My Jordan and Jesse at 4 months old.
I have owned Belgian Sheepdogs for over thirty years. I adore their temperaments, but I will admit this breed is probably not for everyone. With their loyal and devoted nature comes also a sensitive, intelligent, high-energy canine. They are easily trained and respond better to positive training techniques. Belgians are not like Golden Retrievers or Labs. They tend to be protective and somewhat territorial.
Since the Belgian Sheepdog is a herding dog, they are active and require vigorous daily exercise. They are used in police work, search and rescue, assistance and therapy dogs. They are very talented in obedience, agility, tracking, herding, and flyball. Retrieving a Frisbee, running with another dog, jogging, and hiking are activities that can be valuable in providing adequate exercise.
Due to their working and herding nature, Belgians love human companionship. They will follow you from room to room in the house, and outside, they will be right next to you. If you like a dog that goes off on his own and sleeps for a couple of hours, a Belgian Sheepdog is not for you! The Belgian needs to be with his family. The American Kennel Club standard states: “He should be watchful, attentive, and always in motion when not under command”. A Belgian Sheepdog needs proper socialization from puppy hood until about two years old. They must be introduced to lots of people and children. They need consistent socialization so they can develop into a well adjusted canine. Belgians are very willing to please but do much better with positive training techniques.
Whereas, you must assert yourself as a leader, this does not mean physical force. You must set the limits and let them know exactly what is expected of them. Belgians can be raised with children and do love kids. Remember, when the kids run, it is not uncommon for a Belgian to nip. When my boys were young, I always supervised playtime at home or with friends because of the Belgian herding tendencies. Also, it is important to keep Belgians introduced to children if you want them to be accepting of them.
Belgian Sheepdogs are usually quite healthy and can live a long life. Some of their known health problems are hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, cancer, sensitivity to anesthesia, and epilepsy. Be sure to ask your breeder for health clearances. Breeders should have OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) numbers for hips and elbows. Also, there are CERF clearances for eye diseases. Reputable breeders can discuss their pedigrees and provide information to you about close relatives.
I think that it is important for yo u to speak with various breeders. Buy a puppy from someone that you feel is responsible. After all, you will have hopefully a long life with your new puppy. Your breeder will become a new friend and mentor for many years to come. Also, I recommend spending time with Belgian Sheepdogs. It is very important to visit with some Belgians to be sure that this is the right breed for you. Usually, Belgian owners would be happy to welcome a visit from a new perspective owner.
With the Belgian’s beautiful black coat does come some grooming. The male is larger than the female and carries a heavier coat. Belgians shed a soft undercoat twice a year that does need brushing. Sometimes around the ears, in the breeches, and around the tail needs some special attention. After shedding season, a quick brushing twice a week should be adequate.
The devoted, loyal, and striking black square silhouette of the Belgian Sheepdog is what I love about the breed. Their high energy and pure willingness to please are the qualities that I so adore. Belgian Sheepdogs are not for everybody and are only for people that are committed to spending lots of time with their dogs.
Belgian Sheepdog Club of America
The American Kennel Club
Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)
The Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF)