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BREED INFO

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The Belgian Shephard combines the versatility of a working dog with the gentleness of a family companion. He makes a wonderful family companion as long as he receives the exercise he needs.

Of all the traits this breed has, energy is at the top of the list of what to consider before you purchase. The Belgian Shephard is not a breed that enjoys lazing around the house; he's a working dog and needs a job to do. Herding dogs such as the Belgian Shephard are hard-wired to chase after a flock of sheep all day long. That instinct doesn't disappear just because they're living in a family home instead. Expect to give him at least an hour of exercise per day. The Belgian Shephard is very intelligent and needs variety to keep from becoming bored. He's not a good choice for people who work long hours and have no way of exercising their dog during the day. If he's left to his own devices, he's likely to create his own entertainment — generally something you won't like that will be expensive to repair — or to develop separation anxiety.

They do better in homes with a fenced yard. Their herding heritage makes Belgian Shephards chasers, and they'll take off after joggers, bicyclists, and cars if they aren't contained by a fence.

Loving and loyal, the Belgian Shephard will always protect "his" children, but it's important for parents to supervise play when neighboring children are around. The Belgian may mistake the noise and high spirits of play as an assault and try to nip at your child's friends. With proper supervision and corrections, you can teach him that this isn't appropriate behavior. Belgian Sheepdogs do best with children when they're raised with them from puppyhood or socialized to them at an early age.

They can get along well with other dogs and cats if they're brought up with them, although they may have issues with strange animals that come onto their property. They love to chase — that herding instinct again! — so cats who stand their ground will probably fare better than those who turn tail and run.

This versatile dog has many excellent characteristics, but he's probably not suited to a first-time dog owner. He's loving, loyal, and energetic, but can also be shy, sensitive, and strong-willed. When you put time and effort and energy into him, however, he's well worth all your work.

Highlights

  • Shyness can be a problem in this breed. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one beating up his littermates or the one hiding in the corner.
  • Belgian Shephards require at least an hour of exercise per day. If you don't provide them with exercise and mental stimulation in the form of training or play, they'll find their own entertainment, and chances are it will be expensive to repair.
  • Belgian Shephards shed year-round and require 15 to 20 minutes of brushing weekly.
  • Belgian Shephards can get along well with other dogs and cats if they're raised with them, but they have a chase instinct and will go after animals that run from them.
  • Belgian Shephards will chase joggers, bicyclists, and cars, so they need a securely fenced yard.
  • Belgian Shephards are very intelligent and alert. They also have strong herding and protection instincts. Early, consistent training is critical!
  • Although they are good-size dogs, they are very people-oriented and want to be included in family activities.
  • Belgian Shephards are play-oriented and sensitive. Keep training sessions fun, consistent, and positive.
  • Because of their intelligence, high energy levels, and other characteristics, Belgian Shephards are not recommended for inexperienced dog owners.
  • To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests their breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.