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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 his looks have much 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 miniature black lion. You 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 out of Belgium that has earned a strong reputation for being extremely loyal and brave. This is why adopting a Belgian Sheepdog can often be an excellent decision for many individuals and families. But this does not mean that this breed will be suitable for everyone. For this reason, we wanted to take a moment 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 into our discussion of this remarkable 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. Farmers have bred herding dogs to keep the sheep and cattle together and chase away small animals that destroy crops, such as badgers and other vermin. 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:

At this point, Belgians across the country began associating 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 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 World War I that people first realized what a special breed he was, and he soon became a famous 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 most significant 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 after that. Ironically, though, it wasn’t until 1959 that the AKC recognized the individual “types” of “Belgian Sheepdogs” as individual breeds. If you are us here at IndulgeYourPet, it seems a “bit” silly because it doesn’t allow a “canine expert” to see that the:

They are all different-looking animals, even if they may have similar ancient ancestry!

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. This thick fur will extend to his tail and the back of his legs. And while it is true that the Belgian Sheepdog does have a ton of hair, 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 brushing 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 robust, squarish, or “block” body and a wedge-like head. You’ll also probably notice his deep dark brown eyes and triangular ears. They are hard to miss. Plus, like all shepherds or herding dogs, he moves in extensive circles and never in a straight line. They’re almost always on the “prowl,” ready to act!

Personality and 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 of a threat. He is very protective of his human family, especially of the children. He is big enough to defend you against an attacker, making him an ideal companion dog for single women.

Belgian Sheepdog is excellent with kids…

Mainly if raised as a puppy in a household full of kids. Now, we should not do that because the Belgian Sheepdog is a “medium to large” dog that does have “herding” tendencies; unless adequately trained, they might want to chase and or nip small “running” children. 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 they may not have been raised or socialized with small children. Introducing a Belgian Sheepdog may not be the best choice in cases like these, so you’ll always want to know as much as possible about the “history” of any rescue dog you adopt.

On the Plus side…

Any Belgian Sheepdog will be VERY Trainable, so if you have a CRAZY Belgian Sheepdog on your hands six months after you adopted one, you may be at fault!

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 and naturally chases small animals, including cats.

 Training is essential…

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 a lot of exercise. If you’re looking to lose weight, 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 will NOT be the “right” dog for you.

Potential Health Concerns

The Belgian Sheepdog breed is mostly pretty healthy even though they are purebred. That said, however, there is a potential for him to pick up some hereditary diseases, which is why you’ll want to get the dog only from a breeder willing to provide you with proof 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.

Why is this important? It’s important because even though the Belgian Sheepdog breed is pretty healthy, they are known to suffer from the following diseases…

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 be worth it.

Now, will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?

Probably not. But how can you make that determination if you don’t know what one might cost you? This is why we here at IndulgeYourPet have also taken the time to write our 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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