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The American Kennel Club (AKC®), the world’s largest purebred dog registry and leading advocate for dogs, announced today that the Belgian Laekenois has received full recognition, and is eligible to compete in the Herding Group. This addition brings the number of AKC-recognized breeds to 196.

“We’re happy to have the Belgian Laekenois as part of AKC’s family of recognized breeds,” said Gina DiNardo, AKC Executive Secretary. “It’s a wonderful dog that will make a great companion for active people. As always, we’d like to remind potential dog owners to do their research to find the right breed for their lifestyle.”

One of the four native dogs of Belgium, the Belgian Laekenois is a herding dog that was originally used to guard and tend to its owner’s flock, as well as guard linen drying in the fields. The breed is still able to guard its people and property today. These dogs are known to be alert, intelligent and inquisitive. They’re reserved with strangers, but affectionate and friendly with those they know well. As a working dog, the Belgian Laekenois needs an active lifestyle with plenty of exercise and a job to do. Their coat requires regular brushing and occasional bathing.

Recognition does not mean the creation of a new breed. Many of the breeds that gain full AKC-recognition have been around for many years, and some are ancient. To become an AKC recognized breed there must be a minimum number of dogs geographically distributed throughout the U.S., as well as an established breed club of responsible owners and breeders. Breeds working towards full recognition are recorded in AKC’s Foundation Stock Service® (FSS®). Additional information on the process can be found at akc.org.

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