Everything you need to know to buy or adopt a Belgian Shepherd puppy or adult dog. Belgian Malinois, Belgian Tervuren, Belgian Laekenois, and Belgian Groenendael (aka Belgian Sheepdog).


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Belgian Shepherd!

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Raise and train your dog the RIGHT way and he will live a long, healthy, well-behaved life – and both of you will be happy!

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Belgian Laekenois dog breed

Buying or Adopting a Belgian Shepherd

Belgian Malinois, Belgian Tervuren, Belgian Laekenois, and Belgian Groenendael (aka Belgian Sheepdog). By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2017


Is a DOG really the right pet for you?

I've been helping people choose and find dogs for over 35 years now, and I have to say that for many people, dogs are not ideal pets.

Pros AND Cons of Owning a Dog


Should you get a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog?

Don't set your sights on any purebred dog until you read these three eye-opening articles:

The Truth About Purebred Dogs

The Truth About Crossbred Dogs

The Truth About Mixed Breed Dogs


Is a Belgian Shepherd the right breed for you?

Belgian Shepherds: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Belgian Shepherd Health Problems


Are YOU right for a Belgian Shepherd?

Can you provide what this breed needs?

  • Someone home most of the day
  • Fenced yard (6-8 feet high, not an electronic/underground fence)
  • No young children in the household
  • No dogs of the same sex in the household
  • No cats in the household
  • Restricted exercise when young – until maturity (at least 18 months old), exercise restricted to multiple short (20 minute) walks, fetch games, and playing with other dogs – no forced running (beside a jogger or bicyclist), no long-distance treks, minimal jumping
  • Ample exercise after maturity – enough ongoing exercise that your Belgian Shepherd stays slim and is tired enough to sleep contentedly and not get into mischief
  • "Mental exercise" – interesting activities that keep the mind stimulated, such as a challenging dog sport (agility, rally obedience, schutzhund, herding, flyball, musical freestyle, tracking); challenging dog toys; a homemade obstacle course; tricks and games such as Musical Toys and Hide 'n Seek; instructions in my training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words
  • Brushing – moderate (Tervuren, Groenendael, Laekenois)
  • Trimming/clipping – every few months (Tervuren, Groenendael, Laekenois)
  • An indoor lifestyle, except for exercise and bathroom breaks
  • A meat-heavy diet, either homemade or commercial – meat is expensive, so people with less money should opt for a smaller dog
  • An owner with enough money to treat the health problems Belgian Shepherds are prone to (pet health insurance can really help here!)
  • An owner who is okay with heavy shedding (Tervuren, Groenendael, Malinois)
  • Commitment to provide thorough socialization – introducing your Belgian Shepherd to lots of people and other animals, diligently correcting any signs of misbehavior or aggression
  • Commitment to establish the right Leader-Follower relationship with your Belgian Shepherd, teaching him to listen to you and do what you say

Should you get a male or female Belgian Shepherd?

Symbols for male and female Male Dogs vs. Female Dogs
Which one makes a better pet?


Should you get a young puppy, an older puppy, or an adult dog?

Girl hugging a dog Puppies vs. Adult Dogs
What age should your new Belgian Shepherd be?


Where can you buy or adopt a Belgian Shepherd?

There are four varieties of Belgian Shepherd Dog: the Malinois, the Tervuren, the Laekenois, and the Groenendael (which, oddly, is called the Belgian Sheepdog in the United States – which is silly because all four varieties are sheepdogs or shepherd dogs, none more so than the others).

Most of the world, including the breed's native country, consider the four varieties to be one breed called Belgian Shepherd Dog. But the American Kennel Club has decided that the four varieties should be considered separate breeds.

Of the four, the Malinois is the most common in the United States. Out of 189 AKC breeds, where 1 is most popular and 189 is least popular, the Malinois ranks 47th. The Tervuren is next, at 107th. Then the Belgian Groenendael at 129th.

The Laekenois doesn't have an official ranking because he isn't yet fully recognized by the AKC. But he is easily the least common, probably because his rough coat looks a bit rustic/scruffy compared to the other three.

Adopting From Dog Rescue Organizations
The Belgian Malinois is often available from Dog Rescue groups. Impulsive owners acquire this breed when they see a Malinois doing police work on youtube or performing heroics on a TV show, so they think they want such a dog. Almost always, this turns out to be a huge mistake, because Malinois are very challenging to live with.

The Belgian Tervuren and Groenendael/Sheepdog are sometimes available from Dog Rescue Groups. The Laekenois is not.

Adopting From Public Animal Shelters and Humane Societies
Belgian Shepherds are occasionally found here, but shelter personnel might mislabel shepherd mixes, especially black ones, as Belgian Shepherds, even when they're not.

Buying From a Dog Breeder
You can buy a Belgian Shepherd from a show breeder, who breeds Belgian Shepherds to match a detailed standard of appearance for the dog show ring.

Or you can buy a Belgian Shepherd from a performance breeder, who emphasizes an energetic temperament and strong "prey (chasing) drives" for participating in performance sports like schutzhund, herding, dog agility, tracking, flyball, frisbee, etc. Some breeders are a combination of show/performance, though how they prioritize those two goals can vary greatly.

You can also buy a Belgian Shepherd from people who "just breed pets" or "just had one litter." But should you? Be sure to read the article to learn more about these people.

Here's one difference between a responsible breeder and an irresponsible breeder – BOTH PARENTS of a Belgian Shepherd puppy should have:

  • a certificate from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) – dated within the past year – certifying the dog to be free of eye diseases
  • a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) or PennHip certifying the dog to have normal hips
  • a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) certifying the dog to have normal elbows

If a seller can't show you those certificates, the puppies are higher risk for health problems. You might choose to accept that risk. But then you need to be willing (and able) to pay a couple thousand bucks for future surgeries and lifelong meds if your Belgian Shepherd ends up with cataracts and hip dysplasia.

Puppy in a pet shop window Pet Shop Puppies: Buying a Puppy From a Pet Store
Belgian Shepherds are not seen very often in pet shops, but it's possible. I have plenty to say about buying a puppy from a pet shop!


Related Articles

Girl holding up a puppy and looking at him How To Choose a Good Belgian Shepherd Puppy
How to test the temperament and personality of Belgian Shepherd puppies and pick the best puppy in a litter.


Pedigree parchment AKC Registered Puppies: Are AKC Papers Important?
Should you consider buying only AKC registered Belgian Shepherd puppies? Do AKC papers and pedigrees really matter?


To help you train and care for your dog

book cover To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.

book cover My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.