Rare Breed Spotlight: The Belgian Laekenois

Least known of the Belgian herders, this tousled canine forms an intuitive bond with its owner.

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Some might call the Belgian Laekenois the forgotten Belgian Shepherd Dog.  
 
The recorded history of Belgian Sheepdogs began in 1891 when the Club du Chien de Berger Belge (Belgian Shepherd Dog Club) was created to determine if Belgium truly possessed a native herding dog. Veterinary professor Adolphe Reul, who presided over the panel, ultimately decided that yes – Belgium indeed had such a canine. Participants of the meeting, which was held on the outskirts of Brussels, agreed there was a uniform type of dog common to that province that was lithe, medium-sized and square in outline with upright ears. Meetings in other provinces verified the existence of similar dogs, alike in body structure, but differing in coat and color.

The following year, Reul and friends convened to draw up the first standard for the Belgian Shepherd Dog. Three varieties were recognized: longhaired blacks and fawns, rough-coated grays and fawns, and shorthaired fawns. A few changes were made to the standard in ensuing years and in 1901, the Société Royale Saint-Hubert (Belgium’s kennel club) accepted the Belgian Shepherd Dog as a breed.

Four varieties emerge
When telling the story of the Belgian Laekenois, it’s important to explore the entire Belgian Shepherd Dog breed because everywhere in the world – except in the United States – the Belgian is considered one breed (Belgian Shepherd Dog) with four varieties. The histories of the varieties are intertwined, just as the dogs were interbred.

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