Belgian Sheepdog (Dog Breed Information)

Belgian Sheepdog – The Ultimate Guard Dog

The Belgian Sheepdog is a rare dog in the herding group.  They are intelligent, courageous and watchful. Belgian sheepdogs make great family dogs and excellent dog guards because of their love for human companionship and their alertness.  However, they are not very trusting of strangers and can be aggressive towards other animals.

Are you in the market for a dog, and looking for the ultimate guard and family dog? Well, then look no further. The Belgian sheepdog is just that! Read on to find out all you need to know about this magnificent canine!

Belgian Sheepdog – At a Glance

  • Breed: Belgian Sheepdog
  • Breed Group: Herding
  • Temperament: Clever, Alert, Sensitive
  • D.H.T. Outdoor Ranking: -5/10 For Temperate Climates
  • Worldwide Popularity: Low
  • Breed Origin: Belgium

General Information And Breed History

Belgian sheepdogs are medium-sized herding dogs. This dog does well in sports like obedience, herding, and agility. They are very proud and glide in big circles. They are also very playful, protective, strong and watchful. This dog loves its family, but does not take very well to strangers, and makes a wonderful guard dog.

The Belgian sheepdog loves to work and requires a lot of exercise. They do not do well with just sitting around and doing nothing. They need a good long walk, jog or challenging play session. This dog is not recommended for apartment or condo living as they require a large yard where they can move around. Belgian sheepdogs do well with active families that can provide it with the daily exercise it needs.

Belgian sheeps dog’s date of origin is the 1800s and they are from Belgium. These dogs were bred to be a farm dog that would herd and guard livestock. They were first given the name Groenendael in 1910.

They would go on to become part of the police force as well as being given the job as messengers, and draft dogs during World War I. During their time in the war they were recognized by the public and once the war was over, they became very popular in households.

The Belgian Sheepdog is the most popular and handsome of the sheepdogs with its silky long black coat and its wolf-like appearance.

General Appearance

Belgian Sheepdogs are a squared-proportioned dog that is alert, agile and elegant with a proud carriage. They are heavy-boned and are able to herd for hours at a time without getting tired. The Belgian Sheepdog has a very dense undercoat and the outercoat is heavily guarded lots of hairs that are straight and long.

Body

Their neck is very strong and well-muscled. They are strong without being very heavy. Their muzzle is long and tapered and they have ears like triangles that are erect. The chest is deep but not broad. The Groenendael’s tail is rather long and feathered.

Coat

Belgian Sheepdogs have a beautiful black coat that has a very dense undercoat that adapts to climate. The outer coat is straight and plentiful. It is neither silky or wiry and is harsh. The hair on their head, lower legs, and ears are shorter than on the rest of their body. Their coat requires brushing at least two times per week to keep it healthy and free of mats.

The guard hairs of the coat must be long, well-fitting, straight and abundant. They should not be silky or wiry. The texture should be of medium harshness. Belgian’s undercoat should be extremely dense, commensurate, however, with climatic conditions. Belgian Sheepdogs are particularly adaptable weather climate. Hair is shorter on the head, outside of the ears, and lower part of the legs.

Legs & Feet

Feet are elongated with good padding. Their toes are curved, and nails are strong.

Legs should be parallel and thighs are extremely muscular and broad. The lower and upper thighs should be parallel to the shoulder blade and upper arm and should form a sharp angle at the stifle joint.

Tail & Hindquarters

The tail is extremely strong at the base. When resting, the dog will hold the tail low, with the tip bent back. When in action the tail will rise and it has a curt to it that tips towards the tip.

General Statistics

  • Life Expectancy: 12- 14 years
  • Male Height (at the withers):  24-26 inches (60 cm – 66 cm)
  • Female Height (at the withers): 22-24 inches (55 cm – 60 cm)
  • Weight Male:  55-75 lbs (24 kg – 34 kg)
  • Weight Female: 45-60 lbs (20 kg – 27 kg)

Recommended Dog House Dimensions

The recommended dog house dimensions can be found on the dog house dimensions charts for 440 recognized breeds which includes this dog breed that looks like a wolf.  But to save you time, here are our dog house minimum size recommendations:

  • Door Height: 28.6 inches (72 cm)
  • Door Width: 18.2 inches (46 cm)
  • Inside Ceiling Height: 35.1 inches ( 89 cm)
  • Interior House Length: 57.2 inches (145 cm)
  • Interior House Width: 36.4 inches (92 cm)

Expected Costs

Breed Average Puppy Cost: $1.100 USD

Starter Costs: $2,500

This is our estimate for initial purchase, shots and a few things like food, a bed, leash, that sort of thing.  Basically, this will get you set up but the costs will be greater once the dog is old enough to get spayed or neutered.

Anticipated Annual Care Cost: $500- $1000

How The Belgian Sheepdog Reacts To

Babies/Children: 

Belgian Sheepdogs are great with children and babies more so if they are raised with them. They do love their families and therefore will protect them. Remember that this dog is a herding dog, so it may try to herd small children. You will have to train the dog not to do this.

Adult Belgian Sheepdogs that are not familiar with children should be with a family that has older kids that know how to act around a dog.

Always remember to never leave a child and dog alone unsupervised.

Other Dogs:   

A Belgian Sheepdog will do well with other dogs if they are raised with them. They could even become great friends and protect them just like they would their human family. Keep in mind, however, that the Belgian Sheepdog may become aggressive to dogs that are not part of their pack.

Remember that in order for your Belgian Sheepdog to along best with other dogs they should be introduced early and treats given for good behavior around other dogs.

It is up to you to keep your Belgian Sheepdog under control in the presence of other dogs if your dog has not been socialized with dogs.

Cats: 

Good news cat lovers! A Belgian Sheepdog will get along with a cat, and wait for it…..even become best friends! That’s right, best friends. It is best though to have the two raised together as a pack. Even if your dog has not been raised with your cat they can still be friends, it just may take a while and there will have to be lots of introductions.

Other Animals:

The Belgian Sheepdog can be aggressive towards other animals if they have not been raised with them. They will, however, treat their animal family just like their human family.

Care Requirements

Exercise 

Being a herding dog, Belgian Sheepdog requires a great deal of exercise every day. This kind and sensitive soul loves to around its family, so letting them out in the backyard alone for a few hours will not cut it. If you are planning on owing a Belgian Sheepdog then expect to be part of the dog’s daily physical activity. Types of activities you can expect are long runs, playing fetch with a ball or you can get into dog sports. Dog sports are a great way for a dog to get its daily exercise and to help it stay physically and mentally healthy. Belgians excel in sports like flyball, agility, tracking and herding competitions just to name a few.

Grooming & Coat Info

Belgian Sheepdogs have a beautiful black coat. The coat consists of a dense undercoat with a harsh outer coat. Their coats are actually very easy to take care of. Well, that is during the non-shedding season. During the non-shedding season, the coat only requires brushing once a week. They do not really need baths unless they get into some mud or something like that. Be prepared for heavy shedding at least once a year. During this time the coat needs to be brushed daily to remove the copious amount of dead hair. Just like with all canines, the Belgian Sheepdog’s nails should be cut on the regular to avoid long nails that can cause discomfort to your dog along with walking issues.

Health & Nutrition

The Belgian Sheepdog is a generally healthy canine and does not have any major health concerns. A good breeder will screen their breeding pack for health issues such as elbow and hip dysplasia, cataracts and cancer. Should your Belgian ever need surgery please keep in mind they are very sensitive to anesthesia. Talk to your veterinarian to get full information on this.

Belgian Sheepdogs will do very well on a high-quality dog food. Visit your veterinarian in order to get the best brand for your dog’s needs. If you decide you would like to feed your dog human food, then make sure you know what is safe and what isn’t. If you are unsure call your veterinarian to get a list of safe and unsafe human foods for dogs.

Training

With Belgian Sheepdogs, puppy-training and socialization classes are recommended because it helps them grow into a very well behaved dog. These classes help with building a strong bond with your Belgian and trains them for good behavior. Luckily for you, the Belgian Sheepdog is extremely smart and loves to please their human handlers, so they catch on to training rather quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Belgian Sheepdogs Good Family Pets?

The answer to this question is yes. These dogs make wonderful family pets because they love to please and spending time with their humans. This dog also gets just great with children. Belgian Sheepdogs also make great guard dogs and will protect their family including other pets in the home. Belgians are best suited for families that are active because this dog needs a lot of physical activity.

What Are The Four Types of Belgian Sheepdogs?

The four Belgian Sheepdogs are

  • Groenendael, aka Belgian Sheepdog (longhaired black)
  • Tervuren (longhaired fawn/mahogany)
  • Malinois (shorthaired fawn/mahogany)
  • Laekenois (roughhaired fawn)

Bibliography

  1. The Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds – D. Caroline Coile. Ph. D.
  2. American Kennel Club
  3. Wikipedia –
  4. The Kennel Club UK1
  5. Belgian Sheepdog Club of America

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