Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.
Intro / Overview
(All dogs are individuals, which means any single dog from any breed can be any number of ways, both good and not so good. Keep that in mind as we discuss breed generalities!)
The Belgian Sheepdog is a big softie – both literally and figuratively. This handsome breed boasts boasts a striking, black coat that looks softer than a cloud. The Belgian Sheepdog is also incredibly affectionate, loyal, and sensitive. This breed adores bonding with the family and makes a very loyal companion.
A true member of the Herding Group, the Belgian Sheepdog is an admirable working dog. This breed is renown for their energy, intellect, diligence, trainability, and athleticism. Basically, the Belgian Sheepdog is the complete package: beauty, brawn, and brains! Read on to learn more about this remarkable breed!
Also Known As…
Belgian Shepherd. The Groenendael (in Europe). Chien de Berger Belge. “It’s like if a Collie and a German Shepherd were smushed together!”
The Belgian Sheepdog was developed in the late 19th century. As the name implies, this breed hails from Belgium, a country famed for its quality dairy products. Because of this, Belgian farmers sought dogs suited for cattle herding. The Belgian Sheepdog is one the country’s four official shepherd dogs. They are named Groenendael after Nick Rose, owner of a restaurant named Chateau Groenendael and the breeder believed to have bred the first Groenendael.
By the 1900s, this breed was recognized for its adaptability and work ethic beyond the Belgium pastures. Belgian Sheepdogs at this time were employed as border patrol and police dogs in Paris and New York. During World War I and World War II, their roles expanded to ambulance dogs, carriers of weaponry, and messengers.
This breed’s history reflects its remarkable versatility. Belgian Shepherd dogs have also excelled as show dogs, service dogs, guard dogs, and even tennis-ball fetchers.
Male Belgian Sheepdogs typically stand 24-26 inches at the withers. Female Belgian Sheepdogs typically stand 22-24 inches at the withers.
Females typically weigh 45-60 pounds while males typically weigh 55-75 pounds.
The Belgian Sheepdog is vibrant to say the least. This breed is incredibly bright, deeply loving, and very energetic. The American Kennel Club even remarks that Belgian Sheepdogs “inspire such intense loyalty because they themselves live and love with such great passion.”
These pups are sincerely affectionate and tend to form deep bonds with their family members. They crave time and affection from their loved ones and do not like being left alone. The Belgian Sheepdog’s favorite past time is bonding with the family! This big softie has a sensitive spirit. They react strongly to harsh punishment and neglect.
Due to their loyalty and herding background, Belgian Shepherd Dogs are protective of their families. This makes them excellent watchdogs. However, this also makes them aloof towards strangers and other animals.
Another remnant of their herding heritage is the breed’s athleticism. Belgian Shepherd dogs are admirably high-energy, hard-working, and versatile. They have substantial energy needs and pair best with pup parents with whom they can share an active lifestyle.
Intelligence / Trainability
Belgian Shepherd dogs are basically furry Einsteins! These adaptable, versatile dogs are very intelligent and need plenty of mental stimulation. This can be provided with playtime, training, and dog-friendly puzzle toys.
Furthermore, Belgian Sheepdogs love making their pup parents happy. Due to their intelligence and eagerness to please, Belgian Sheepdogs are quick, willing learners. So, Belgian parents, you’re in luck – this breed is incredibly trainable!
It is important that harsh training techniques should not be used with this highly sensitive breed. Rather, Belgian Sheepdogs respond well to positive reinforcement training. Shower your Belgian Sheepdog with the praise and attention he desires when he performs the correct behaviors and training will soon become his favorite activity!
The Belgian Sheepdog’s ideal environment would a home with a securely-fenced yard where he can spend quality time with loved ones. This breed thrives best with an active, indoor/outdoor lifestyle. These loyal and affectionate dogs prefer to spend most of their time close to family members indoors. They also need an active family who provides lots of outdoors time to satisfy their substantial exercise needs.
Due to their impressive speed and tendency to roam, Belgian Sheepdogs should only be off-leash in securely-fenced areas. Due to their sensitive disposition and tendency to become attached, these pups do not fair well being alone for extended periods of time. Therefore, Belgian Sheepdogs may not be well-suited for pup parents with particularly busy lifestyles.
Good For Families And Kids
Belgian Sheepdogs want nothing more than to be part of a family! These pups are incredibly doting and loyal towards their family members. Well-socialized Belgian Sheepdogs are typically good with children. These dogs may have a tendency to nip at children’s heels while playing. Don’t worry, they’re not trying to eat children, they are simply trying to “herd” them! Training is important in teaching a Belgian Sheepdogs that this is not an appropriate behavior.
On average, Belgian Sheepdogs live 12 to 14 years.
Thankfully, the Belgian Shepherd dog is a hardy, healthy breed! These high-energy dogs need plenty of exercise to stay healthy and happy. As with any pup, Belgian Sheepdogs need regular teeth brushing, ear inspections for infection, and veterinarian visits.
Additionally, like any breed, there are certain health issues this breed is prone to. These include epilepsy, certain cancers, eye conditions, and elbow and hip dysplasia. Additionally, if surgery is ever needed, it should be noted that Belgians are sensitive to anesthesia.
Belgian Sheepdogs are energetic, athletic pups who need lots of daily activity. If you think letting a Belgian Shepherd Dog loose in the backyard will satisfy her exercise needs, think again. This devoted dog prefers to exercise with her pup parent! Turn daily exercise into bonding time with engaging activities, such as fetch, hiking, or agility training.
Friendly With Dogs? Strangers? Cats/Other Pets?
While Belgian Sheepdogs are big softies at home, they can be aloof and even reactive toward animals who are not in the family. Because of this, training and socialization are very important in mitigating negative behaviors. Belgian Sheepdogs can get along very well with dogs and other animals that they are raised or thoroughly socialized with.
The Belgian Sheepdog’s herding background makes them a natural watchdog, but also wary of strangers. This breed is typically aloof toward new people, but grows very fond of those they’re able to become better acquainted with.
Coat & Grooming
The first thing you notice about a Belgian Shepherd Dog is likely the stunning, jet black coat. This voluminous coat is actually comprised of two coats: a double-layer coat with a denser undercoat and courser outer coat.
While this abundant coat may appear intimidating, it is quite simple to care for the majority of the year. When it is not shedding season, Belgian Sheepdogs merely require a weekly brushing. During shedding season, daily brushing may be required to their remove large amounts of dead hair. This breed only needs the occasional bath.
Toys Belgian Sheepdogs Would Like Best
As previously mentioned, Belgian Sheepdogs’ favorite part of playtime is bonding with their pup parents! Bond with your Belgian Sheepdog and satisfy her exercise needs with engaging and interactive activities, such as fetch and tug-o-war! Balls, tug, and rope toys are perfect for these games. See Tug Toys for for the kinds of super fun toys that will make for epic games of tug-o-war.
Also, as Belgian Shepherds are sharp as a tack, they’re going to want to play with Puzzle, Thinker, and Treat-Dispensing Toys like the Super Chewer Toys.
Recommended Diet Or Supplements
Like any dog, Belgian Sheepdogs should be fed a nutritious diet with high-quality dog food. This dog food should be age-appropriate for your Belgian Sheepdog (e.g. puppy, adult, senior).
While the Belgian Sheepdog is quite a healthy breed, most dogs can benefit from joint supplements to ensure joint and hip health.
These veterinarian-formulated supplements are made with all natural glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid, all packed into a delicious soft chew. ($32.99.)
For Belgian Sheepdogs with joint issues – or any dog who just loves to lie around! – a nice comfortable bed with orthopedic support is probably a good idea.
This ultra plush orthopedic dog bed provides support for even the most active of dogs! The combination ergonomic memory foam and gel foam relieves pressure points, and helps ease body aches caused by hip dysplasia, arthritis and other orthopedic issues. ($27.99-64.99.)
Notable Rescues To Find The Belgian Sheepdog Of Your Dreams
- Belgian Sheepdog Rescue Trust
- Belgian Sheepdogs on Petfinder
- Belgian Sheepdogs on Pet Adoptions by Overstock
- Belgian Shepherd Dogs on Adopt-A-Pet
Notable Instagram Belgian Sheepdogs
***Looking for a gift to blow your Sheepdog’s mind? Spoil them with BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <– This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! 🙂
Featured image via Ginny_Wheed/Instagram