Belgian Sheepdog

Canis lupus familiaris

Last updated: November 30, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Lisjatina/Shutterstock.com

Belgian Sheepdog Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Carnivora
Family
Canidae
Genus
Canis
Scientific Name
Canis lupus familiaris

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Belgian Sheepdog Locations

Belgian Sheepdog Locations

Belgian Sheepdog Facts

Diet
Omnivore

Belgian Sheepdog Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Fawn
  • Black
  • Brindle
  • Cream

Belgian Sheepdog as a Pet:

General Health
Energy Level
Shedability
Trainability
Intelligence
Tendency to Chew
Size
Family and kid friendliness
Yappiness / Barking
High
Separation Anxiety
Moderate
Preferred Temperature
Average climate
Exercise Needs
High
Friendly With Other Dogs
Moderate
Pure bred cost to own
Puppies may cost $1,500-$3,000. Feeding and maintaining this breed will cost at least $650 a year.
Dog group
Herding
Male weight
65-75 lbs
Female weight
60-67 lbs

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“The Belgian sheepdog is the preferred breed of US Navy SEAL teams.”

Belgian Sheepdog Introduction

Belgian sheepdogs are a medium-sized breed which was originally developed to herd sheep in Belgium. Over the years, they have also proven themselves to be valuable assets to the military, police, search-and-rescue-teams, people in need of service animals, and families wanting a loyal companion and brave protector. Highly intelligent, social, and energetic, these dogs are easily trainable and will take on much larger animals or people without hesitation to protect their families. They do require a dedicated owner who is willing to put time and energy into their socialization and training. Otherwise, these dogs may revert to instinct and display alpha behaviors, including herding children like sheep, fighting other dogs, and becoming hyper-territorial. A well-mannered Belgian sheepdog will channel these instincts into enthusiastic play, watchfulness, and an appropriate reserve when meeting strangers.

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The 4 Different Types of Belgian Sheepdogs and Sheepdog Mixes

Belgian Sheepdogs come in four varieties:

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  • Malinois – short red, fawn, or grey coats.
  • Tervueren – long red, fawn, or grey coats.
  • Groenendael – long black coats.
  • Laekenois – rough reddish-fawn coats.  

3 Pros and Cons of Owning Belgian Sheepdogs

Pros!Cons!
Easy to train This breed is intelligent, social, and loves to have a job to do, all of which makes them easier to train than many other breeds.Separation anxiety Belgian sheepdogs become anxious if left alone too long. They don’t do well in families where no one will be home and they have to stay in a crate all day.
Superb watchdog Belgian sheepdogs are always alert and will readily bark to tell you when a stranger is nearby. They are fearlessly protective, even against larger animals and people.Dominant behaviors These dogs like being in charge! They will try to be the alpha over other dogs and over you and your family if you do not train them properly.
Excellent service animals For generations, Belgian sheepdogs have been popular military, police, search-and-rescue, and service animals. When properly trained, they can protect and serve your family well.Very energetic Belgian sheepdogs have enormous energy, and they love to bark. They’re also highly social. This means you can’t just let them play alone in the backyard; they will insist you join them.

The Best Dog Food for Belgian Sheepdogs

No matter what breed of dog you select, plan on providing them with a high-quality dog food made with real meat and healthy vegetables and grains. Avoid cheap foods with artificial additives and hard-to-digest fillers. You may save yourself a lot of heartache and money in the long run by proactively keeping your dog healthy rather than treating health conditions that may arise from poor nutrition.

An energetic breed such as a Belgian sheepdog has a special need for quality sources of protein. A-Z Animals recommends Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Adult Dry Dog Food. It’s made with real chicken, whole grains, and healthy fruits and vegetables. It also has omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to help your dog maintain a shiny, healthy coat. Antioxidants in this food help your dog keep a healthy immune system. It includes no poultry by-products, corn, wheat, soy or artificial flavors or preservatives.

Best Overall
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Dry Dog Food
  • Essential, high-quality protein for healthy muscle development, and carbs for energy for an active life.
  • Calcium, phosphorus and essential vitamins for strong bones and teeth.
  • Glucosamine is added for joint health and mobility support.
  • Vitamins, chelated minerals and antioxidants contribute to your pup's immune system health.
  • No corn, wheat, soy or chicken (or poultry) by-product meals.


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Belgian Sheepdog Size and Weight

Belgian sheepdogs are a medium-sized breed, ranging from 24-26 inches tall for males and 22-24 inches tall for females. Adult males may weigh 65-75 pounds, while females are slightly smaller at 60-70 pounds.

Height (Male)24-26” Tall
Height (Female)22-24” Tall
Weight (male)65-75 lbs., fully grown
Weight (female)60-70 lbs., fully grown

Belgian Sheepdog Common Health Issues

Belgian sheepdogs are a hardy breed that do not have excessive health problems as compared to other breeds. Some issues to watch out for that tend to be common issues in dogs in general are hypothyroidism, seizures, allergies, elbow and hip dysplasia, the eye conditions Pannus and Progressive retinal atrophy, and hemangiosarcoma (liver and spleen cancer). Don’t be unduly alarmed by this list. Belgian sheepdogs have a relatively long-life expectancy of 10-14 years.

Health and Entertainment for your Belgian Sheepdog

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Here is a list summarizing possible health issues affecting some Belgian sheepdogs.

Belgian Sheepdog Temperament and Behavior

Having been developed to herd sheep, this breed is athletic, alert, and intelligent. They can pour on the power for huge bursts of speed but also have great endurance to run or play steadily for a long time. This is a dog that requires a great deal of exercise and space to run and play. They will tend to treat children or household pets like sheep and herd them by chasing and nipping at their heels.

They also have strong instincts to guard and protect their herd. This makes them cautious around strangers, attentive, and vocal. They bark quite a bit to alert their owners to possible danger. They like to chase prey, and without training will chase cats, squirrels, and passing bicycles with equal gusto. Belgian sheepdogs are fiercely loyal to their families and will sacrifice themselves without hesitation even if confronted by a larger dog or other animal or a threatening human.

These dogs are highly social and will much prefer living in the house with you than outdoors in a kennel. They can adapt to life in an apartment or small house if given lots of exercise and interaction. However, their tendency to bark a lot, especially when left alone, may be annoying to neighbors living in close proximity. So, a detached house with a fenced yard is the best living situation for them.

How To Take Care of Belgian Sheepdogs

Maintenance and Grooming

This breed comes in black, brindle, cream, or fawn coloring. Their coats are relatively easy to maintain, and they don’t need frequent bathing. Just brush them about once a week.

They shed heavily once a year and require more frequent brushing at that time. You can also give them some warm baths and blow dry them to loosen up dead hair during shedding season.

Training

Belgian sheepdogs are intelligent, energetic, social, and enjoy having work to do. All these traits make them relatively easily trainable. They do not respond well to harsh training techniques and can become stubborn if that approach is attempted. It is essential to train and socialize this breed to channel their instincts and alpha behaviors in constructive directions that will serve your family well and make your pet into a well-mannered companion.

Exercise

Belgian shepherd/sheepdog
Belgian sheepdogs need plenty of vigorous exercise on a daily or weekly basis.

©Janet Delight/Shutterstock.com

These dogs require daily vigorous exercise. If you like jogging, biking, or hiking, this dog will be in heaven trotting along by your side. If you and your family have a more sedentary lifestyle or do not have the time to be active with your dog during the week, this is not the best breed for you.

Keep in mind that it’s not enough simply to turn a Belgian sheepdog out in a fenced yard to play alone. They are very social and will want to play with you, not entertain themselves. They have a tendency toward separation anxiety and will act out by barking, chewing, destroying things, and trying to escape enclosures.

Belgian Sheepdogs and Children

This breed does just fine with children if properly trained and socialized. Without training, it will chase your children down, nip at them, and try to herd them all together. It may also attempt to intervene in conflicts or play between kids that it thinks require an aggressive or protective response.

Dogs Similar to Belgian Sheepdogs

  • Bouvier des Flandres – Native to the same area as Belgian sheepdogs and similarly used for herding, guarding, police work, as a service animal, and as a household pet
  • German shepherd – One of the most popular dog breeds in the United States, often used in police work or as a service dog. It is similar in size and appearance to the Belgian sheepdog.
  • Shiloh shepherd – A breed similar in appearance to a Belgian sheepdog or German shepherd, but larger and bred to have a calm, family-friendly temperament.

Popular Names for Belgian Sheepdogs

Names for male Belgian sheepdogs include:

  • Cooper
  • Buddy
  • Toby
  • Oliver
  • Bear

Names for female Belgian sheepdogs include:

  • Daisy
  • Molly
  • Lucy
  • Coco
  • Luna

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What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?

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Small
Medium
Large
Xtra-Large

If you have kids or existing dogs select:

Kids
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Should they be Hypoallergenic?

Yes
No
How important is health?
Which dog groups do you like?
How much exercise should your dog require?
What climate?
How much seperation anxiety?
How much yappiness/barking?

How much energy should they have?

The lower energy the better.
I want a cuddle buddy!
About average energy.
I want a dog that I have to chase after constantly!
All energy levels are great -- I just love dogs!
How much should they shed?
How trainable/obedient does the dog need to be?
How intelligent does the dog need to be?
How much chewing will allow?
About the Author

I'm a freelance writer and a lifelong animal lover. I've traveled the world, but the high point for me was riding an elephant in Nepal. Currently I'm an "Emotional Support Human" to 3 dogs, 1 cat, and 3 guinea pigs. My favorite wild animal is the quokka, the most selfie-friendly animal in the world.

Belgian Sheepdog FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How much does a Belgian sheepdog cost to own?

The average cost of purchasing a Belgian sheepdog puppy is $1,500-$3,000. Annual feeding and maintenance is about $650.

Is the Belgian sheepdog good with kids?

Belgian sheepdogs are good with kids. They are playful and loving, but they also have instincts to herd children by nipping at their legs. They need to be socialized and trained not to continue this undesirable behavior.

How long does a Belgian sheepdog live?

The life expectancy of a Belgian sheepdog is 12-14 years.

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Sources
  1. Dogtime.com, Available here: https://dogtime.com/dog-breeds/belgian-sheepdog#/slide/1
  2. AKC, Available here: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/belgian-sheepdog/
  3. DogBreedList, Available here: https://www.dogbreedslist.info/all-dog-breeds/groenendael.html
  4. Dog Temperament, Available here: https://dogtemperament.com/belgian-sheepdog-temperamen/#:~:text=He%20needs%20his%20people%20around,to%20crate%20him%20all%20day.
  5. Purina.com.au, Available here: https://www.purina.com.au/dogs/breeds/belgian-shepherd-dog-malinois

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