Belgian Shepherd Dog
Group: Herding Group
- – Males: 24-26 in (61-66 cm) at the shoulder
– Females: 22-24 in (56-61 cm)
- – Groenendael;
– Belgian Laekenois;
– Belgian Malinois;
Note: In Canada, the breed was previously known as the Belgian Sheepdog as he is recognized by the American Kennel Club in the U.S. The Canadian Kennel Club recognizes four varieties, all under one Breed Standard: the Groenendael (black), Tervueren (brown or grey with a black mask), the Malinois (a short brown coat with a black mask), and the Laeken (brown, curly coated).
The American Kennel Club recognizes three varieties, all with separate Breed Standards: the Belgian Sheepdog (black), the Belgian Tervuren (brown or grey with a black mask) and the Belgian Malinois (a short brown coat with a black mask). The Belgian Laekenois is presently accepted for recording under the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service (AKC-FSS) program.
The United Kennel Club, like the Canadian Kennel Club, recognizes the four varieties all under the Belgian Shepherd Dog Breed Standard. The Groenendael is the long-haired black; the Tervueren is the charcoaled, long-haired, other than black, with a dark mask; the Malinois is the short-haired, charcoal, other than black, with a dark mask; and the Laekenois is the rough-haired other than black, with traces of charcoaling, principally on the muzzle and tail.
In many other parts of the world, the Belgian Shepherd Dog is known as the Groenendael or Chien de Berger Belge.
He is elegant and aristocratic in appearance, muscular and agile, and his movement is light, brisk and tireless. The Belgian Shepherd Dog is well known for his devotion to his family and his desire to protect them and their property. He is an excellent family dog, loving and tolerant with children when he has been raised with them. Affectionate and friendly, he is also quite active, sensitive, highly intelligent and easy to train.
During World War I, Belgian Shepherd Dogs distinguished themselves on the battlefields, serving as message carriers, ambulance dogs, and even pulling machine guns.
Today, the Belgian Shepherd Dog is not only an excellent companion and friend, but he is seen competing in many sports and activities, including: Conformation, Obedience, Agility, Flyball, Herding, and Tracking. Belgians also excel as Search and Rescue Dogs because of their intelligence, endurance, agility and excellent scenting abilities.
There are four distinct coat types, differing in colour, which give the four varieties of the Belgian Shepherd Dog breed distinguishing charactistics for each variety. The Groenendael and Tervuren are long-haired, the Malinois is short-haired, and the Laekenois is rough-haired.
The Groenendael is either completely black or black with a limited amount of white.
The Tervuren is either a rich fawn to russet mahogany or distinctly grey, each with a black overlay.
The Malinois variety’s colour is from a rich fawn to mahogany with a black overlay. He also has a black mask and black ears, and the underparts of the body are a lighter fawn.
The Laeken coat should be a rough or dry texture and appear unkempt. His undercoat is thick and wooly and should be light fawn to red brown or grey.
Photo by Luzelle Cockburn
Anasthetics: Because of the Belgian Shepherd’s low fat to body weight ratio, the breed can be particularly sensitive to anasthesia. For detailed information, see: Anesthesia Primer — An Anesthetic Primer for the Belgian Owner by Libbye Miller DVM.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
- Epilepsy — Epilepsy is fairly common in the breed and research is underway at the University of Guelph to determine the cause as well as a way of diagnosing dogs who have Epilepsy and those who carry the genes that cause it.
- Hip Dysplasia
- Thyroid Problems
If you are considering the adoption of a Belgian Shepherd Dog puppy, or any breed, it is very important to be selective in choosing a responsible and reputable breeder. Ensure that the prospective puppy’s parents have all health clearances. Breeding of any dog should not be done until after they have been proven to be free of evidence of significant hereditary diseases. (For more information on selecting a breeder, see the articles on the General Information page.)
Recommended Health Screening:
Recommended testing for the Belgian Shepherd Dog include tests performed on hips, elbows, thyroid, and eyes. In addition, because Epilepsy is a health condition found in this breed and there is no test presently available to determine if a dog will produce offspring with Epilepsy, it is important to inquire if either parent has been diagnosed with the disease.
For the Belgian Shepherd, the CHICNote 1 database includes health screenings for:
- Hip Dysplasia;
- Elbow Dysplasia; and
- Eye Examination by a board Ophthalmologist
- In addition for the Belgian Tervuren, Autoimmune Thyroiditis is also listed.
Additional Health Resources:
- Belgian Sheepdog Club of America — Health
- ABTC Health Education
- Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) – Belgian Laekenois Breeds Requirements — CHIC is a centralized canine health database jointly sponsored by the AKC/Canine Health Foundation (AKC/CHF) and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).
- Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) – Belgian Malinois Breeds Requirements
- Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) – Belgian Sheepdog Breeds Requirements
- Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) – Belgian Tervuren Breeds Requirements
- Canine Inherited Disorders Database – Belgian Malinois
- Canine Inherited Disorders Database – Belgian Sheepdog
- Canine Inherited Disorders Database – Belgian Tervuren
- Health and Nutrition — Growing section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website which includes information on several health and nutrition related issues.
- AKC Canine Health Foundation — Working towards developing scientific advances in canine health.
- OFA – Companion Animal Eye Registry (CAER)
- Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)
- Ontario Veterinary College (OVC)
- University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHip)
- HealthGene — HealthGene Corporation is the leading provider of veterinary DNA diagnostic services in Canada.
- Labgenvet — Laboratory of Veterinary Genetics is a Canadian diagnostic laboratory that offers a comprehensive service of DNA tests for veterinary genetic diseases.
- CKC Breed Standard
- UKC Breed Standard
- FCI-Standard No 15
- AKC Breed Standard – Belgian Laekenois
- AKC Breed Standard – Belgian Malinois
- AKC Breed Standard – Belgian Sheepdog
- AKC Breed Standard – Belgian Tervuren
- The Kennel Club (England) Breed Standard – Belgian Shepherd Dog (Groenendael)
- The Kennel Club (England) Breed Standard – Belgian Shepherd Dog (Laekenois)
- The Kennel Club (England) Breed Standard – Belgian Shepherd Dog (Malinois)
- The Kennel Club (England) Breed Standard – Belgian Shepherd Dog (Tervueren)
- Grooming — This section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website includes tips, articles and information covering all aspects of dog grooming along with a listing of Groomers from across Canada.
- Training — For training information, see this growing section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website for tips, articles, as well as listings of training centres across Canada.
- Historical Summary — from the Belgian Shepherd Dog Club of Canada
- Is the Belgian Malinois a Good Family Dog? — Everything you need to decide if a Belgian Malinois is the right dog for your family.
- What are the Benefits of Owning a Family Protection Dog? If you’re considering getting a family protection dog to watch over the ones you love, CLICK HERE to read just some of the benefits you’ll experience.
- Is a Dog from the Herding Group Right for you?
- Herding Dogs — A section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website which includes training and general information about Herding/Stock Dogs; listing of Stock Dog Clubs and Associations; listing of upcoming shows and events; and more.
- Clubs, Sports & Activities — For information on the many sports and activities you can get involved in with your dog.
- Working Dogs — The Working Dogs section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website provides information and listings of organizations that are involved in various dog jobs, such as Guide Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Police Dogs, Protection Dogs, and much more.
*NOTE 1: CHIC – The Canine Health Information Center “is a database of consolidated health screening results from multiple sources. Co-sponsored by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Health Foundation, CHIC works with parent clubs to identify health screening protocols appropriate for individual breeds. Dogs tested in accordance with the parent club established requirements, that have their results registered and made available in the public domain are issued CHIC numbers.” To learn more, visit: www.caninehealthinfo.org
*NOTE 2: The Fédération Cynologique International (FCI) is the World Canine Organization, which includes 91 members and contract partners (one member per country) that each issue their own pedigrees and train their own judges. The FCI recognizes 344 breeds, with each being the “property” of a specific country. The “owner” countries write the standards of these breeds in co-operation with the Standards and Scientific Commissions of the FCI, and the translation and updating are carried out by the FCI. The FCI is not a breed registry nor does it issue pedigrees.