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Breed -

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Laekenois Belgian Shepard


Breed History

The Laekenois is considered both the oldest and the most rare of the Belgian Shepherd Dogs, but in the late 1800s, all the sheepdogs that had been tending sheep in Belgium for centuries were in trouble. Modernization was making them obsolete and at risk of vanishing forever. To save the dogs from extinction, the Club du Chien de Berger Beige was formed, but there was a problem. After all this time, the dogs had been bred to work, not to look a certain way, so appearances among the various sheepdogs was initially thought to be all over the proverbial map. When Professor Adolphe Reul, a Belgian veterinarian, evaluated the 117 dogs that had been gathered with an eye of classifying them, he realized that they were really quite similar to each other, and that coat and color could be used as a means of dividing them. Sources vary as to whether the first divisions resulted in six or eight types, but eventually, the types were reduced to four: The Groenendael (long haired and black), the Tervuren (long haired, black tipped fawn), the Malinois (short haired) and the Laekenois, tousled and rough coated. The breeds were also named after locations: The Malinois for the city of Malines, the Tervuren for the village east of Brussels, the Groenendael for the village of Groenendael where Nicolas Rose first bred them, and the Laekenois for the suburb of Laeken where they were first bred, herded sheep at the Royal Castle of Laeken, and where they guarded linen drying in the fields.

Once type distinctions were made, it became easier to set those types with standardized breeding programs. The United Kennel Club, Canadian Kennel Club and Federation Cynolgique Internationale recognized the four Belgian sheepdog types as separate varieties of a single breed which they call the Belgian Shepherd Dog, as did the AKC until 1958 when it reached the decision to separate the varieties and all but the Laekenois was given separate breed status.

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