AKC Dog Breeds: Belgian Laekenois Dog

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Height: 22-26 inches   Weight: 55-65 pounds  Color: fawn, mahogany; with black overlap

The Belgian Laekenois Dog is sometimes classified as a variety of the Belgian Shepherd Dog rather than as a separate breed. The Laekenois is not fully recognized in the United States. However, they can be shown in Britain, along with all three of the closely related breeds which share a heritage with the Laekenois: the Tervuren, the Malinois, and the Groenendael, the last being shown in the U.S. as the Belgian Sheepdog. 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.

General Appearance

The Laekenois's wire coat gives this shepherd a most unique appearance. In size and body type, the breed resembles his Belgian County canines. Colors include a range from fawn to mahogany with a black overlay. The rough coat can measure over two inches in length. The body is sturdy and well proportioned. The ears appear small and are set high on the head. The muzzle and head are fringed, giving him a shaggy, woolly look. The hindquarters are muscular, without looking heavy. The eyes are dark and rims contrast with lighter color hair. Dense hair is bushy on the tail, but there is no distinct feathering. The chest is neither broad nor narrow, but is deep, reaching to the elbow. The front legs are very straight and parallel to each other, with round cat-feet. Dewclaws may be removed from the front legs and should be removed from the back legs. The long tail reaches at least to the hock. The muzzle tapers, but is not excessively pointy. The skull is flat and parallel to the  plain of the muzzle. The nose is black and the lips should be tight. The teeth should meet in a scissors or level bite.


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. Though not for everyone, properly socialized and trained, this high energy dog makes an excellent best friend and/or family companion dog. Today the Belgian Groenendael and Tervuren are most often used as companion dogs while the Laekenois and Malinois are used as guard dogs.

Daily combing of the coat is essential to prevent matting. Professional trimming should be done twice a year. 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. Bathing should only be done when absolutely necessary.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy

This hardy, healthy breed has no major health concerns. Some minor concerns that have been seen are skin allergies, eye problems, excessive shyness, excessive aggressiveness and occasionally seen hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. This breed prefers cool climates, but adapts well to others. It can live outdoors but would much rather be with his people.

Activity Level 
Belgian Shepherd Laekenois's require an inordinate amount of physical exercise and mental stimulation. They are not recommended for city or apartment living. The Laekenois does best in a rural setting with a job to do and ample room to safely roam and run. They excel in herding, search and rescue, tracking, police work, and sledding.


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