About the Breed
The Belgian Sheepdog is one of four varieties of herding dogs that come from Belgium. The other three are the Belgian Malinois, Belgian Tervuren, and the Belgian Laekenois.
In his native land and outside of the United States, he is often referred to as the Groenendael, and the term Belgian Shepherd refers to the whole class of dogs.
While in some countries, the Belgian Sheepdog or Groenendael is classified as a separate breed from the other three Belgian herding breeds, it is generally accepted that the breeds are almost the same with only slight variations.
The primary difference between the four breeds is the coat and/or coloration. His primary focus has always been that of a herding dog breed, and he can excel in this capacity, although less frequently done now.
Today, he is more of a versatile, well-rounded breed of dog capable of working in a variety of areas from search and rescue, police work, performance sports, and companion.
The other three are the Belgian Malinois, Belgian Tervuren, and the Belgian Laekenois.
The Belgian Sheepdog is built like the other three Belgian breeds structurally. He is about 22-26 inches tall and is considered a larger breed of dog. He is squarely constructed and should be balanced appearing.
While he is strong, he is not overly muscled as some other breeds are. He has an attentive, curious expression that always is ready to do something.
This version of the Belgian Shepherds is different in that he is primarily solid black. He may have a small patch of white hair on his chest, but his coloration is black.
He also has a thick, long coat. He is a double-coated breed with a soft, dense undercoat and a long, straight guard hair layer for the topcoat.
The breed is a wonderfully devoted family companion that is at home with all ages of people. He bonds tightly and loyally to those he lives with and is naturally protective of them.
He does well with children, provided they are gentle with him. An owner must want to make the Belgian Sheepdog an integral part of the family as he will desire to be near at all times and will follow you from room to room. He doesn’t do well with social isolation.
The breed is brilliant, which makes them easy to train. It also means he needs to be kept busy with mental and physical stimulation. They usually are higher energy dogs, and you will need to exercise them daily with walks, jogging, other activities, playtime, etc. He is not for someone wanting a couch potato-style dog.
They can do well with other dogs and animals within a family provided they are properly socialized as young dogs and have the proper introduction.
He will most likely be reserved or aloof with strangers until he finds them to be a friend.
The Belgian Sheepdog is an intelligent, trainable breed. He wants to please his owner very much. He does best with very positive training methods, and he can’t handle harsh or punitive training methods.
He is very sensitive in the spirit, which you can easily break with harsh methods. This breed requires a lot of socialization early on and continuing into adulthood.
He is naturally protective of his family and home. Early exposure to people and situations helps him understand what is ‘okay.’
For the person wanting a nice training companion, he excels in various performance sports and makes an excellent choice.
Shedding & Grooming
The Belgian Sheepdog has a lush coat that does shed and does require regular upkeep. A quality pin brush run through his coat weekly will help avoid any tangle development, and then heavier brushing during seasonal shedding will help keep it to a minimum.
He doesn’t require anything except regular nail trims, tooth brushing, and the occasional bath.
Health & Life Expectancy
The average lifespan of a Belgian Sheepdog is approximately 10-14 years of age. While a relatively healthy breed of dog, there are a few health problems that may be encountered:
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Progressive retinal atrophy