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Belgian Sheepdog

Life span: 10-14 Years

Height: 61-66cm (Male); 56-61cm (Female)

Weight: 60-75 pounds

Also known as the Belgian Groenendael, this dog is one of the four Belgian Sheepdog types. It is the only of the four that retains a solid coat color, resembling a wolf. They have a lot of energy to burn and will make a perfect companion for a highly active owner that gives them tasks to do.

Physical Characteristics

Their body is large and strong, with ears set high atop its head and erect. Their tail is long with a slight curve at the end and set down when resting. Its eyes are brown with a black nose. Its double coat is made up of a rough top coat that repels water and a soft undercoat that has varies in thickness. The coat is shorter on the head and legs, and longer around the neck. It is usually all black or black with white markings but can also be dark brown and light brown.

History

Nicholas Rose, this breed’s original breeder, lived in an estate in the outskirts of Brussels called the Chateau Groenendael, where the Belgian Groenendael name was born. However, given its difficulty, it was later changed to Belgian Sheepdog. Originally used as sheep herders, this dog is one of four Belgian Sheepdog types. Their club was formed in 1891, establishing the traits for the perfect shepherd to be squared with wide triangular ears and brown eyes, and that the difference between the four types would be coat color and texture. Its particular club was formed in 1949, leading to the use of this breed for police, military and watchdog work, as well as just for company in households.

Personality

This breed is intelligent and loyal to its family. Although they are very energetic, when the owner tells them to stay still they do so without hesitation. They are also extremely protective of their family and territory, making them great watchdogs. If not socialized correctly, their protective nature might result in aggressive behavior. They are great with kids but must be introduced to other household pets when young, with proper introduction it can get along with them when grown as well. Their nature is to be highly energetic and they need both physical and mental stimulation, boredom might result in destructive behavior. They cannot be left alone for long as they enjoy spending time with their family.

Health

This breed is relatively healthy, but tend to suffer from:

Anesthesia Sensitivity, which, as the name suggests, is a high sensitivity towards general anesthesia that can result in death during surgery or even a simple teeth cleaning session.

Cancer, noticeable through unusually swollen bumps, bleeding from any orifices, or sores that do not heal, along with difficulty breathing.

Hip dysplasia, a hereditary disease in which there is an abnormal formation in the hip socket, that may eventually cause painful arthritis. It may also be affected by the environment they reside in.

Epilepsy, a neurological disorder that can produce seizures.

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

Despite having a long coat this breed is relatively easy to take care of until shedding season comes along. Usually a weekly brushing should suffice with only an occasional bath, but during shedding season they require daily brushing. Their teeth should be brushed regularly as well as their nails trimmed and their ears checked for infections. They need daily exercise where a simple walk might not suffice and the owner must exercise with them, since they highly enjoy their family’s company. Training is easy, as this breed aims to please its owner. Early socialization and obedience training is important for this breed.

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