The Belgian Laekenois is a stocky, medium-sized breed with a uniquely disheveled, disorderly appearance. These dogs have long legs for their size, which allows them to cover a lot of ground over uneven terrain. Laekenois are strong, alert, athletic animals full of vim and vigor. They have long faces, expressive dark eyes and especially long tongues. Their triangular ears stand stiff and upright. Their muzzles, ears and eyes usually are darker than the rest of their coat, which makes them especially prominent. They have bearded, mustached faces. The fur on their heads should not hide their eyes or make their faces look square or heavy. Laekenois have deep chests and long, thick tails. They should be well-balanced - neither spindly and leggy nor cumbersome and bulky. Males are typically a bit more impressive in appearance than their female counterparts, which should look distinctly feminine. All in all, this uncommon breed really doesn’t resemble any other domestic dog.
Size and Weight
The Belgian Laekenois is larger than many other sheepdogs. Males should stand between 24 and 26 inches at the withers under the AKC breed standard, and between 23 and 26 ½ inches according to the United Kennel Club (UKC). Males usually weigh between 55 and 65 pounds. Females should be 22 to 24 inches tall according to the AKC, and 21 to 24 ½ inches under the UKC standard. They weigh only slightly less than males. This is an active breed with a healthy metabolism, which makes weight gain only a minor concern. However, Laekenois that are kept purely as family pets and are not engaged in their normal working lifestyle can tend to put on weight.
Coat and Color
The long, double coat of the Belgian Laekenois is woolly, rough and coarse, providing excellent protection against wicked weather. It can be straight or slightly wavy and tends to stick together in tufts that make it look curly and disorderly, even when the dog is well-groomed. Fortunately, their coats are not prone to matting. Laekenois should never have silky or soft fur. They usually are a brownish-tweed color, with a mixture of tan, brown and black hairs. Some have white or gray added to the mix, especially as they age. Fawn-colored dogs, with a distinctive red undertone, are common. Black points on the muzzle, ears, paws and tail are acceptable under the standards of most breed registries. The Laekenois’ coat is characteristically double-pigmented, with black tipping on the end of each hair. This is especially pronounced on the shoulders, backs and ribs of mature males. The under-sides of these dogs typically are cream, gray or light beige.
The Belgian Laekenois is among the most low-maintenance of sheepdog breeds. To keep them looking their best, they need an occasional brushing to prevent their dense undercoats from matting and to distribute the natural oils from their skin through their fur. They rarely need to be bathed. In fact, baths should be avoided unless absolutely necessary, since shampoos can dry out their coats and make them more likely to tangle. Owners should keep their Laekenois’ nails trimmed regularly so that they don’t curl or cause discomfort. Their ears need cleaning about once a month, or maybe more frequently if the dog spends a lot of time outside. Regular dental care is recommended to prevent gingivitis, maintain fresh breath and promote healthy eating habits.