Belgian Shepherd Dog (Pet Love)


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Belgian Shepherd Dogs are becoming increasingly popular, though they are still not very well known. They are an unusual breed with a lot of character. Spitz lovers are likely to feel more at home with Belgian Shepherds than with German Shepherds, since much of this breed's body language is similar to that of a spitz. They come in four varieties. The Groenendael is a long haired black breed and the Tervueren also has a long coat, but is black and red or black and fawn, with the same sort of colour distribution as a German Shepherd. Both these breeds need grooming at least once a week, and they need collars which are kind to their ruffs. The Malinois has similar colours to the Tervueren, but has short hair, and can be mistaken for a German Shepherd, though the body language is different, while the Laekenois is wiry-coated and fawn.

These dogs are increasingly used by police forces worldwide, especially the Malinois, due the problems that have arisen from poor breeding of German Shepherds. Like German Shepherd Dogs, Belgian Shepherds can be over-protective, so they should be trained with care. They are naturally good guard dogs, and should be socialized to be friendly with people when they are pups. They can also be barky dogs, and it's a good idea to teach them how to be quiet while they are pups, trying never to reward barky behaviour and giving rewards, like opening the door to go out, when they are quiet. They also need to understand from day one that playbiting is not permitted.

Are Belgian Shepherd Dogs good with children? Generally, yes, so long as they are well-socialized and well trained. This also applies to their relations with other dogs - Belgian shepherds can be very playful with those dogs they get on with, more playful than the average German Shepherd Dog. They are quite capable of obeying their owners and ignoring a passing dog on walks, though, even if the dog is a friend. Unsocialized Belgian Shepherds can be dog-aggressive, as with any breed, but usually their relations with other dogs are good.

Health problems include eye trouble, though generally this is a healthy breed, especially compared with German Shepherd Dogs.

Robert Pollett has written a good, up-to-date guide to the breed, which helps to understand the character of Belgian Shepherds, as well as giving help with training. There is a lot of information on the history of all four types of Belgian Shepherd Dog, and the book is well illustrated.