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Belgian Shepherds

Pet Road Tests > Dogs

Belgian Shepherds

Breed: Belgian Shepherd
Temperament: protective, wary
Lifespan: 12-14 years
Recommended for: responsible families
Maintenance: medium
Dumpage rate: low


There are four types of Belgian Shepherd, but the only differences between them is their coat colour and its length. Each has been named after the area which was instrumental in its development.

  • The Groenendael: long black coat
  • The Tervueren: long tawny coat
  • The Malinois: short tawny coat
  • The Laekenois: wire tawny coat

Belgian Shepherds are medium-sized, finely built dogs with long, straight legs. Adults are 56-66cm (22-26") tall and weigh about 21-30kg.


The Belgian Shepherd is an intelligent and attentive breed, wary of strangers but not timid or aggressive. They are protective of their families, but if left alone can become introverted and even fear-biters. They are slow to mature mentally, and are not considered mature until they are three years old.

Health and lifespan

Belgian Shepherds will live for 12 to 14 years. Hip dysplasia is not unknown in the breed, but Australian breeders have done much to decrease the instance of this problem. Potential owners should ask breeders for a copy of the hip score and discuss it with a vet. Hip scores are given out of 106 points. A score of over 30 can lead to problems for dogs in later life.


Belgian Shepherds reportedly have no whelping problems, and produce a litter of between two and 10 pups. But there are regulations regarding the breeding of different varieties of Belgian Shepherd. These regulations are administered by the Australian National Kennel Council.

Housepet potential, space and exercise

The Belgian Shepherd was developed as a working dog and requires at least a 30 minute walk each day. While they are good guard dogs, they should not be left alone in the backyard or apartment for long periods, as they can become destructive.

Ideal owner

Belgian Shepherds are ideal for an active family with older children, or for a person with time to devote to an animal. Owners say that Belgian Shepherds, like any dog, should always be watched with children.


Belgian Shepherds require daily brushing and combing, for at least a total of 30 minutes a week, with special attention to the undercoat during the shedding season. Excess hair should be removed from the inner ear and between the toes, and owners should watch for tangles in the 'pantaloons' and behind the ears.


Belgian Shepherds are well-suited to families with older children, and make protective guard dogs. Training other than house-training, should be delayed until a puppy is nine months old. They are biddable and can be trained.

Cost and availability

While a pet costs about $250, a show dog starts from $500. Numbers of the breed have fallen over the past decade. Of the Belgian Shepherd varieties, Laekenois are quite rare and there are only three in Australia.


For centuries Belgian farmers developed a variety of sheep dog, which was eventually catalogued by Professor Reul of the University in Brussels in 1891. Finding eight types, he recommended they be bred separately. The Belgian Kennel Club later registered three varieties, and of the eight types identified, only four remain today. One variety, the Groenendael, went to the US in 1907, was highly regarded as a messenger dog during WW1 and now is more popular in America than in Europe. The Belgian Shepherd is the national dog of Belgium.


National contacts

To find up-to-date contacts for breeders, contact the following organisations. The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)

Dogs NSW
Phone: 1300 728 022 (NSW only) or (02) 9834 3022
Fax: (02) 9834 3872

Dogs Victoria
Phone: (03) 9788 2500
Fax: (03) 9788 2599

Dogs ACT
Phone: (02) 6241 4404 - Fax: (02) 6241 1129.

Dogs West
Phone: (08) 9455 1188
Fax: (08) 9455 1190

Dogs SA
Phone: (08) 8349 4797

Canine Control Council of Queensland
Phone: (07) 3252 2661
Fax: (07) 3252 3864

Tasmanian Canine Association
Phone: (03) 6272 9443
Fax: (03) 6273 0844

Dogs NT
Phone: (08) 8984 3570
Fax: (08) 8984 3409
The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)

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