Dog Health & More
This medium-size herding dog breed originated in Belgium where he was used to herd sheep. He later graduated to police work, and today his versatility makes him suitable for many types of work and dog sports. He's alert, devoted, and protective.
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The Belgian Sheepdog (known as the Groenendael in Europe) is the solid-colored variety of the four Belgian shepherd dogs. Elegant and graceful, he has a long black coat and an imposing appearance. He's athletic as well as beautiful and maintains the working ability for which he was originally known, making him an excellent choice for agility, herding, and obedience competitions.
The Belgian Sheepdog combines the versatility of a working dog with the gentleness of a family companion. He makes a wonderful family companion as long as he receives the exercise he needs.
Of all the traits this breed has, energy is at the top of the list of what to consider before you purchase. The Belgian Sheepdog is not a breed that enjoys lazing around the house; he's a working dog and needs a job to do. Herding dogs such as the Belgian Sheepdog are hard-wired to chase after a flock of sheep all day long. That instinct doesn't disappear just because they're living in a family home instead. Expect to give him at least an hour of exercise per day. The Belgian Sheepdog is very intelligent and needs variety to keep from becoming bored. He's not a good choice for people who work long hours and have no way of exercising their dog during the day. If he's left to his own devices, he's likely to create his own entertainment — generally something you won't like that will be expensive to repair — or to develop separation anxiety.
They do better in homes with a fenced yard. Their herding heritage makes Belgian Sheepdogs chasers, and they'll take off after joggers, bicyclists, and cars if they aren't contained by a fence.
Loving and loyal, the Belgian Sheepdog will always protect "his" children, but it's important for parents to supervise play when neighboring children are around. The Belgian may mistake the noise and high spirits of play as an assault and try to nip at your child's friends. With proper supervision and corrections, you can teach him that this isn't appropriate behavior. Belgian Sheepdogs do best with children when they're raised with them from puppyhood or socialized to them at an early age.
They can get along well with other dogs and cats if they're brought up with them, although they may have issues with strange animals that come onto their property. They love to chase — that herding instinct again! — so cats who stand their ground will probably fare better than those who turn tail and run.
This versatile dog has many excellent characteristics, but he's probably not suited to a first-time dog owner. He's loving, loyal, and energetic, but can also be shy, sensitive, and strong-willed. When you put time and effort and energy into him, however, he's well worth all your work.