Belgian Sheepdog Guide

Herding Dog Breeds

The Belgian sheepdog is an elegant, square-proportioned dog that is alert and agile with proud carriage. Its bone is moderately heavy. As a dog expected to herd for long hours, its gait is smooth, tireless and effortless rather than driving. It has a tendency to move in a circle rather than a straight line. It has an extremely dense undercoat along with an outer coat of abundant guard hairs that are long, well-fitting and straight. Its expression is intelligent and questioning; its black coloration is striking.

Ever watchful and on the move, the Belgian sheepdog glides in large circles. It is playful, alert, watchful and protective — a tough, independent and intense dog. It is aloof with strangers and can be aggressive toward other dogs and animals. Some can be domineering. It is intelligent and biddable, but independent. It is protective of its home and family.

AKC RANKING 111

FAMILY livestock, herding

AREA OF ORIGIN Belgium

DATE OF ORIGIN 1800s

ORIGINAL FUNCTION stock herding

TODAY'S FUNCTION herding trials, schutzhund

AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 24-26 Weight: 55-75

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 22-24 Weight: 40-60

OTHER NAME Groenendael, chien de berger Belge

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Energy level High energy

Exercise needs High

Playfullness Very playful

Affection level Somewhat affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly

Friendliness toward other pets Friendly

Friendliness toward strangers Shy

Ease of training Hard to train

Watchdog ability High

Protection ability Very protective

Grooming needs Moderate maintenance

Cold tolerance Medium tolerance

Heat tolerance Medium tolerance

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The Belgian sheepdog needs a good deal of exercise, either a good long jog or a long, strenuous play session. It needs room to move during the day and does best with access to a yard. Although it can live outdoors in temperate to cool climates, it is family-oriented and happier if it can share time in the house with its family. Its double coat needs brushing and combing twice weekly, more when shedding.
• Major concerns: none
• Minor concerns: epilepsy, skin allergies
• Occasionally seen: CHD
• Suggested tests: none
• Life span: 10 – 12 years
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The Belgian sheepdog, Belgian Tervuren and Belgian Malinois began as three local variations of one breed, which was known as the Belgian shepherd or Continental shepherd. The dog that was heir to the name Belgian sheepdog was originally known as the Groenendael variation of the breed. Like all the Belgian shepherds, it was a working farm dog expected to both herd and guard. It differed from the others because it had a rather long, black coat. In 1910 these dogs were officially dubbed Groenendael after the kennel that had selectively bred the black dogs since 1893 (just after the Belgian shepherds were recognized as a breed). By this time, the breed had gained some repute as a police dog and was already employed in this capacity in America. In World War I, they continued to shine as sentry dogs, messengers and even draft dogs. It was here that they captured the attention of the public, and they soon enjoyed a fair amount of popularity after the war. In 1959, the three Belgian shepherd breeds were divided into separate breeds, with the Groenendael subsequently known as the Belgian sheepdog. With its shimmering black coat, it is the most striking of the Belgian breeds, and that fact, along with its versatile abilities, has won it many faithful supporters.
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