The Belgian Laekenois is the rarest and least popular of the four types of Belgian Sheepdogs. In the United Kingdom, as well as other areas of the world, the four types of Belgian sheepdogs (Laekenois, Groenendael, Malinois and Tervuren) are considered one breed. While originally utilized for stock herding, the Belgian Laekenois currently is involved in herding, law enforcement, bomb and drug detection, search and rescue, and as a therapy dog. The breed is known for its intelligence and protectiveness and displays a sturdy, well-proportioned body. The average weight of a Belgian Laekenois is 55 to 65 pounds, with the females being between 22 and 24 inches tall and the males between 24 and 26 inches in height. The breed shows no major health concerns and a Belgian Laekenois tends to bond closely with one or two family members. Dogs of this breed require a job to do or they can become destructive out of boredom.
A herding dog from Belgium, the breed’s name comes from the town of Laeken, where the dog was often found working by guarding and tending flocks. It is likely that the Laekenois is the oldest of the Belgian Shepherd dogs, first bred to guard the fields in Antwerp where fine linens were hung to bleach in the sun. The breed’s history is not well known prior to 1891. At that time, Belgian dog fanciers formed the Belgian Shepherd Dog Club and began to classify and name herding breeds. This led to the breed’s popularity outside the fields where they began to work as police and military dogs. The Laekenois is one of the breeds that served as messenger dogs during wartime. The United Kennel Club recognized the Belgian Shepherd as one breed with four varieties in 1991. While the American Kennel Club recognizes the Belgian Malinois, Groenendael and Tervuren, it does not recognize the Laekenois. Recently, the breed was included in the American Kennel Club’s Miscellaneous Class, which is the final step before becoming fully recognized.
The Belgian Laekenois has a sturdy body that is well-proportioned with an average weight of 55 to 65 pounds and a wiry coat that may be up to two inches long. The front legs of this attractive dog are straight and the hind quarters muscular. Both the front and back feet of this breed are round and catlike. The dark eyes of the Belgian Laekenois present a look of intelligence and alertness. The ears of the breed are set high on its head and its muzzle is tapered and includes a black nose. The teeth come together in a level bite and adding further to the nice looks of this dog from head to tail is an easy, smooth gait.
The Belgian Laekenois is a breed of dog that is easy to care for. It is advised that the rough, wiry coat of this lively dog be lightly trimmed at least two times a year. Removing dead or extra hair on a regular basis is important, and a coarse toothed comb is recommended for weekly grooming, which in addition to removing dead hair will distribute skin oils. The breed is known for shedding little to no hair, though what it does shed will occur throughout the year. During heavier, seasonal shedding, brushing more often can be helpful. As bathing more than needed can lead to the removing of waterproofing properties of the coat, it should only occur when necessary. Fortunately, if brushed regularly, the need for a bath is rare. The nails of the Belgian Laekenois should be trimmed as needed and his ears should be kept clean and dry so that infections don’t develop. Frequent tooth brushing with a toothpaste approved by your veterinarian is recommended. A fenced yard of average size is ideal for dogs of this breed, so that they have the chance to play and run; though if plenty of opportunity for exercise is provided, they can do fine in a residence without a yard. Daily exercise is imperative for both the physical and emotional well-being of this breed.