There are four closely related breeds of Belgian Shepherd collectively referred to as ‘Chien de Berger Belge’, which were classified as independent breeds in 1891.
All are herding and guard dogs, and are primarily distinguished by their appearances: the Belgian Malinois has short hair, the Belgian Laekenois (not currently recognized by the American Kennel Club) has wiry hair, the Groenendael (also known simply as the ‘Belgian Shepherd’) has long, black hair, and the Tervuren has long hair of any other color. The Groenendael is most popular.
To make matters even more confusing, the AKC re-named the Groenendael as Belgian Sheepdog! Which is just silly, since all four varieties are sheepdogs or shepherd dogs – none more so than another.
The Belgian Shepherd is an extremely intelligent but challenging breed to live with. Athletic. Agile. Graceful. Elegant. The breed is frequently in motion, often moving in quick, light-footed circles.
He is enthusiastic and remarkably quick. He shows a natural tendency to be in motion. The Belgian was developed for endurance. He must be able to move and tend the flock all day and to guard it from all invaders. In addition to his inborn ability as guardian of the flocks, he is an exceptional watchdog and a tenacious and brave defender of his master and family.
He is vigilant, and highly responsive to his owner's direction. He is alert, intelligent and inquisitive. While he is firmly loyal to those he knows and loves, he typically exhibits reserve with strangers.
If you want a dog who...
- Is large and strong – but also elegant and graceful
- Is exceedingly smart and versatile – when well-trained, can learn and do almost anything
- Excels in performance activities
If you don't want to deal with...
- High activity level
- Vigorous exercise requirements
- Participating regularly with your dog in challenging canine sports
- Destructiveness when bored or not exercised enough