Belgian Shepherd Dog



Proposed changes to Belgian Shepherd Breed Standard

All views submitted by 26th September 2020, from members of the breed clubs, with regards to the proposed breed standard changes are currently being recorded. Unfortunately due to personal health reasons and the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, there has been a delay in trying to progress the views and proposed changes. We will keep the website updated with the status as progress is made.

Statement from the BSDA of GB and NBSDC regarding the recent discussions on suggested changes to the Breed Standard

Both Belgian Shepherd breed clubs feel that it would be helpful to provide clarification regarding the proposed breed standard revisions.

Recently the Kennel Club launched an initiative whereby breed clubs were invited to collaborate on presentations on their specific breeds to be featured on the Kennel Club Academy website as a learning tool for aspiring judges. Consequently, discussions were held in 2019 between the Northern Belgian Shepherd Dog Club, the Belgian Shepherd Dog Association of GB, the breed education coordinator and the Kennel Club to create two breed presentations: one on the breed standard and the other on the history of the breed. During the creation of the breed standard presentation it became very apparent that the existing breed standard - which had not been revised for many decades - was sorely in need of updating. This being the case, it was felt that it was pointless finalising the breed standard presentation until after the breed standard revisions had been approved by the Kennel Club otherwise the presentation would have contained outdated information.

A number of proposed revisions were subsequently drawn up which did not constitute any major changes but were generally designed to give more clarification of individual breed features and, in particular, bring us more in line with the existing country of origin breed standard. Once these proposed changes had been identified, the next step was to notify and consult with the members of both breed clubs so that their feedback could be registered. It was felt that the only fair way to do this was to print these changes in the clubs' newsletters as they would reach every single member, whereas if these changes had been announced online - either on the clubs' websites or through social media - a significant number of members would have been excluded. Newsletters were therefore prepared by each club outlining the proposed changes but as it is difficult to synchronise the arrival of both newsletters, some have arrived before the others have been dispatched. This has had the unfortunate consequence that a number of people have learnt about these changes through social media and have wondered why they had not been notified whereas other members had. The intention of both breed clubs is to notify every single member by post and members are invited to discuss any points by contacting in writing either Lynda McNamara (NBSDC) or Margy Pratten (BSDA of GB), contact details are in the newsletters.

As we are being urged by the Kennel Club to complete the breed standard presentation, we now find ourselves in a situation where we need to obtain Kennel Club approval of the revisions before we can proceed any further. We understand that members will have differing opinions on these changes, so if our members agree or disagree with any of the proposed changes can they make their views known in writing to either breed club so that a general consensus can be reached.

Breed standard

General appearance

Medium-sized dog, well proportioned, intelligent, attentive, hardy and alert. [Four varieties: Groenendael, Laekenois, Malinois and Tervueren.]


With fine proportions and proud carriage of head, conveying an impression of graceful strength. Not only a sheep dog, but a guard dog.


Wary, neither timid, nervous nor aggressive.

Head and skull

Head finely chiselled, long but not excessively so. Skull and muzzle roughly equal in length, with at most slight bias in favour of muzzle, giving impression of a balanced whole. Skull of medium width in proportion to length of head, forehead flat, centre line not very pronounced; in profile, parallel to imaginary line extending muzzle line. Muzzle of medium length tapering gradually to nose. Nose black, well-flared nostrils. Moderate stop. Arches above eyes not prominent, muzzle finely chiselled under eyes. Cheeks spare, quite flat but well muscled.


Medium size, neither protruding nor sunken, slightly almond-shaped, preferably dark brown; black rimmed eyelids. Direct, lively and enquiring look.


Distinctly triangular appearance, stiff and erect, set high, moderate length with external ear well rounded at base.


Wide, lips thin-textured, very firm, strongly pigmented. Strong white teeth firmly set in well developed jaws. Scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws. Pincer bite tolerated.


Very supple. Neck slightly elongated, well muscled and without dewlap, broadening slightly towards shoulders. Nape very slightly arched.


Withers distinct, strongly boned throughout with wiry, powerful muscle structure. Shoulder blades long and oblique, firmly attached, flat, forming such angle with humerus as to enable elbows to work easily. Forelegs long, well muscled, parallel. Pasterns strong and short. Carpus clearly defined. Dewclaws permissible.


Body powerful but elegant. In males, length from point of shoulders to point of buttocks approximately equal to height at withers. In females slightly longer permissible. Chest deep and well let down. Ribs moderately well sprung. Upper line of body straight, broad and powerfully muscled. Belly moderately developed neither drooping nor unduly cut up continuing lower line of chest in a graceful curve. Rump very slightly sloping, broad but not excessively so. Skin springy but quite taut over whole body. All external mucous membranes highly pigmented.


Well muscled and powerful. Good but not excessive angulation; hocks well let down. Viewed from behind, legs parallel.


Toes arched, very close together; soles thick and springy with large dark claws. Forefeet round. Hindfeet slightly oval.


Firmly set, strong at base, of medium length. When at rest, hangs down, with tip slightly bent backwards at level of hock; when moving it should lift accentuating curve towards tip, never curled, nor bent to one side. Tip may be carried slightly higher than topline.


Brisk, free and even.


There are three distinct coat types:

Groenendael / Tervueren

Outer coat long, straight and abundant. Texture of medium harshness. Not silky or wiry. Undercoat extremely dense. Hair shorter on head, outside of ears and lower part of legs. Opening of ear protected by hair. Hair especially long and abundant, ruff-like around neck, particularly in males. Fringe of long hair down back of forelegs, long and abundant hair evident on hindquarters and tail. Males longer coated than females.


Harsh, wiry, dry and not curly. Any sprinkling of fluffy fine hair in locks in rough coats is undesirable. Length of coat about 6 cms (21/2 ins) on all parts of body. Hair around eyes but not to obscure them. Muzzle hair not so long as to make head appear square or heavy. Tail not plumed.


Hair very short on head, exterior of ears and lower parts of legs. Short on rest of body, thicker on tail and around neck where it resembles a ridge or collar, beginning at base of ear and extending to throat. Hindquarters fringed with longer hair. Tail thick and bushy. Coat thick, close of good firm texture with woolly undercoat, neither silky nor wiry.

No variation in these types is acceptable.


The acceptable colours relate directly to coat type.


Black or black with limited white as follows: small to moderate patch or strip on chest, between pads of feet and on tips of hind toes. Frosting (white or grey) on muzzle.


Reddish fawn with black shading, principally in muzzle and tail.

Tervueren / Malinois

All shades of red, fawn, grey with black overlay. Coat characteristically double pigmented, wherein tip of each light coloured hair is blackened. On mature males this blackening especially pronounced on shoulders, back and rib sections. Black mask on face, not extended above line of eyes and ears mostly black. Tail should have a darker or black tip. Small to moderate white patch or strip permitted on chest, between pads of feet and on tips of hind toes. Frosting (white or grey) on the muzzle. Beyond the age of 18 months a washed out colour or colour too black undesirable.

No variation on these colours by coat type is acceptable.


Ideal height: dogs: 61-66 cms (24-26 ins); bitches: 56-61 cms (22-24 ins). Weight, in proportion to size.


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and of the dog's ability to perform its traditional work.


Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

Reproduced with the kind permission of The Kennel Club



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