(aka: Belgian Shepherd Dog, Belgian Shepherd Laekenois, Chien de Berger Belge)
The Laekenois has a unique appearance with a wire coat and a really long tail. It is the rarest of the four different Belgian Sheepdog breeds and it is extremely intelligent too. It is the only Belgian Shepherd dog which is not recognized by the American Kennel Club. The Groenendael, the Malinois and the Tervuren are closely related and they are all recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club but the Laekenois is not. It can be shown in Great Britain however as well as some other countries too.
Bred to herd, their bodies are very well proportioned and they have really muscular hind legs which surprisingly do not look too heavy. Color wise they tend to be either a fawn or a mahogany color and they all have a black underlay. The muzzle is fairly pointy but not excessively so and its ears are small and they do tend to look a little out of place. This is the one physical fault which many people do not like about the appearance of the Laekenois.
Appearance wise the Laekenois closely resembles the other Belgian Shepherd dogs. Well known for their shaggy and unruly fur, these dogs are watchful of everything and they try extremely hard to please their owners. The nose should always be black and when looking at the mouth you should notice that the teeth form a level bite and they meet like scissors. The skull of this breed is flat and it meets parallel to the muzzle. Excellent with sheep and with strong guarding instincts, the Laekenois is an excellent sheepdog and they are best suited as working dogs. These days they are used both as working dogs and as pets.
The Belgian Shepherd Laekenois is not recommended for inexperienced dog owners. This breed is extremely loyal, vigilant, and protective. They thrive on human companionship. They do not do well if left alone for extended periods of time and will become destructive if lonely or bored. Belgian Shepherd Laekenois's typically bond to one particular family member. They do well with children they have been raised with.
It is important that this breed is never engaged in chasing games, tug-of-war, or rough-house play. They are not recommended for homes with non-canine pets. They will do well with dogs they have been with from puppyhood. They are suspicious of strangers and will guard and protect their family, property, and territory.
The rough, wiry coat of the Laekenois needs to be trimmed about twice a year, depending upon the quality of the coat. Dead and excessive hair should be removed. Resist suggestions to have your dog close trimmed as this ruins the coat for several years. In addition to the occasional light trim, use a coarse-toothed comb for grooming. The fawn-colored coat is harsh, dry, and normally slightly tangled. It should be rough-looking but never curled. Bathe only if it is absolutely necessary, as bathing removes the waterproofing of the coat.
The Belgian Laekenois originated as a sheep herding dog at the Royal Castle of Laeken. It is considered both the oldest and the most rare of the Belgian Shepherd Dogs.
Until the advent of dog shows in the early 1900's, the four varieties were freely intermixed, in fact, there are only three genes (short/long coat, smooth/wire coat, fawn/black coat) that separate the varieties genetically. Purebred Laekenois occasionally give birth to smooth-coated puppies, which, depending on the pure-bred registry, can be registered as Malinois.
As a rule the Laekenois loves to work and be challenged mentally and so they are open to any training that you can give them. They are highly intelligent and if you can, agility would be a good thing to teach the breed.
Your training methods should be firm but never harsh. If you do attempt to train the Laekenois in a harsh manner then you will simply end up with a dog which reacts overly negative. This means that it would be a lot easier to train them using rewards rather than punishments.
Sometimes they can become a little too shy; especially when they are puppies and so that is why it is really important to socialize them as much as possible. The main thing to remember is to persevere and allow them to mix with children and other animals and eventually they will increase in confidence.
Dogs which are not trained properly early on in life sometimes exhibit signs of excessive aggressiveness.
The Belgian Laekenois is a very hardy and healthy breed of dog with no known major health problems. Occasionally hip dysplasia has been seen, and some skin allergies and eye problems.