divided into three categories: long-haired, short-haired and wire-haired.
Gradually developing, each category of dogs got its own name. Groenendael, a black long-haired dog, was named after a small restaurant. Laekenois, the rough-haired variant, which is the smallest of the breed, was named after a castle near Brussels. The long-haired tervuren, which can be any color other than black, is named after the city of the same name. The same story with a short-haired malinois from the city of Mechelen, whose name in French sounds like Malin.
Representatives of this breed, despite such a diverse appearance, have similar character traits. This is an excellent service breed that will suit both families with children and single people.
Belgian Shepherds are cold towards strangers, making them excellent guards and protectors. But for this they must be trained. Without proper training, the dog can be overly aggressive or cowardly.
Working with a Belgian Shepherd is very easy and pleasant. Breeders note excellent memory, intelligence and curiosity of pets. The main thing is to find a common language. If there is little training experience, you need to contact a cynologist.
Belgian Shepherds are loyal to children and will gladly support teenagers’ games. A well-bred pet will never harm his family members.
The behavior of the Belgian Shepherd towards other animals depends on its upbringing. A socialized pet will not mind being around other dogs, as well as cats.
Description of the Belgian Shepherd
All four types of the Belgian Shepherd belong to the category of large dogs, have a massive body with a pronounced muscular relief. The limbs are very strong, with strong muscles. The movements of the dog seem elegant and springy, and the manners seem aristocratic.
The head of these dogs is large, elongated, with a flattened forehead and an elongated muzzle, slightly tapering towards the nose. The nose is a rich black color, the mucosa of the lips without pink pigmentation. A characteristic feature of this breed are triangular ears, located high on the head. At the moment of maximum alertness, they stand vertically straight. The eyes have an almond-shaped incision and dark brown iris pigmentation. The Belgian Shepherd has a distinctive black eyeliner.
The differences between the four subspecies of this breed relate only to the coat:
Belgian Shepherd care depends on the type of pet’s coat. Groenendael and Tervueren require more frequent combing every three days, while Malinois and Laekenois will be enough once a week. During the shedding period, pet hair needs more thorough care: the dog must be combed daily to remove loose hairs. They bathe her infrequently so as not to spoil the quality and structure of the coat.
Conditions of detention
The Belgian Shepherd Dog feels great both in a city apartment and outside the city, in a private house. The main thing for her is active and eventful walks. This is especially true if you live in a city. Active training, walks in the park and jogging must be present in the life of the Belgian Shepherd. Also, do not forget about the presence of toys at home that the dog can gnaw.
By nature, Belgian Shepherds have strong immunity, so they rarely have health problems. However, due to improper care or congenital pathologies, dogs of this breed may suffer from certain diseases.
Most often it can be epilepsy, joint dysplasia, thyroid hormone deficiency. It is also worth paying close attention to the health of the organs of vision, as dogs of this breed can suffer from cataracts and conjunctivitis.
Due to an unbalanced diet, the animal may experience bloating, food allergies, cramps. Avoid overfeeding your pet as these dogs are prone to obesity.