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Belgian Sheepdog… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

The Belgian Sheepdog or Groenendael is perhaps the most well known of all Belgian Shepherd dogs and we’re pretty sure that it is his looks have certainly a lot to do with that.

After all…

It’s hard to deny that the Belgian Shepherd dog has a majestic, royal look about him, almost like a mini-lion. You just can’t help noticing him in a crowd, especially with his luxurious black coat, black mask and pointed muzzle.

But there is…

A lot more to him than just that.  You see, the Belgian Sheepdog comes from a long line of sheepdogs originating out of Belgium that have earned a strong reputation of being extremely loyal and brave.

Which is why…

Choosing to adopt a Belgian Sheepdog can often be a great decision for many individuals and families alike.  But this does not mean that this breed will be right for everyone.  Which is why in this article, we wanted to take the time to discuss some of the pros and cons of owning a Belgian Sheepdog so that if you do choose to purchase a Belgian Sheepdog you won’t regret that decision six months from now.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right into our discussion of this awesome dog breed!

Belgian Sheepdog Facts

Country of Origin:  Belgium

Original Purpose: Herding Dog, Guard Dog or Watch Dog

Height:  22 to 26 inches tall

Weight:  40 to 75 pounds

Life Span: 12 to 14 years

Dog Breed Classification:  Herding Dogs

Origin of the Belgian Sheepdog

Herding dogs have always been a part of life in Belgium. There farmers have bred herding dogs for the specific purpose of keeping the sheep and cattle together and to chase away small animal such as badgers and vermin that destroy crops.

This is why…

Way back in 1891, Belgian dog breeders decided to take their work seriously, and chose to “divide” the Belgian herding dogs into four types:

  • The Belgian Tervuren,
  • The Belgian Malinois,
  • The Belgian Laekenois
  • And the Belgian Sheepdog or Groenendael.

At which point, Belgians all across the country began to associate their own “region” with a particular breed which is why each “type” is typically associated with a city or town.

The black-colored…

Belgian Sheepdog is no different as it too soon acquired the name of the kennel where it had been bred since 1893, Groenendael.

The Belgian Sheepdog is a real hero…

The Belgian Sheepdog proved his heroism during the World War I when he was used for various roles by the Allied forces, such as carrying messages under the line of fire, as a sentry/guard dog and even pulling heavy machine guns through the muddy fields along the front lines!

It was during the World War I…

That people first realized what a special breed he was and he soon became a popular companion dog after that, not just in Belgium, but also in the United States.

The Fédération Cynologique Internationale

The breed was “officially” recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale, the biggest international federation of kennel clubs.

The Federation Cynologique, as it is called, was founded in 1911 and is based in the city of Thuin, Belgium. It represents all international kennel clubs except those in the United States, Great Britain, and Australia.

The Belgian Sheepdog Comes to America!

The American Kennel Club first recognized the Belgian Sheepdog in 1912. This was followed by the formation of the Belgian Sheepdog Club shortly thereafter.

Ironically though…

It wasn’t until 1959 that the AKC finally chose to recognize the individual “types” of “Belgian Sheepdogs” as individual breeds.  Which if you as us here at IndulgeYourPet seems a “bit” silly because it doesn’t a “canine expert” to see that the:

  • The Belgian Tervuren,
  • The Belgian Malinois,
  • The Belgian Laekenois
  • And the Belgian Sheepdog or Groenendael.

Are all totally different looking animals even if they may have similar ancient ancestry!

Belgian Sheepdog physical characteristics

As said earlier, it’s easy to identify the Belgian Sheepdog. He has a long black coat with lots of hair, especially around the neck area. This think fur will also extend all the way to his tail and the back of his legs as well.  And while it is true that the Belgian Sheepdog does have a ton of fur, maintaining it isn’t going to be that big of a choir provided that you stay on top of it.  Here at IndulgeYourPet, we typically recommend that you brush his “double coat” at least once or twice a week and when shedding perhaps two or three times a week.

He’s also going to…

Have a strong, squarish or “block” body and a wedge-like head. You’ll also probably notice his deep dark brown eyes and triangular ears as well. Their hard to miss.

Plus…

Like all shepherd dogs or herding dog, he moves in large circles, and never in a straight line.  It’s like they’re almost always on the “prowl” ready to jump into action!

Belgian Sheepdog Temperament

By temperament, the Belgian Sheepdog is very loyal to his human owners. He makes for an excellent police dog or working dog like other shepherds because he will always follow you, no matter where you go.

He is always sharp…

Watchful and alerts you in case there is a threat of any sort. He is very protective of his human family, especially of the children. He is big enough to defend you against an attacker – this makes him an ideal companion dog for single women in particular.

Belgian Sheepdog is great with kids…

Particularly if raised as a puppy in a household full of kids.  Now we should not that because the Belgian Sheepdog is a “medium to large” dog that does have “herding” tendencies, unless properly trained, he or she might want to chase and or nip small “running” children.

Now…

When a Belgian Sheepdog is raised as a puppy in a household full of kinds, this “tendency” can be “contained”.  But if you decide to adopt a Belgian Sheepdog “rescue” it’s possible that he or she may not have been raised or socialized with small children.  In cases like these, introducing a Belgian Sheepdog may not be the best choice which is why you’ll always want to know as much as you can about the “history” of any rescue dog that you do decide to adopt.

On the Plus side…

Any Belgian Sheepdog is going to be VERY Trainable so if you find you have a CRAZY Belgian Sheepdog on your hands six months after you adopted one, chances are YOU may be at fault for that!

What about cats?

 The Belgian Shepherd generally gets along with cats as long as he has been raised with them as a puppy. But he is a herding dog after all and has a natural tendency to chase small animals, including cats.

 Training is very important…

The Belgian Sheepdog has to be trained well right from the time he is a puppy. He responds well to obedience, agility, mental stimulation, tracking, search and rescue and herding training methods.

Start the socialization and training as soon as possible. He is intelligent and a quick learner and there is no trick that he cannot be taught.

Also, he is a very active dog.

He requires a high-calorie diet and lot of exercise. If you’re looking to lose weight yourself, he makes for an excellent pet, as you will find yourself running, hiking and bicycling a lot as he runs alongside you.

Conversely…

If you’re looking for a dog that will be content sitting around the house all day watching TV, look elsewhere, a Belgian Sheepdog is NOT going to be the “right” dog for you.

Are there any health issues you should worry about, when getting a Belgian Sheepdog?

For the most part, the Belgian Sheepdog breed is a pretty healthy breed despite the fact that they are a purebred.  That said however, there is a potential for him to pick up some hereditary diseases.

Which is why…

You’ll want to make sure to get the dog only from a breeder who is willing to provide you with proofs of his health such as DNA testing results. They should also be able to show you that both of the puppy’s parents are healthy.

You should also request the following clearances…

  • OFA clearance for elbows
  • PennHIP or OFA certification for hips
  • Canine Eye Registry Foundation certification for eyes

This is essential for a CHIC certification. If he has a CHIC certification, then you should have no objection to buying him.

Also, you may want to consider purchasing a pet insurance policy as well.

Why is this important?

It’s important because even though the Belgian Sheepdog breed is a pretty health breed, they are known to suffer from the following diseases…

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Cataracts
  • Cryptorchidism
  • Sebaceous Adenitis

And the vet bills can range from $200 to as high as $6,000 to treat these conditions. So… just to be safe, getting a pet insurance policy might just be worth it.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?

Probably not.  But if you don’t at least know what one might cost you, how can you possibly make that determination?  This is why we here at IndulgeYourPet have also taken the time to write our Top 10 Best Pet Insurance Companies article so that our readers can quickly determine if a pet insurance policy is right for them.

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