BREED DESCRIPTION & INFORMATION
Photo courtesy of: Khirugai Kennels
Note: The breed may also be recognized by other registries not indicated here. For further details about dog registries, please see the document: Dog Breed Registries in North America.
NOTE 1: An amendment to the name change from the Belgian Sheepdog to the Belgian Shepherd Dog was approved, see the CKC Article: Update: Recognition of New Breeds for details. (11 November 2005)
NOTE 2: From the AKC May 2007 Board Meeting, the Belgian Laekenois is now eligible to compete in AKC Companion events held on and after January 1, 2008. See http://www.akc.org/reg/fss_news.cfm for full details.
NOTE 3: The FCI is the World Canine Organization, which includes 84 members and contract partners (one member per country) that each issue their own pedigrees and train their own judges. The FCI recognizes 339 breeds, with each being the "property" of a specific country. The "owner" countries of the breeds 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.
Note: Until recently, the Belgian Shepherd Dog was known as the Belgian Sheepdog in Canada 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), 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 LaekenoisSee Note 2 above is presently accepted under the AKC's Foundation Stock Service (AKC-FSS) program.
The United 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.
Males: 24-26 in (61-66 cm) at the shoulder - Females: 22-24 in (56-61 cm)
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 charactistices 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.
- 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: Information on Belgians and Anesthetic.
- 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 main Breed Listing and Breeders 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 CHIC* 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
- 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.
- Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF)
- 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.
- CKC Breed Standard
- UKC Breed Standard
- FCI-Standard No 15
- 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)
AKC Belgian Malinois DVD
18 Min. Video Edition, Published by the American Kennel Club
AKC Belgian Sheepdog DVD
20 Min. Video Edition, Published by the American Kennel Club
25 Min. Video Edition, Published by the American Kennel Club
Discussions of the breed standards: good structure and movement, acceptable colors, correct head, size. Developed for breeders, exhibitors and judges.
- 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.
Choose from a wide variety of items from Dogwise.com
- FAQ from the Belgian Shepherd Dog Club of Canada
- 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.