Gorgeous and almost human-like, the Belgian Shepherd has amassed his fair share of fans over the years. His keen intelligence and eagerness to please is world-renowned, although novice dog lovers may find this breed overwhelming and high maintenance.
Fans of the Belgian Shepherd, however, are fans for life. They become just as devoted to the breed as the breed becomes to them, so it’s no surprise the Belgian Shepherd has played so many incredible roles throughout history.
Are you interested in learning more about this dynamic Shepherd dog? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Join us today as we discuss the Belgian Shepherd and find out if this incredible canine would make the right addition to your home or family.
The Belgian Shepherd At A Glance
Belgian Shepherds are often known as Belgian Tervurens or Belgian Sheepdogs.
There are four types of Beglain herding dogs, including the Malinois, the Tervuren, the Sheepdog and the Leakenois. Belgian Malinois are perhaps most well known, as they resemble their German Shepherd counterparts and are often the most likely to be employed by the police and military.
But other Belgian Shepherd dogs, the ones we will focus on today, are just as incredible. These include the Tervurens, Leakenois, and Sheepdogs.
For the experienced dog owner looking for a clever, trainable, and devoted companion, there is perhaps no better breed to work with and train than a Belgian Shepherd breed. This glorious, beautiful, and intelligent purebred is a work of art through and through.
Designed for work, the Belgian Shepherd is not for the faint of heart. Dog enthusiasts with busy schedules or those looking for an easy going companion won’t find the Belgian Shepherd ideal. This is not a lowkey companion dog content with laying around the house.
Instead, the Beligan Shepherd is a high-energy workaholic who is purpose driven, meaning he can be prone to serious behavioral issues if left to his own devices or if not properly exercised.
Luckily, the Belgian Shepherd is a highly trainable dog who can make an excellent addition to families who understand his unique background. So where does the Belgian Shepherd come from?
Let’s find out.
Where Does The Belgian Shepherd Come From?
Belgian Shepherds were bred for herding. As such, they are hard working, incredibly intelligent purebred dogs.
Also known as the Belgian Sheepdog or Belgian Tervuren, the Belgian Shepherd hails from – no surprise – Belgian. Like many herding dogs, the Belgian Shepherd’s beginnings were humble. He was originally bred as a farm dog to assist with herding sheep and cattle, and his large size, luxurious coat, and incredible temperament made him the ideal companion for hard working ranch hands.
As time passed, the Belgian Shepherd became well-known throughout the world for his intelligence and incredible work ethic. It wasn’t long before he was employed in New York and Paris as a police and guard dog. Soon after, during World War l and World War ll, the Belgian Shepherd worked as an invaluable war dog. During both wars, the breed was employed as ambulance dogs, guard dogs, messengers and more.
By 1948, the Belgian Sheepdog Club of America had been founded and the Beligan Shepherd was a staple in the United States. Since then, he has excelled in a number of jobs and has enjoyed work as a service dog, search and rescue dog, military dog, police dog, winning show dog and, of course, a devoted companion dog to the right owner.
What Does The Belgian Shepherd Look Like?
The Belgian Shepherd comes in a variety of coat colors.
There is no mistaking a Belgian Shepherd dog when you see one. His gorgeous coat alone will stop you in your tracks, but it’s his human-like eyes that are the true show stoppers. Have you ever come across a Belgain Shepherd before?
Let’s take a look at his common characteristics and find out.
Belgian Shepherd Height: 22 – 26 Inches
Belgian Shepherd Weight: 45 – 75 Pounds
Belgian Shepherd Coat Color: Grey, black, brown, white, and fawn-mahogany
Belgian Shepherd Coat Type: Long, double-coated, shedding
Hypoallergenic Coat: No
Overview of The Belgian Shepherd:
Large, focused, and sleek, the Belgian Shepherd looks just as majestic on the outside as he truly is on the inside. His coat is long and flowing, and his ears stand erect. His brown eyes sparkle with intelligence and his big bushy tail is everything a doting dog lover would want to greet them wagging at the front door.
Male Belgain Shepherds are often larger than females, but both genders are big dogs. Their muzzle is pointed and delicate while their body is proportionate and lean, making them ideal for herding, and running.
What Are The Belgian Shepherd Temperament And Personality Traits Like?
Belgian Shepherds are focused, working dogs who become very bonded with their family.
Unlike some other more independent working dog breeds, the Belgian Shepherd in particular becomes especially bonded with his family. He is a passionately devoted companion who requires consistent one-on-one attention, which is why he is best suited for an owner or family with a flexible schedule and owners who are willing to commit lots of time and attention to him.
Loyal and loving, the Belgian Shepherd is eager to please and therefore very easy to train. He is highly intelligent and enjoys learning, though he will quickly shut down if he feels he has disappointed you.
When properly trained and socialized, the Belgain Shepherd gets along wonderfully with children and other pets, especially if he is raised with them. Even then, however, a potential owner should be aware that the Belgian Shepherd is a born herding dog. This means he will likely have a strong herding instinct and will chase after anything that runs, including small children.
This behavior will need to be worked with and trained out of the Belgian Shepherd early on in puppyhood, beginning as early as eight weeks.
It’s also very important to know that the Belgian Shepherd is not the ideal dog for novice dog owners who do not have an understanding of working dog breeds. This is a breed who is designed for work and he will not be happy without a job to do.
If not kept mentally and physically stimulated, or if left on his own for too long, the Belgian Shepherd can be prone to serious behavioral issues including depression, boredom, chewing, barking and bathroom accidents.
The Belgian Shepherd also has strong protective instincts, which can be managed through training and socialization.
That said, with the right owner and when properly raised, the Belgian Shepherd is much more than a dog. He is a true member of the family and enjoys contributing in important events, jobs, and experiences.
What Are The Exercise Requirements For A Belgian Shepherd?
These dogs are hard working and require lots of mental stimulation and exercise to reduce behavioral issues.
As a herding dog, the Belgian Shepherd is going to require plenty of exercise each and every day. He will need at least two good walks a day and plenty of exercise or free play time in a backyard or dog park.
The Belgian Shepherd can get his exercise needs met in a number of ways, from playing fetch or frisbee at the park to swimming, jogging, hiking or brisk walking. Whichever type of exercise your Belgian Shepherd does, he will enjoy it most if it is at your side.
Along with routine exercise, your Belgian Shepherd will also require plenty of mental stimulation. Remember, this is a highly intelligent dog who will thrive with consistent training and challenges.
One of the perks of working with a Belgian Shepherd is that you can easily train and employ these dogs to help out with household chores. Teaching your Belgian Shepherd to help sort the laundry, carry in groceries, fetch the mail, and even load the dishwasher can help give him purpose and alleviate anxiety, depression, and stress.
Your Belgian Shepherd will also do well with challenging puzzle toys, especially when he is left alone. Crate training can also help alleviate stress and anxiety in the breed, but only when done properly.
Keep reading to learn more.
How Do You Properly Train and Socialize A Belgian Shepherd?
Training a Belgian Shepherd should begin early on in puppyhood and continue throughout his lifetime.
Training your Belgian Shepherd should begin immediately and as early as possible. A reputable breeder should not sell a Belgian Shepherd puppy who is under seven or eight weeks old, and this is around the time you can begin working with your Shepherd on training and socialization.
Properly socializing dogs is very important for their overall development and helps them grow up happy, healthy and well rounded. This is especially important for intelligent, working breeds like the Belgian Shepherd, who can be more prone to anxiety and fear-based aggression if not properly socialized at an early age.
To socialize your dog, make sure you introduce him to as many new experiences as possible. This should include different people, children, places, animals, sights and sounds. Try and ensure these first impressions are positive for him, and refrain from forcing your Belgian Shepherd into a situation that clearly frightens him.
Doing so can often make the fear worse and may intensify future behavioral issues.
Properly training your Belgian Shepherd is also equally important. Make sure you use positive reinforcement training techniques as opposed to punishments, as the Belgian Shepherd is a sensitive and devoted dog who is eager to please. If he feels he has disappointed you, he is likely to shut down. Worse, you risk diminishing the bond between you and your dog.
Luckily, the Belgian Shepherd is highly trainable, which is one of his most stellar qualities.
The Belgian Shepherd Grooming Requirements
The Belgian Shepherd is a double-coated dog, but his long coat is surprisingly easy to care for.
The Belgian Shepherd’s long, thick coat may look like it requires a lot of maintenance, but the truth is this breed is relatively easy to groom. For the majority of the year, the Belgian Shepherd’s double coat is low-shedding and he only requires weekly brushing to keep it free of debris and matting.
Bathing is only required once every few months unless your Belgian Shepherd gets into something nasty.
However, the Belgian Shepherd does shed very heavily during the shedding season, at which point he requires daily brushing to reduce mats, debris, and a buildup of loose hair that can contribute to skin issues and doggy odor.
Along with routine brushing, your Belgian Shepherd should also have his nails routinely trimmed to keep them from breaking or splitting. He will need his ears cleaned and checked to keep them free of waxy debris, buildup and moisture, and his teeth should be brushed once a day using a dog-safe toothbrush and toothpaste.
It’s also important to know that it is never a good idea to shave your Belgian Shepherd’s dense coat. Shaving a double-coated dog breed, even in an effort to keep them cool in warmer climates, can increase their risk of suffering from heatstroke, sunburn, and other skin issues.
Belgian Shepherd Health Issues
Though relatively healthy, Belgian Shepherd dogs can be prone to a number of health issues potential owners should be aware of.
Along with being incredibly intelligent, the Belgian Shepherd is also incredibly healthy. He is a long-lived dog with a lifespan of 12 – 14 years, though he can live longer under the right circumstances.
That said, the Belgian Shepherd can be prone to some genetic health issues a potential owner should be aware of.
The Most Common Health Issues For A Belgian Shepherd Include:
- Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Ear Infections
- And Sensitivity To Anesthesia
You can help combat some of the above health issues in your Belgian Shepherd by following the below tips for each category.
All dogs require a healthy diet rich in real animal protein, carbohydrates, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and water, and the Belgian Shepherd is no exception. He will do well on a quality dog food that is free of any additives or fillers, so steer clear of foods containing corn, soy, wheat or byproducts.
If you do opt to provide your Belgian Shepherd with homemade dog food, it is wise to speak with your veterinarian to ensure you are providing your dog with all the nutrients he needs in order to thrive.
Meeting your Beligan Shepherd’s daily exercise needs can help keep him fit and healthy for years to come. Doing so will also help decrease stress and anxiety.
Grooming may seem tedious, but it is actually a fabulous opportunity for you to better bond with your Belgian Shepherd. Most importantly, it offers you the ability to routinely check your dog over for lumps, bumps, cuts, sores, or abnormalities.
When grooming your Belgian Shepherd, begin early on in puppyhood to help him get used to you touching him all over his body including his paws, ears, muzzle, nose, and belly. And don’t forget about the small details like his ears, teeth, and nails.
Routine Vet Visits
Last but not least, try and keep up with routine vet visits. Preventative care is just as important as treating an ailment, and in fact can help save you money in the long run. Most veterinarians recommend that dogs under seven years of age visit them at least once a year for routine checkups while dogs who are over the age of seven should be seen every six months.
Pros And Cons Of Owning A Belgian Shepherd
Though highly intelligent and trainable, Beglian Shepherds do best with experienced dog owners who understand working dogs.
Although the Belgian Shepherd can make an amazing companion for the right owner or family, he certainly isn’t the right dog for everyone. As with all dogs, there are some pros and cons that come with committing to a Belgian Shepherd that any potential owner should be aware of before investing in one.
Pros To Owning A Belgian Shepherd:
- The Belgian Shepherd is highly trainable
- They get along well with children and other pets
- They become very bonded with his family
- This is an affectionate and devoted dog
- They are relatively healthy and long-lived
- Their thick coat is mostly low maintenance and self-cleaning
- The Belgian Shepherd is outgoing and friendly when properly trained and socialized
Cons To Owning A Belgian Shepherd:
- Belgian Shepherd dogs are very high maintenance
- They can suffer from serious separation anxiety if left alone for too long
- These dogs can be prone to destructive behaviors if not properly trained or exercised
- They require routine daily exercise and mental stimulation
- Belgain Shepherd dogs need to have consistent training
- They shed heavily at least once a year during shedding season
- They have strong herding instincts and may herd children and other pets
- They are not ideal dogs for novice dog owners
Ideal Home Type For A Belgian Shepherd
Belgian Shepherds do best in homes with large backyards where they can run and play freely.
Due to their incredible intelligence and high level of energy, the Belgain Shepherd is not the ideal dog for novice dog owners. They will do best with experienced owners who have a history of raising working dogs, and who are ready and willing to commit to a breed that needs consistent training and attention.
The best home type for the Belgian Shepherd will be a home with a large, securely fenced backyard where he can run and play freely. He will also enjoy space inside the home to explore or lounge about.
That said, when properly trained and socialized, the Belgian Shepherd gets along well with children of all ages and can do well when raised with cats and other dogs. He should be with owners who have flexible schedules and have time to commit to working with him daily.
Choosing A Belgian Shepherd Puppy Or Rescue
Try not to cut corners when looking for a Belgian Shepherd puppy or rescue dog to better ensure you get the healthiest dog possible.
Although the Belgian Shepherd is a relatively healthy dog, he can be prone to some serious genetic health issues, especially if he comes from a source that has not practiced responsible breeding practices.
When looking for a Beglain Shepherd puppy, stick with reputable breeders who are qualified and have a history with the breed. Certified breeders will also be able to provide you with health certificates proving their dogs have been health screened and are free of any serious issues.
On average, a Belgian Shepherd puppy costs between $1,500 to $2,000. This price can vary depending on the breeder and the quality of your puppy’s parent breeds. While this is a good amount of money to spend on a puppy, it’s best to avoid cutting corners.
Steer clear of backyard breeders or unqualified online sellers who are offering Belgian Shepherd puppies at a bargain price. You are more likely to wind up with a sick puppy when going this route, which can cost you more money in the long run. Furthermore, you may unwittingly be supporting a puppy mill.
If you are looking to save money but still want a Belgian Shepherd, you always have the option of going through a rescue or a shelter. There are many local shelters that specialize in the Belgian Shepherd breed and all its varieties, and many of these shelters have their dogs undergo behavioral testing before ensuring they are eligible for adoption.
There are many benefits of going through a rescue to get your Beglain Shepherd, including price. In fact, most shelters charge only a fraction of the cost of what a breeder charges. Best of all, you are offering a dog in need a good and loving home.
The Top 5 Products Every Belgian Shepherd Owner Needs
Belgian Shepherds need specific products to help keep them active and happy.
The Belgian Shepherd is certainly a dynamic dog breed. Have you decided that the Beglian Shepherd is the right dog for you? If so, you’re in luck. This is a breed who will do best with owners who are prepared, and we want to help.
We have done some research and listed five of our favorite products below that every Belgian Shepherd owner should be aware of.
Take a look!
PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness
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The Easy Walk Dog Harness by Pet Safe is one of our favorite dog harnesses for large, active dog breeds like the Belgian Shepherd. This harness is comfortable for both the dog and the handler, and reduces pulling or pressure on the dog’s throat.
The harness also redirects pulling dogs and helps teach them to walk gently at your side by providing a front clip for the leash. The harness comes in a variety of colors and sizes depending on your preference. It is also machine washable, easy to fit to your specific dog, and easy to put on and take off.
LOOBANI Dog Food Puzzle Toy
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Puzzle toys like the above toy by LOOBANI will help keep your Belgian Shepherd engaged and busy, especially while you are away. We like that this toy encourages your dog to think and play using food or treats to hold his attention.
The materials are all dog safe as well, and you have the option of filling the toys with different treats or kibbles of your choice. This toy also helps reduce anxiety and stress. However, if your dog is a heavy chewer, we suggest using a different type of puzzle toy, which we’ve listed below.
Nina Ottosson Puzzle Toy
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Another puzzle toy we like for intelligent dogs is the above toy by Nina Ottosson. It can be ordered in different levels, so your Belgian Shepherd can progress as he masters each toy. This is another challenging and fun puzzle toy that uses treats or kibble to keep your dog’s focus.
If you do not like the particular design, the company offers different styles of the toy to help keep your dog engaged. It helps alleviate boredom, reduce anxiety, and keep your dog busy and happy.
Furminator Undercoat Deshedding Tool
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The Furminator is a must-have for any owner of the Belgian Shepherd dog. Remember, while this breed is a lightly shedding dog for most of the year, he does shed heavily during shedding season.
The above deshedding tool is designed to get into the undercoat of your dog and remove loose hair and debris. It can also reduce matting and help eliminate doggy odor. The Furminator dog brush is also self cleaning and comes with a button you can push to remove loose hair, which allows you to keep brushing and get through grooming quicker.
You can use this brush all year around, but it is especially effective during shedding season when this breed loses most of his fur.
Hertzko Self Cleaning Slicker brush
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Along with investing in an undercoat deshedding brush for your Belgian Shepherd, we also suggest getting a quality slicker brush. The Belgian Shepherd has a longer coat, and will need help keeping that coat mat and tangle free.
The above slicker brush is designed for such use, and is self-cleaning to help keep grooming time go by quicker. You can use this brush daily and all year-round, including during shedding season.
And there you have it – everything you need to know about the Belgian Shepherd. Now we want to hear from you. Do you think the Belgian Shepherd is the ideal companion? Why or why not?
Leave us your thoughts in the comment section below.
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.