Belgian Sheepdogs are strong, muscular, yet agile and graceful on their feet. They should be squarely proportioned and be as long as they are tall. They have long muzzles with round, dark eyes and erect, triangular ears that sit high atop the head. Their tails are long and should not be stumped or cropped. They have thick double coats that should be all black or black with trace amounts of whites in preferred patterns.
Size and Weight
Male Belgian Sheepdogs should stand from 24 to 26 inches in height; females should be from 22 to 24 inches, both measured at the withers. Males under 22 ½ or over 27 ½ inches, and females under 20 ½ or over 25 ½ inches, are disqualified under the AKC breed standard. The average Belgian Sheepdog weighs between 45 and 65 pounds.
Coat and Color
Belgian Sheepdogs have double coats with a thick, long, straight topcoat and a softer undercoat. This combination helps protect the dog from extreme weather conditions, and will vary in thickness depending upon the climate where the dog lives. The coat is not soft to the touch, but a bit harsh, yet not wiry.
The preferred breed coloring is all black or black with a small bit of white between the pads of the feet, at the tips of the toes or on the chest. Some have a “salt and pepper” appearance at the muzzle. Show dogs should not have white on the front toes.
Belgian Sheepdogs require a lot of brushing to maintain their year-round shedding and to keep the coat free of tangles and mats. Weekly brushing can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, but daily swipes with a brush or comb can make the weekly sessions easier. Twice a year they will blow their entire coat, which will require extra grooming time. A warm bath can help release the hair and cut down the seasonal shedding time. Regular bathing only needs to occur as needed, if the dog is dirty or begins to emit a doggy odor.
Weekly teeth and ear cleaning can help promote health and keep harmful bacteria to a minimum. Active Belgians will naturally wear down their toenails, but if the nails click on a hard floor, they should be trimmed.