The Belgian shepherd dog is a breed that is commonly confused with the German shepherd by those unfamiliar with them, particularly given that the German shepherd is much more common and widely known of here in the UK.
However, the Belgian shepherd is of course a breed in its own right with its own unique traits and personality, and they are also a large and versatile breed with a very complex personality, which means that they need a fairly specific type of owner in order to thrive.
Belgian shepherds are not the type of dogs that work well in all types of homes, and whilst they are matchless in the right hands, not everyone who might wish to own a dog of this type is a good fit for them.
If you’re wondering if the Belgian shepherd is the right dog for you, this is something you need to research in great detail and take plenty of time over, and this article will give you some pointers to get you started. Read on to learn ten things you need to know about the Belgian shepherd dog, before you buy one.
The Belgian shepherd dog is a large and physically strong breed, and as they usually have long and thick coats, they often look even larger again.
Dogs of the breed are both muscular and tall, with a lot of physical strength, and when they’re fit and in their prime, have bags of endurance too. They tend to turn heads and can look quite daunting to people who don’t know them!
The Belgian shepherd is one of the most intelligent dog breeds in the world, ranked in 14th place out of a total of 138 different dog breeds in Coren’s ranking of dog breeds classified by working intelligence.
The Belgian shepherd will generally learn a new command within just 5-15 repetitions, and will follow it reliably 85% of the time or better.
The Belgian shepherd’s strength, endurance and high intelligence make them very versatile working dogs, and whilst they were originally used for herding (as the name implies) they are also a breed that is commonly used by the police and the military too, thanks to their broad range of skills and flair for working roles.
Belgian shepherds are very high energy dogs as well as highly intelligent, and if they’re not kept within a working role, need to be exercised for several hours each day to keep them fit and in the peak of health.
This is not a breed to choose if you live a fairly sedentary lifestyle.
Belgian shepherds are hugely versatile within working roles, but they are the type of dogs that need direction, a goal, a task to perform or something to do, which means that they are not a breed that is considered to be a good domestic pet for a household that doesn’t appreciate this.
They’re not couch potatoes, they need plenty of mental stimulation, and they thrive within fields such a canine sports, and ergo will very quickly get bored and become unhappy and unruly if their lives are dull and sedentary.
The Belgian shepherd is highly protective of their homes and owners, and they make excellent natural guard dogs. This, and their natural bravery, is what makes them a great fit for police and military work, but it can be hard to manage within a domestic environment.
They will patrol their homes and gardens, will see off strangers, and will generally actively stop people gaining admission if they don’t know them – which can be a problem in suburban environments and means you need to take care to keep visitors and delivery people safe and your dog properly contained.
The Belgian shepherd is really smart and can learn a wide range of commands, follow them reliably, and take very exact direction. But they require a highly experienced and competent handler who understands how to get the best out of a dog of this type and that can harness their skills in positive directions and keep them under control and properly managed.
The Belgian shepherd has a thick coat with distinct layers to it, and which requires a significant amount of brushing and grooming to keep it in good condition and to prevent it becoming knotted and matted up.
This can take a significant amount of time each day, and is an essential part of caring for a dog of the breed.
In the right hands, the Belgian shepherd dog is one of the most rewarding of dogs to own and they can achieve great things, and display such a fine level of skill and commitment to their roles that the right type of owners for Belgian shepherds find them incomparable to other dogs.
In the wrong hands, however – which means someone inexperienced or lacking in confidence – owning a Belgian shepherd is soon apt to turn into a nightmare for both dog and owner.
The Belgian shepherd is a complex breed, and not one to choose lightly. If you’ve never owned a dog before, this is highly unlikely to be a good choice for you.
Those experienced with highly intelligent, complex and protective breeds like the German shepherd tend to be a good fit for Belgians too, and you should not overlook the amount of both exercise and grooming that a dog of this type requires.