Belgian Sheepdog

The Belgian Sheepdog, Belgian Malinois, and Belgian Tervuren were initially grouped as three various varieties of Belgian Shepherd types. The black long-coated variety was developed in the 1800s. It became known as the Groenendael, named after the kennel mainly responsible for breeding this variety. Along with herding and guarding livestock, the dogs were used on the battlefields of World War I as a messenger, ambulance, and draft dogs.

Currently, the dogs are used for search and rescue and as therapy and guide dogs. The varieties were separated by the AKC and approved separate standards for the Belgian Sheepdog, Malinois, and Tervuren in 1959.

belgian sheepdog running straight at you

Breed Standard

This breed is a well-balanced, moderately heavy-boned dog with a square outline covered by a gleaming black coat. Its long tail is heavily coated and reaches to the hock. The crown of the skull is flat, and the head is clean-cut and robust, with medium-sized, triangular, erect ears, a black nose, dark brown eyes, and an alert, intelligent, questioning gaze.

Breed Facts

Energy levelWatchdog ability
Exercise requirementsProtection ability
PlayfulnessGrooming requirements
Affection levelCold tolerance
Friendliness toward dogsHeat tolerance
Friendliness toward other petsFriendliness toward strangers
Ease of training
  1. Popularity: Uncommon
  2. Family Group: Livestock, herding
  3. Country of Origin: Belgium
  4. Date Developed: 1800s
  5. Original Purpose: Stock, herding
  6. Current Function: Herding trials, Schutzhund
  7. Other Names: Groenendael, Chien de Berger Belge
belgian sheepdog with a little white on his chest sitting in the park

Activity level: High. These dogs need regular daily exercise in the form of interactive play, hiking, dog sports, and swimming. The dogs need plenty of room to move around during the day; they’re happier with access to a yard.

Grooming: Belgian Sheepdogs require regular weekly brushing with a slicker brush. The coat needs to be brushed often during seasonal shedding, which lasts about a week in the spring and fall.

Coat: The breed has a straight, long, abundant outer coat with a highly dense undercoat. The dog’s weather-resistant coat makes the breed adaptable to extreme temperatures.

Colors: Black. However, a small amount of white is permitted in competition.

Group: Herding

Year of recognition by the AKC: 1911

Belgian Sheepdog Temperament

groenendael taking it easy after aa hard days work

These are dogs that crave a great deal of personal attention. Belgian Sheepdogs adapt exceptionally well to life as house dogs; however, they do not cope well in a kennel environment. The dogs possess a strong protective instinct and make fantastic watchdogs. Belgians learn quickly, respond well to positive training methods, and are known for their exceptional intelligence. Without daily exercise and attention, the dogs will become bored and frustrated.

The dog is always watchful, and it tends to glide in wide circles while on the move. The breed is well-known for being alert, playful, challenging, protective, intense, and independent. Belgian Sheepdogs are aloof with strangers but aggressive toward strange dogs and small animals. Also, some Belgians are prone to being domineering; therefore, supervision around more minor children is recommended. The dogs will die protecting their families.


  1. Major Problems: none
  2. Minor Issues: seizures, skin disorders, allergies, hypothyroidism
  3. Rarely Seen: CHD, PRA, pannus, elbow dysplasia, hemangiosarcoma
  4. Recommended Tests: hip, elbow, eye
  5. Life Span: 10 to 12 years
    Belgian Shepherd Size:
  6. Weight: male – 55 to 75 pounds; female – 40 to 60 pounds
  7. Height: male – 24 to 26″; female – 22 to 24″

Breeder and Buyer’s Advice

Two belgian sheepdog puppies cuddling together on the grass

Potential owners need to be prepared for a very active, intelligent dog. Do not underestimate the dog’s intuitiveness and intelligence. Develop and maintain an excellent working bond with your breeder and veterinarian. Join a Belgian Sheepdog club to continue learning all you can about this unique and extraordinary breed. The parent club’s website will have valuable information about approved and reputable breeders with Belgian Sheepdog puppies for sale. The puppy price will depend on the dog’s pedigree and the breeder. Another source of resources about the dog is the Mawrmyth Belgian Sheepdog’s website.

Parent club: Belgian Sheepdog Club of America; founded in 1949

Regional clubs: Contact information for nine regional breed clubs can be found on the parent club website

Rescue: Belgian Sheepdog Rescue Trust

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