Belgian Sheepdog Dog Breed
Aliases: Belgian Shepherd, Belgian Groenendael, Chien de Berger Belge
|Life Span:||10-12 years|
|Litter Size:||6-10 puppies|
|Group:||Herding, AKC Herding|
|Recognized By:||CKC, FCI, AKC, UKC, ANKC, NKC, NZKC, APRI, ACR|
|Color:||Solid black. Some small amounts of white allowed on the chest and the tips of the back feet toes.|
|Shedding:||Moderate Shed, Heavy Shed|
|Male Height:||24-26 inches (61-66 cm)|
|Male Weight:||65-75 pounds (29-34 kg)|
|Female Height:||22-24 inches (56-61 cm)|
|Female Weight:||60-70 pounds (27-32 kg)|
|General info courtesy of terrificpets.com. Additional information about this breed can be found on their website.|
|Living Area:||While the Belgian Sheepdog can adjust to an apartment they are an active, outdoors dog that does best with a medium to large sized fenced yard. They can tolerate colder climates as well as being left outdoors during the day, provided they get lots of attention and interaction with people on a daily basis.|
The Belgian Sheepdog is a very athletic and able dog that is alert, intelligent yet also a very good companion dog. They are very similar in overall appearance to the German Shepherd although the Belgian Sheepdog is typically all black or black with a very slight amount of white allowed on the chest and the muzzle, with white tips allowed on the hind toes and between the pads of the feet. White on the tips of the front toes is considered a serious fault in the show ring and white or any other color elsewhere on the dog results in disqualification from a show.
The head of the Belgian Sheepdog is very clear and crisp in its outline and formation. The ears are very erect and completely triangular and always held very erect and pricked. The ears of the Belgian Sheepdog should never hang down or fold over. The muzzle is long and very tapered with a noticeable stop between the muzzle and the forehead. The eyes are wide set, dark brown and very intelligent and alert looking. The hair on the face is very short and dense, gradually lengthening into a ruff and the longer hairs on the neck and body.
The neck of the Belgian Sheepdog is moderately long and very strong and muscular in appearance. The neck should outwards from the skull to the powerful shoulders. The shoulders are rather angular and flat in appearance, leading into well developed legs that have a typically oval shape. The legs are very straight and well formed when viewed from the front or the side. The chest is moderately deep and narrow, flowing into a well sprung rib cage. The abdomen cuts up towards the backbone moderately. The topline is slightly sloping from the high point of the shoulders, the withers, to the hips. The hind legs are very well muscled with the hocks well bent but without the angulation or crouching type appearance seen in other shepherds. The feet are round and cat like and well arched. Typically the dewclaws are removed at least on the hind legs but often on the front as well. The bones of the hind legs are also oval in shape rather than rounded. The tail is long and curves slightly upwards at about the level of the hock.
The overall shape of the body of the Belgian Sheepdog forms a square, although the dog is not heavy it does appear substantial. The legs are relatively long and the stride is smooth and flowing. The Belgian Sheepdog has a unique gait that results in a single tracking or all legs moving towards the center of the body when the dog is in a fast gait. They naturally travel in a somewhat circular fashion rather than on a completely straight line.
The coat of the Belgian Sheepdog is double, with a soft, dense inner coat and a longer, slightly coarser outer coat. The coat is medium long with noticeable fringes on the legs and tail as well as longer and thicker hair around the neck in the ruff and chest area.
The white on the toes of the back feet can extend between the pads. Any white on the front feet is a serious fault. The muzzle can have a slight amount of white or gray coloration. In some areas the coat may fade to a slightly reddish tinge and this is not a fault if it is due to the environment and not to the actual coloration of the dog.
The Belgian Sheepdog, known in its native land, as the Groenendael is one of the four types of shepherd dogs from Belgium, all that are very similar except for their coloration and coats. The all black Belgian Sheepdog is derived from a single kennel in Groenendael, hence the traditional name. The breed was developed by Nicholas Rose the late 1800s from a pair of all black shepherds. Mr. Rose bred his dogs for both herding and protection and they were very popular in the area, with the demand for the dogs increasing with every litter.
It is believed that the original ancestors of all four of the Belgian shepherd varieties likely had ancestors from the German Shepherds, Bouvier des Flanders, Beaucerons, Briards and Holland Herders, plus what we now refer to as the Belgian Sheepdog. This large grouping of dogs was originally known as the Continental Shepherds and it is from this mix that Nicholas Rose chose his all-black colored breeding stock.
Historically the Belgian Sheepdog has been used as a herding and protection dog on farms and in rural areas but has also been used as a military dog, search and rescue dog as well as a police dog. They can be used in schutzhund events that are very demanding on the dog.
As a flock protector and herding dog the Belgian Sheepdog must be intelligent and somewhat independent, protective and gentle, as well as obedient and able to think through problems without the help of the owner or shepherd. The result is a very intelligent, active and alert dog that is capable of working on its own as well as responding unhesitantly to the owners instructions and commands. Of course this kind of response takes time and practice to develop.
The Belgian Sheepdog is a very sensitive dog and will respond to the slightest sound of disproval in the owner\'s voice. Without proper socialization they can become timid and very shy, or may also become overly aggressive if they feel trapped or cornered. With proper socialization from an early age the Belgian Sheepdog will be a very well-adjusted and well balanced dog, good as both a companion and a family protector and watchdog.
The Belgian Sheepdog is a good family pet for those with small children or families provided the puppy is socialized with children and becomes accustom to the movement and loud noises associated with small kids. They will typically bond with one or two people in the family the strongest, but will love attention from everyone. They will listen and respond to children and are very obedient although not typically highly playful dogs. The Belgian Sheepdog is naturally very protective so care needs to be taken when introducing strangers and new people.
A Belgian Sheepdog can be trained to live in a house with other dogs and pets, although introductions and socialization should be done slowly and with lots of supervision before leaving the Belgian Sheepdog alone with dogs or other pets. They do have a tendency to chase, especially cats, but if raised as a puppy in a house with cats they are much more accepting. They do best with a companion dog that is of a non-dominant breed and will typically get along best with a spayed or neutered companion dog of the opposite gender.
The Belgian Sheepdog should never exhibit signs of aggressiveness or viciousness or fearfulness. Either of these characteristics, aggression or fearfulness, should disqualify the dog for any breeding programs.
Thyroid Disease - Low Risk
The Belgian Sheepdog ranks #103 among all breeds for autoimmune thyroiditis prevalence. This is considered a low risk breed so your chances of obtaining a dog with the disease is small. It is still suggested that dogs meant for breeding still be tested to help bring the incidence of disease even lower (or even eliminate it).
|Rank Among Breeds||Number of Dogs Tested||Percent of Dogs With Disease|
You can download the full report (on all breeds) by the Michigan State University Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health. Here
Other Health Problems
The Belgian Sheepdog has been very fortunate in avoiding some of the poor breeding practices that have resulted in many genetic conditions that are problematic in other breeds. The most commonly seen health conditions in the Belgian Sheepdog include:
- Epilepsy - a seizure disorder often seen in various levels of severity from a few seconds of rigidity to full out seizures. Can be treated with medication in most cases.
- Hip dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia - a hereditary condition of hip and elbow joint problems and degeneration. All breeding stock should be checked and certified to prevent transmitting this genetic condition.
- Skin Allergies - can be environmental or food related. Can be treated by careful monitoring and antihistamines.
All dogs including the Belgian Sheepdog require regular vaccination and worming as well as at least a yearly vet check-up.