Types of Belgian Shepherd Dog - All Breed Variations
See files for Dogs
The Belgian Shepherd is a dog with over a hundred years of breed recognition. Often confused with the German Shepherd dog, both breeds have a loyal fanbase all over the world. This is appropriate since the Belgian Shepherd bonds closely with their human guardians and fosters a strong loyalty of their own. Once used primarily as a herding dog (as the shepherd in their name suggests), the breed has become most popular as a companion animal. This doesn't mean they are not still regularly used as a working dog in other capacities.
If you did not know already, there are different types of Belgian Shepherd. AnimalWised brings you all the breed variations as well as interesting facts about their appearance and character.
Characteristics of the Belgian Shepherd
The Belgian Shepherd originates in the country from which they derive their name. The origins of the breed lie in the late 1800s where the first attempt at a proper breed creation occurred around 1891. They weren't, however, officially recognized until 1901. As their name attests, they were originally developed as a herding dog to monitor and protect livestock.
In the original French, the Belgian Shepherd is called the Chien de Berger Belge. In English speaking nations, it is sometimes also known as the Belgian sheepdog.
They are characterized as a dog of medium to large size, with an athletic body structure and well-proportioned muscles. Despite their strength and agility, they are a slender breed. Their head is pronounced with an elongated snout. They often have a black mask with thin lips and alert triangular ears.
As you will see when we look at the different types of Belgian Sheepdogs, certain characteristics can vary. This is particularly the case with their coat. The fur of the Belgian Shepherd is abundant and often shaggy, whether it is short or long. It can appear in various colors and tones, something important when distinguishing between the different types of Belgian Shepherd.
Although the personality of the dog will depend mainly on circumstance and the education they receive, there are some general temperament characteristics they all share. They are a dog which loves the outdoors and exercise, requiring a lot of time to be outside to meet their high exercise needs.
As a very intelligent dog, the Belgian Shepherd responds exceedingly well to training. However, some may be better suited than others to be used as working dogs. They can make an excellent family dog, but they will need a lot of stimulation, proper socialization and plenty of education. They are adventurous, loyal and curious.
Before we share the different types of Belgian Shepherd breeds, we need to clarify some controversy. In their native Belgium, the breed is only recognized officially as being one particular breed, The Belgian Shepherd. However, in other regions this is not the case. For example, in the USA, there distinct breeds recognized with a fourth likely to be claimed in the future. Here we provide all the possible breed variations of the Belgian Shepherd.
How many types of Belgian Shepherd dog are there?
As we have stated, some registries see the Belgian Shepherd as only one distinct dog breed. However, there are four potential varieties which other breed organizations recognize. These are:
- Belgian Shepherd Malinois
- Belgian Shepherd Groenendael
- Belgian Shepherd Tervuren (sometimes spelled Tervueren)
- Belgian Shepherd Laekenois
These types of Belgian Shepherd are named after various regions in Belgium. These breed variations have become most associated with these particular areas.
1. Belgian Shepherd Groenendael
The Groenendael is a type of Belgian Shepherd which is sometimes referred to simply as the Belgian Sheepdog. They are characterized by an elegant muscular body with their face being particularly fine. Their ears are pointed and floppy ears are considered a fault in the breed when shown in competition.
Among the different types of Belgian Shepherd dog, the Groenendael has one of the most striking coats. They have a double coat with thick, long fur. The fur needs regular brushing to prevent tangles and dirt accumulation. The fur is not long on the face, but does become more abundant around the tail and neck. Their color is a deep black in tone, although there may be hints of chocolate coloration in certain lights. They may have some white markings on their chin and feet.
This variety of Belgian Shepherd dog breeds is very agile and behaves well in dog competitions. They require daily exercise and will develop behavioral issues if not stimulated sufficiently. Agility courses are a great way to train and bond with your dog while still meeting their physical and mental needs.
2. Belgian Shepherd Tervuren
The Tervuren is another type of Belgian Shepherd dog which is similarly well-loved. They stand out for their muscular appearance with the same regal head which characterizes the other breed variations. Their coat is smooth, thick and particularly long around the head and tail. It is shorter on the head and extremities.
The Terveuren presents with a black mask around the face and eyes. The rest of their coat is a reddish brown color. They will need regular brushing to get rid of dead hairs, especially during shedding season.
The Tervuren variety of Belgian Shepherd dog also requires a lot of exercise and needs practice for their natural agility. For this reason, they can be a good companion animal for people who lead active lives and enjoy spending time outdoors. They can also be trained for various jobs, becoming disruptive if not sufficiently engaged. They can be shy around strangers, but are very close to their guardians.
3. Belgian Shepherd Malinois
Among the different types of Belgian Shepherd dog, the Malinois presents somewhat different characteristics. Sometimes known as the Belgian Malinois, this version of the breed has a noticeably shorter coat than the others. They also lack the thick mane around their head of some Belgian Shepherds. They have a well-defined mask around the eyes and snout, with black lines extending towards the ears. The rest of their fur can be a variety of shades from tan to mahogany.
The Malinois is the largest type of Belgian Shepherd dog breed. They have very well-proportioned muscles. Their use as a working dog is often extended to law enforcement and military operations. They are particularly popular for use in search and tracking activities. Their deep loyalty to their human guardians and keen desire to be trained makes them well suited for the job. They are not recommended for first time owners or sedentary people in general.
For more information, take a look at our article on common health problems of the Malinois.
4. Belgian Shepherd Laekenois
The Laekenois is perhaps the most different looking of the four Belgian Shepherd dog breeds. At first glance, you may not even think it is part of the Belgian Shepherd breed at all. Although their body is also strong and muscular, it is a little more discreet. They have a very shaggy coat which makes them look like a ‘hippy’ version of a Malinois. The coat is semi-long and disordered, with some curling at the ends. They do not have a defined black mask like the others, although can see some similar reddish colors underneath the guard hair. The coat in general is reddish to yellow, but cam also seem to have white highlights.
This variety of Belgian Shepherd dog can be more prone to obesity than the other dogs. It is very important we provide a suitable diet, do not let them overeat and provide lots of exercise to keep their fitness up. Laekenois loves to bond with their human guardians and fares well with other dogs when well-socialized. They can be somewhat reserved with strangers, but this can also make them a suitable watchdog.
White Belgian Shepherd dog
Some people have been looking for a white Belgian Malinois, but this breed doesn't exist. The only exception would be if any of the different types of Belgian Shepherd were to have albinism. What makes people question if there is a white Belgian Shepherd is the confusion between this breed and the Swiss White Shepherd, a different breed with a similar appearance. This breed descends from the German Shepherd dog.
To learn more, check out our breed file on the Swiss White Shepherd.
If you want to read similar articles to Types of Belgian Shepherd Dog - All Breed Variations, we recommend you visit our Comparisons category.
- FCI Standard No. 15. Belgian Shepherd Dog. FCI. Retrieved: http://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/015g01-en.pdf
- Belgian Malinois American Kennel Club. Retrieved: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/belgian-malinois/
- Belgian Tervuren. American Kennel Club. Retrieved: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/belgian-tervuren/
- Belgian Llaekenois. American Kennel Club. Retrieved: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/belgian-laekenois/
- Belgian Sheepdog. American Kennel Club. Retrieved: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/belgian-sheepdog/