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BELGIAN LAEKENOIS

Life span: 12-14 Years

Height: 60-66cm (Male); 56-62cm (Female)

Weight: 45-65 pounds

One of four Belgian dogs known as the Belgian Shepherd Dogs, where their major differences lie in color, coat texture and coat length. This dog breed is the rarest of all four types. All of them, however, were originally bred to herd sheep. They are extremely intelligent and loyal to their owners, as well as protective of their territory and family, making them great watchdogs!

Physical Characteristics

Its well proportioned body is strong and lean, with paws that seem to be those of a cat. Its ears sit high atop its head and stand erect, its tail is medium length and rests naturally down. Its eyes are brown with a black nose. Its coat is rough to the touch and wavy, and it tends to be brown with white, including black shading in the tail and snout as well.

History

This dog is one of the four Belgian Shepherd dog breeds and originated as a sheep herder in the Royal Castle of Laeken and to guard linen as it dries on the fields. The four breeds were counted as one until the arrival of the dog shows in the 1900s, when these started being seen as four instead of one. Its complete history is unknown, as the information from the breeds begins in 1891, when the Belgian Shepherd Dog Club was formed. It was then that the dogs began being used for other than field work, starting in police and military jobs. They were also used as messengers during World War I and II. It was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1991, and although the Belgian Malinois, Belgian Groenendael and Belgian Tervuren are recognized by the American Kennel Club, the Laekenois is not. It is, however, on the right track towards being recognized since it has already been included into the Miscellaneous class.

Personality

The Belgian Laekenois is an extremely intelligent and loyal breed that aims to please its owners. It needs early socialization and firm training in order to become a good household pet due to its herding instincts. It tends to get along well with children and other dogs, sometimes cats as well, as long as they get the early socialization they require. Nipping, circling or chasing as an attempt to herd small animals and people is common in herding breeds and can be corrected through training. This dog does not tend to get along well with small animals, but with proper and plenty socialization, as well as careful introduction, these can live in the same household without any problems. Obedience training and agility classes will help keep your dog in check, as well as providing enough exercise and mental stimulation in order to prevent destructive behavior. They also highly enjoy the company of its family.

Health

This dog breed is particularly healthy. However, they are prone to suffering from:

Ear Infections, which can be prevented by constant cleaning of any debris or excess wax.

Epilepsy, a neurological disorder that can produce seizures.

Gastric dilatation-volvulus, or bloat, is a mortal disease in which large chested dogs are affected by eating quickly, drinking lots of water and exercising after. This causes the stomach to inflate with gas and twist, making the dog unable to get rid of the excess air through vomiting, which impedes the normal blood flow to the heart. Its blood pressure then goes down and the dog goes into shock. Without proper, and immediate, medical attention, this could be fatal. Its symptoms may include: retching without vomiting, bloated abdomen, excessive salivation, restlessness, depression, rapid heart rate, weakness, etc.

Cataracts, in which the lens of the eye clouds, causing partial or complete loss of vision.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), in which the dogs may become night blind at first and progressively lose their day eyesight as well.

Hypothyroidism, a disease that affects the thyroid gland, its symptoms are ear infections, skin infections, hair loss, lethargy, and depression.

Care

This breed needs weekly brushing and an occasional bath. Its nails should be cut regularly, its ears checked for any dirt in order to prevent infections and its teeth brushed. Exercise should be provided daily and it cannot be left alone for long. They enjoy the company of their loved ones and need to be entertained as well. They need plenty of early socialization due to their herding and protective nature. Training is vital for this breed and has to be done through positive reinforcement in order to teach them not to nip small animals or other human beings. Thankfully, this breed is intelligent and very willing to please their owners, making training relatively easy.

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