The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.
Of the four closely related Belgian herders—the Belgian Sheepdog, Malinois, Tervuren, and Laekenois—the Laekenois is the rarest. This strong and sturdy dog is distinguished from his brethren by a rough, tousled coat that comes in shades of red or fawn or in grayish tones. The blackening around the muzzle points up the expression of keen watchfulness shining from the dark almond-shaped eyes.
The Belgian Laekenois is protective of his master and property. Although observant with strangers, the breed is affectionate and friendly with those he knows well. The Laekenois coat requires regular brushing and occasional bathing, and as a working dog, it needs daily exercise.
TheBelgian Laekenois should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
Beyond regular weekly grooming, the occasional bath will keep your Belgian Laekenois clean and looking his best. Grooming can be a wonderful bonding experience for you and your dog. The Laekenois’ strong, fast-growing nails should be trimmed regularly with a nail clipper or grinder to avoid overgrowth, splitting and cracking. Their ears should be checked regularly to avoid a buildup of wax and debris, which can result in an infection. Teeth should be brushed regularly.
The ideal owner will understand that the Belgian Laekenois is not going to be happy sitting around nor can he be expected to live alone in the yard. Eager to please, Laekenois want to be with their humans, and need an active lifestyle and plenty of employment to be happy. When the new puppy arrives, it’s important to get him socialized early, with frequent and positive meet-and-greet sessions, as these working dogs are typically reserved with strangers.
Socialization and puppy-training classes are especially important. They promote good behavior, nip bad habits in the bud, and strengthen the bond between puppy and owner. Fortunately, Belgian Laekenois are very intelligent and want nothing more than to make their owners happy, so they take to training quickly.
In September of 1891, the Belgian Shepherd Dog Club (Club du Chien de Berger Beige) was organized to investigate the characteristics of the native dogs in Belgium. They defined the consistent type of this native dog that was identical in body and temperament but differing in coat (color, texture and length).
During the early part of the twentieth century, the owners and breeders in Belgium urged the acceptance of additional varieties based on the color and regions of origin. The fawn rough haired varieties were given the name Laekenois (derived from the town of Laeken). The abilities of these dogs as intelligent and versatile workers soon gained popularity in other countries.
The Laekenois’ original duty, in addition to guarding and tending the flock, was to guard linen drying in the fields. He was an enthusiast worker and a quick learner that made him a desirable choice for the task at hand. He was later called on to serve as a messenger dog during World War I and II. At this time his numbers were severely decreased. Many breeders worked very hard to restore this variety, while retaining the typical Belgian Shepherd Dog intelligence, type and structure. He is admired today for these attributes. He is still able to herd and guard his flock, and protect his people and their property. His ability to adapt to new situations and to respond to his master’s commands makes him an alert, intelligent, inquisitive animal. He typically is reserved with strangers.