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February 4, 2013

Meet the Breed: The Belgian Sheepdog

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Overview:

  • Height: 22"-26”
  • Weight: 44-66 pounds
  • Historical function: Herding, watchdog
  • Modern function: Herding, watchdog, companion, agility, guide dogs, and more
  • AKC classification: Herding

Physical Characteristics:

The Belgian Sheepdog is a proud, squarely built, athletic dog with a long black coat. There may be limited white in the coat as well. There is a ruff of fur around the neck and feathering on the legs, tail and underneath the body. The ears are triangular and upright. The eyes are medium sized, almond shaped, and brown.

History of the Breed:

The Belgian Sheepdog is one of four sheepdogs developed in Belgium. They were first registered in the 1880s. These highly-intelligent dogs were relied upon as messengers, ambulance dogs, and equipment pullers during WWI. With such a distinguished history, its no wonder that they are used as police dogs, guard dogs, herders, trackers, excel at agility, service work, and more.

Temperament:

Ever watchful and on the move, the Belgian Sheepdog tends to move in large circles. He is playful, alert, watchful and protective, a tough, independent and intense dog. He can be aloof with strangers and some can be domineering. This breed is intelligent and biddable, but independent. He is protective of his home and family. Can be a good family dog with children when socialized well and early. Without daily mental and physical exercise, this dog can become destructive.

  • Best suited for: Working conditions with an experienced dog handler who knows how to be a calm but firm leader. 
  • Preferred living conditions: This high-energy dog does best with a job and needs room to move.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: The long coat should be brushed weekly. These dogs are medium shedders with heavy shedding seasonally.
  • Exercise needs: Daily walk and/or run as this working dog is accustomed to a rigorous outdoor lifestyle.
  • Life expectancy: 13-14 years.
  • Health concerns: The Belgian Sheepdog is generally healthy, but do not overfeed as they can be prone to obesity and laziness.

Breed Club Links: The Belgian Sheepdog Club of America

BaxterBoo.com Perfect Pairings: Long Hair FURminator for medium-sized dogs, Hurtta Visibility Dog Vest.

Have any stories about a Belgian Sheepdog? Please share!

Photo courtesy of Mark Kimpel.

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