Belgian Shepherd

Belgian Shepherd Dog

Group: Herding Group

Origin: Belgium


    – Males: 24-26 in (61-66 cm) at the shoulder
    – Females: 22-24 in (56-61 cm)


    – Groenendael;
    – Belgian Laekenois;
    – Belgian Malinois;
    – Tervueren

Belgian Shepherd - Khirugai Kennels

Photo: Khirugai Kennels

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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.

Breed Profile

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.

Belgian Malinois
Photo by Luzelle Cockburn

Health Issues

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.

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:


Grooming Information

  • 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 Resources

  • 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.


Additional Information

*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:

*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.

Breed Listing

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