The Belgian Shepherd is unique in every way. This breed has four varieties, each of which has its own features – bright, remarkable and therefore appreciated by many dog breeders.
- Brief information
- Breed characteristics
- History of the Belgian Shepherd breed
- Appearance of the Belgian Shepherd
- The character of the Belgian Shepherd
- Education and training
- Care and maintenance
- Health and diseases of the Belgian Shepherd
- How to choose a puppy
- How much does a Belgian Shepherd dog cost
- Breed name: Belgian Shepherd
- Country of Origin: Belgium
- The time of the birth of the breed: 1891
- Weight: males 25-30 kg, females 20-25 kg
- Height (height at the withers): males 60-66 cm, females 56-62 cm
- Belgian Shepherds are perfect keepers in every way. Dogs fearlessly protect the property entrusted to them and, if necessary, raise a ringing bark.
- Representatives of the breed are famous for mobility and therefore need regular active walks for at least one hour a day.
- The dog gets along well with other animals, but in the case of cats and small decorative rodents, problems may still arise.
- The Belgian Shepherd is quite suitable for a family with children, but do not expect an enthusiastic participation in games from the pet.
- Dogs need early socialization and proper upbringing, which are better carried out under the strict guidance of a professional.
- Belgian Shepherds have high intelligence and are perfectly amenable to training if the owner is strong enough in character.
- Of all breed categories, only the malinois does not need careful grooming.
- The Shepherd is not suitable for novice dog breeders.
Belgian Shepherd embodies the love of freedom and an indomitable thirst for life, which are visible to the naked eye. These traits have been inherent in the breed since the beginning of its existence, when sheepdogs were used as watchmen and shepherds, while coping with the task perfectly. To this day, animals successfully realize their potential in many areas of public life. At the same time, the dogs have gained fame as friendly companions who will accompany their owner during walks, morning running or just going to the store. This breed is not the easiest to handle, but if you have a huge experience of dog breeding, go for it!
History of the Belgian Shepherd breed
It would seem that the history of this shepherd dog should go back to antiquity. And indeed: even in the written sources of the XVII century, there are mentions of four-legged helpers of shepherds who watched over numerous flocks. Thus, the first description of Belgian shepherds (or at least dogs very similar to them) dates back to 1650. However, in fact, the breed is relatively young and has existed for a little more than a hundred years. How is this possible?
Everything is explained by the fact that in ancient times there were no people who purposefully engaged in breeding sheep dogs. Moreover, the breed was not considered prestigious. Representatives of the European aristocracy did not bother to create kennel clubs, while their faithful preferred to keep representatives of other breeds as pets. The lion's share of sheep dog breeding fell on peasants, who attached great importance to the working qualities of dogs, and not to their attractive exterior.
By the second half of the XIX century, sheepdogs were already distinguished by a huge palette of colors, but they were still valued only for their purpose – the ability to herd flocks, if necessary, gather sheep together and protect them from attacks by wild animals. The attitude of Belgian farmers to these incredibly intelligent dogs was no exception. Everything changed with the beginning of the industrial Revolution.
That moment was a turning point: the Belgian economy was being created anew, and the accelerated pace of urbanization forced rural residents to move to larger cities. This negatively affected the popularity of herding dog breeds, which have lost their importance.
The Belgian Shepherd owes its appearance to the wave of nationalism that swept Europe in the XIX century. At that time, many countries sought to create a dog breed that would become their national treasure and radically different from others. The end of September 1891 was marked by the creation of the BSDC cynological organization in Brussels – the Belgian Shepherd Lovers Club. In November of the same year, the first dog show was held in the city of Kyurgam, where more than a hundred animals were presented. Among the guests of the event was Professor Adolf Rijul, who was engaged in the study of dogs and in the future planned to present a certain breed for each region of Belgium.
Only a third of the sheepdogs present at the exhibition were recommended by scientists for further breeding. Riyul selected medium–sized animals, while not paying attention to the length and structure of the coat - only its quality mattered. In 1892, the professor introduced the first Belgian Shepherd breed standard to the world. The breeding of dogs lasted about two decades. Initially, dog handlers identified three varieties of the breed depending on the color. This prompted the dog breeders, whose wards did not correspond to any of the three categories, to create a separate kennel club and continue the independent breeding of animals. The confrontation lasted for several years, until there was a merger of clubs and, as a result, a change in the breed standard. To this day , it provides for four categories of dogs:
1. Grunendal – black color with medium length hair. They owe their name to a small village near Brussels.
2. Lakenua is an ash–gray color with a long coat. The breed variety is named after the historical district of Laeken in the north of the capital.
3. Malinois – charcoal or brown-yellow color with short hair. Inherited the name from the town of Malina (Mechelen).
4. Tervuren is a coal–red color with a long coat. The name of this breed category comes from the town of Tervuren, 8 km from the capital.
The controversy regarding Belgian shepherds has not subsided to this day. Some breeders believe that these are different breeds of dogs, the Federation of Dog Handlers – that one and the same. In general, it is customary to adhere to the second point of view.
The next stage on the way to the formation of the breed was the appeal of breeders to one of the largest cynological organizations of that time – the Royal Society of St. Hubert (RSSH). The application for recognition of the breed was rejected. Only after the final modernization of the standards in 1901, the Belgian Shepherd was officially recognized and registered by the members of the RSSH. For each of the four varieties, standards were formulated that fixed mainly the color and length of the coat.
Since the beginning of the XX century, representatives of the breed were among the first to join the Belgian police. At the same time, sheepdogs were used to patrol the borders of the state and catch smugglers. In 1907, Grunendali appeared in the United States. A year later, representatives of the breed were already actively patrolling the streets of France.
During the First World War, Belgian Shepherds played an equally important role. The animals responsibly performed guard duty, were military postmen, helped pick up the wounded from the battlefield. It was at that time that people took a different look at the breed and saw important features in it: courage, loyalty and strength. Gradually, Belgian Shepherds have earned the love of the whole world. However, it is worth noting that the popularity of the breed is uneven. The most preferred are Grunendal and malinois.
Video: Belgian Shepherd
Appearance of the Belgian Shepherd
The Belgian Shepherd belongs to large breeds of dogs. These animals look elegant and harmonious, despite their rather large dimensions. So, the height of males at the withers reaches 61-66 cm, while females usually grow up to 56-61 cm.
The weight of Belgian Shepherds varies between 20-30 kg. Minor deviations from this standard are acceptable.
Head and skull
The dog's head is folded harmoniously, but at the same time it looks rather dry. Moderately elongated, set high. The skull is proportional to the head in all respects. The forehead of the animal is flattened and does not have a pronounced midline. When the head of the Belgian Shepherd is turned in profile, it becomes noticeable that the lines of the muzzle and forehead are parallel to each other. Cheekbones are poorly defined, but at the same time they are distinguished by developed musculature. The same applies to the brow ridges of the animal.
The shepherd's muzzle is not much longer than the skull and gradually tapers towards the end. The stop is moderate. The nostrils are wide open, the nose has a rich black pigmentation. Thin lips are tightly pressed to the jaws, the mucous membrane is characterized by the absence of pink areas.
Are planted high, have an almost perfect triangular shape. Their tips are pointed, while the auricles are smoothly rounded at the base. When the Belgian Shepherd is alarmed by something, the ears stand upright and straight.
are medium in size and almond-shaped. The pigmentation of the iris is brown, and the richer it is, the better. The eyelids are "summed up" in black. Belgian Shepherds have a lively and inquisitive look, from which not a single important detail will escape.
Jaws and teeth
White teeth are tightly sunk in well-developed jaws. The standard provides for scissor and straight bite (the latter is less preferred, but is increasingly being chosen by shepherds). The dental formula is complete. The absence of the first premolars is not considered a defect.
The straight and rather elongated neck of the Belgian Shepherd is set high and is characterized by the absence of suspension. It expands to the shoulder blades, has a smoothly curved nape.
The massive trunk of the animal does not look heavy and is distinguished by the observance of certain proportions. So, in males, the length of the body corresponds to the height; in females, the first parameter may be slightly larger. The chest is of moderate width, but at the same time it is voluminous, as in all dogs, which are characterized by excellent endurance. The ribs are smoothly curved. The pronounced withers turns into a straight line of the top. The abdomen is relatively tightened, the croup is located under a slight slope. The musculature is embossed.
of medium length, has a wide base. In a calm state, the animal keeps its tail lowered, only the tip is slightly curved upwards at the level of the hocks. In motion, the tail rises, while not bending and not taking the form of a hook.
The strong limbs of the Shepherd have a strong backbone and well-developed musculature. Long shoulder blades and shoulders form a fairly wide angle for elbow movement. The forearms are surrounded by strong muscles. Short pasterns turn into rounded paws with curved and tightly clenched fingers. The strong claws have a rich dark pigmentation.
Are located perpendicular to the ground. Wide hips and lower legs are characterized by moderate musculature. At the same time, the latter are bent to the hock joints sufficiently. The presence of dewclaws is undesirable. The paws have an almost oval shape due to the compressed fingers, which end in fleshy pads.
Manner of movement
The Belgian Shepherd is very active and in motion has a habit of capturing a considerable space. At the same time, due to its temperament, the dog does not adhere to a direct direction. The preferred pace is a calm step and trot, less often a gallop. The movements are springy and lively.
Despite the existence of four categories of breed, in all cases, the hair of dogs differs in density and density. This is where the similarities of the varieties of the Belgian Shepherd Dog end:
1. Grunendal is the owner of a long smooth coat with a thick undercoat that protects the dog from adverse weather. There is no glossy shine of the hairs.
2. Lakenua is characterized by a hard and rough-to-the-touch coat, which is often ruffled. On the limbs and muzzle of the animal, the wool cover is much shorter.
3. Malinois is a short–haired type of breed. A longer coat is acceptable around the animal's neck (where it forms a small collar from the ears to the throat), on the hips (feathering) and tail.
4. Tervuren's coat type is similar to Grunendahl's, but on the head and lower extremities the wool cover is much shorter. Eyebrows, mustache and beard are noticeable on the muzzle.
The color of the animal depends on its belonging to a particular category:
1. The coat of the Grunendal is saturated black. At the same time, white points may be present on the chest and fingers.
2. Lakenua has a reddish color interspersed with white. On the muzzle and tail, a darker shade of wool is acceptable.
3. Malinois – owners of reddish-charcoal wool. The muzzle and ears of the animal are framed by a black "mask".
4. The color of the tervuren is similar to malinois, but the dog's coat is as long as Grunendal's. The chest and fingers can be marked in white.
Any deviation from the breed standard is considered a defect. Among the most common:
- partial pigmentation of the eyelids, nose and lips;
- cowardly or aggressive behavior;
- weakened hocks;
- light pigmentation of the iris of the eyes;
- asymmetric "mask" on the muzzle;
- lack of thick undercoat;
- minor undershot;
- hook-shaped tail;
- straight shoulders.
The disqualifying vices of Belgian shepherds include:
- docked tail or its absence from birth;
- overly aggressive or cowardly character;
- white points on the body (except fingers and chest);
- artificially placed or hanging ears;
- pronounced overbite or underbite;
- absence of three premolars;
The character of the Belgian Shepherd
The Belgian Shepherd is a very multifaceted breed for the reason that each of the four categories has its own unique character. At first it doesn't catch the eye. However, when communicating directly with Belgian shepherds of all types, you will easily notice that they behave a little differently, although in general they combine individual characteristics of each other.
Grunendahl is perfect for the role of a guard dog. From the close attention of the shepherd dog, not a single offender will escape, about the appearance of which she will notify others with loud barking. The feeling of fear or timidity towards strangers is not inherent in Grunendahl. However, in the presence of the family, the shepherd shows caution and does not immediately gain confidence in the person he sees for the first time in his life. Otherwise, the Grunendal is a mobile animal, which is famous for its tendency to take care of and take care of every member of its family. The ideal environment for this Belgian Shepherd dog will be people who prefer to lead an active lifestyle and thereby give her the opportunity to stretch her paws to her heart's content. Otherwise, Grunendahl will splash out the accumulated energy on his own – and not always in the right direction. Give your pet a game with a ball or a frisbee, engage him in practicing herding and searching skills – and there will be no limits to the happiness of your Belgian!
Lakenua combines contradictory qualities: playfulness and seriousness, vigilance and detachment, the desire to roll mountains and the desire to curl up at the feet of the owner. Like Grunendahl, this type of Belgian Shepherd copes well with its guard duties and, if necessary, will engage in a fierce battle with the enemy, wanting to protect the owner. Lakenua gets along well with other pets in the event that he grew up side by side with them. However, it is better to refrain from decorative rats, chinchillas, hamsters or parrots. As for the pastime, the Belgian Lakenois prefer active walks in the fresh air, during which it is necessary to give the animal certain physical activity.
Malinois, like its brethren, needs a regular "shake-up" to splash out the accumulated energy. Otherwise, it is quite balanced and obedient dog that will follow the owner on his heels and greedily catch his every word. The Belgian malinois is not the kind of pet that prefers solitude and peaceful sleep in a remote corner of the apartment. The owner of a shepherd dog should pay her as much attention as possible, while remaining a strict but loving owner. However, the first may not be necessary: among all the varieties of the breed, Malinois has gained fame as a dog with the most accommodating character.
Tervuren, on the contrary, is known for his impulsive and lively temperament. It is noteworthy that initially these animals were distinguished by a timid and shy character, which was almost completely eradicated as a result of proper breeding selection. Belgian Tervuren actively react to any stimulus, so in the blink of an eye they get involved in a fun game with the owner or in pursuit of his abuser. By the way, this Shepherd has an extreme degree of attachment to only one of the family members, so becoming this very person is your main task. Tervuren do not tolerate loneliness and always try to compensate for it with torn slippers or a broken vase.
Of the common character traits inherent in all varieties of the breed, distinguish:
- the ability of the dog to make decisions independently;
- sensitivity – the Belgian Shepherd reacts sharply to any critical remark of the owner;
- excellent adaptation to new conditions;
- tendency to dominate other animals.
Education and training
The Belgian Shepherd belongs to those breeds of dogs that need proper socialization. At the same time, it should be started from the puppy age. Arm yourself with insight: it will help you to feel and understand the psychology of a pet. If you are not confident in your abilities, consult a dog breeder with many years of experience in breeding and keeping Belgian Shepherds. Note: bitches are more docile and calm than males who like to demonstrate an independent character.
It is recommended to start raising a puppy from the very first day of his appearance in the house. At first, you should not tire the baby with long walks and active games. If the Belgian is blissfully stretched out on his favorite litter and anticipates a long-awaited rest, there is no need to bother the baby in vain. He has yet to learn how to respond to a nickname, walk next to you on a harness and not relieve himself before the set time.
Your pet's nickname should be brief and associated only with positive emotions. Do not address the puppy by name, making a remark or scolding for spoiled things. In this case, the baby will reluctantly respond to the nickname, because he will expect unpleasant actions from you in advance.
As for the training of the Belgian Shepherd dog, there are nuances here that depend on the type of breed.
For Grunendahl, there is no better occupation than to perform the tasks assigned to him. The dog perceives training as a game with benefits, so it does not create additional problems. However, the independent nature of the animal can become an obstacle to achieving the goal (especially for a gentle person). Start training at the earliest possible age and refrain from long breaks, otherwise you will never achieve obedience from your pet. In rare cases, it may require the intervention of a professional who will direct the activities of the Belgian Shepherd in the right direction.
Lakenua lends itself to many types of training and gladly takes up the activity offered by the owner, whether it is running with obstacles or chasing prey. This dog is famous for its indefatigability: rather, you will get tired of inventing new tasks for your pet. Positive training methods are your main weapon. Excessive persistence and strict tone will have the opposite effect: the animal will not listen to your commands. The Belgian lakenua is the most malleable material: it can be used to raise a police dog, a brave rescuer or a wonderful security guard.
In addition to competent training, malinois needs regular training on the site of young animals. So the dog will not only get used to communicating with his relatives, but also learn how to correctly execute commands under the guidance of a professional trainer. Malinois quickly assimilate new information due to their observation and highly developed intelligence. However, these same traits can play a cruel joke with the owner of the animal if he cannot devote enough time to the shepherd. As in the case of Grunendahl and lakenua, Belgian malinois need early training.
Tervuren strives for dominance and independence more than other varieties of Belgian Shepherds. These dogs need an intensive course of obedience training. It is necessary to avoid excessive despotism and rudeness: the animal will take such behavior of the owner with hostility – and you can forget about unquestioning obedience. Consistency, patience and justice are your faithful companions in pet training.
Care and maintenance
The care of the Belgian Shepherd is very laborious – mainly because of the dog's coat. Representatives of the breed shed twice a year – in summer and in winter, so during this period it is necessary to comb the dog more carefully. The rest of the time, it is enough to repeat the procedure once or twice a week, depending on the age of the animal. At the same time, it is not recommended to purchase a comb with frequent teeth: these devices will not provide delicate removal of dead hairs. Combing the dog, drive the comb slowly and in the direction of the wool: this will help to avoid torn clumps.
Please note: The care of the Belgian Shepherd varies depending on which category the dog belongs to.
Grunendahl is prone to very abundant molting, so be prepared to find wool everywhere: on clothes, in bed and even on the kitchen table. During this period, the dog should be combed every day.
Lakenua – the lucky owner of curly hair – needs to be trimmed twice a year to make the animal look neat and well-groomed. For combing, it is better to buy a massage brush with hard and sparse teeth.
Of all types of Belgian shepherds, Malinois is the most unpretentious in care, because its coat is short and smooth. Brush your pet once a week. This is enough to remove dead hairs and give the dog a presentable appearance.
Tervuren's double coat is prone to frequent formation of tangles, so it is recommended to comb the shepherd dog at least twice a week. In addition, you will have to periodically cut the fur on your paws between your fingers.
Try to bathe the Belgian Shepherd dog as little as possible: even special shampoos can cause the animal's coat to lose its rigidity and pleasant matte finish. If it seems to you that the pet stinks of a "dog", use special means to eliminate the unpleasant smell.
Regularly inspect the dog's eyes and ears for secretions. To remove them, it is necessary to use a cotton swab soaked in warm water or tea leaves. In case of infectious diseases, you should immediately contact a veterinarian.
Since the Belgian Shepherd spends a lot of time outdoors, its claws are worn off on their own. In rare cases, you may need a claw cutter for large breeds. After shortening the claws, walk along their sharp edges with a nail file to remove the notches.
Oral care of the animal is no less important. To clean your teeth, you need to purchase a special brush or a finger attachment. It is categorically not recommended to use "human" toothpaste: hygiene products for dogs are sold in almost every pet store.
As for the diet of the Belgian Shepherd, it should be varied. The full development of the dog is provided by proteins of animal and vegetable origin. Carbohydrates are no less important – the main source of energy for your pet. Fats also play a similar role. If you prefer to feed the dog with natural food, it is necessary to "dilute" it with a vitamin-mineral complex, without which the animal's body will not function properly. Pay attention to the fact that dry food is poorly absorbed by the digestive system of the shepherd and can cause bloating or cramps.
When feeding an animal, it is important to adhere to a certain regime. Try to fill the pet's bowl at a strictly set time – and you will not have to feel like a callous person, ignoring the dog's plaintive look directed at the next treat.
Don't treat the Belgian Shepherd:
- river fish in any form;
- dairy products;
- raw meat and eggs;
- fruits with pits;
- tubular bones;
- yeast dough;
There should always be clean water in the bowl of the animal, which must be changed regularly. It is undesirable to give water directly from the tap; let it infuse for 6-8 hours.
Health and diseases of the Belgian Shepherd
The Belgian Shepherd is the owner of strong immunity, which is supported by timely vaccination of the animal and regular checkups at the veterinarian. However, some diseases are still more common than others. Among them are:
- thyroid hormone deficiency;
- cramps and bloating;
- joint dysplasia;
- inversion of the intestines;
Belgian Shepherds are prone to obesity, so you should not overfeed your pet, no matter how tearfully he asks to fill the bowl.
How to choose a puppy
Choosing a four–legged toddler is a responsible step, regardless of which breed you eventually preferred. First of all, ask the breeder to introduce you to the parents of the puppies. This will allow you to understand what qualities and character traits you can count on when taking a baby from this litter. Pay attention to the age of the puppies. Ideally, they are weaned from their mother at two months. By that time, the Belgian Shepherd had already formed a holistic picture of the world, and mental health is beyond doubt.
Now you can start getting to know the furry toddlers. Look for the most active and lively: he will definitely not give you trouble, often being ill or unwilling to take part in games and education. Excessive timidity and sluggish behavior should alert the potential owner of the Belgian Shepherd.
And finally: do not buy a puppy at one of the bird markets, where they will certainly try to attract a low price. In the future, you will spend a lot more money traveling to the best veterinary clinics in the city.
Photos of Belgian Shepherd puppies
How much does a Belgian Shepherd dog cost
This breed is notable for the fact that the price of a dog is determined not only by the class (show, breed or pet), but also by the variety to which the shepherd belongs. Belgian Grunendal puppies cost their future owners $250 and above. The price of malinois reaches $400, and tervuren – up to $600. At the same time, Lakenua puppies require truly fabulous money: this is the least common type of Belgian Shepherd in Russia.
Price indicators vary depending on the region and the kennel where dogs are bred, so do not despair: you will surely meet the offer that perfectly meets expectations!