Belgian Shepherd
Portrait of a Dog

About the Belgian Shepherd

The Belgian Shepherd (also known as the Belgian Sheepdog or Chien de Berger Belge) is a breed of medium-to-large-sized herding dog. It originated in Belgium and is similar to other sheep herding dogs from that region, including the Dutch Shepherd Dog, the German Shepherd Dog, the Briard and others. Four types have been identified by various registries as separate breeds or varieties: Groenendael, Laekenois, Tervuren, and Malinois.

The Malinois is a breed of dog, sometimes classified as a variety of the Belgian Shepherd Dog rather than as a separate breed. The Malinois is recognized in the United States under the name Belgian Malinois. Its name is the French word for Mechlinian, which is in Dutch either Mechelse herdershond (shepherd dog from Mechelen) or Mechelaar (one from Mechelen). These dogs are popular for K-9 use in police departments, as are German Shepherds. Like all Belgian Shepherds, the Malinois is a medium-sized and square-proportioned dog in the sheepdog family. The Malinois has a short mahogany coat with black markings. It has black erect ears and a black muzzle. It has a square build in comparison to the German Shepherd. In Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and other European countries, as well as in the United States, Canada and Australia, the Malinois is bred primarily as a working dog for personal protection, detection, police work, search and rescue, and sport work (Belgian Ring, Schutzhund, French Ring, Mondio Ring). Well-raised and trained Malinois are usually active, friendly, protective and hard-working. Belgian Malinois exhibit energy levels that are among the highest of all dog breeds. A typical Malinois will have puppy-like energy until the age of three, though it is not uncommon for them to exhibit this energy level until the age of five.

Both the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd are part of the sheepdog family. They have had a long and strong association with human beings helping them to herd sheep on the hilly pastures of Europe. In recent years both these breeds have also been introduced into the police forces and security agencies of many European countries including Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.Many home owners also make use of the German shepherds and the Belgian Malinois as guard dogs for their homes. Hence we see that with regards to their purpose both these breeds have occupied a similar position with human beings. The Belgian Malinois and the German shepherd make it to the top ten list of the most popular breeds in the world. On first appearance both of them actually seem quite familiar. In terms of their character both of them display a high level of confidence, intelligence, loyalty and alertness which is why they serve as excellent guard dogs. Both these kinds of dogs like to keep busy with a job that they are given to do.

The Groenendael is recognized by all major kennel clubs. In the United States it is recognized under the name Belgian Sheepdog. Like all Belgian Shepherds, the Groenendael is a medium-sized, hard-working, square-proportioned breed of dog in the sheepdog family. The Groenendael is recognized by its distinctive black coat. The Groenendael should be athletic, strong, imposing, rustic, and balanced in appearance. It should look natural, never as though it has been prepared just for the show ring. The groenendael has a thick, double coat. The texture should be hard and dense, never woolly, silky, frizzy, fine, or wiry. The undercoat should be thick and profuse. In conformation shows, dogs without an undercoat are heavily penalized. The Groenendael is (very) intelligent, active, loyal and quietly affectionate. Groenendaels are not a breed for the faint of heart. However for those who have plenty of time, energy, confidence and love, they are wonderful friends. Training and socializing is essential. They are wary of strangers and protective. They love children as long as they are introduced to them at an early age. The Groenendael bonds deeply to its people and cannot live outdoors or in a kennel. It needs to spend time with its family every day and may experience separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time.

The Laekenois is a breed of dog, sometimes classified as a variety of the Belgian Shepherd Dog rather than as a separate breed. Laekenois is pronouned as ""Lak-in-wah". This breed is not fully recognized in the United States. However, they can be shown in Britain, Canada, Australia, and throughout Europe. Like all Belgian Shepherds, the Laekenois is a medium-sized, hard-working, square-proportioned dog in the sheepdog family with sharply triangular ears. The Laekenois is recognized by its woolly brown and white coat, intermixed so as to give a tweedy appearance. Most kennel clubs' standards allow for black shading, principally in muzzle and tail, indicating the presence of the melanistic mask gene. Laekenois can compete in dog agility trials, obedience, showmanship, flyball, tracking, and herding events.

The Tervuren is a member of the Belgian Shepherd Dog family of dog breeds, named after a village in Belgium. Its classification varies, being classified under some breed standards as a breed in its own right, and in others as one of several acceptable variations of the Belgian. It is usually listed within breed standards under one or other, or a combination, of these names. Tervurens are highly energetic, intelligent dogs who require a job to keep them occupied. This can be herding, obedience, agility, flyball, tracking, or protection work. As companion animals, Tervurens are loyal and form strong bonds with their family, leading some to be shy around strangers. They are good watch dogs, being very observant and attentive to the slightest change in their environment. Some can be nervous, depending on breeding and early experiences, so care must be taken to adequately socialize Tervuren puppies to a wide variety of people and situations. As with all the Belgian Shepherd Dogs, Tervurens are not generally recommended to first-time dog owners due to their high maintenance level.

--info found at Wikipedia.