breed profile

Belgian Shepherds: huge bundles of energy

Strong, powerful, intelligent and hyperactive – a Belgian Shepherd is an awesome combination of good looks and intelligence. They will follow you like a shadow but yet have a mind of their own. Loving and lovable, this breed will literally keep you on your toes – you can never put on fat if you have a Belgian at home!

The strong persona…

As the name suggests, Belgian Shepherd originated from Belgium and is a member of the Herding Group (FCIbreed profile 1 Group). Belgian Shepherd is a medium sized dog with harmonious proportions, fitting into a square – rustic, dry strong muscle, combines elegance and power. Their height from the ground to top of the withers is equal to its length. They carry their head high and have a rectilinear, dry and well chiseled. Their eyes are medium sized, dark and slightly almond-shaped. They give a direct, intelligent, lively and inquirer looks. While, their ears are triangular, rather small, highly set and carried upright when the dog is attentive.

The height of the male Belgian Shepherd is 62 – 66 cm while that of female is 58 – 62 cm and they weigh around 25-30 kg and 20-25 kg respectively.

There are four varieties of Belgian Shepherd – black, long haired Groenendael (tolerance little white mark at front), long haired fawn or grey with a black mask Tervueren, rough wire fawn coat with black mask Lakenois and short fawn coat with black mask Malinois.

Active and intelligent…

Belgian Shepherds are highly intelligent, sensitive and alert dogs. They have a lively temper and high energy level and so they hate inactivity. They have strong territorial and protective instincts. They have a big, loving heart and need a family to love. Although they can live at home with other dogs and animals, adult males could have a problem with accepting each other.

A lot of Belgians live with children, but children have to be considerate towards them! Any dog, particularly large, active breed shouldn’t be left alone without supervision of adults with small children.

Tips for pet parents

  • Pet parent for Belgian Shepherd is not a master-he is a partner.
  • If you are nervous or impatient, do not bring home a Belgian.
  • If you have to go out and leave your dog alone for few hours, remember to walk your dog before leaving. Give toys and snacks to make it interesting in your absence.
  • Always buy a puppy from reliable breeder. Tell the breeder about your lifestyle and plans connected with dog – he will help you to choose a puppy with right character suitable for your experience and expectations. Keep a contact with your breeder when your puppy is home.
  • Before you’ll decide for Belgian Shepherd, find out as much as you can about the breed, talk with breeders. Think over whether you will be ready to meet the needs of your Belgian every day by next 14-16 years.

Training & socialisation… a must

Quick in reactions and excitable are not easy for inexperienced owners. Since they are distrustful in contact with strangers, they need socialisation from an early age. Belgians need early socialisation to grow up for well-balanced and self-confident dog.

Besides, they need training otherwise they can be nervous or dominant. They do not tolerate violence and pressure in training. Belgians are very smart; you have to be smarter and more resourceful than them. They learn quickly both good and bad things and changing bad habits is not easy! Well trained, they create very strong relationship with their pet parents.

They love to learn and are masters in most of dog sports. Though originally they worked as pastoral dogs guarded sheep, but they now work as police dogs, rescue dogs and even guide-dogs.

Life with Belgians…

Life with Belgians is never boring. Every day, they can surprise you with their crazy antics, so it is important to have a good sense of humour when living with them. They need to live with their human family and like a shadow, follow them everywhere. Isolation makes them unhappy. They are excellent family dogs, but are not suitable for all people. Their temper and energy makes them very demanding, and they need a lot of occupation – not just physical exercises but also mental training. Else Belgians will be frustrated and bored and will find entertainment on his own, usually destroying everything around. Hence, this is a breed for active people, who like to spend time with dogs and train them with positive methods.

Exercise… any time is good time

This is very active breed so every kind of dog activities like flyball, obedience, tracking, defence (especially malinois); trekking will be suitable for them. In fact, it is difficult to define how much time they need for their exercise and emotional needs. After intensive walk, they will take a rest and sleep, but once you give a small signal, they will be ready again to accompany you for more exercises.

Grooming is easy

Despite long hair, grooming is not very time consuming. Brushing regularly and bathing when required – is all it takes to maintain his coat. Frequency of molting depends on sex of the breed. Males lose only undercoat once per year, while females change their coat twice in a year. In this period, dog should be brushed every day to remove dead hair.

Healthy and long lived

Belgians are very healthy and long lived breed; they usually live for 13-16 years. Most common ailments include cut paws and abrasion while the most serious disease is idiopatic epilepsy.

(Iwona Hernas is a fancier, breeder and handler of Belgian Shepherds. She breeds Groenendaels or Belgian Shepherd Dogs under her kennel named Di Trevi in Poland – www.funny.cba.pl).

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