Dog Breeds > Belgian Shepherd

Belgian Shepherd

Belgian Shepherd

Alternate NamesMalinois, Groenendael, Laekenois, Tervueren, Belgian Shepherd Dog
GroupShepherd and Mountain Dog

Belgian Shepherd Profile

Robust (Health)
Supports Loneliness
Need Exercise
Easy To Maintain
Easy to Train
Nice Child
Agreement with Animals
First Dog
Able to Guard

Physical Characteristics

Varieties: a) Groenendael; b) Tervueren; c) Laekenois; d) Malinois.

The Belgian Shepherd is a medium-sized, rustic, and harmoniously proportioned dog. It is slightly smaller, lighter, and more flexible than the German Shepherd. It has a well-chiseled, long (without exaggeration), and dry head. Its skull is of medium width in comparison to the length of the head, and the forehead is rather flat, with a moderate stop, while the snout is well-chiseled and straight. Its eyes are medium sized and dark in color. Its ears are triangular, stiff and straight, and set high. Its neck is muscular, with no trace of dewlap. The body is strong but not heavy, and the top line is straight. The medium length tail is carried hanging when the dog is at rest, but raised when in action.

Fur: Four coat types are bred for the  Belgian Shepherd. They are: the long black coat (Groenendael); the long grey or sable coat (Tervueren); the short tan to brown (usually mahogany) coat with a black mask (Malinois); and the overall fawn coat with intermingled white hairs (Laekenois). The different coats give the impression that they are four distinct breeds, but in reality, they are absolutely identical.

Size: 62 cm for the males and 58 cm for the females.

Weight: 25 to 30 kg for the males and 20 to 25 kg for the females.

Origins and History

The four varieties were selected in the late 19th century by a dog lovers group led by Professor Reul, from the veterinary school of Cureghen. This group was trying to bring order to a rather confused genetic heritage. The first standard was accordingly published in 1894, the starting point of all to come.

Character and Abilities

It is a very attentive, smart and active dog that is easy to train due to its intelligence. Extremely versatile and suitable for all types of work, it is widely used as a guard and/or defense dog. It was recently discovered to be an excellent agility dog (mostly the Malinois): it is (almost) able to compete with the famed Border Collie in this area. In its home country, the Belgian Shepherd is often used as a police dog. In a family, it is joyful and playful even with children. However, there are some slight differences in character between varieties: the Malinois is more docile, while the Tervueren and Groenendael are more nervous. The latter two are, however, more common due to the beauty of their coats. It is also undoubtedly because of its coat (the less appealing of the four), that the Laekenois has almost disappeared from the dog lovers’ scene.

Living Conditions

The Belgian Shepherd can easily live indoors or outdoors. It prefers, however, a house with a garden rather than an apartment, as it needs regular exercise.


It is a rustic and robust dog that does not have any particular health problems.

Average life expectancy: about 13 years.

Information and Tips

Some dogs can be nervous and have difficulty in guarding due to their excessive mistrust. However, a good trainer can always achieve good results if the dog comes from a good line.

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