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Belgian Shepherd, the Dog With a Sense of Duty

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The Belgian Shepherd belongs to the Herding group. Origins may date back to the 1200s. This Belgian Sheepdog protected flocks from wild dogs and wolves. Strong protective and territorial attitudes have carried down through the generations. As a war dog during World War I and II, the Groenendaeler served as loyal ambulance dogs, message carriers and artillery haulers.

Physical Characteristics

The Belgian Shepherd has a squarely proportioned body with the height at the withers matching the length. Males reach a height of 61 to 66 cm (24 to 26 in.); females reach a height of 56 to 61 cm (22 to 24 in.). Weight for males ranges from 29 to 34 kg (65 to 75 lbs.); weight for females ranges 27 to 32 kg (60 to 70 lbs.).

The Groenendaeler sports a black, weather-resistant double coat. Abundant guard hairs stand straight. The medium-length outer coat lies flat. A dense undercoat helps protect against temperature extremes. The coat texture is of medium harshness. A long ruff of fur surrounds the neck. Feathering appears on legs and tail.

The Belgian Shepherd’s skull appears flattened at the top. Brown, medium eyes show an alert, attentive attitude. Erect ears resemble triangle shapes. This breed has a deep chest, straight legs, and a low tail. Small feet appear cat-like in shape.

The Groenendaeler runs with a smooth and easy gait, and keeps its back level. This breed tends to move in a circle instead of a straight line.

Temperament

The Groenendaeler seems ready to spring into action. An intelligent dog with high energy, this breed can quickly read its owner’s expression. The Belgian Shepherd’s herding and territorial instincts may come into play during chasing and circling.

Owners should provide at least an average-sized yard to ensure an active, outdoor life. The Belgian Shepherd needs an assertive owner who enforces consistent rules. Extensive socialization should start from early age to overcome shyness or over-sensitivity. Owners must take care to train and exercise their dogs daily. Consequences of not providing an active lifestyle include destruction and hard to handle situations.

Overfeeding can make a Groenendaeler obese and lazy. This demanding breed will try to dominate other canines and may show aggression with other animals. Owners should also be aware that their dogs may nip at people’s heels.

The Belgian Shepherd enjoys a lifespan of 13 to 14 years.

Working Roles

Belgian Shepherds serve as police and guard dogs. They take on important roles in narcotics and bomb detection, and search and rescue. This breed performs well in obedience, agility and tracking events. Other roles include herding and sled and cart pulling. The Belgian Shepherd can prove a devoted guide for the visually impaired, and a capable assistant to those living with a disability.