Temperament: Bright, Watchful, Serious-Minded
- Height: 24-26 inches (male), 22-24 inches (female)
- Weight: 55-75 pounds (male), 45-60 pounds (female)
- Life Expectancy: 12-14 years
- Group: Herding Group
The Belgian Sheepdog is a highly trainable herder whose versatility and intelligence is the stuff of canine legend. This is a breed built for hard work, and plenty of it. These sensitive souls crave human companionship and abhor neglect.
The first impression of the Belgian Sheepdog is that of a well balanced, square dog, elegant in appearance, with an exceedingly proud carriage of the head and neck. He is a strong, agile, well-muscled animal, alert and full of life. His whole conformation gives the impression of depth and solidity without bulkiness. The male dog is usually somewhat more impressive and grand than his female counterpart. The bitch should have a distinctly feminine look.
About the Belgian Sheepdog
The stirring silhouette of a Belgian Sheepdog conveys both elegance and muscular determination. A handsome feature of the breed is the exceedingly proud carriage of the head and neck. A male might stand 26 inches at the shoulder; females are smaller. The dark eyes sparkle with a questioning intelligence, and the black coat is abundant, from the neck’s “collarette” to the “breeches” of the hindquarters. In all ways, Belgian Sheepdogs are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
In any sport or activity, a Belgian will always give 100 percent. In turn, owners tend to form a special bond with their eager workaholics. As one devotee puts it, Belgians “inspire such intense loyalty because they themselves live and love with such great passion.”
NUTRITION The Belgian Sheepdog should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
GROOMING The Belgian Sheepdog’s double-layer coat, consisting of a dense undercoat and a harder outer coat, is quite easy to take care of — as long as it’s not shedding season. For most of the year, all a Belgian requires is a weekly brushing. Baths can be infrequent unless the dog gets into something messy. At least once a year, though, Belgians shed heavily. When this happens, a thorough brushing every day is required to remove the surprisingly large amount of dead hair. As with all breeds, the Belgian’s nails should be trimmed regularly.
EXERCISE Like so many of the Herding breeds, Belgian Sheepdogs require a good amount of exercise every day. And because the Belgian is a sensitive soul who craves human companionship, just letting him out in the backyard for a couple of hours is not enough. Owners should expect to participate in daily exercise sessions with their Belgians. This might mean playing with a ball or going for a long run, or it could also mean training for and participating in obedience, agility, tracking, or herding competitions, or canine sports such as fly-ball.
TRAINING Socialisation and puppy-training classes are especially important. They promote good behaviour, nip bad habits in the bud, and strengthen the bond between puppy and owner. Fortunately, Belgian Sheepdogs are very intelligent and want nothing more than to make their owners happy, so they take to training quickly.
HEALTH The Belgian Sheepdog is a robust, healthy breed. Responsible breeders will screen their breeding stock for health conditions such as epilepsy, elbow and hip dysplasia, eye issues such as progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts, and certain cancers. Should the need for surgery arise, note that Belgians are particularly sensitive to anaesthesia . As with all breeds, a Belgian’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed regularly.
Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:
- Hip Evaluation
- Elbow Evaluation
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation