Originating in Belgium, the Laekenois is the oldest and rarest of the four types of Belgian shepherd dogs. Until the early 1900s, these four types were often interbred. The other three breeds which share a history with the Laekenois include the Malinois, the Tervuren, and the Groenendael. In Belgium, these four breeds are often classified as one “Belgian shepherd” group.
History and Origin of the Belgian Laekenois
The breed takes its name from the town of Laeken, where it had several important jobs including herding sheep at the Royal Castle of Laeken and guarding linen drying in the fields. Later, the Laekenois was also used as a messenger dog during the First and Second World Wars.
Appearance and Size of the Belgian Laekenois
The Belgian Laekenois has a rough, shaggy coat and weighs approximately 45-65 pounds. The breed has pointed triangular ears and may have a dark muzzle. Many observers note that the coat colors of white, cream, or brown resemble a tweed pattern.
Personality of the Belgian Laekenois
An excellent watchdog, the Laekenois can be protective if necessary. A well-socialized Laekenois will be calm and confident, not aggressive or shy. The breed generally has a high prey drive and has the tendency to chase smaller animals. Being highly active, the Laekenois benefits from heavier daily exercise such as running, bicycling, or hiking.
Home and Family Relations with the Belgian Laekenois
Because of herding tendencies leading to the chasing and nipping of fast moving smaller children, the Laekenois is better suited for families with older children. Families may wish to exercise caution with other smaller household pets, such as cats, as the Laekenois has a strong prey drive. The Laekenois excels in dog sports such as agility, flyball, herding, or obedience, as they strongly desire physical and mental activity.
Training of the Belgian Laekenois
The Laekenois is highly intelligent and learns very quickly. Firmness, fairness, and consistency in training will help increase learning and carryover even more. The breed is sensitive to negative reinforcement, so positive training using treats and praise should be used.
Grooming of the Belgian Laekenois
Weekly brushing is recommended to remove excess hair. During shedding seasons, more frequent brushing will likely be required. Regular nail trims, tooth brushing, and ear cleaning will help keep the Laekenois in peak condition year round.
Special Care of the Belgian Laekenois
Although the Laekenois can be an indoor/outdoor dog, he or she should not be left outdoors unattended for long periods of time. Secure aboveground fencing will help prevent escape into an unsafe situation.
Common Diseases and Disorders of the Belgian Laekenois
Although studies are limited as to health issues in the specific Belgian Laekenois breed, it appears the overall Belgian shepherd group can demonstrate signs or symptoms of the following conditions:
Life Span of the Belgian Laekenois
The average life span of the Belgian Laekenois is approximately 12-13 years.