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Belgian Shepherd

Belgian Shepherd Dog Breed Information

In a Sentence:

A highly intelligent and energetic breed of dog with a strong work ethic and protective nature.

Scientific Name:

Canis lupus familiaris.
Also Known As:Belgian Sheepdog
Type:Mammal

Size:

Belgian Shepherds are considered a Medium to Large-sized dog breed.
Weight:20-30 kg.
Height:60-66 cm (23.6-26 inches)
Length:60-66 cm.

Lifespan:

The average lifespan of a Belgian Shepherd is between 10 to 14 years

Behavior:

What type of dog is a Belgian Shepherd, how do they behave and what temperament do they have? See below for a detailed overview of their traits and personality.

Personality & Temperament

Belgian Shepherds are highly intelligent, energetic and loyal dogs. They are renowned for their strong work ethic and are often used as police and military dogs, as well as search and rescue dogs. They are also popular as family pets due to their affectionate and protective nature.

Belgian Shepherds are highly intelligent and have a strong desire to work and please their owners. They are known for their loyalty and devotion to their families and are protective of them. They are also highly energetic and require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy.

Belgian Shepherds have a confident and assertive temperament. They are highly trainable and excel in obedience and agility competitions. They are also very alert and make excellent watchdogs. However, they can be wary of strangers and may require socialization to prevent them from becoming overly protective.

Belgian Shepherds are highly active and require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. They are not well-suited for apartment living and do best in homes with large yards or access to open spaces. They are also highly trainable and respond well to positive reinforcement training methods. They are affectionate with their families but can be reserved with strangers. They may also exhibit herding behavior, such as nipping at heels and may require training to prevent this behavior from becoming problematic.

Intelligence

Belgian Shepherds are considered to be highly intelligent dogs. They have an ability to learn quickly and their strong work ethic. They are often used as police dogs, search and rescue dogs and service dogs due to their intelligence and trainability. Belgian Shepherds are also known for their problem-solving abilities and their ability to think independently. Overall, Belgian Shepherds are considered to be one of the smartest dog breeds.

Trainability

Belgian Shepherds are intelligent and trainable dogs, but they can be challenging to train due to their high energy levels and strong-willed nature. They require consistent and patient training from an experienced owner or trainer. Early socialization and obedience training are essential to prevent behavioral issues such as aggression and anxiety. Positive reinforcement techniques such as treats, praise and playtime are effective in training Belgian Shepherds. With proper training and socialization, Belgian Shepherds can excel in various activities such as obedience, agility and tracking.

Sleep

Belgian Shepherds, like most dogs, sleep for an average of 12-14 hours per day. However, the amount of sleep can vary depending on the age, activity level and overall health of the individual dog. Puppies and older dogs may sleep more, while highly active dogs may require more rest to recover from physical activity. It’s important to provide your Belgian Shepherd with a comfortable and quiet sleeping area to ensure they get the rest they need.

Bark

Belgian Shepherds are vocal dogs and can bark quite a bit, especially if they are not properly trained and socialized. However, with proper training and socialization, they can learn when it is appropriate to bark and when it is not. It is important to note that excessive barking can also be a sign of boredom, anxiety or other behavioral issues, so it is important to address the underlying cause of the barking.

Drool

Belgian Shepherds are not excessive drooleres. However, like all dogs, they may drool occasionally, especially after eating or drinking. The amount of drooling can also depend on the individual dog’s genetics, health and diet. Overall, Belgian Shepherds are considered to be a relatively low-drooling breed.

Lick

Belgian Shepherds are affectionate dogs and may lick their owners as a way of showing their love and affection. However, the amount of licking can vary from dog to dog and may also depend on their individual personality and behavior. Some Belgian Shepherds may lick more than others, while some may not lick much at all. It is important to note that excessive licking can sometimes be a sign of anxiety or stress, so it is important to monitor your dog’s behavior and seek advice from a veterinarian if you have any concerns.

Jump

Belgian Shepherds are renowned for their agility and athleticism and they are capable of jumping quite high. On average, a Belgian Shepherd can jump up to 6 feet in the air, although some may be able to jump even higher with proper training and conditioning. However, it is important to note that excessive jumping can be harmful to their joints, so it is recommended to limit jumping activities and provide proper training and conditioning to prevent injury.

Dig

Belgian Shepherds have a moderate to high digging tendency. However, the amount they dig can vary depending on the individual dog and their environment. Providing them with plenty of exercise, mental stimulation and toys can help reduce their digging behavior. Additionally, training and positive reinforcement can also be effective in managing their digging tendencies.

Good Fit for You?

Is a Belgian Shepherd the right dog for you? Keep reading to find out how compatible you are with a Belgian Shepherd.

Exercise

Belgian Shepherds are high-energy dogs that require a lot of exercise. They need at least 60-90 minutes of exercise per day, which can include walks, runs, hikes and playtime in a fenced yard. They also benefit from mental stimulation, such as training sessions and puzzle toys. It’s important to provide them with enough exercise and stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior.

Space

Belgian Shepherds are active and energetic dogs that require a lot of space to exercise and play. They need a minimum of a large yard or a spacious living area with plenty of room to move around. Ideally, they should have access to a secure outdoor area where they can run and play freely. It is important to note that Belgian Shepherds are not well-suited for apartment living due to their high energy levels and need for space.

Apartment

Belgian Shepherds are not recommended for apartment living as they are high-energy dogs that require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. They are also known for their loud barking and can become destructive if they do not get enough exercise and attention. It is important to provide them with a large yard or open space to run and play. If you live in an apartment, it may be better to consider a smaller breed that is more suited to apartment living.

Left Alone

Belgian Shepherds are highly social and affectionate dogs and they may not tolerate being left alone for long periods of time. They thrive on human interaction and can become anxious or destructive if left alone for extended periods. It is important to provide them with plenty of exercise, mental stimulation and attention to prevent boredom and separation anxiety. If you need to leave your Belgian Shepherd alone for a few hours, it is recommended to provide them with toys, puzzles and a comfortable space to rest. However, leaving them alone for long periods should be avoided if possible.

Kid/Family Friendly

Belgian Shepherds can be great with kids and families if they are properly socialized and trained. They are loyal, intelligent and protective dogs that can make great companions for active families. However, they are high-energy dogs that require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation, so they may not be the best fit for families with young children or those who are not able to provide them with enough activity. It is important to note that Belgian Shepherds can be wary of strangers and may need to be socialized early on to prevent any aggressive behavior towards visitors or other animals. Overall, Belgian Shepherds can be great family pets with the right training and care.

Perfect Fit

Belgian Shepherds are highly intelligent, active and loyal dogs that require a lot of physical and mental stimulation. They are best suited for households that can provide them with plenty of exercise, training and attention. Here are some characteristics of households that would be a good fit for a Belgian Shepherd:

  1. Active households: Belgian Shepherds need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy. They are best suited for households that can provide them with plenty of opportunities to run, play and explore.
  2. Experienced dog owners: Belgian Shepherds are highly intelligent and independent dogs that require consistent training and socialization. They are best suited for households with experienced dog owners who can provide them with the guidance and structure they need.
  3. Families with older children: Belgian Shepherds can be great family pets, but they may be too high-energy and intense for young children. They are best suited for households with older children who can handle their energy and playfulness.
  4. Homes with a large yard: Belgian Shepherds need plenty of space to run and play. They are best suited for households with a large yard or access to a nearby park or open space.
  5. Active individuals or couples: Belgian Shepherds make great companions for active individuals or couples who enjoy hiking, running or other outdoor activities. They are highly trainable and can make great running or hiking partners.

Pros and Cons:

Like any breed, there are both pros and cons to owning a Belgian Shepherd. Here is a table outlining five of each:

Pros:
  1. Excellent guard dogs: Belgian Shepherds are known for their protective nature and make excellent guard dogs. They are loyal and will do whatever it takes to protect their family and home.
  2. Intelligent: Belgian Shepherds are highly intelligent and trainable. They excel in obedience and agility training and are often used as police and military dogs.
  3. Active: Belgian Shepherds are a high-energy breed and require plenty of exercise. They make great companions for active individuals or families who enjoy outdoor activities.
  4. Affectionate: Despite their protective nature, Belgian Shepherds are also very affectionate with their families. They are loyal and loving and enjoy spending time with their owners.
  5. Versatile: Belgian Shepherds are a versatile breed and can excel in a variety of roles, including search and rescue, therapy work and as family pets.
Cons:
  1. High energy: While their energy level can be a pro, it can also be a con for some owners. Belgian Shepherds require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation, which can be challenging for some.
  2. Protective nature: While their protective nature is a pro, it can also be a con if not properly trained. Belgian Shepherds can become overly protective and aggressive if not socialized and trained properly.
  3. Shedding: Belgian Shepherds have a thick double coat that sheds heavily twice a year. This can be a challenge for owners who don’t want to deal with excessive shedding.
  4. Health issues: Like all breeds, Belgian Shepherds are prone to certain health issues, including hip dysplasia, epilepsy and eye problems.
  5. Training: While Belgian Shepherds are highly trainable, they can also be stubborn and require a firm and consistent hand in training. This can be a challenge for some owners who are not experienced in dog training.

Cost:

The cost of a Belgian Shepherd in Australia can vary depending on the breeder, bloodline and age of the dog. On average, you can expect to pay between $1,500 to $3,500 AUD for a Belgian Shepherd puppy from a reputable breeder. However, prices can go up to $5,000 AUD or more for a show-quality dog with champion bloodlines. It’s important to do your research and only buy from a reputable breeder to ensure the health and temperament of your new pet.

Breed History:

Belgian Shepherds were originally bred in Belgium in the late 1800s for herding and guarding livestock. They were also used as police and military dogs due to their intelligence, loyalty and ability to work in a variety of environments. There are four different varieties of Belgian Shepherds: the Groenendael, Tervuren, Malinois and Laekenois, each with slightly different physical characteristics and temperaments. The Groenendael and Tervuren were primarily used for herding, while the Malinois was bred for police and military work and the Laekenois was used for guarding. Today, Belgian Shepherds are still used for herding, police and military work, search and rescue and as loyal family companions.

Current Usage

Belgian Shepherds are versatile dogs that can be used for a variety of purposes. Here are some of the ways they are currently being used:

  1. Police and Military Work: Belgian Shepherds are commonly used as police and military dogs due to their intelligence, trainability and strong work ethic. They are often used for tasks such as tracking, search and rescue and bomb detection.
  2. Search and Rescue: Belgian Shepherds are also used for search and rescue operations. Their strong sense of smell and ability to work in difficult terrain make them ideal for this type of work.
  3. Therapy and Service Dogs: Belgian Shepherds are also used as therapy and service dogs due to their gentle nature and ability to form strong bonds with their handlers. They can be trained to assist people with disabilities or mental health issues.
  4. Agility and Obedience Competitions: Belgian Shepherds are also popular in agility and obedience competitions due to their athleticism and trainability.
  5. Family Pets: Finally, Belgian Shepherds make great family pets for those who are willing to provide them with plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. They are loyal, affectionate and protective of their families.

Guard Dogs

Yes, Belgian Shepherds make excellent guard dogs. They are known for their protective nature and loyalty to their owners. They are highly intelligent and trainable, making them ideal for guarding homes, businesses and other properties. Belgian Shepherds are also very alert and have a strong sense of smell, which makes them great at detecting intruders. However, it is important to note that proper training and socialization are crucial for any dog to become a good guard dog.

Where Are They Found?

Belgian Shepherds are popular in many countries around the world. However, some of the countries where they are most popular include:

  1. Belgium – As the name suggests, Belgian Shepherds are from Belgium and are very popular in their home country.
  2. United States – Belgian Shepherds are becoming increasingly popular in the United States, particularly the Malinois variety.
  3. France – Belgian Shepherds are also popular in France, where they are used as police and military dogs.
  4. Canada – Belgian Shepherds are popular in Canada, particularly the Tervuren variety.
  5. Germany – Belgian Shepherds are also popular in Germany, where they are used as police and military dogs.
  6. Netherlands – Belgian Shepherds are popular in the Netherlands, particularly the Malinois variety.
  7. Australia – Belgian Shepherds are becoming more popular in Australia, particularly the Malinois variety.
  8. United Kingdom – Belgian Shepherds are also popular in the United Kingdom, particularly the Groenendael variety.

Climate

Belgian Shepherds are best suited to temperate climates with moderate temperatures. They can tolerate colder climates but may require extra protection during extreme cold weather. They may also struggle in hot and humid climates, as they have a thick double coat that can make them prone to overheating. Overall, Belgian Shepherds are adaptable to different climates as long as they are provided with proper care and shelter.

Population

It is difficult to determine the exact number of Belgian Shepherds in the world as there is no centralized database or registry for this breed. However, it is estimated that there are tens of thousands of Belgian Shepherds worldwide, with the majority being in Europe and North America.

Physical Appearance:

Belgian Shepherds are medium to large-sized dogs with a muscular and athletic build. They have a distinctive square-shaped head with a long and narrow muzzle. Their ears are triangular and stand erect, giving them an alert and attentive expression. Their eyes are almond-shaped and dark brown, which adds to their intelligent and intense gaze.

Their coat is thick and dense, with a rough texture that comes in four different varieties – Groenendael, Tervuren, Malinois and Laekenois. The Groenendael has long, black hair, while the Tervuren has long, fawn-colored hair with black tips. The Malinois has short, fawn-colored hair with a black mask and the Laekenois has wiry, curly hair that is typically reddish-brown.

Overall, Belgian Shepherds are agile and graceful dogs with a confident and determined demeanor. They are known for their loyalty, intelligence and protective nature, making them excellent working dogs and loyal companions.

Coat:

Colours:

Belgian Shepherds can come in four different colors:

1. Groenendael – black
2. Tervuren – fawn with black overlay
3. Malinois – fawn with black mask
4. Laekenois – red or fawn with black shading

Hair/Fur Length:

Belgian Shepherds have a medium-length, straight or slightly wavy coat that is dense and weather-resistant. The hair on their neck, chest and tail is longer and thicker, while the hair on their face, ears and legs is shorter.

Shedding:

Yes, Belgian Shepherds do shed. They have a thick double coat that sheds moderately throughout the year, with heavier shedding occurring twice a year during seasonal changes. Regular grooming and brushing can help manage shedding and keep their coat healthy.

Grooming:

The Belgian Shepherd has a thick double coat that sheds heavily twice a year. During shedding season, daily brushing is recommended to remove loose hair and prevent matting. Otherwise, weekly brushing is sufficient to maintain the coat’s health and shine.

Trimming or cutting the Belgian Shepherd’s hair is not necessary, as it can disrupt the natural shedding process and cause skin irritation. However, some owners choose to trim the hair around the ears, paws and sanitary areas for hygiene purposes. It is important to use proper grooming tools and techniques to avoid damaging the coat or skin.

Hypoallergenic:

No, Belgian Shepherds are not hypoallergenic. They have a thick double coat that sheds heavily twice a year, which can trigger allergies in some people. Regular grooming and brushing can help reduce shedding and minimize the spread of allergens, but they are not considered hypoallergenic dogs.

Speed:

Belgian Shepherds are known for their speed and agility. They can run at an average speed of 40-45 kph (25-28 mph).

Health:

Belgian Shepherds are generally healthy dogs, but like all breeds, they can be prone to certain health issues. Some of the most common health issues they are faced with include:

  • Hip dysplasia: a genetic condition where the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to arthritis and pain.
  • Elbow dysplasia: a genetic condition where the elbow joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to arthritis and pain.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy: a genetic condition that causes degeneration of the retina, leading to blindness.
  • Epilepsy: a neurological disorder that causes seizures.
  • Bloat: a condition where the stomach fills with gas and twists, which can be life-threatening if not treated immediately.

Teeth:

Belgian Shepherds typically have 42 teeth, which is the same as most other dog breeds.

Eyesight:

Belgian Shepherds are known to have excellent eyesight, which is a crucial trait for their work as herding and guarding dogs. Their sharp vision allows them to detect potential threats from a distance and react quickly to any changes in their environment. Additionally, their keen eyesight makes them excellent candidates for search and rescue operations and other tasks that require a strong visual acuity.

Nipples:

Belgian Shepherds typically have 8 to 10 nipples, arranged in two rows on their underside.

Gestation:

Litter Size:

The typical litter size for Belgian Shepherds is between 6 to 10 puppies. However, litter size can vary and may be influenced by factors such as the age and health of the mother dog, genetics and environmental factors.

Gestation Period:

The gestation period for Belgian Shepherds is typically around 63 days, give or take a few days. However, it is important to note that every dog is different and the gestation period can vary slightly. It is important to consult with a veterinarian for proper prenatal care and to monitor the pregnancy.

Heat:

Belgian Shepherds typically go into heat twice a year, although this can vary slightly between individuals.

Male vs Female:

Belgian Shepherds have some differences between males and females. Males are generally larger and heavier than females, weighing between 60-80 pounds while females weigh between 40-60 pounds. Males also tend to have a more muscular build and a broader head. Females, on the other hand, tend to be more agile and have a more streamlined body. In terms of temperament, males may be more dominant and protective while females may be more affectionate and nurturing. However, these differences can vary depending on the individual dog’s personality and training.

Tips and Advice:

Belgian Shepherds are intelligent and active dogs that require proper care and attention. Here are some tips and advice for caring for a Belgian Shepherd:

  • Exercise: Belgian Shepherds are high-energy dogs that require regular exercise to stay healthy and happy. Plan for at least an hour of exercise each day, such as long walks, runs or playtime in a fenced yard.
  • Training: These dogs are highly trainable and enjoy learning new things. Consistent and positive training will help them become well-behaved and obedient companions.
  • Grooming: Belgian Shepherds have a thick double coat that requires regular brushing to prevent matting and shedding. They also need occasional baths and nail trimming.
  • Nutrition: A balanced and nutritious diet is essential for the health of your Belgian Shepherd. Choose high-quality dog food that meets their nutritional needs and avoid overfeeding to prevent obesity.
  • Socialization: Early socialization is important for Belgian Shepherds to develop good behavior around people and other animals. Expose them to different environments, people and animals to help them become well-adjusted dogs.
  • Health care: Regular veterinary check-ups, vaccinations and parasite prevention are important for the health of your Belgian Shepherd. Watch for signs of illness or injury and seek veterinary care as needed.
  • Mental stimulation: Belgian Shepherds are intelligent dogs that need mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior. Provide them with interactive toys, puzzles and games to keep their minds active.
  • Safety: Belgian Shepherds are protective dogs that may become aggressive if they feel threatened or if their territory is invaded. Proper training and socialization can help prevent aggressive behavior, but it’s important to supervise them around children and strangers.
  • Love and attention: Belgian Shepherds thrive on human companionship and need plenty of love and attention from their owners. Spend quality time with your dog, give them affection and make them feel like a valued member of your family.

Food:

Belgian Shepherds are medium to large-sized dogs and their food intake depends on their age, weight and activity level. Typically, an adult Belgian Shepherd will eat around 2-3 cups of high-quality dry dog food per day, divided into two meals. However, it’s important to monitor their weight and adjust their food intake accordingly.

Belgian Shepherds are known to be food-oriented dogs, which means they are highly motivated by food and treats. This can make them easy to train using positive reinforcement techniques that involve treats as rewards. However, it’s important to monitor their food intake and avoid overfeeding, as they can easily become overweight or obese.

Facts:

Here are three interesting facts about Belgian Shepherds:

  1. Belgian Shepherds were originally bred as herding dogs, but they have also been used as police and military dogs, search and rescue dogs and even as guide dogs for the blind.
  2. Belgian Shepherds have a unique coat that is long and dense, which helps protect them from harsh weather conditions. They also shed twice a year, which requires regular grooming.
  3. Belgian Shepherds are highly trainable and excel in obedience and agility competitions. They are also known for their strong work ethic and are happiest when given a job to do.

Names:

When it comes to naming a Belgian Shepherd, strong and powerful names are often a good fit. Here are 15 names that would suit this breed:

1. Atlas6. Titan11. Ace
2. Thor7. Maverick12. Blaze
3. Zeus8. Diesel13. Phoenix
4. Apollo9. Hunter14. Jax
5. Odin10. Ranger15. Odin

These names all have a strong and powerful feel to them, which is fitting for the Belgian Shepherd’s personality and physical attributes.

Famous:

Over the years, several Belgian Shepherds have gained fame for their impressive abilities and accomplishments. Here are some of the most famous Belgian Shepherds of all time:

  1. Rin Tin Tin – Perhaps the most famous Belgian Shepherd of all time, Rin Tin Tin was a canine actor who starred in numerous silent films in the 1920s and 1930s. He was rescued from a World War I battlefield in France and brought to the United States, where he became a beloved Hollywood star.
  2. Hurricane – Hurricane was a Belgian Malinois who served as a military working dog in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was awarded the Dickin Medal, the highest honor for animals serving in military conflict, for his bravery in detecting explosives and saving countless lives.
  3. Cairo – Cairo was a Belgian Malinois who played a key role in the mission to capture Osama bin Laden in 2011. He was part of the Navy SEAL team that raided bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan and helped secure the area.
  4. Conan – Conan is a Belgian Malinois who gained fame in 2019 when he was injured during a U.S. military operation in Syria. He was praised for his bravery and dedication to his handler and fellow soldiers.
  5. Laekenois – Laekenois is a Belgian Shepherd breed that is relatively rare compared to the other varieties (Malinois, Tervuren and Groenendael). However, one Laekenois named Nikita gained fame in the 1990s for her impressive obedience skills and agility.

These are just a few examples of the many famous Belgian Shepherds that have made their mark on history.

Summary:

Belgian Shepherd, also known as the Belgian Sheepdog, is a medium to large-sized breed of dog that originated in Belgium. It is a highly intelligent and versatile breed that was originally bred for herding and guarding livestock. Belgian Shepherds are renowned for their high energy levels, athleticism and protective instincts.

Belgian Shepherds are highly trainable and excel in various activities such as obedience, agility and tracking. They are also commonly used as police and military dogs due to their intelligence and loyalty. They are known for their alert and watchful nature, making them excellent watchdogs.

Belgian Shepherds have a long and rich history in Belgium, where they were originally bred in the late 1800s. They were used for herding and guarding livestock, as well as for protecting their owners and their property. During World War I, Belgian Shepherds were used as messenger dogs and were highly valued for their bravery and loyalty.

As pets, Belgian Shepherds require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. They thrive in active households where they can participate in various activities and have a job to do. They are loyal and affectionate with their families but can be reserved with strangers. Due to their high energy levels and protective instincts, they require early socialization and training to ensure they are well-behaved and well-adjusted pets. Overall, Belgian Shepherds make excellent pets for active and experienced dog owners who are looking for a loyal and intelligent companion.