If you’ve never heard of the Belgian Laekenois, you’re not the only one. This incredibly rare breed was almost wiped out after World War II – despite hanging on by the skin of their teeth, they’re still few and far between. A versatile herding dog by nature, their loyal, affectionate natures make them great family pets. Cautious around strangers, a danger to cats, and a playful companion to kids, they’re not always the easiest of breeds to look after, but they’re definitely one of the most rewarding. Find out more as we reveal 10 things you didn’t know about the Belgian Laekenois.
1. They don’t like strangers
Belgian Laekenois’ are loyal, affectionate, and at their happiest when they’re trotting along by their owner’s side. What they’re not, however, is particularly fond of strangers. If you frequently have guests call at the house, this may not be the breed for you: their warines and occasional hostility towards unfamiliar faces could prove a problem. That said, early socialization and consistent training can both help enormously at nipping any potential problems in the bud.
2. They’ve got a medium build
Belgian Laekenois’ are a well-muscled, medium-sized dog with square proportions. Although sizes vary by individual, most male Belgian Laekenois’ stand 24 to 26 inches at the withers. Female Belgian Laekenois’ stand between 22 to 24 inches tall. As an average, most weigh between 55 to 65 pounds.
3. They’re expensive
As belgianlaekenoispuppies.com notes, since the Belgian Laekenois is a rare breed, puppies can sometimes be difficult to locate. If you do manage to track one down from a reputable breeder, you can expect to pay anything from $1,500 to $2,000. Always be sure to ask for a health guarantee for peace of mind, and run a mile from buying one from a pet store or puppy mill, as both of these will significantly affect the likelihood of the puppy developing physical or temperamental issues.
4. They’re a healthy breed
Although you can never guarantee any dog, regardless of breed, will go through life without experiencing any issues, the Belgian Laekenois is generally considered a healthy, robust dog. They are, however, predisposed to certain health conditions that need to be watched out for. These include skin allergies, cataracts, hip dysplasia, epilepsy, pannus, and progressive renal atrophy. The best way to avoid these issues is to only buy from a reputable breeder who can provide a certificate of health for both the puppy and its parents. According to factspage.blogspot.com, providing a Belgian Laekenois manages to hit its twilight years without succumbing to any major issues, they can be expected to live for between 12-14 years.
5. They hail from Belgium
As their name suggests, the Belgian Laekenois was developed in Belgium. They were bred along with several other Belgian herding breeds to serve and protect livestock. Thanks to their affectionate natures, they also developed a reputation as a versatile companion dog that was as happy to guard people and property as they were cattle and sheep. At the turn of the 20th century, the Belgian Shepherds were categorized into four distinct breeds for the first time: the Groenendael, the Malinois, the Tervuren, and the Laekenois. Despite being all but wiped out after World War I and II, the Laekenois staged a resurgence and made its way over to the US soon after, eventually securing recognition from the American Kennel Club in 2020. Even so, they remain one of the rarest breeds available.
6. They move in circles
As indulgeyourpet.com writes, despite having a proud, dignified appearance, the Belgian Laekenois has a very unique, very comical way of walking. Rather than moving in a straight line like most dogs, they move in circles. Despite looking somewhat strange, it’s actually a very useful trick that helped them keep their flock together during their years as a herding dog.
7. They’re a menace to cats
There are two things in life the Belgian Laekenois could do without: strangers and cats. Although it should probably be pointed out that if there’s one thing in life cats could probably do without, it’s the Belgian Laekenois. The Belgian Laekenois is, lest we forget, a herding dog by nature. If they see something small and moving, they’ll automatically feel compelled to herd it. Unfortunately, their methods of herding can sometimes be a little too ‘mouthy’ for cats to tolerate. If you’re introducing a new Belgian Laekenois pup into a house with an incumbent feline or two, prepare to invest plenty of time into socialization and training to avoid all-out war.
8. They’re easy to care for
As wagwalking.com notes, the Belgian Laekenois is relatively easy to care for. Their rough, wiry coat should be trimmed around 2 or 3 times a year. Although they very rarely shed, a weekly grooming session will help keep their coat in tip-top shape by removing dead hair and stimulating skin oil production. As bathing can remove the waterproof qualities of their coat and strip their skin and hair of vital oils, avoid bathing unless absolutely necessary. Nails should be clipped if they don’t wear down naturally. Ears should be checked and cleaned regularly to avoid wax build-up and teeth should be cleaned 2 or 3 times a week.
9. They need lots of exercise
The Belgian Laekenois was bred to spend their days running around keeping cattle and sheep in order. While they don’t necessarily need a flock to boss around to stay happy, they do need an outlet for their boundless energy. A yard to romp around in isn’t necessary (although will always be appreciated) but it’s vital to make sure they get plenty of walks and jogs during the day, along with a few play sessions in between. As they’re a highly intelligent breed, they’ll also benefit from lots of interactive games and training to keep their minds ticking over.
10. They’re prone to weight gain
Belgian Laekenois’ might be dedicated athletes by nature, but they’ve also fully signed up members of the gourmand society. Show them a snack, and they’ll have wolfed it down before you can blink. To avoid obesity becoming a problem, avoid indulging them in too many treats outside of training sessions and keep table scraps off-limits. As they can sometimes develop dental issues, many owners prefer to feed them high-quality dry food rather than wet to help keep plaque at bay.