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Belgian Sheepdog

Belgian Sheepdog


Additional
Belgian Sheepdog
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Breed Organization
Belgian Sheepdog Club of America
Website: www.bsca.info
Native Country
Belgium
Other Names
Groenendael, Belgian Shepherd Groenendael, Belgian Groenendael, Chien de Berger Belge Groenendael
Life Expectancy
Approximately 13-14 Years
Litter Size
Average 6-10 Puppies
Breed Group
AKC Herding
Breed Appearance
The Belgian Shepherd is a mediolineal dog, harmoniously proportioned, combining elegance and power, of medium size, with dry, strong muscle, fitting into a square, rustic, used to the open air life and built to resist the frequent atmospheric variations of the Belgian climate.

Through the harmony of its shape and its high head-carriage, the Belgian Shepherd should give the impression of that elegant strength which has become the heritage of the selected representatives of a working breed.


Breed Description
Head: Carried high, long without exaggeration, rectilinear, well chiselled and dry. Skull and muzzle are roughly equal in length, with at the most a very slight bias in favour of the muzzle which puts the finishing touch to the whole head.
Cranial Region: Of medium width, in proportion with the length of the head, with a forehead flat rather than round, frontal groove not very pronounced; in profile, parallel to imaginary line extending muzzle line; occipital crest little developed; brow ridges and zygomatic arches not prominent.
Stop: Moderate.
Nose: Black.
Muzzle: Medium length and well chiselled under the eyes; narrowing gradually toward the nose, like an elongated wedge; bridge of the nose straight and parallel to the continuation of the topline of the forehead; mouth well split, which means that when the mouth is open the commissures of the lips are pulled right back, the jaws being well apart.
Lips: Thin, tight and strongly pigmented.
Jaws/teeth: Strong, white teeth, regularly and strongly set in well-developed jaws.
Cheeks: dry and quite flat, although muscled.
Eyes: Medium size, neither protruding nor sunken, slightly almond-shaped, obliquely set, brownish colour, preferably dark; black rimmed eyelids; direct, lively, intelligent and enquiring look.
Ears: Rather small, set high, distinctly triangular appearance, well-rounded outer ear, pointed tips, stiff, carried upright and vertical when dog is alert.
Neck: Well standing out, slightly elongated, rather upright, well-muscled, broadening gradually towards the shoulders, without dewlap, nape slightly arched.
Body: Powerful without being heavy; length from point of shoulder to point of buttock approximately equal to height at withers.
Topline: Upper line of back and loins is straight.
Withers: Pronounced.
Back: Firm, short and well-muscled.
Loins: Solid, short, sufficiently broad, well-muscled.
Croup: Well-muscled ; only very slightly sloping ; sufficiently broad but not excessively so.
Chest: Little broad, but well let down; upper part of ribs arched; seen from the front forechest little broad, but without being narrow.
Underline: Begins below the chest and rises gently in a harmonious curve towards the belly, which is neither drooping nor tucked up, but slightly raised and moderately developed.
Tail: Well set on, strong at the base, of medium length, reaching at least to hock, but preferably further; at rest carried down, with tip curved backwards at level of hock; more raised when moving, although without passing the horizontal, the curve towards the tip becoming more accentuated, without ever at any time forming a hook or deviation.
Forequarters: Bone solid but not heavy; muscle dry and strong; front legs upright from all sides and perfectly parallel when seen from the front.
Shoulder: Shoulder blade long and oblique, well attached, forming a sufficient angle with the humerus, ideally measuring 110-115 degrees.
Upper Arm: Long and sufficiently oblique.
Elbow: Firm, neither turning out nor tied in.
Forearm: Long and straight.
Wrist (carpus): Very firm and clean.
Front Pastern (metacarpus): Strong and short, as perpendicular to the ground as possible or only very slightly sloping forward.
Feet: Round, cat feet; toes arched and well closed; pads thick and springy; nails dark and strong.
Hindquarters: Powerful, but not heavy; in profile hindlegs are upright and seen from behind perfectly parallel.
Upper thigh: Medium length, broad and strongly muscled.
Stifle: Approximately on the plumb line from the hip; normal stifle angulation.
Lower Thigh: Medium length, broad and muscled.
Hock: Close to the ground, broad and muscled, moderate angulation.
Back pastern (metatarsus): Solid and short; dewclaws not desirable.
Feet: May be light oval; toes arched and well closed; pads thick and springy; nails dark and strong.
Gait/Movement: Lively and free movement at all gaits; the Belgian Shepherd is a good galloper but its normal gaits are the walk and especially the trot; limbs move parallel to the median plane of the body. At high speed the feet come nearer to the median plane; at the trot the reach is medium, the movement even and easy, with good rear drive, and the topline remains tight while the front legs are not lifted too high. Always on the move, the Belgian Shepherd seems tireless; its gait is fast, springy and lively. It is capable of suddenly changing direction at full speed. Due to its exuberant character and its desire to guard and protect, it has a definite tendency to move in circles.
Skin: Elastic but taut over all the body; edges of lips and eyelids strongly pigmented.
Coat: The hair is short on the head, the outer side of the ears and the lower part of the legs, except on the rear side of the forearm which is covered from elbow to wrist by long hairs called fringes. The hair is long and smooth on the rest of the body and longer and more abundant around the neck and on the forechest, where it forms a collarette or ruff and a jabot or apron. The opening of the ear is protected by thick tufts of hair. From the base of the ear the hair is upright and frames the head. The back of the thighs is covered with very long abundant hair forming the culottes or breeches. The tail is furnished with long, abundant hair forming a plume.
Color: Only uniform black.
Height at withers: The ideal weight at withers is on average - 62 cm for males - 58 cm for females.
Weight: Males about 25-30 kg. Females about 20-25 kg.


History
The Belgian Sheepdog, as it is called worldwide, is simply called the Belgian Shepherd by the American Kennel Club. It was named after the village of Groenendael in Belgium. It is one of the four varieties of the Belgian sheepdogs, the Belgian Sheepdog, Belgian Malinois, Belgian Tervuren, and the less popular Belgian Laekenois, that all share a common foundation. In most countries and breed clubs all four dogs are considered the same breed with different varieties in coat types. All four dogs share a breed standard in all countries except for the AKC, which since 1959 recognizes them as separate breeds and does not recognize one of the four (the Laekenois), whereas the UKC, which is also a U.S. registry, does recognize all four varieties as one breed. Versatile and highly intelligent, all four varieties of the Belgian sheepdog excel at a variety of talents, including but not limited to, police work such as, narcotics and bomb detection, protection and Schutzhund, search and rescue, also obedience, agility, tracking, herding, sled and cart pulling and as a guide for the blind and assistant to the disabled. These high energy, extremely intelligent dogs need leadership, to be challenged, and well exercised daily and therefore are not for everyone, but can make an excellent family companion with the right owners. The Belgian Malinois was the first of the four sheepdogs to establish type. Until the other four were established in type they were called "Berger Belge a poil court autre que Malinois," which means "Belgian short-coated Sheepdog who is not the Malinois." Today all four sheepdogs are popular in Belgium, with the Laekenois and Malinois more often used as working type dogs than the Belgian Sheepdog and Tervuren but all types still making excellent workers.

Behavior
Nervous, sensitive, and impulsive, this breed is extremely lively in his response to stimuli. Watchful, attentive, with a strong personality, he is remarkably devoted to his owner and occasionally aggressive toward strangers. He is very energetic, active, and dynamic and needs a lot of exercise. The Belgian Sheepdog will not accept a leash. These very sensitive dogs cannot tolerate harsh treatment. Training must be firm, but gentle, and undertaken with the greatest patience.

Health
This hardy, healthy breed has no major health concerns. Some minor concerns that have been seen are epilepsy, skin allergies, eye problems, excessive shyness, excessive aggressiveness and occasionally hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. Do not overfeed this breed, for it has a tendency to become obese and lazy.

Advice
This is a working dog that is accustomed to an active outdoor life. As such it needs a lot of exercise, including a long daily walk. In addition, it will greatly benefit being off the leash as much as possible in a safe area.

Function
Belgian Shepherds can compete in dog agility trials, obedience, showmanship, flyball, tracking, and herding events. Herding instincts and trainability can be measured at noncompetitive herding tests. Groenendael exhibiting basic herding instincts can be trained to compete in herding trials. One of the basic activities of the Belgian Shepherd was guarding the flock. This makes the Belgian Shepherd extremely useful for protection purposes. The Malinois is famous for its IPO or Policedog performance, but the Groenendael can also be used for this purpose.


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