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The Belgian Laekenois dog breed was developed in Belgium in the 1880s, herding the sheep of the Laken Castle in Brussels. The rarest of the four Belgian shepherds, the Laekenois is beginning to gain international recognition. Some breed enthusiasts call them Chien de Berger Belge or Laeken. Also, sometimes they are not really distinguishable from the other three Belgian Shepherds, depending on where you are and who you ask. Although these are purebred dogs, you may find them in shelters and rescues. Remember to adopt. Don’t buy, whenever possible, if this is the breed for you. Belgian Laekenois love to please and protect their humans, and can be an especially good family dog. They do not do well when left alone for long periods of time, so this dog may not be a good choice if you spend a lot of time away from home and do not plan to take the puppy with you. This is a herding dog, and may bite the feet of younger children or smaller pets if not well trained. Still, if you are prepared to handle the needs of the breed and are looking for a loving and alert companion, this could be the right dog for you.
The coat of the Belgian Laekenois is of various colors, usually fawn, mahogany or red. Sometimes they also have a black mask. Although they do not have much shedding, you should brush their coat weekly or bi-weekly with a coarse brush. Belgian Laekenois do not do well if left alone for long periods of time, and can develop destructive habits if they become bored. They can do well in an apartment as long as they are not left alone for hours at a time. Make sure your dog gets at least one half-hour to hour-long walk a day. Also include some active play sessions and shorter walks throughout the day. The Belgian Laekenois can be an excellent family dog, but tends to get along better with older children than younger ones. The Belgian Laekenois may try to herd small children and nip at their heels. As it is a herding breed and is protective, the Belgian Laekenois may be best suited to be the only animal in the house. They may attempt to herd or hunt the smaller dogs and cats.
For some, the Belgian Laekenois is not a breed of its own, but a variation of one of the four Belgian Shepherds developed in the 1880s. The Laekenois gets its name from the region of Belgium in which it was developed. Some say they are an aristocratic breed, as they acted as shepherds and protectors of the sheep at the Royal Castle of Laeken. In the 20th century, Belgian Laekenois also played a role in the two world wars, acting as messenger dogs. Since then, the number of Belgian Laekenois has been declining and there are not many clubs that recognize the breed individually. There are currently about 1,000 living specimens, which makes owning a Belgian Laekenois as a pet very rare. The other three Belgian Shepherd breeds – the Belgian Malinois, Belgian Tervuren and Belgian Shepherd – were recognized by the American Kennel Club before the Laekenois. It wasn’t until July 2020 that the AKC recognized the Belgian Laekenois as part of its Shepherd Group.
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