Other names: Malinois, Groenendael, Tervueren, Laekenois
The Belgian Shepherd is a keen working dog, a little nervous, overflowing with energy and vitality and always ready to carry out tasks given. Naturally the herder of flocks, they are also used to guard a property. Four varieties exist: the Malinois, who was specifically selected for guarding, defence and sporting activities; the Groenendael, the Terveuren and the Laekenois, who preserve the calm and bold side of the shepherd.
Key facts about the Belgian Shepherd
Origins and history
The four varieties were chosen in the late 19th century by a group of dog lovers led by Professor Reul, from the Cureghen Veterinary School, who were trying to sort out a rather confused canine gene pool. The first standard was published in 1894, the starting point for all future breeding.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 1 - Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)
Section 1 : Sheepdogs
Physical characteristics of the Belgian Shepherd
Female : Between 22 and 24 in
Male : Between 24 and 26 in
Female : Between 44 and 55 lb
Male : Between 55 and 66 lb
The Groenendael has a black coat.
The Malinois and Tervueren have all shades of red, fawn, grey with black overlay.
The Laekenois has a reddish fawn colour with black shading, principally on the muzzle and tail.
Type of coat
There are three varieties of coat: long hair (Groenendael and Tervueren), short hair (Malinois) and coarse hair (Laekenois)
The hair is dense and tightly-packed with a fuzzy undercoat.
Their eyes are brownish, the darkest possible.
The Belgian Shepherd is a noble, well-proportioned, rustic dog. They are smaller, lighter and more flexible than the German Shepherd. They have a well-chiselled head, long and straight. The skull is of medium width proportionate to the length of the head, the forehead is rather flat, with a moderate stop and a well-chiselled muzzle. The chamfer is straight. The eyes are averagely-sized. The ears are triangular, stiff and straight, set high on the head. The neck is muscular without any dewlap or other hanging skin. The body is powerful but not heavy. The top line is straight. The tail, of medium length, is carried when the dog is at rest and raised when in action.
Good to know
Some dogs may be a bit nervous and experience some difficulty in their defence work due to excessive mistrust. However, a good supervisor always succeeds in making the most of this dog with such remarkable qualities, provided that the dog’s family tree is proven.
Belgian Shepherd Malinois
Belgian Shepherd Groenendael
Belgian Shepherd Tervuren
Belgian Shepherd Laekenois
Very attached to their owners, these dogs are completely faithful and devoted to them. Moreover, they are not stingy in showing their affection and can even be possessive.
Shepherd dogs love to play and when they’re having fun, they are letting off some steam and they are also thinking during playtime, a win win situation!
This sheepdog is literally overflowing with vitality. They can of course be calm, and that is sought-after from working dogs, but they must also know how to go mad!
Like many dogs, the Belgian Shepherd can follow a rabbit when they see one running, but it isn’t their favourite activity.
Fearful / wary of strangers
Guardian and defender of their owners and property, this dog does not trust easily and needs time to judge the possible dangerousness of a person. By nature, they will be suspicious but when introduced, they are very friendly.
This dog does not stop pleasing their owners; in this, they are rather dependent and forever waiting for one thing: to be told what task to undertake next.
Behaviour of the Belgian Shepherd
Loneliness is not a situation that this Belgian dog likes. Indeed, they enjoy the company of their family members and can quickly become bored when alone.
Easy to train / obedience
The Belgian Shepherd is a very intelligent dog who quickly understand what is expected of them. They are also very lively and respond quickly to different stimuli. This can be an advantage or disadvantage in their training as no mistakes are allowed.
Waiting to establish training is not advised, neither is setting the rules and limits of life too quickly in order to prevent the Belgian Shepherd puppy from picking up bad habits.
For working dogs, they should be registered in specialised clubs but beware of traditional methods that are often too coercive and brutal for this sensitive dog.
This dog can be a barker, especially when an intruder is approaching or when they are bored.