Belgian Shepherds: Huge Bundles of Energy!

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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, the Belgian Shepherd originated from Belgium and is a member of the Herding Group (FCI 1 Group). Belgian Shepherd is a medium-sized dog with harmonious proportions, fitting into a square – rustic, dry strong muscle, that combines elegance and power. Their height from the ground to the top of the withers is equal to their 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 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 the 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 the 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 & 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 a large, active breed shouldn’t be left alone without the 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 a 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 a reliable breeder. Tell the breeder about your lifestyle and plans connected with the dog – he will help you to choose a puppy with the right character suitable for your experience and expectations. Keep a contact with your breeder when your puppy is home.
  • Before you’ll decide on the Belgian Shepherd, find out as much as you can about the breed, and talk with breeders. Think over whether you will be ready to meet the needs of your Belgian every day by the next 14-16 years.

Training & Socialization are a must

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

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 a very strong relationship with their pet parents.

They love to learn and are masters in most dog sports. Though originally they worked as pastoral dogs guarded sheep, 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 humor 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 make them very demanding, and they need a lot of occupation – not just physical exercise but also mental training. Else Belgians will be frustrated and bored and will find entertainment on their 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 a good time

This is a very active breed so every kind of dog activity like flyball, obedience, tracking, defense (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 the 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. The frequency of molting depends on the sex of the breed. Males lose only their undercoat once per year, while females change their coat twice a year. During this period, the dog should be brushed every day to remove dead hair.

Healthy & Long-Lived

Belgians are a 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 idiopathic epilepsy.

(Iwona Hernias 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).