As one of three specific Belgian breeds, the Belgian Sheepdog is known for its intelligence and loyalty. Back when the breed first came to be in the 1800’s, the Belgian Sheepdog was used for all kinds of interesting tasks. Not only were they amazing herders, but their quick wit allowed them to aid in police chases and even deliver messages! Today this breed excels in canine performance and showmanship, as well as a wonderful family dog. If you are looking for an easy first dog that is great with kids and other pets, then this breed may be perfect for you. But keep in mind, that with their long thick fur, a good vacuum will be a must in any household with a Belgian Sheepdog. They come in a range of colors such as black, brindle, cream, and fawn. Because they are such an active breed, the Belgian Sheepdog needs at least one hour of physical activity on top of mental stimulation in order to keep him from finding his own means of entertainment, which will most likely be expensive to fix.
In 1893, the breed was named after the original breeder, Nicholas Rose’s, estate. Located outside of Brussels, the Chateau Groenendael was just as beautiful as the dog itself. Because the name Groenendael is a bit difficult for some to remember, the Belgian Sheepdog came to exist. This name is fitting as the dogs were originally used as sheep herders in the Belgian countryside. As one of four sheep dog varieties, the Malinois, the Tervuren, the Laekenois, and the Groenendael, the Belgian Sheepdog was one of the shepherd dogs molded by the Belgian Shepherd Dog club. In September of 1891, this esteemed club came together in order to decide the national criteria for the perfect shepherd dog. They determined that the perfect traits of a shepherd dog were to be medium sized, square with wide-set triangular ears and very brown eyes. The dogs were only to be different in the texture and color of their fur. It is easy to see that the Belgian Sheepdog matches these criteria extremely well and is a stunning dog. The two breeds that blended into the Belgian Sheepdog are the Picard d’Uccle, which is from the Belgian Malinois family, and the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, which is part of the Hound family. The combination of these dogs created an extremely intelligent and highly athletic dog perfect for herding and show. The Belgian Sheepdog’s alert and playful personality is certainly one that takes a lot of energy to handle, but is worth it in the long run.
Similar to cold-weather dogs, the Belgian Sheepdog is a double-coated breed. This means that they have a rough top coat, perfect for wicking away water, and a downy undercoat that keeps the dog protected from weather. This undercoat will vary in thickness depending on the area where the Belgian Sheepdog lives. Matching the European ideal for a shepherd dog, the Belgian Sheepdog is a large dog that has wide-set triangular ears and dark brown eyes. The hair on their head and the front of their legs is shorter than the rest of their coat but the most distinguishing feature is the abundant amount of long hair around the neck called a collarette. This is predominately seen in males and is accompanied by a fringe of longer hair trailing down the back of the front legs and thighs. The tail is long and heavy, with a very full appearance.
The idea color pattern for a Belgian Sheepdog is either completely black or black with some white accents between the paw pads, on the hind toes, or a strip on the fore chest. Despite any desired look by the professionals, color does not change the dog’s ability to be an amazing companion or work dog.
If you are someone that has allergies or hates the idea of dog hair all over your home, the Belgian Sheepdog may not be the perfect fit for you. Because of their long, double-coat this breed requires a lot of brushing to keep shedding to a minimum. A couple times a year their coat will have a very large shed, typically around the change of seasons. When this happens, it is best to give them a warm bath to help loosen the hair follicles and then brush thoroughly. Doing so will not only keep your Belgian Sheepdog’s fur healthy and bright, but will also calm down excessive shedding and tangling.
Besides brushing, regular tooth brushing may also be something you want to look into. Because the Belgian Sheepdog is a breed that tends to experience tartar buildup, cleaning your dog’s teeth weekly (or even daily) can help to prevent bad breath and dental disease. When grooming your dog, pay attention to their skin and fur. If you notice any sores or patchy areas, it may be time to check in with your vet about nutrition or flea management.