The four Belgian shepherd dog breeds include the Malinois, Groenendael, Tervueren and Laekenois. The Belgian shepherd dogs are extremely alert and loyal dogs that work well in obedience trials and make excellent guard dogs.
Laekenois (also known as Lakense herder) MultiCh Humlans Ferocious Fang
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The first mention of Belgian shepherd dogs and a first standard appear between 1891 en 1897. As the Belgian shepherd breeds were merely poor man's working dogs, little effort had been done at the time to research and write down the individual breeds' origin.
The Belgian shepherd breeds are as different from each other as they are from the Bouvier des Flandres and other French, Dutch and German Shepherds. See also: French shepherd. However, until the late 1800's all these shepherd dogs were known as Continental Shepherd Dogs. In September 1891, the Club du Chien de Berger Belge (Belgian Shepherd Dog Club) was formed to defend the identity of the Belgian Shepherds. By 1892, a first breed standard was written by the club, but only one breed standard had been outlined, allowing three coat varieties. This explains why the four breeds have been historically represented by one and the same Belgian Shepherd Dog Club, even though the four breeds are considered separate breeds in Belgium and in most other countries (except in the UK). The first Belgian shepherd dogs were registered in the studbooks of the Royal Saint-Hubert Society in 1901.
In the US, 'Belgian shepherd dog' is a misnomer applied to Groenendaels since 1959 and to Malinois and Tervueren from 1913 until 1959. Today the Malinois and Tervueren are known under their common name in the US, i.e. "Belgian Malinois" and "Belgian Tervuren", but the Groenendael is still to this day referred to as "Belgian shepherd dog' in the US. The misnomer stems from the fact that in 1911, two Groenendaels and two Malinois were registered by the AKC as "German Sheepdogs", which was corrected in 1913 to "Belgian sheepdogs" and the term remained in use to refer to these breeds until 1959.
The Laekenois has not yet obtained full recognition by the AKC. In the UK the four breeds are considered to be just varieties of one and the same breed.
Belgian shepherds are extremely intelligent dogs. They are lively and energetic and love being around their human family. They make wonderful obedience workers and quick learners who will excell in any type of work (in tracking, obedience and Schutzhund and as scent detectors). They love to please their owner or handler. Early socialization is a must. Although they possess all necessary traits and qualities to make excellent police dogs, they do not thrive well in settings were they are handled by different people/owners (except the Malinois).
Each breed can have two spellings or names, one in flemish and one in French, two of Belgium's national languages. The Tervueren, for example, can be written Tervuren (without the 'e', the latter being the flemish spelling) or Tervuurse herder. In the same way the Laekenois is also known as Lakense herder and the Malinois as Mechelaar or Mechelse scheper in flemish. Groenendael is the most common spelling both in French and Flemish, although Groenendaalse herder also exist. To refer to a shepherd dog the word 'scheper' is more common in flemish than 'herder' or 'herdershond', but internationally this word is little known. Internationally the French equivalents are more common.
Tervueren also known as Tervuurse Herder, Tervuurse Scheper or Tervuerense Scheper
Laekenois also known as Lakense herder or Lakense Scheper
Groenendael also known as Groendendaalse herder
Malinois also called Mechelse Herder, Mechelse Scheper, Mechelaar
The Groenendael is a long-coated solid black dog with a profuse collarette of hair around the neck. He is one of the most popular Belgian shepherd dogs outside his home country.
The Tervueren is a long-coated fawn or dark red dog with black mask and black overlay. Grey is allowed by some Kennel Clubs and registries.
The Malinois is a short-coated dog that comes in fawn, red or brown with a black mask and black overlay. The coat is shorter than that of the German shepherd and gives the Malinois an athletic look. In terms of coat length the German shepherd would be intermediate between the Malinois and the Tervueren.
The Laekenois is a rough or wire-coated fawn or grey dog. He is one of the rarer Belgian shepherd dogs.