HISTORICAL SUMMARY: In Belgium, at the end of the
1800s, there were a great many herding dogs, whose type
was varied and whose coats were extremely dissimilar.
In order to rationalise this state of affairs, some
enthusiastic dog fanciers formed a group and sought
guidance from Prof. A. Reul of the Cureghem Veterinary
Medical School, whom one must consider to have been
the real pioneer and founder of the breed.
The breed was officially born between 1891 and 1897.
On September 29th, 1891, the Belgian Shepherd Dog Club
(Club du Chien de Berger Belge) was founded in Brussels
and in the same year on November 15th in Cureghem, Professor
A. Reul organised a gathering of 117 dogs, which allowed
him to carry out a return and choose the best specimens.
In the following years they began a real programme of
selection, carrying out some very close interbreeding
involving a few stud dogs.
By April 3rd, 1892, a first detailed breed standard
had already been drawn up by the Belgian Shepherd Dog
Club. One single breed was allowed, with three coat
varieties. However, as was said at the time, the Belgian
Shepherd only belonged to ordinary people and therefore
the breed still lacked status.
As a result, it wasn't until 1901 that the first Belgian
Shepherds were registered with the Royal Saint-Hubert
Society Stud Book (L.O.S.H.).
During the following years, the prime movers among the
Belgian Shepherd enthusiasts set to work with great
determination to unify the type and correct the faults.
It can be said that by 1910 the type and temperament
of the Belgian Shepherd had been established.
During the history of the Belgian Shepherd, the question
of differing but acceptable varieties and colours had
led to many heated discussions. On the other hand, anything
involving morphology, temperament and suitability for
work has never caused any disagreement.
APPEARANCE: The Belgian Shepherd is a mediolineal
dog, harmoniously proportioned, combining elegance and
power, of medium size, with dry, strong muscle, fitting
into a square, rustic, used to the open air life and
built to resist the frequent atmospheric variations
of the Belgian climate.
Through the harmony of its shape and its high head-carriage,
the Belgian Shepherd should give the impression of that
elegant strength which has become the heritage of the
selected representatives of a working breed. The Belgian
Shepherd is to be judged in its natural stance, without
physical contact with the handler.
PROPORTIONS: The Belgian Shepherd dog can be fitted
into a square. The chest is let down to the level of
the elbows. The length of the muzzle is equal to or
slightly longer than half the length of the head.
OF PUBLICATION OF ORIGINAL VALID STANDARD: 22.06.2001.
Originally a sheep dog, today a working dog (guarding,
defence, tracking, etc.) and an all-purpose service
dog, as well as a family dog.
F.C.I.: Group 1 Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs
(except Swiss Cattle dogs).
Section 1 Sheepdogs.
With working trial.
/ TEMPERAMENT: The Belgian Shepherd is a watchful and
active dog, bursting with energy, and always ready to
leap into action. As well as its innate skill at guarding
flocks, it also possesses the highly prized qualities
of the best guard dog of property. Without any hesitation
it is the stubborn and keen protector of its owner.
It brings together all those qualities necessary for
a shepherd, guard, defence and service dog.
Its lively, alert temperament and its confident nature,
showing no fear or aggressiveness, should be obvious
in its body stance and the proud attentive expression
in its sparkling eyes.
When judging this breed, one should take into consideration
its calm and fearless temperament.
Carried high, long without exaggeration, rectilinear,
well chiselled and dry. Skull and muzzle are roughly
equal in length, with at the most a very slight bias
in favour of the muzzle which puts the finishing touch
to the whole head.
REGION: Of medium width, in proportion with the length
of the head, with a forehead flat rather than round,
frontal groove not very pronounced; in profile, parallel
to imaginary line extending muzzle line; occipital crest
little developed; brow ridges and zygomatic arches not
Muzzle: Medium length and well chiselled under the eyes;
narrowing gradually toward the nose, like an elongated
wedge; bridge of the nose straight and parallel to the
continuation of the topline of the forehead; mouth well
split, which means that when the mouth is open the commissures
of the lips are pulled right back, the jaws being well
Lips: Thin, tight and strongly pigmented.
Jaws/teeth: Strong, white teeth, regularly and strongly
set in well-developed jaws. Scissor bite; pincer bite,
which is preferred by sheep and livestock herders, is
tolerated. Complete dentition according to the dental
formula; the absence of two premolars 1 (2 P1) is tolerated
and the molars 3 (M3) are not taken into consideration.
Cheeks: dry and quite flat, although muscled.
Eyes: Medium size, neither protruding nor sunken, slightly
almond-shaped, obliquely set, brownish colour, preferably
dark; black rimmed eyelids; direct, lively, intelligent
and enquiring look.
Ears: Rather small, set high, distinctly triangular
appearance, well-rounded outer ear, pointed tips, stiff,
carried upright and vertical when dog is alert.
Well standing out, slightly elongated, rather upright,
well-muscled, broadening gradually towards the shoulders,
without dewlap, nape slightly arched.
Powerful without being heavy; length from point of shoulder
to point of buttock approximately equal to height at
Topline: upper line of back and loins is straight.
Back: firm, short and well-muscled.
Loins: Solid, short, sufficiently broad, well-muscled.
Croup: well-muscled ; only very slightly sloping ; sufficiently
broad but not excessively so.
Chest: little broad, but well let down; upper part of
ribs arched; seen from the front forechest little broad,
but without being narrow.
Underline: Begins below the chest and rises gently in
a harmonious curve towards the belly, which is neither
drooping nor tucked up, but slightly raised and moderately
Well set on, strong at the base, of medium length, reaching
at least to hock, but preferably further; at rest carried
down, with tip curved backwards at level of hock; more
raised when moving, although without passing the horizontal,
the curve towards the tip becoming more accentuated,
without ever at any time forming a hook or deviation.
General view: Bone solid but not heavy; muscle dry and
strong; front legs upright from all sides and perfectly
parallel when seen from the front.
Shoulder: Shoulder blade long and oblique, well attached,
forming a sufficient angle with the humerus, ideally
measuring 110-115 degrees.
Upper arm: Long and sufficiently oblique.
Elbow: Firm, neither turning out nor tied in.
Forearm: Long and straight.
Wrist (carpus): very firm and clean.
Front pastern (metacarpus): Strong and short, as perpendicular
to the ground as possible or only very slightly sloping
Feet: Round, cat feet; toes arched and well closed;
pads thick and springy; nails dark and strong.
General view: Powerful, but not heavy; in profile hindlegs
are upright and seen from behind perfectly parallel.
Upper thigh: Medium length, broad and strongly muscled.
Stifle: approximately on the plumb line from the hip;
normal stifle angulation.
Lower thigh: Medium length, broad and muscled.
Hock: Close to the ground, broad and muscled, moderate
Back pastern (metatarsus): Solid and short; dewclaws
Feet: may be light oval; toes arched and well closed;
pads thick and springy; nails dark and strong.
/ MOVEMENT: Lively and free movement at all gaits; the
Belgian Shepherd is a good galloper but its normal gaits
are the walk and especially the trot; limbs move parallel
to the median plane of the body. At high speed the feet
come nearer to the median plane; at the trot the reach
medium, the movement even and easy, with good rear drive,
and the topline remains tight while the front legs are
not lifted too high. Always on the move, the Belgian
Shepherd seems tireless; its gait is fast, springy and
lively. It is capable of suddenly changing direction
at full speed. Due to its exuberant character and its
desire to guard and protect, it has a definite tendency
to move in circles.
Elastic but taut over all the body; edges of lips and
eyelids strongly pigmented.
AND VARIETIES: Since the coat varies in length, direction,
appearance and colour among Belgian Shepherds, this
particular point has been adopted as the criterion for
distinguishing between the four varieties of the breed:
the Groenendael, the Tervueren, the Malinois and the
These four varieties are judged separately and can each
be awarded a C.A.C., a C.A.C.A.B. or a reserve title.
In all the varieties the hair must always be dense,
close-fitting and of good texture, with the woolly undercoat
forming an excellent protective covering.
LONG HAIR: The hair is short on the head, the outer
side of the ears and the lower part of the legs, except
on the rear side of the forearm which is covered from
elbow to wrist by long hairs called fringes. The hair
is long and smooth on the rest of the body and longer
and more abundant around the neck and on the forechest,
where it forms a collarette or ruff and a jabot or apron.
The opening of the air is protected by thick tufts of
hair. From the base of the ear the hair is upright and
frames the head. The back of the thighs is covered with
very long abundant hair forming the culottes or breeches.
The tail is furnished with long, abundant hair forming
The Groenendael and the Tervueren are the long-haired.
SHORT HAIR: The hair is very short on the head, the
outer sides of the ears and the lower part of the legs.
It is short over the rest of the body and fuller at
the tail and around the neck where it forms a collarette
or ruff which begins at the base of the ear, stretching
as far as the throat. As well, the back of the thighs
is fringed with longer hair. The tail is ear of corn
shaped, but does not form a plume.
The Malinois is the short-haired.
ROUGH HAIR: What especially characterises the rough
hair variety is the roughness and dryness of the hair,
which, moreover, is rasping and tousled. About 6 cm
long over the whole body, the hair is shorter on the
top of the muzzle, the forehead and the legs. The hair
around the eyes and those furnishing the muzzle should
not be so long as to disguise the shape of the head.
However, it is essential to have furnishings on the
muzzle. The tail should not form a plume.
The Laekenois is the rough-haired.
Mask: For Tervueren and Malinois the mask must be very
pronounced and tend to encompass the top and bottom
lip, the corners of the lips and the eyelids in one
single black zone. A strict minimum of six points of
skin pigmentation is called for: the two ears, the two
upper eyelids and the two lips, upper and lower, which
must be black.
Black overlay: In Tervueren and Malinois, the black
overlay means that the hairs have a black tip which
shades the base colour. This blackening is in any case
"flamed" and must not be present in great
patches nor in real stripes (brindled). In the Laekenois
the black shading is more discreetly expressed.
Only uniform black.
Only fawn with black overlay or grey with black overlay,
with black mask; however, the fawn with black overlay
is still preferred. The fawn must be rich, neither light
nor washed-out. Any dog whose coat colour is anything
but fawn with black overlay or does not match the desired
intensity of colour cannot be considered an elite specimen.
Only fawn with black overlay and with black mask.
Only fawn with traces of black overlay, mainly on the
muzzle and the tail.
all varieties: a small amount of white is tolerated
on forechest and toes.
WEIGHT AND MEASUREMENTS:
Height at withers:
The ideal weight at withers is on average - 62 cm for
- 58 cm for females.
Limits: 2 cm less, 4 cm more.
Males about 25-30 kg.
Females about 20-25 kg.
Average normal measures for an adult male Belgian Shepherd
of 62 cm at the withers:
· Length of body (from point of shoulder to point
of buttock): 62 cm.
· Length of head: 25 cm.
· Length of muzzle: 12,5 - 13 cm.
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered
a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should
be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.
· General appearance: Cloddy, lacking elegance;
too light or too slender; longer than high; fitting
into a rectangle.
· Head: heavy, too strong, lacking parallelism,
not sufficiently chiselled or dry; forehead too rounded;
stop too accentuated or too flat; muzzle too short or
pinched; Roman nose; brow ridges or zygomatic arches
· Nose, lips and eyelids: traces of depigmentation.
· Dentition: badly aligned incisors. Serious
fault: lack of one incisor (1 I), one premolar 2 (1
P2), one premolar 3 (1 P3) or three premolars 1 (3 P1).
· Eyes: light, round.
· Ears: large, long, too broad at the base, set
low, carried outward or inward.
· Neck: slender; short or deep set.
· Body: too long; thoracic cage too broad (cylindrical).
· Withers: flat, low.
· Topline: back and/or loins long, weak, sagging
· Croup: too sloping, overbuilt.
· Underline: too much or too little let down;
too much belly.
· Tail: set too low; carried too high, forming
a hook, deviated.
· Limbs: bone too light or too heavy; bad upright
stance in profile (e.g. front pasterns too sloping or
weak wrists), from the front (feet turning in or out,
out at elbow, etc.), or from behind (hindlegs too close,
too wide apart or barrel shaped, hocks close or open,
etc.); too little or exaggeratedly angulated.
· Feet: spreading.
· Gait: moving close, too short a stride, too
little drive, poor back transmission, high stepping
· Coat: all four varieties: insufficient undercoat.
Groenendael and Tervueren: woolly, wavy, curly hair;
hair not long enough.
Malinois: hair half-long where it should be short; smooth-haired;
harsh hairs scattered in the short coat; wavy coat.
Laekenois: hair too long, silky, wavy, crisp-haired
or short; filled with fine hairs scattered in tufts
in the rough hair; hairs too long around the eye or
the lower end of the head (the chin); bushy tail.
· Colour: for all four varieties: white marking
on chest forming tie; white on the feet going beyond
Groenendael: reddish tinges in the coat; grey breeches.
Tervuren and Malinois: brindle; tints not warm enough;
not enough or too much black overlay or set in patches
over the body; not enough mask.
Tervueren, Malinois and Laekenois: too light a fawn;
colour which is very diluted, named washed-out, is considered
a serious fault.
· Temperament: specimens lacking in self-confidence
or overly nervous.
· Temperament: aggressive or timid specimens.
· General appearance: lack of breed type.
· Dentition: overshot; undershot, even if contact
is not lost (reverse scissor bite); crossbite; absence
of one canine (1 C), one upper carnassial (1 P4) or
lower carnassial (1 M1), one molar (1 M1 -upper jaw-
or 1 M2; M3 are not taken into account), one premolar
3 (1 P3) plus one other tooth or a total of three teeth
(excluding the premolars 1) or more.
· Nose, lips, eyelids: strong depigmentation.
· Ears: drooping or artificially kept erect.
· Tail: missing or shortened, at birth or by
docking; carried too high and ringed or curled.
· Coat: lack of undercoat.
· Colour: any colours which do not correspond
with those of the described varieties; too widespread
white markings on forechest, especially if they reach
as far as the neck; white on feet going more than halfway
up the front or the back pasterns and forming socks;
white markings anywhere other than forechest and toes;
lack of mask, including a muzzle of lighter colour than
the rest of the coat in Tervueren and Malinois.
· Size: outside the limits laid down.
Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles
fully descended into the scrotum.
- MATINGS BETWEEN VARIETIES:
Any matings between varieties are forbidden, except
in exceptional circumstances, when this ban can be lifted
by the appropriate and official breed councils (Text
1974, drawn up in Paris).