The Belgian Shepherd breed originates from Belgium, where it was bred for the guarding and protection of livestock. The long coat is a hallmark of the breed, with a thick collar around the neck and bangs on its legs. Dogs of the breed are versatile and intelligent and are noted for their strong work ethic.
Dogs of the breed are medium sized and balanced. The weight ranges between 25 and 34 kilograms in males, while females weigh between 20.5 and 27 kilograms. Males measure between 61 and 66 centimeters, and females around 60 and 61 centimeters. Life expectancy is 12 to 14 years. They belong to Group 1 of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), which groups Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs (except Swiss Cattle Dogs).
Breed history in brief
The Belgian Shepherd originated in Belgium at the end of the 19th century, where they were originally bred to herd and protect livestock. At that time there were eight types of Belgian Shepherd Dogs, however, after being officially classified, there were only the four that we know today: Belgian Shepherd, Tervuren, Laekenosis and Malinois. The breed is also known as Groenendael, this name was used by Nicolas Rose (an important breeder) to name the long-haired black variety that is identified with the modern Belgian Shepherd.
During the First and Second World War they were used as ambulance dogs, messengers and armament carriers. Today, it is one of the most popular breeds in Belgium and around the world for excelling in a variety of roles such as athlete, police, military, searcher, guard or show dog.
The Belgian Shepherd breed is a square, proud and medium sized dog. The male usually shows a more imposing appearance than the female. The size of the head is proportional to the body with brown eyes, of medium size and slightly almond-shaped. The ears are triangular in shape, erect and proportional to the size of the head. The tail is held low at rest, with the tip bent backwards. When the dog is in motion, the tail is raised with a curl, but without forming a hook.
The coat is double, the undercoat is usually extremely dense and adapted to climatic conditions. The outer coat is long, smooth, dense and of medium harshness. The hair is of shorter length on the outside of the ears, the head and the underside of the legs. While, the longer length hair is located on the neck (forming a collar), and has abundant fringe on the back of the forearms, hindquarters and tail. The usual coloration of the Belgian Shepherd is black, which can be solid or combined with small white patches. The coat color can turn reddish as a result of weather conditions.
The Belgian Shepherd is a well-known herd guardian dog, although they also act to protect people and their owners' property. Alertness, loyalty and courage are also qualities to be highlighted in this guard dog. In addition, they are intelligent and possessive dogs, as well as friendly and affectionate with acquaintances. Loneliness and lack of exercise can affect the breed's behavior.
Common health problems
The Belgian Shepherd, with optimal care and attention, can enjoy a long healthy life, although it shows a predisposition to suffer from certain health problems. Among the most common diseases or disorders are epilepsy, cataracts, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, progressive retinal atrophy, retinal dysplasia, X-linked muscular dystrophy and chronic superficial keratitis.
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