By Victoria Swanson — One of many Dog Breeds blogs on SmartLivingNetwork.com
There are four variations of this breed, but it is considered one dog; except for in the United States. The Belgian Malinois, the Belgian Tervuren, the Belgian Sheepdog (Groenendael), and the Belgian Laekenois.
Their coats are different in length, texture, and color. Each Belgian is named after the village/region in which they came from. Although their coat is what sets them apart, their size and temperament are very similar as well.
These dogs are very loyal and protective of their family and tend to gravitate to one particular family member as their leader.
The Belgian is not a breed for just anyone. High energy is putting it mildly for this breed; they are known to spin in circles to just keep "moving." They are a dog that needs regular exercise and mental stimulation throughout the day, not just once or twice a day. They do not do well crated for several hours.
In the right home, this breed can be a fantastic companion. They will require plenty of exercise, doggy daycare (if you work), and a job. They excel in military/police work, herding, agility, sled/cart pulling, as a service dog, and so much more. There really isn't anything the Belgian can't do.
They will make a great companion for running, hiking, and daily walks. This breed is perfect to carry a dog backpack. A dog should not wear a backpack until they are 1 year old to prevent injuries to developing joints. The backpack provides a dog with a job, as well as helps to drain energy much quicker. Consider using one every time you take your dog for a hike or walk.
The Belgian will enjoy a large fenced in-yard to romp around in. They are not ideal for apartment/condo living.
The Belgian is used for many purposes in the military and police work; narcotics, bomb detection, and protection. A Belgian Malinois, named Cairo, famously participated in locating Osama Bin Linden.
This is an over-the-top intelligent breed, which can develop severe aggression issues or extreme timidness. They can quickly get out-of-control if exercise, training, and rules are not provided. To prevent future behavioral problems such as aggression, destructiveness, counter-surfing, jumping, excessive barking, nipping, digging, and much more, early training and socialization is a must, as well as a regular exercise program too.
Each Belgian's coat is different and will require different grooming needs. These breeds shed and will require a daily brushing to help maintain their gorgeous coat, whether it is the short-dense, wirey overlay, or the long double-coat. Bathing should be done only when needed and regular nail trimming should be provided every 8 - 12 weeks.
Health issues the Belgians can have are: hip and elbow dysplasia, anesthesia sensitivity, cancer, epilepsy, Progressive Retinol Atrophy, and thyroid issues.
The average life span of the Belgian is 12 - 14 years.
As you begin looking for a Belgian, please check with rescue organizations first. Every year there are millions of dogs being euthanized - not because they are bad dogs, but because there is no home for them and insufficient resources to care for them at rescue agencies. By adopting a dog, you are truly saving a life!
At the very least, NEVER purchase any dog from a pet store. Unfortunately, those puppies almost always come from puppy mills. Instead, look for a reputable breeder to work with.
On a final note, it is important to spay and neuter your puppy by 6 months old to have a healthy and happy pet for many years to come!
Original Dog Bible, 2nd Edition by Kristin Mehus-Roe
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