To many, it may surprise that there are four different varieties of the Belgian Shepherd. The Belgian Shepherd is a fantastic breed of dog, with four types of coats in one breed.
The dog should be completely black or be black with white limited as follows: small to moderate patch on forechest, between the pads of the feet, on tips of hind toes, and frost on the chin and muzzle. White on the tips of the front toes is allowable but is a fault. The black, long-haired variety is known as GROENENDAEL.
The dog should be either rich fawn to russet mahogany or distinctly grey, each with a black overlay. The coat is characteristically double pigmented, wherein the tip of each hair is blackened.On mature males, this blackening is especially pronounced on the shoulders, back, and rib section. The chest colour is a mixture of black and grey. The face has a black mask and the ears are mostly black. The underparts of the dog, tail, and breeches are light beige or grey. A small white patch is permitted on the chest but should not extend into the neck or breast. Frost on the chin or muzzle is normal. Too light a colour or too black a colour is a serious fault. This variety is known as the TERVUREN.
The coat should be comparatively short and straight with a dense undercoat. It is very short on the head, the ears and lower legs. The hair is somewhat longer around the neck where it forms a collarette and on the tail and back of the thighs. The colour should be from a rich fawn to mahogany with a black overlay. There should be a black mask and black ears. The underparts of the body, tail, and breeches are lighter fawn. A small white patch on the chest is permissible as is white on the tips of the toes. A washed-out fawn colour is undesirable. This variety is known as the MALINOIS.
The coat should have a rough or dry texture and appear unkempt. The undercoat is thick and woolly. The coat is of medium length on all parts of the body except the head where the hair on the skull is short while the hair on the muzzle is slightly longer forming a beard or whiskers. The coat should be light fawn to red brown in colour. Grey is acceptable as well. Blackening may appear on the muzzle, ears, and tail. The underparts of the dog, tail, and breeches are light beige or grey. The tail should not form a plume. A small amount of white is permitted on the chest and the tips of the toes. This variety is known as the LAEKENOIS.
Origin and Purpose
The Belgian Shepherd Dog has an ancestry common to many of the herding dogs used throughout the modern world. His type results from the rugged Belgian climate and the requirements of the Belgian Shepherd for a bright, strong, and agile dog. In addition to sheep herding, the Belgian Shepherd Dog has been widely used for police and war work and is noted for his intelligence and alertness in obedience work.
The first impression of the Belgian Shepherd Dog should be that of a well-balanced square dog, elegant in appearance, with an exceedingly proud carriage of head and neck. He should be a strong, agile, well-muscled animal who is alert and full of life. His whole conformation should give the impression of depth and solidity without bulkiness. The dog should be somewhat more impressive and grand than the bitch. The bitch should have a distinctively feminine look. Like many European breeds, different coat colours, textures, and lengths were preferred by the original fanciers. Today, however, only four distinct coat types are recognized and have become the distinguishing characteristics of the four varieties of Belgian Shepherd Dog. The long-haired Groenendael and Tervuren, the short-haired Malinois, and the rough-haired Laeken variety differ in coat colour, length and texture but are unmistakably the same breed.
The Belgian Shepherd Dog should reflect the qualities of intelligence, courage, alertness, and devotion to his master. To his inherent aptitude as guardian of flocks should be added protectiveness of the person and property of his master. He should be watchful, attentive, and always in motion when not under command. In his relationship with humans, he should be observant and vigilant with strangers but not apprehensive. He should not show fear or shyness. He should not show viciousness by unwarranted or unprovoked attack. With those he knows well, he is most affectionate, friendly, zealous of their attention, and very possessive.
Males should be 24-26 inches (61-66 cm) in height and females 22-24 inches (56-61 cm) measured at the withers. The length, measured from the front of the forechest to the rear projection of the pelvis, should equal the height. Bitches may be slightly longer. Bone structure should be moderately heavy in proportion to height so that he is well balanced throughout and neither spindly and leggy nor cumbersome and bulky.
Belgian shepherd club of Canada- Web page here