Most Common Types of Belgian Dog Breeds

Written by Kristin Hitchcock
Published: April 15, 2023
© Eric Isselee/
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There are seven different dog breeds that originated in Belgium. These dogs range from the Belgian Malinois to the Brussels Griffon. While all of these breeds originated in the same area, that doesn’t mean they have much in common.

Belgium is home to a surprising number of shepherd dogs. In fact, four out of the seven dogs native to the area are shepherd dogs. However, there are a few other dogs, as well. We’ll take a look at all of the Belgian dog breeds below.

1. Belgian Laekenois

The Belgian Laekenois is the first shepherd breed we will be discussing. It’s related directly to the other Belgian shepherd species. Sometimes, the Belgian shepherd is looped in with the other shepherd breeds as the same breed — but a different “variety.”

The main difference between all the shepherd breeds is their coat color and type.

The Belgian Laekenois is the rarest of the Belgian Shepherd breeds. They’re named after the town of Laeken, which is in the Brussels region. They have a distinctive, wiry coat that sets them apart from the other shepherds.

Like most shepherds, this breed is watchful and affectionate. They’re in the herding group, as you might expect.

They are often around 22 to 26 inches tall and weigh 55 to 65 pounds. Their coat color is red, fawn, or gray. They usually have traces of black on their muzzle or tail.

Laekenois running in the woods
The Laekenois not only guarded and herded sheep but also guarded linen.

©Marry Kolesnik/

2. Groenendael

Also known as the Belgian Sheepdog, the Groenendael is another shepherd breed from Belgium. This breed has a long, black coat that isn’t as “fluffy” as you might imagine a sheepdog’s coat to be.

This breed is named after the village of Groenendael, where this variety was originally bred for herding sheep. However, this breed is now used as a working and police canine, as well. They’re extremely versatile, allowing them to be trained for almost anything. They even excel in performance sports like agility and obedience.

Nice Groenendael lying in the garden in front of some flowers.
Groenendael dogs are extremely versatile, allowing them to be trained for almost anything.


3. Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois is easily one of the most popular Belgian dogs. Like other shepherd dogs, they were originally sheepherders. However, they also served well as protection dogs for families and farms.

They’re the only Belgian shepherd breed that has a short coat.

This breed is regularly utilized throughout the world in military and police work. The Belgian Malinois is similar to the German Shepherd somewhat. However, they have a lighter build and different coloration. The Belgian Malinois is often described as “more intense” than a German Shepherd, which is why it’s often used in police work.

Search and rescue dogs - Belgian Malinois
Belgian Malinois have many talents that make them outstanding search and rescue dogs.

©Fesus Robert/

4. Belgian Tervuren

The Belgian Tervuren is the last Belgian shepherd breed we’ll discuss. It closely resembles the Groenendael, which is closely related. However, the Belgian Tervuren comes in shades of tan and brown, not black.

Like most shepherd dogs from Belgium, the Belgian Tervuren is named after the city it originated in, Tervuren.

This breed is famous for its abundant energy. Therefore, it does best in an active family or where it will be working a lot. They’re often very affectionate and need lots of attention, too. They can be a bit possessive of their human family.

Tervuren standing on rock above the ocean
Belgian Tervuren are very active and energetic dogs.

©Ana Iacob Photography/

5. Bouvier des Flandres

This canine originated from the Flanders region of Belgium. They were utilized as shepherd dogs, though it isn’t very closely related to other shepherd breeds we mentioned. Therefore, it often isn’t lumped in with them.

The Bouvier des Flandres is a bit larger than other Belgian dogs, reaching up to 100 pounds. The males and females don’t differ in size, unlike most other dog breeds. This breed has a heavier build, as well. They’re famous for their tousled rough coat, which sets them apart from similar breeds.

This breed isn’t the friendliest. They require early socialization and training to avoid aggression. Their owners must be able to provide them with enough exercise and mental activity.

The Bouvier des Flandres stands on the green grass.
The Bouvier des Flandres is a bit larger than other Belgian dogs, reaching up to 100 pounds.


6. Schipperke

The small, adorable Schipperke originated in the Flemish provinces of Belgium. This breed is one of the oldest in the area, dating back to the Medieval period. Once, they were a common sight in boat docks, where they worked as ratting dogs. Rats were a serious problem during that period, so these dogs were highly sought after, helping save grain and control diseases.

These dogs also acted as guard dogs and companion animals. They were kept in shops, too, where they helped with pest control.

They’re completely black and rather small (which helped them catch rats). However, they’re extremely hardy, feisty, fearless, and watchful. They’re great as alert dogs, as they’ll readily sound the alarm whenever they notice strangers approaching.

These dogs make great, tiny companions if you give them the necessary exercise.

Schipperke playing at the beach.
Schipperke are completely black and rather small, but extremely hardy and feisty.


7. Brussels Griffon

As the name suggests, Brussels Griffon is native to Belgium. These canines have big personalities! They’re scrappy little dogs that aren’t toy dogs in the least. They were bred as ratters in horse stables and similar areas. However, they eventually found their way onto the laps of nobility.

Their scruffy face and soulful eyes make them rather charming. However, those with shorter snouts are prone to health problems, and their snouts have become shorter over the last hundred years or so of breeding.

After the Queen of Belgium took a liking to this breed, they were kept as companion animals by the common person, too.

Brussels Griffons laying in leaves
Brussels Griffons’ scruffy face and soulful eyes make them rather charming.


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The Featured Image

Bouvier des Flandres dog lying against white background.
Bouvier des Flandres dog lying against white background.
© Eric Isselee/

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