The Belgian Sheepdog

descriptive textDog breed info
Belgian Sheepdog
Weight Male 55 — 75 lbs
Weight Female 50 — 60 lbs
Height:Male 24” — 26”
Height Female 22” — 24”
AKC Rank 2008 #114
Lifespan 10—12 yrs

Dog Breed Info - The Belgian Sheepdog

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Breed Overview

Origin: Belgium, 1800’s. Herding group. Original function: Stock herding. Today: Herding trials, Schutzhund, Police, security, Guardian, Companion dog.. Colors: Black, tan.

There are four slightly different Belgian shepherd dogs, each with a different coat. The Groenendael version is known as the Belgian Sheepdog, one of the four This dog was originally a working farm dog, serving both to herd and protect the animals. It differed from the others because of it’s long black coat. (Belgian Malinois has a short, smooth coat, the Belgian Laekenois has a wire coat, the Belgian Tervuren has a coat that’s any color other than black) In 1910, this dog was officially named “Groenendael” after the town and kennel that had bred the black dog back in 1893. By now the Shepherds were recognized as a breed. By this time the dog was employed as a police dog in America. In 1959 the Belgian Shepherd breeds were divided into separate breeds with the Groenendael known as the Belgian Sheepdog and is the most striking of the Belgian breeds and it has a good size fan base. The AKC registered the breed in 1912.


This is a dominant breed that is usually easy to train and capable of learning many things, including police and security work. A firm but pleasant upper hand is needed and clicker training is the most productive approach along with positive reinforcement. The Belgian Sheepdog needs to be heavily socialized starting at around 4 or 5 weeks old with obedience training starting at the same time. This is a dog that must be controlled by “pack leader” owners and family.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Belgian Sheepdog puppy? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

The Belgian Sheepdog puppy is usually easy to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.


The Belgian Sheepdog is a playful, alert and obedient dog and is the most popular of the four shepherds from that family. This is a rugged and independent watchdog that is very protective pf his family and property. He needs heavy socialization from the very young age of 4 or 5 weeks. Because of his guarding instincts, and a tendency to be shy, this dog needs firm training but with a kind and understanding trainer. If you overpower the dog, he will shutdown and become unresponsive. He is wary, even aloof with strangers and can be aggressive toward dogs and any other animals he doesn't know. This breed can be quite domineering and needs a family that can maintain an alpha leadership role over the dog. The dog is well suited to police and other security work.

If you happen to get a Belgian Sheepdog with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Friendly Toward Other Dogs

Can be aggressive toward strange dogs. Will pick and choose his dog friends.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

.Maybe. If raised with the pets, okay. Some can be socialized effectively with cats and small dogs. Otherwise, be careful.

Friendly Toward Strangers

Wary of strangers. It’s his guarding instinct.


Very playful. Loves games of fetch, Frisbee.


Very affectionate. This is a great family dog (for the right family) and loves human closeness.

Good with children

Yes, older, respectful children that know how to behave around a dog. Best if the dog is raised with the kids. Socialization is important with this dog. He’s playful and will romp with the kids. Small children must be closely supervised. He’s very proterctiov4e of the children but may try to “herd” them when playing, especially when running.

Good with Seniors over 65?

No. Too much energy, needs too much exercise.

Living environment

House with a medium to large fenced yard. The Belgian Sheepdog needs to be an indoors where it can interact with his family of humans. He needs plenty of human companionship to keep mentally stimulated.


Energy level

High energy. Rate this around 9 out of 10 bars.

Exercise needs, daily

High. The Belgian Sheepdog is a good jogging partner. He also needs a good, long walk daily, and a vigorous play session in the yard. This dog needs something to do all the time. He gets bored easily and can become destructive. If you’re not into jogging, play fetch in the yard.


Excellent watchdog.

Guard dog

Excellent—Guarding is in his blood.


Sheds a lot—Several times a year.


Has double coat. Brush with a stiff bristle brush around 2 times a week, daily when shedding.



Suggested Reading - Belgian Sheepdog
Click on the cover photos for more book information and editor reviews.

  • 2nd book from the left - "A Dog Who's Always Welcome." How to train your dog way beyond normal obedience and to the extent of therapy dog work. You'll be proud to take your dog anywhere because he'll be the most polite dog in town.

  • 3rd book from left - 101 Dog Tricks. Great mental stimulation for dogs. There are things for dogs to do I had never though of in this book!

  • Book on far right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog illness, emergencies and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners.

Belgian Sheepdog Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Alaskan Malamute puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training. It's not often that Belgian Sheepdogs turn up in shelters but you might check anyway.
Belgian Sheepdog Breeders with puppies for sale.

Dog Health Issues For The Belgian Sheepdog
Below are the dog illness / illnesses or medical problems as listed for the Belgian Sheepdog by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical issues this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Epilepsy—A serious seizure disorder that usually shows up at around 2 to 4 or 5 years of age in dogs.—

  • Gastric Torsion—Sometimes called Bloat or “Twisted stomach.” Mainly in larger, deep-cheated dogs. Here's a brief description of the problem.
    Symptoms include excessive drooling, nervous pacing, agitation, weakness, attempt to vomit, bulging stomach area, heavy breathing, retching and gagging, shock or total collapse.

  • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the dog's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the dog’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

  • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, hind/back leg acts lame, can't move, weak legs. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing the Plott great pain, weakness and difficulty walking. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

  • Alopecia—Seasonal patchy hair loss mainly on the flanks of the dog. Cause not determined. Hair loss and tender skin will occur from November to March and in a few months, re-grow. With some dogs, the loss can become permanent with age. Your vet will try to treat the condition.

  • Atopic dermatitis's—Atopy. Hereditary. Shows at 1 to 3 years age. Skin allergy triggered by dust mites, pollen, poor quality foods and other garbage we put into the dog’s environment. Many breeds are prone to this. The dog will lick, rub, chew and scratch the infected areas. Allergens can also come from fleas, bacteria and yeast infections. See your vet. There are many treatments ranging from medicines, antihistamines, diets, bathing, cleansing the house of dust mites and so on.

  • Hemangiosarcoma—An incurable tumor in the blood vessels. It is a highly malignant and aggressive cancer that lines the blood vessels. In the early stages, this cancer shows no signs, is painless and develops slowly. A lot of dogs die from internal bleeding before there is even a diagnosis. This is one deadly, stealthy disease.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy—(PRA) An inherited, untreatable disease of the retina affecting both eyes causing blindness. It’s in the genes of the dog and is not painful. Starts with night blindness and progresses as the retina gradually deteriorates.

  • Elbow Dysplasia—Dislocated elbow joint. This, as with hip dysplasia, is something the dog is born with. Wear and time in the front legs (elbow joints) cause lameness by the time the dog is roughly a year old. Have an early x-ray of your Belgian Sheepdog to see if surgery to the joints will stave off further damage to the joints. Typically, there has been no cure, but recently doctors have come up with some ideas. 1) Keep the weight of your dog down. 2) Use anti-inflammatory medication. 3) Look into injections of stem-cells to help regenerate bone-covering cartilage to cause the bones to line up properly again. (This is new research and some vets may not know about it so ask around.)

  • Obesity—Tends to gain weight. Watch the food bowl, type of food and number of treats.

  • Cataracts—Hazy or cloudy vision and if not treated can lead to total blindness.

  • Pannus—A disorder of the cornea of the eye affecting certain breeds in the 4 to 7 year range with an increase in dogs living at higher elevations. Not painful and treatable. If not treated for the remaining life of the dog, the cornea will slowly darken and scar causing visual impairment

Other health problems could occur with your Belgian Sheepdog. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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