The easiest way to describe a Belgian Sheepdog is to ask the person to imagine a German Shepherd. The two dog breeds are pretty similar. One of the first things to notice about these dogs is that they are quite powerfully built. One may even say that the Belgian Sheepdog is square in shape. Interestingly enough, the body never appears heavy in a healthy animal. As strange as it may sound, the structure of the dogs’ legs create a rather unique gait. Instead of moving forward from point A to point B, these dogs move in a circular pattern to their destination.
These beautiful dogs have a very distinctive head as well. With intelligent eyes and fully erect ears, you can tell how smart and alert these fine animals are. The shorter hairs of the face make it easier to see the narrow, elegant muzzle and defined forehead of the Belgian Sheepdog.
As you may figure out from the origin section, the Belgian Sheepdog is colored all black. In some cases, the face of the dog may have some gray color around the muzzle. If the dog is going to be used as a show dog, there shouldn’t be any white on the front legs or feet. Some white in between the back toes is permissible in competition however.
The history of the Belgian Sheepdog begins back in the late 1800’s when a man named Nicholas Rose bred black shepherd dogs and ended up with the modern day Belgian Sheepdog. They quickly become very popular for herding work and as guard dogs due to their protective nature.
In more recent history, these dogs are used for police work, in the military, and for rescue efforts. Of course, they also do very well as simple human companions as well.
The first trait that comes to mind when thinking about a Belgian Sheepdog is protectiveness. These gorgeous dogs are designed to be herding dogs. It only makes sense that they can be a bit protective of their people and homes. It is imperative to make sure the dog is well socialized at a young age to reduce problems with guests in their home later.
While the Belgian Sheepdog isn’t the most playful animal, it can make an excellent pet for a family with children. The owners will want to raise the dog from a puppy however so that the dog becomes accustomed to the loud, sudden noises children make. These dogs are very sensitive to tone and noise.
Early socialization will limit the Belgian Sheepdogs’ natural tendency towards shyness. These dogs aren’t mean or vicious by nature and would have to be actively taught such unwanted behavior.
Like most animals, Belgian Sheepdogs are pretty hardy when they are cared for. However there are a few things medically to watch out for. In some cases, these big dogs end up with allergies of the skin. They can be related to food issues or environmental problems and are treated much the same way they would be in people. Problems with the hips and “elbows” aren’t unusual either. Careful checking of the puppy’s blood line can help reduce this risk as the disorder is genetic. The final health concern to watch for is epilepsy. This neurological condition can show up in varying degrees of severity, Most of the time it can be controlled with medications.
You can bet your Belgian Sheepdog is going to need brushing at least once a day. These double coated dogs can have serious matting problems with their long outer coat if the effort isn’t made to keep it clean and brushed. The inside coat of thicker hair is perfect for insulation and keeping the animal warm.
Belgian Sheepdog sheds heavily twice a year. Owners can expect lots of hair balls in the spring and fall as the dogs prepare for the upcoming season. Speaking of other hair issues, these dogs also have hair on their feet and in between their toes. Keeping this hair in particular trimmed is very important to the health of the animal.
For an active owner, making sure a Belgian Sheepdog has enough exercise should be pretty simple. They are more than willing to spend some time running next to their owner’s bike or hiking in the woods. These dogs will also happily go for a swim or go jogging.
If these dogs are left in a secure yard, they will help themselves to the exercise they need and make it even easier on their owner.
The absolutely wonderful thing about training the Belgian Sheepdog is that these dogs are typically very obedient by nature. That means with their natural intelligence, the trainer will have no problem getting their points across. However the Belgian Sheepdog does respond better when it has a trusting relationship with the trainer so this aspect of things should be worked on first. Harsh punishment or excessive yelling isn’t going to be beneficial to the dog or the trainer. As a matter of fact, such demanding tactics could produce a Belgian Sheepdog with a fear of people or even aggressive tendencies.
These smart dogs can be taught to bark or stop barking on command as well as all kinds of other useful habits. With their protective and obedient natures, they are excellent companions for families with children as well as a single adult who only wants companionship.