Belgian Shepherds

Discussion in 'The Dog Breeds' started by ~Dixie's_Mom~, May 23, 2011.

  1. ~Dixie's_Mom~

    ~Dixie's_Mom~ ♥Chloe & Violet♥

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    I think they are SO incredibly gorgeous, but I know nothing about them. Please post anything you know. :) Thanks!
     
  2. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    Which ones? Are we talking Groendaels? Tervurens? Malinois? Laekenois?
     
  3. Raegan

    Raegan Member

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    Yeah, AKC really dropped the ball on the naming thing. I'm going to assume that the OP meant Groendaels.

    They're my favorite variety. <3 I don't know anything other than that they're really pretty, and they don't seem too common as sport dogs. Tervs are one of the most common agility dogs in my area, and Mals of course are really popular in protection sports, but I've never seen a Groendael in any sports either in real life or the internet.
     
  4. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    My neighbor has one (Groendael), and I've never met him, but the dog is hella reactive and she has a tough time handling him. He's the only one I've ever seen in person, and I don't think that's the norm...but they don't seem as common as Mals or Tervs around here.
     
  5. Aleron

    Aleron New Member

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    I have had black Belgians (Belgian Sheepdogs or Groenendaels depending on who you ask) since the mid90s. They are fun loving, quirky, clever, good workers and can do well at lots of different sports. They are still a breed where the same dogs can excel in conformation and performance, which really was the deciding factor years ago for me with them vs. GSDs (my first love but you generally have to pick if you want a show dog or a performance dog). They are the least common variety of Belgian in AKC, besides the Laekens which are still in FSS.

    As with all Belgians, you need to be very picky about who you buy from. IMO it is best to support breeders who are actively training their dogs for things other than conformation. IME many breeders who don't do anything but conformation with their dogs don't tend to look at temperament in terms of improving upon drive, biddability, nerves, etc but rather in a simplified good vs. bad way. Belgians should all be versatile enough to pursue any number of sports but sound and reasonable enough to make good companions for active owners.

    The breed does need and thrive on socialization and training from puppyhood on. They tend to be naturally attentive to their people and willing to try whatever you want to try with them. They are supposed to be aloof with strangers but it depends on the individual's genetics and upbringing. I have been around Belgians who have every range of temperaments from very skittish and nervous to very bold and confident. A lot of issues people have with them could have been prevented or greatly improved on with proper socialization. Proper socialization doesn't mean you take the puppy to puppy class once a week. Puppies are best raised by going out and about multiple times a week, seeing new people, places things and experiences all sorts of new situations both at home and away. They need to be taught early what the rules are and how they are expected to act. As a breed Belgians tend to find ways to manipulate their situations. Not because they are "dominant" but because they are clever and they have nothing to do all day but learn how their environment works in relation to what they want. They can be quite impulsive, so impulse control is a must with them. All in all this is not really a breed to "casually own" - not a dog for someone who wants a dog to lay around the house and maybe run around the yard with their kids now and then. The breed really does best with active owners who like to have an interactive relationship with their dog. That said, they can be great pets for active pet owners, it just depends on what type of dog you enjoy and what you enjoy doing with your dog.

    As for Belgians in sports, some of it depends on your area and what's common around you. It isn't uncommon to see black Belgians in sports here but there are lots of breeders in my general area. I have found them to be extremely well suited to agility and obedience and my youngest is showing promise in flyball too (and my oldest is doing flyball for fun and having a great time!) :)

    You can see my youngest Whimsy progress from puppy training to competing in agility and rally (and some early flyball training) on my Youtube channel: YouTube - ‪NPuccini's Channel‬&rlm;

    And I have a FB page for the dogs: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Aleron-Dogs/287557245498?ref=ts
     
  6. ~Dixie's_Mom~

    ~Dixie's_Mom~ ♥Chloe & Violet♥

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    Yes, sorry, I meant Groendaels. However, I'd like to learn the difference between the different varieties as well.

    Aleron, I REALLY enjoyed that video. Thanks so much for the info so far, guys!
     
  7. Aleron

    Aleron New Member

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    Glad you enjoyed it! There are many more on my channel of Whim at various stages of training.

    With Belgians, there is more of a difference between lines than between varieties. It is very common for Belgians to have multiple varieties in their pedigrees or for dogs to produce different varieties in their litters. Even within AKC, which is one of the most divided registries as far as the Belgian breeds go. For example...

    This Terv has Groenendael parents. He was AKC registered as a Belgian Sheepdog because he was born in the US. He was shown and finished in Canada as a Belgian Shepherd Tervuren but couldn't be shown in AKC because he has a disqulaifying fault - he's brown!:

    [​IMG]

    This Groenendael has a Terv parent. He is AKC registered as a Belgian Sheepdog because he was born in a country which recognizes the Belgians as varieties instead of breeds. If he was born in the US, he would not have be eligible for registration (unless his Terv parent was an AKC registered Belgian Sheepdog like the dog above):
    [​IMG]

    And this Terv has Malinois parents and is AKC registered as a Malinois. In Canada or in UKC she would be registered as a Malinois (or if she was from a country which recognizes the Belgians as varieties instead of breeds):
    [​IMG]
     
  8. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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    Someday my dream is one of my working malinois personalities in a terv coat. <3 They're just so breath taking. I love groens but I'm a sucker for the red sable coats.
     
  9. Sit Stay

    Sit Stay Not a Border Collie

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    I'd try a search on this forum - there has been a lot of great, informative topics on all 4 varieties. I recently made a thread about Groenendaels and Tervurens specifically and got some great answers.
     
  10. Aleron

    Aleron New Member

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    Sprite Working Belgian Tervuren

    Not sure how similar these guys would be to the dogs you have, as there are a lot of differences even within working Mal lines depending on what the breeder is aiming for. These are Tervs who have working Mals in their pedigree and the breeder is well respected (and a great trainer!).
     
  11. UniquityBelgians

    UniquityBelgians New Member

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    My experiences with Belgians have been varying; The differences in temperament between lines can be remarkable.
    My own Belgians tend to be very work oriented dogs who are very active outside but can turn off and relax inside. I don't like bounce off the wall dogs. I've had instructors not believe me when I tell them that my dogs are very easy dogs at home; They are absolute couch potatoes. When you work them, it's a different story; They are "up," they are ready to go! I can't sya I've known any lazy Belgians who didn't want to work at all, but I've known plenty who couldn't find that offswitch. I've seen this mostly in tervs. Dogs that can't relax, that pace in the house, that immediatly run for the door and hit it hard as soon as you get up from the couch, etc.
    Though most recommend socialising Belgians a great deal, I do absolutely nothing with the puppies I keep, and they still turn out to be incredibly well rounded outgoing dogs with no environmental sensitivities (in fact the best temp I've had is in my current 6 month old pup who has probably only left my property 7 or 8 times in her life and still has never met a stranger or situation she didn't like). Of course for extra insurance, people should take puppies out lots. I like knowing that I can have an undersocialised dog with no issues. I've never bred a shy or noise sensitive dog -- but I've owned them, and I've met ALOT of them, and it's very common in the breed. It's really a breed going downhill if you ask me. When one is looking at different breeders, they shouldn't just be looking at titles; Some of the most popular breeders have alot of temp issues, regardless of the titles their dogs have. There are very big name popular studs that took years to stand for a judge without freaking out or biting them. A BIS/BISS/Westminster BOB, #1 in the US, etc etc doesn't mean a thing for temperament; A beautiful dog can be trained or forced to stand for a judge.
    A friend of mine got a dog about a year ago from another breeder, and she found the dog to be strange and sometimes frustrating to train; In agility, it'd be fine one class, and then the next class suddenly sketchy about every piece of equipment for no apparent reason. Everyone in her class would just tell her "that's just a Belgian being a Belgian -- they all do things like this." NO, they DON'T, and I think it's sad that people think this is the norm. These dogs are supposed to be confident, brave, noble animals; Not shivering sketched out cowards (and if we're talking big titles -- this is a grandkid of the most herding titled Belgian ever (as well as a Ch), and the grandkid of a national BISS winner who also has a multitude of agility, herding, and other titles). Temp problems are hiding in every line; They can pop up at the most unsuspecting times and surprise you; The problem breeders are those who continue to have problems, use those problems in their breeding, and don't make an effort to change them because their dogs win.

    Belgians love to be active; In the summer time it's typical to see me at the dog beach or dog park every other day (of course atm with no vehicle my dogs have been homebodies!). I find the dog beach to be easier because the dogs can be distracted away from other dogs; Belgians have a style of play that other breeds don't always understand. It takes a special Belgian to play with other breeds and be accepted as another dog and not some wild thing. There's my male who really enjoys playing with the other dogs and does well. There's my puppy who has gone a few times, but the last time did not show any interest in the other dogs; They mostly just bothered her. She would turn up her nose at them and greet the people happily. And there's my older female who I don't bring. She has never shown any signs of aggression, but she brings the stress level of the park up. She wants the dogs to chase her, and so she's run, and run, and run.. No one can catch up to her, but you can feel the stress level rising. Plus, if toys are being thrown, she tends to steal them, and I don't trust that she wouldn't get posessive if a dog were to try and take it away. If you want a dog park Belgian, you have to start them young and keep them in line.
    You can find Belgians in every single sport venue. Agility, flyball, rally-o, obedience, schutzhund, carting, etc etc. There are even dogs titled in weight pull. They are very versatile dogs.

    Most of my Belgians have been very dominant dogs. They have a tendency to fool you into believing they aren't if they are soft-tempered. Soft dominance is the WORST. I like hard tempered and easy going, but I find this to be the most difficult temperament to find, even when breeding these dogs. I want a hard tempered dog that can withstand pressure from me and it's environment. If a dog breaks down from pressure, what kind of working dog is that? However most of the Belgians I meet have this problem. Even pure working lines are not immune. I want a dog that can be asked to do something again and again without feeling the pressure.

    Really Belgians can vary SO much from line to line and dog to dog, I always recommend people to talk to many breeders, ask about other breeders, talk to people who've bought puppies from different breeders, and try to meet as many dogs as possible. Learn what issues are in the pedigrees. Belgians are a "relatively" healthy breed; Meaning they are healthier than some others. They certainly have a huge issue with epilepsy. Not every breeder is going to be honest about producing seizures, or where the problems lay in their pedigrees. I've talked to breeders who say "I don't know why everyone thinks my stud has an issue with seizures; He's ONLY produced it 3 times." Sorry but if they carry the gene, they carry it. Research is showing it's most likely a recessive. No test available yet, but they're VERY close to having one in Finland. There are also breeders who blame the opposite dog for all of their problems, "it wasn't my stud, it was their bitch." Takes two to tango! It's hard to find pedigrees with an epi producer less than one or two generations back; I try to keep them 3 gens back, and thus far I've always managed that, but I won't be able to do it forever. You have to balance quality of structure and temperament with risk for health issues. When a breed doesn't have a test available, you have to take a chance now and then, or else you'll be like some breeders out there who keep inbreeding on the same lines that they feel are the only "safe" lines (there are no "safe lines").

    RE different varieites; You can get tervs out of groens, groens out of tervs, recessive black and tans, tervs or groens out of mals, black mals out of coloured parents, etc etc. You can also get dilutes like blue and liver (most commonly seen in mals). Some breeders are very against using groens who carry terv, etc. Most are pretty casual about it these days. Alot of breeders are excited about the prospects of tervs in a groen litter. It's just something different and new. I prefer my blacks to be black, but with the amount of structural issues in the tervs these days I think it's great for tervs to be born out of groens that can be used by terv folk (rules-wise between clubs it depends on the situation, where the dog is, what it's registered with, etc).

    Structurally we are losing shoulder angulation (and thus good movement). I was really disappointed by the pictures of the national specialty this year. There were only a handful of dogs that I thought had an excellent sidegait. The reach in most of the dogs' movement was not even adequate if you ask me. Shoulder angulation is important to dogs going into performance sports and I always recommend breeders that consistently produce good shoulders. We're also seeing ALOT of toed out/cowhocked rears. In fact I rarely see feet that point straight forward. If taking a long ruler and placing it flat along the dog's knee, it should go inward and rest in the dog's armpit. Most go outward. This can also leave dogs susceptible to issues, and the worse it is, the more likely the dog can't single track. I see more Belgians that can't single track than those that can. Single tracking is the most energy efficient way of moving. This is ideal for a herding breed. Too many breeds are tryign to breed them so square that we are losing angulation among other things.
    Luckily this is a breed that is lighter than most, so when doing performance sports it isn't going to take impact quite as hard; Therefore structural issues aren't quite as terrible as some other heavier breeds. I see some pretty bad structure out there doing agility though and I feel bad for what the dog must have to feel in it's older age.

    Bottom line is, this is supposed to be a confident breed who can do it all; Loyal to it's owners (usually more of a one or two person dog though), protective, intelligent, affectionate... With good health and excellent structure. To find all of this, it's important that one does alot of research on where they get the dog. Some breeders focus too much on one thing and not the whole picture! These dogs are awesome, fun companions, with really interesting personalities. They are different, beautiful, they love to be with their person.. But certainly can be challenging, and not for everyone.
     
  12. Raegan

    Raegan Member

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    I got to see a Sprite dog at my club's obedience trial last month! The dog was having a ton of fun, bounced throughout the entire heeling pattern. ;)
     
  13. ~Dixie's_Mom~

    ~Dixie's_Mom~ ♥Chloe & Violet♥

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    Thank you so, so, so much! So much detail, I really appreciate you taking the time to type all of this up! They sound like such a lovely breed. I especially like that they are owner-oriented, and that they have a decent off-switch. Are they pretty willing to please, or more hard headed?
     
  14. UniquityBelgians

    UniquityBelgians New Member

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    No problem!

    Most are very willing to please; I find in my litters I get half and half; Half are dominant puppies that LOVE to work, may be more work oriented, but they give the illusion of a dog that is eager to please; Really they are just finding ways to satisfy themselves while keeping me happy (though if they feel they deserve a reward when they don't, they'll self reward in very annoying ways). The other half I find are much more easy going and wanting to work for you and not just for themselves -- I think that's pretty typical of Belgians. They tend to be very handler focused dogs.
     
  15. ~Dixie's_Mom~

    ~Dixie's_Mom~ ♥Chloe & Violet♥

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    Very cool! I'm not going to be in the market for another dog for a couple more years (at least) but I'm looking into a few different breeds. I'll get in touch with you if I decide on a Groendael!
     
  16. UniquityBelgians

    UniquityBelgians New Member

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    Great to plan ahead! Yes absolutely give me a shout if you're ever looking around at groens. :)
     
  17. HayleyMarie

    HayleyMarie Like a bat outa' hell

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    AH HA!!!!!
    You are driving distance from where I might be moving to. So... this means I might have to meet you and your dogs someday, just saying.

    Your dogs sounds amazing:)
     
  18. UniquityBelgians

    UniquityBelgians New Member

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    LOL! My dogs would love you to come visit them!! ;)
     

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