Getting To Know You – Belgian Laekenois

The Belgian Laekenois is the rarest of the four Belgian herding breeds, which include the Belgian Sheepdog, the Belgian Malinois and the Belgian Tervuren. It is easily distinguishable from the other three closely-related Shepherds by its coat.  While the other Belgian herders in this group have a neat appearance, the Laekenois has a disorderly, tousled look, along with a beard.  Their coat comes in all shades of red or fawn to grayish tones, with traces of black.  The males of this medium-sized breed stand at 24 to 26 inches, while females stand at 22 to 24 inches tall.  They weigh between 55 to 65 pounds.  The name of this intelligent breed is derived from the town of Laeken, where its original duty was to guard and tend to the flock, as well as to guard the linen drying in the fields.

According to the breed standard on the American Kennel Club website, the temperament of a Belgian Laekenois “should reflect the qualities of intelligence, courage, alertness, and devotion to master.  Protectiveness of the person and property of his master is added to his inherent aptitude as a guardian of flocks and fields.  He should be watchful, attentive and always in motion when not under command. He should be observant and vigilant with strangers, but not apprehensive in his relationship with humans.  He should not show fear or shyness nor viciousness by unwarranted or unprovoked attack.  With those he knows well, he is most affectionate and friendly, zealous of their attention, and very possessive.”  As you can see from the description, this breed is not for the faint of heart nor for the first time or inexperienced dog owners.  Dogs of this breed are tireless and have no off-switch.  It is due to this trait, that it is not a good breed choice for an inactive person.  However, if you are a person who enjoys high-intensity outdoor activities, a Belgian Laekenois may make the perfect companion for you. 

The strong, agile, versatile Belgian Laekenois is well-suited to pretty much any dog sport.  You can find them competing in agility, flyball, rally, obedience, tracking, and of course herding, for which they were bred.  They also make excellent search and rescue dogs.  They are quick learners, eager to soak up anything you teach them, and have a natural ability to adapt to new situations.

As with all dog breeds, there are certain health issues that can be found in the Belgian Laekenois.  Health problems that have occurred in this breed include hip and elbow dysplasia, and hypothyroidism.  That said, the Laekenois is an overall healthy breed, with an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years.  To learn more about this alert and loyal breed, go to the American Belgian Laekenois Association at