The Belgian Sheepdog dog breed was specially developed for herding livestock and offering protection to the animals and people belonging to its household. It is strong and muscular with a graceful and well-proportioned body structure. It is a proud and confident breed, with a majestic physical appearance befitting its attitude. It has excellent skeletal structure and stamina to aid continuous performance for extended periods of time. The structure and color of its coat sets this breed apart from other sheepdog breeds from this country.
Originating in Belgium as the name implies, the Belgian Sheepdog dog breed dates back to the early 19th century. Employed for herding sheep and cattle, this is a typical sheepdog. It shares many of the characteristics of two other sheepdogs from this country, namely, the Belgian Tervuren and the Belgian Malinois. All these breeds come from the same stock known variously as the Belgian Shepherd or the Continental Shepherd.
One particular variation of sheepdog going by the name Groenendael, which was distinguished from the rest of the sheeddog variations because of its coat, is the basis of the Belgian Sheepdog dog breed. This variation had a long coat colored black, and it was used for both herding the stock and guarding it.
Groenendaels were used as police dogs because of their trustworthiness and impeccable performance. By the beginning of the 20th century, this breed had found favor in the United States, and was mainly used in the police force. These dogs served commendably in the army as sentries and messengers during the First World War. They became very popular with the general population too, and official recognition of this breed by AKC came in 1912. But the Groenendael was renamed as Belgian Sheepdog in 1959.
Standing tall and measuring two feet or more at the withers, this typical sheepdog has a long double coat that gives it some extra bulk. The color of the coat is black, with or without occasional reddish tan highlights. This is one of the main features that distinguish this breed from the other Belgian shepherd dog breeds.
Belgian Sheepdog is not a ferocious dog, even though it is highly protective of its charges and can rise to any challenge. But generally they have a playful and loving nature, and become very attached to the family members. They don’t take easily to strangers and remain reserved with those not known to them. They can tolerate other family pets and may even be friendly with them.
Belgian Sheepdog breed has an independent disposition, but being very intelligent, they are easy to train and can be an asset as a protector and guard of the family and the property. They are brave and carry out their duties no matter what.
Grooming and exercise
The long double coat of the Belgian Sheepdog means they need extra effort in grooming. It has to be thoroughly brushed to a shine at least two to three times a week.
They are active, high-energy work dogs that should receive plenty of exercise and physical activity to maintain their health and temperament. They are not ones for slouching or for being cooped up in cramped spaces. Countryside or suburban areas are ideal for them. Wherever they are, plenty of open space for free running and playing is essential.
They are best matched with physically active owners who would take them out for long runs and jogs because mere walks on the leash are not sufficient for this breed. They should be given advanced obedience training and mentally stimulating activities along with vigorous exercise routines.
These dogs are extremely family oriented, and should ideally spend the nights indoors with the family.
Common health issues of Belgian Sheepdog dog breed
Having a long history as a working dog, the Belgian Sheepdog breed is relatively healthy and free of serious breed-specific ailments. They may be troubled by endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism, and skin problems, including some allergies. Eye problems such as Pannus, Progressive retinal atrophy are occasionally seen. Hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia may occur too. They have been found to develop a type of cancer hemangiosarcoma affecting the blood vessels.
Regular medical checkups should keep the dog in good health. This breed typically has a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years.