The Belgian Laekenois dog breed was developed in Belgium in the 1880s, herding sheep of the Laken Castle in Brussels. The rarest of the four Belgian Shepherds, the Laekenois is just starting to gain international recognition.
Some fans of the breed call them Chien de Berger Belge or Laeken. Also, they sometimes aren’t really differentiated from the three other Belgian Shepherds, depending where you are and who you ask. Although these are purebred dogs, you may still find them in shelters and rescues. Remember to adopt! Don’t shop, whenever possible, if this is the breed for you.
The Belgian Laekenois loves to please and protect their humans, and they can make especially great family dogs. They do not do well when left alone for long stretches of time, so this dog may not be a good choice if you spend a lot of time outside the home and don’t plan on taking the pup along. This is a herding dog, and they may nip at smaller children’s feet or at smaller pets if not properly trained. Still, if you’re ready to handle the breed’s needs and are looking for a loving, alert companion, this might be the right dog for you!
Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn’t necessarily an apartment dog make. Plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents are all good qualities in an apartment dog. m a little more personal space in your apartment.
Some dogs are simply easier than others; they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They’re also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies.
Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time dog parent to manage. You’ll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
If you’re new to dog parenting, take a look at 101 Dog Tricks and read up on how to train your dog!
Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called “easygoing,” “tolerant,” “resilient,” and even “thick-skinned,” can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive–barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.
Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can’t pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, your dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you’ll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
All Around Friendliness
Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they’ve been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn’t the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
See Dogs Less Affectionate with Family
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who’s on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (which are considered Pit Bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren’t always so family-friendly.
**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they’re not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs, even if they’re love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn’t the only factor. Dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least six to eight weeks of age and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with wagging tails and nuzzles; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was socialized and exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult. Remember that even friendly dogs should stay on a good, strong leash like this one in public!
Health And Grooming Needs
If you’re going to share your home with a dog, you’ll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds. Some dogs shed year-round, some “blow” seasonally, some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you’re a neatnik, you’ll need to either pick a low-shedding breed or relax your standards. To help keep your home a little cleaner, you can find a great de-shedding tool here!
Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you’ve got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you’re a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department.
Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog who needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn’t mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they’re at an increased risk.
If you’re adopting a puppy, it’s a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you’re interested in. You may also want to ask if your shelter or rescue has information about the physical health of your potential pup’s parents and other relatives.
Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that’s prone to packing on pounds, you’ll need to limit treats, make sure they get enough exercise, and measure out their daily food servings into regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
Ask your vet about your dog’s diet and what they recommend for feeding your pooch to keep them at a healthy weight. Weight gain can lead to other health issues or worsen problems like arthritis.
Dogs come in all sizes, from the world’s smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if they’re compatible with you and your living space. Large dog breeds might seem overpowering and intimidating, but some of them are incredibly sweet! Take a look and find the right sized dog for you!
Easy-to-train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word “sit”), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training.
Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a “What’s in it for me?” attitude, in which case you’ll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don’t get the mental stimulation they need, they’ll make their own work–usually with projects you won’t like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in Retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn’t puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or “herd” their human family members, and they need training to learn that it’s fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a toy that’s been stuffed with kibble and treats.
Dogs who were bred to hunt, such as Terriers, have an inborn desire to chase–and sometimes kill–other animals. Anything whizzing by, such as cats, squirrels, and perhaps even cars, can trigger that instinct. Dogs who like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you’ll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren’t a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won’t chase, but you’ll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.
Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how often the dog vocalizes with barks or howls. If you’re considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you’re considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious “strangers” put your pup on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby? Then you may wish to choose a quieter dog.
Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they’ll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses–or that bunny that just ran across the path–even if it means leaving you behind.
High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they’re more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells.
Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you’ll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
A vigorous dog may or may not have high energy, but everything they do, they do with vigor: they strain on the leash (until you train them not to), try to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who’s elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise, especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, like herding or hunting.
Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don’t like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
Some dogs are perpetual puppies — always begging for a game — while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.
Dog Breed Group:Herding DogsHeight:22 to 26 inchesWeight:44 to 66 poundsLife Span:10 to 12 years
More About This Breed
- The Belgian Laekenois coat comes in a variety of colors, usually fawn, mahogany, or red. Sometimes they have a black mask as well.
- Although they are not heavy shedders, you should still brush out their hair on a weekly to bi-weekly basis with a brush meant for course fur.
- Belgian Laekenois dogs do not fare well being left alone for long periods of time, and they can get into destructive habits if they become bored. They can still do well in an apartment as long as they aren’t left alone for hours on end.
- Be sure your dog gets at least one solid half-hour- to hour-long walk per day. Include a few good, active play sessions and shorter walks throughout the day, too.
- The Belgian Laekenois can make an excellent family dog, but they tend to do better with older children than they do younger ones. Your Belgian Laekenois might try to herd toddlers and nip at their heels!
- Since they are a herding breed and are protective, the Belgian Laekenois might be best suited as the only animal in the house. They might try to herd or hunt down smaller dogs and cats.
To some, the Belgian Laekenois is not its own breed, 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 they were developed. Some say they are an aristocratic breed, as they acted as herders and protectors of the sheep at the Royal Castle of Laeken. In the 20th century, the Belgian Laekenois also played a role in both World Wars, acting as messenger dogs.
Since then, the Belgian Laekenois’ numbers have been dwindling, and not many clubs recognized the breed individually. There are roughly 1,000 alive today, which makes having a Belgian Laekenois as a pet extra rare! The other three Belgian Shepherd breeds — the Belgian Malinois, Belgian Tervuren, and the Belgian Sheepdog — 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 their Herding Group.
Male Belgian Laekenois stand 24 to 26 inches from the shoulder and weigh 55 to 66 pounds. Female Belgian Laekenois have a smaller stature, standing about 22 to 24 inches from the shoulder and weighing in around 44 to 55 pounds.
That said, some dogs can be smaller or larger than average for their breed.
The Belgian Laekenois is an alert, loyal dog who loves to please their humans. This means that they need a human who’s ready to provide consistent and calm training; they will not respond well to overly harsh punishments or yelling. Fortunately, the Belgian Laekenois is an intelligent breed, so as long as you are consistent, obedience training should come fairly naturally.
Like with every dog, the Belgian Laekenois needs early socialization. Bring your pup with you (where you are allowed, of course!) to experience different sights, people, and sounds. Socialization helps ensure that your Belgian Laekenois doesn’t become too territorial or aggressive.
They definitely aren’t super-hyper dogs, but the Belgian Laekenois does enjoy play sessions in the yard or a mentally stimulating toy. As a herding breed, they might also get a little too into playing and nip at heels. Be sure to curb this habit to prevent any unwanted injuries, especially with smaller children.
Belgian Laekenois dogs do not fare well being left alone for long periods of time, and they can get into destructive habits if they become bored while left by themselves. They can still do well in an apartment or smaller space, as long as they aren’t being left alone for hours on end and have plenty of playtime and walks.
Belgian Laekenois are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they can be subject to certain health conditions. Not all Laekens will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering this breed.
Some of the more common health problems Belgian Laekenois suffer from include:
- Progressive retinal apathy, cataracts, and other eye issues.
- Hip dysplasia
Like with any dog, be sure to keep up with your Belgian Laekenois’ regular veterinary appointments to detect health concerns as early as possible. Your veterinarian can help you develop a care routine to keep your Belgian Laekenois happy and healthy.
The Laekenois is prone to weight gain if they lead a more sedentary lifestyle. Be sure your dog gets at least one solid half-hour- to hour-long walk per day. Include a few good, active play sessions and shorter walks throughout the day, too.
Check their ears for debris and pests daily and clean them as recommended by your vet. Trim your dog’s nails before they get too long — usually once or twice per month. They should not be clicking against the floor. Your groomer can help with this if you have a hard time.
You should brush their teeth daily. Your veterinarian can instruct you on how to brush your dog’s teeth properly.
A balanced Belgian Laekenois diet should be formulated for a medium-to-large breed with high energy levels. Keep your Belgian Laekenois in shape by measuring their food and feeding them twice a day, as opposed to leaving out food all day. This will curb bored eating.
As with all dogs, the Belgian Laekenois’ dietary needs will change from puppyhood to adulthood and will continue to change into their senior years. You should ask your veterinarian for recommendations about your Belgian Laekenois’ diet, as there is far too much variation among individual dogs — including weight, energy, and health — to make a specific recommendation.
Coat Color And Grooming
The Belgian Laekenois’ coat is often wiry and tousled, sometimes with a touch of softer and shorter fur underneath. Their coat comes in a variety of colors, usually fawn, mahogany, or red. Sometimes the Belgian Laekenois has a black mask as well.
Although they are not heavy shedders, you should still brush out their hair on a weekly to bi-weekly basis with a brush meant for course fur. This will help remove any dead skin and keep your Belgian Laekenois’ coat from knotting. Also be sure to use a dog-friendly sunscreen, as their wiry coat can leave patches of skin vulnerable to sun damage.
As with any dog, do not leave your Belgian Laekenois is any extreme temperatures unattended, as their coats will not shield them from the harsher elements.
Children And Other Pets
The Belgian Laekenois can make an excellent family dog, but they tend to do better with older children than they do younger ones. Your Belgian Laekenois might try to herd toddlers and nip at their heels! If smaller children are taught how to properly play with your dog — and you are able to supervise as they do so — a Belgian Laekenois can be a great family pet for any age group.
Since they are a herding breed and are protective, the Belgian Laekenois might be best suited as the only animal in the house. They might try to herd or hunt down smaller dogs and cats, which can be a stressful situation for all of your animals.
Having said that, some Belgian Laekenois dogs get along fine with other animals. It really comes down to genetics, training, and luck of the draw.
Rescues specifically for Belgian Laekenois dogs might be hard to come by, as this is a rare breed. However, you can always check with your local shelter, and you may want to try a rescue that caters to all kinds of dogs. You can take a look at the following:
- Wright-Way Rescue
- Angels Among Us Pet Rescue