Origin and brief history:
The Belgian Shepherd is known more commonly as the Chien de Berger Belge, and have their origins in Belgium. They first appear in dog show records and stud books in the late 1800s in Brussels, and were first formally registered in 1901.
There are four varieties: the Groenendael (often called the Belgian Sheepdog), the Laekenois, the Malinois and the Tervuren. The differences in varieties are solely in appearance, as the dogs have a standard temperament of being diligent, patient, loyal and calm.
Belgian Shepherds were used during World War I as ambulance carriers and message carriers. They take extremely well to training, and are popular choices for sports and competitions. The Malinois variety has become a very common choice for military and police forces as an alternative to the German Shepherd, as they are slightly lighter and easier to handle yet just as trainable and effective in their security duties.
The Belgian Shepherd’s long history as a herding and service dog has contributed to their obedience and patience. They’re often employed today as guides, watch dogs, in search and rescue, and in therapy.
All Belgian Shepherd varieties are very well-suited to living with humans and bond strongly to the families that they live with.
The long coats of the Groenendael and Tervuren will require a weekly brushing, but they also shed twice a year and will need to be groomed every day while this is occuring.
Specification of breed:
All of the varieties are medium to large in size and share a similar body structure, somewhat resembling a German Shepherd but with thicker hindlegs and a square height and length. The females are smaller than the males, at an average height of 23 inches (58 cm) and 50 lb. (22 kg.) Males generally average a height of about 25 inches (63 cm) and 60 lb. (27 kg.)
Groenendaels are generally all black with a long double coat, occasionally having minor white markings. The Laekenois have a shorter brown-and-white coat. The Malinois most resembles the German Shepherd, having a very short brown coat almost always with significant black markings. The Tervuren resembles the Groenendael with a long coat, but is brown in color generally with both black and white markings.
The median longevity of all varieties of the breed combined is 12.5 years.
Belgian Shepherds are more prone to epilepsy and seizures than other dogs. They need to live indoors and need regular contact with their human family, but their high energy level and larger size makes them best suited to an area where they can roam outdoors regularly.
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