Is a Belgian Shepherd Right for me?
Belgians do not suit everyone and great care must be taken in assessing ones suitability for this breed, they are not generally a first time dog. All puppies are cute little fluffy bundles but they turn into large, often bouncy and quite demanding adults, they can be very possessive of their people and have a suspicion of strangers. They do require a good degree of socialisation as puppies which will help prevent excessive wariness. Generally children and Belgian Shepherds get on extremely well, as long as mutual respect is taught, always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between any dogs and young children. Regardless how well your dog behaves with young children, no dog should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
Here are just a few of the questions most responsible breeders are likely to ask prospective owners before they agree to part with one of their precious babies.
Question: Are you willing to put up with a certain amount of chewing and destruction whilst your puppy is small, and occasionally when he grows up and get bored?
Question: Are you able to be at home with the puppy whilst he is young?
Question: Are you prepared to give up holidays or are you willing to take your dog with you on holiday?
Question: Are you willing to be followed around the house, have a constant shadow, even when you just want to go to the loo?
Question: Are you willing to clean-up the spillage when your over exuberant Belgian Shepherd upsets you cup of tea, coffee or glass of wine for the umpteenth time?
Question: Do you mind assistance with everyday chores, even when that assistance is not entirely welcome? Assistance comes in various forms such as unloading the laundry basket, when you have just loaded it, or gardening, digging up and returning to you the plants that you have just spent all day planting, or guarding you from the monster that is your vacuum cleaner.
Question: Are you willing to have toilet accidents for the first few weeks of your puppy being in its new home? They are just like babies, without the luxury of nappies!!! Fortunately they are toilet trained a lot quicker than their human counterparts!!
Question: Are you willing to put up with a few sleepless nights when the puppy first arrives, after all he has just left his litter mates and all safety he has ever known behind ?
Question: Do you have a garden? Are you willing to have your well cared for garden, cared for by a Belgian Shepherd? I warn you we are not talking an Alan Titchmarsh make over!
Question: If you have young children are you prepared to teach them to respect your dog? Leaving the puppy in peace when he needs to rest and allowing him to eat quietly undisturbed own his own.
Question: Are you willing to take walks in the rain and snow, because you Belgian Shepherd will not understand the subtleties of the weather forecast?
Question: Are you willing to enrol in training classes, the purpose of which is to teach you responsible dog care and your puppy a few social skills?
Question: Are you willing to put up with dog hairs, which not all the time, but generally at the most inconvenient time, such as when you are entertaining non doggy guests, seem to appear like magic from nowhere?
IF YOUR ANSWER TO ANY OF THESE QUESTIONS IS NO, THEN THE CHANCES ARE YOU SHOULD THINK SERIOUSLY ABOUT OWNING ANY BREED OF DOG, AND A BELGIAN SHEPHERD IS PROBABLY NOT A GOOD CHOICE FOR YOU
Here are some questions you might ask a breeder
Q. Is their coat difficult to care for?
A. Not really, regular grooming is required, paying particular attention to the area around the ears and the trousers and feathering on the front and back legs. The long coated varieties moult usually twice a year and then it is quite simple to strip the cotton wool like undercoat out.
Q. Do they require a large amount of exercise?
A. Young puppies should not be taken on long walks, one should think of it as walking a toddler long distances, you just don't do it! Very gradually build up exercise after the age of six months and then establish a regular exercise regime.
Q. Are they similar to German Shepherds in temperament?
A. No the Belgian Shepherd is a completely separate breed and their temperaments and personalities are quite different.
Q. Are they good with children?
A. Belgians and children usually are the best of friends, with the Belgian, once fully grown, devotedly protecting the children of the family. However, this must be built on mutual respect, the children must be taught to respect the dog as it is growing. No matter how much one trusts a dog, young children and dogs should never be left alone together.
Q. Are they easy to train?
A. Belgians are highly trainable. They respond to sensitive handling and close human contact.
Q. How long do they live?
A. They are normally a long-lived breed and 12 to 15 years old is quite normal.