7 Dog Breeds From Belgium

Belgian breeds range from large, sheep-herding dogs to small, feisty ratters.

Belgian Laekenois, Belgian Malinois, Belgian Sheepdog, Belgian Tervuren
From left to right, the four Belgian shepherd breeds are the Belgian Malinois, Belgian Laekenois, Belgian Tervuren and Belgian Sheepdog.

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Belgium claims several dog breeds as its own. Though most native Belgian dog breeds are working dogs, used to herd livestock, guard flocks, and protect the homestead, a few small-sized dogs lent their talents as watch dogs, rat killers and close companions. 

Read on to meet seven dog breeds from Belgium. 

  • 01 of 07

    Belgian Laekenois

    Belgian Laekenois

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    The Belgian Laekenois (pronounced lak-in-wah) is one of four related Belgian shepherd dog breeds (the other three are the Belgian Malinois, Belgian Sheepdog and Belgian Tervuren). All of similar size and body type, all four breeds were used to herd and guard livestock, as well protect people and property. In Belgium, they are classified as different varieties of one breed (the Belgian Shepherd Dog), with the main differences between them being coat type and color. The Belgian Laekenois, which is the rarest of the Belgian shepherd breeds, is named for the town of Laeken in the Brussels region. The Laekenois has a distinctive wiry coat, which gives the dog a tousled appearance. The breed is watchful, protective and affectionate with family. In the United States, the Belgian Laekenois is part of the American Kennel Club Herding Group.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding

    Height: 24 to 26 inches (males); 22 to 24 inches (females)

    Weight: 55 to 65 pounds

    Coat: Medium length double coat with wiry texture and curly nature

    Coat Color: Red, fawn, or gray with traces of black on muzzle or tail

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • 02 of 07

    Belgian Malinois

    Belgian Malinois

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    The Belgian Malinois was developed in the Malines region outside of Brussels. Like its cousins, the Malinois was a sheep herder, as well as protector of family and farm. The Malinois is the only one of the Belgian shepherd dog breeds with a short coat. The Malinois might be the most recognizable Belgian shepherd breed in the United States due to their frequent use as a military dog and police K-9. The Malinois is sometimes mistaken for the more common German Shepherd Dog. Though similar in many ways, the Belgian Malinois has a somewhat different physical appearance, with a square body outline and a slightly lighter build. The Malinois’ coat is slightly shorter than the German Shepherd’s, and some argue that the Malinois is more intense in personality and drive than a German Shepherd. In the U.S., the Malinois is part of the AKC Herding Group.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding

    Height: 22 to 26 inches at the shoulder

    Weight: 50 to 80 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short double coat in rich fawn to mahogany; mask and ears are black

    Life Expectancy: 14 to 16 years

  • 03 of 07

    Belgian Sheepdog (Groenendael)

    Belgian Sheepdog (Groenendael)

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    The Belgian Sheepdog is the only one of the Belgian shepherd dog breeds with a long, solid black coat. Though the breed is known in the United States as the Belgian Sheepdog, in other parts of the world it is called the Groenendael (pronounced Groan-en-dahl), named for the village of Groenendael, where this Belgian shepherd dog variety was originally bred. The Belgian Sheepdog was used to herd sheep and cattle, as well as working as police and military dogs. Today’s Belgian Sheepdog remains incredibly versatile and is trained for police work, search and rescue, as service dogs and therapy dogs, and as competitors in performance sports like obedience, agility, herding, schutzhund, tracking, and more. The Belgian Sheepdog is part of the AKC Herding Group.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding

    Height: 22 to 26 inches

    Weight: 55 to 75 pounds (male), 45-60 pounds (female)

    Coat and Color: Thick double-coat, black color

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 04 of 07

    Belgian Tervuren

    Belgian Tervuren

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    Of the Belgian shepherd breeds, the Belgian Tervuren most closely resembles its cousin, the Belgian Sheepdog (Groenendael). The two breeds have the same long, thick, double coat, but where the Belgian Sheepdog’s coat is solid black, the Tervuren’s coat comes in various shades of tan, from rich fawn to russet mahogany with black overlay and black mask on the face. The Belgian Tervuren is named for the village of Tervuren, where the breed as it is known today was standardized. Like other Belgian shepherds, the Tervuren needs ample exercise to burn its abundant energy. They demand copious attention and are extremely affectionate with, and even possessive of, their human family. The Belgian Tervuren is part of the AKC Herding Group.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding

    Height: 24 to 26 inches (males); 22 to 24 inches (females)

    Weight: 55 to 75 pounds (males); 45 to 60 pounds (females)

    Coat: Thick, double coat

    Coat Color: Red, fawn, or gray and black, with black muzzle

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 14 years

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Bouvier des Flanders

    Bouvier des Flanders

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    As its name implies, the Bouvier des Flandres hails from the Flanders region of Belgium. Like the Laekenois, Malinois, Belgian Sheepdog, and Tervuren, the Bouvier des Flandres was used to as a livestock herder and all-around farm dog. It’s quite a bit larger and more powerful than other herding breeds, with a heavy build. The breed is unmistakable with its tousled rough coat. Unlike some herding breeds, Bouviers tend to be calm and steady rather than “on” all the time. Bouviers need early socialization and proper training from an experienced dog owner who can provide enough activity and mental stimulation. The Bouvier des Flandres is part of the AKC Herding Group.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding

    Height: 23.5 to 27.5 inches at the shoulder

    Weight: 70 to 100 pounds

    Coat and Color: Long, shaggy, rough double coat in black, salt and pepper, gray, fawn, or brindle

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • 06 of 07

    Brussels Griffon

    Brussels Griffon

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    Though it’s the smallest of the breeds native to Belgium, the Brussels Griffon has a big personality. Though the Brussels Griffon started out as a scrappy dog that was used as a ratter in horse stables, the little dog eventually found its way into the laps of royalty, starting with Belgium’s Queen Henrietta Maria, who became enamored with the breed in the 1870s. It’s no wonder—people find it hard to resist the Brussels Griffon’s adorably scruffy face, soulful eyes and charming nature. When the queen likes something, it eventually trickles down to the masses, and the Brussels Griffon traded streets and stables for palaces and warm beds. Today’s Brussels Griffon is the ultimate lap dog and companion. The breed craves human attention and doesn’t do well if left alone for long periods. The Brussels Griffon is part of the AKC Toy Group.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Toy

    Height: 7 to 10 inches

    Weight: 6 to 12 pounds

    Coat and Colors: Smooth coat or rough coat in red, black and tan, solid black, or belge (mix of black and reddish brown)

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • 07 of 07

    Schipperke

    Schipperke

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    The Schipperke, pronounced “skip-er-key,” originated in the Flemish provinces of Belgium, where the breed dates back hundreds of years to Medieval times. Schipperkes were a common sight in Belgian dockyards as they provided a valuable service, killing disease-carrying rats on barges and canal boats, and acting as guard dogs and companions to boat workers. In fact, the breed’s Flemish name translates to “little captain” in English. The little dogs were also appreciated companions to shopkeepers as they served as excellent watchdogs and vermin killers. The solid black Schipperke is small but sturdily built. Their cobby, thickset bodies are tailless and appears square in profile. The breed is charismatic and feisty, with loads of energy. Today’s Schipperke is still an excellent watchdog, sounding the alarm when strangers approach, and will happily dispatch any rats in and around your home. The Schipperke is part of the AKC Non-Sporting Group.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Non-Sporting 

    Weight: 10 to 16 pounds

    Height: 10 to 13 inches tall at the shoulder

    Coat and Color: Abundant, straight and slightly harsh to the touch. Shorter on the face and fronts of the legs, medium length on the body, and longer around the neck and backs of the legs. Solid black coat

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years