For ages, closely related types of herding dogs guarded the flocks in Belgium and other European countries, until fenced lands, railways, and motor vehicles put them out of work late in the nineteenth century. Fearful that these dogs might disappear completely, breeders got together to determine which qualities were worth preserving in a breed to be officially named the Belgian Shepherd Dog. They agreed on everything except the type of coat and its color. So four varieties the long-haired Groenendael and Tervuren, the short-haired Malinois, and the rough-coated Laekenois-survived. These are generally recognized as one breed except in the United States , where the first three are considered separate breeds (known as the Belgian Sheep-dog, Belgian Tervuren, and Malinois respectively). The rare Laekenois is not recognized in the United States .
Bright and athletic, the Belgian Shepherd has excelled in police and war work. Used as a guard dog in bars, it never bothers customers; but once the establishments close for the night, intruders risk a vicious attack. Yet the dog can also be an endearing family pet-as long as this intelligent, sensitive animal has an owner who understands its nature and is willing to train it patiently.
Origin of Belgian Shephered Dog
The Belgian Shepherd Dog is de scended from an ancient and
numberless variety of herding dogs. Fifteenth-century drawings show ancestors in the company of the dukes of Bourgogne and Hapsburg. In 1897, Belgium 's national kennel club recognized three varieties: the Groenendael, the Tervuren, and the Malinois. The Laekenois owes its existence to enthusiasts in France and. Holland . After the First World War almost destroyed the breed. most fanciers concentrated On the black Groenendael, deciding it would be the only 10ng-coated variety. Despite this, some enthusiasts revived the fawn colored Tervuren dogs. The breed almost died again in the Second World War, but a fell survivors rebuilt it once more.
Characteristics of Belgian Shephered Dog
General appearance: well proportioned, elegant, and hardy.
Height: 61 to 66 cm (24 to 26 in.) for the adult dog; 56 to 61cm(22 to 24 in.) for the bitch.
Weight: under F.C.I. standards, 30 kg (66 Ib). Elsewhere, in proportion to height.
Head: clean-cut, strong, lean, chiselled, long. Muzzle tapering towards nose. Well-balanced bridge. Slight stop. Narrow cheeks. Tight, wide, black lips. Even or scissor bite. Black nose, flared nostrils.
Eyes: medium size, slight almond shape, neither deep nor prominent. Brown, the darker the better. Lids ringed with black. Lively and intelligent expression.
Ears: set high, triangular. Stiff, straight external ear rounded at base.
Body: long, oblique shoulders. Chest not too wide, but deep and low. Level back, broad and muscular. Moderately wide croup, slightly sloping. Stomach gracefully curving from the chest.
Tail: firmly set on, medium long. At rest hanging down, the tip curled slightly backwards. When in motion lifted.
Forequarters: strongly boned with lean, powerful muscles; legs long and muscular. Pasterns medium long, strong, and slightly sloping.
Hindquarters: powerful, but not bulky. Thighs wide and very muscular. Legs long, wide, muscular angled to the hocks without excess. Hocks well let down, wide and muscular. No dew-claws.
Coat : long-haired varieties (Groenendael and Tervuren) have short hair on the head, outside the ears, and on the lower part of the legs. Long fringes down the backs of the forearms. Long, smooth hair on the rest of the body. Long and abundant hair around the neck and chest forms a ruff. Cluster of hair inside the ears. Croup covered with long hair, forming a culotte. Plumed tail. Short-haired Malinois has comparatively short, straight hair with dense undercoat. Longer neck hair forms ruff. Rough-haired Laekenois has rough, dry hair with a thick, woolly undercoat.
Color: Groenendael, black; small white markings permissible. Malinois, shades of red, fawn or gray with black overlay. Tervuren, red, fawn, or gray with black overlay. Laekenois, reddish fawn with black shading.
Practical information about Belgian Shephered Dog
These are healthy, robust dogs that easily adjust to inclement weather. All varieties need lots of exercise or they will gain weight. Given adequate time outdoors, the Tervuren calmly accepts the confines of an apartment or flat, whereas the Malinois is best suited to country life. The long-haired Groenendael and Tervuren require daily combing and brushing. Special attention must be given to their undercoats during the shedding season-dead hair can mat their coats, particularly the culottes and ruffs. It is also advisable to pluck excess hair from their inner ears and to clip long hair from the outer ears and from between the toes.