Showsight Presents The Belgian Sheepdog

BELGIAN SHEEPDOG Q&A

They love to be with you and do whatever job you would like done, but they can be just as easily a couch potato while you’re watching TV.

He had the ability to stay truly focused and was always eager to please, with the addition of a large amount of drive; what more could you ask for in the Group ring? His daughter, Ava, has totally enjoyed her time showing training and competing at 4-H statewide events winning many first place ribbons in obedience with a Belgian Sheepdog named Bond; what a joy to play and live with! Is there a reliable market for pet quality puppies? I’m sorry to say that there doesn’t appear to be a real market out there for Bel- gian Sheepdog puppies. The general public that actually call or even know the breed is few and far between, but I’ve never had any dif- ficulty finding lovely family homes. In 20+ years of breeding, we’ve only had two dogs return; one because they moved out of the coun- try, and the other one just felt the puppy didn’t fit. I think people would be surprised to learn how easy it is to live with the Belgian Sheepdog, and how well they adapt to whichever home situation they’re in. We’ve had two of our dogs live on boats! They make wonderful companions. They are lifelong supportive family members and are much more flexible and less demanding than some other breeds. They love to be with you and do what- ever job you would like done, but they can be just as easily a couch potato while you’re watching TV. They patiently wait at home while you’re at work and are open to you redefining their schedule. They are interested in everything around them and very respectful, but vigilant to make sure their family is safe. Obviously, their tempera- ment varies from dog to dog, but their consistent observations of the surroundings and reserved alertness to incoming situations makes them comfortable to take everywhere. They make very biddable and enjoyable family partners. SHERRI SWABB

where I teach conformation and basic obedience. We also do some flower gardening in our spare time. When did I first become aware of the Belgian Sheepdog? I met and acquired my first Belgian Sheepdog in 1985. He was a two- year-old rehome. How does the breed differ from its Belgian cousins? Although Belgian Groenendael, Tervuren, Lakenois and Malinois are viewed as separate varieties of the same breed in many other countries, we are discovering there are enough DNA differences in the dogs to consider them separate breeds (as viewed by the AKC). In addition, there are different lines within each breed that possess different temperament and drive characteristics. I personally breed for highly biddable and easy to live with Belgian Sheepdogs with a stable tem- perament. I prefer a Belgian Sheepdog with an “off switch” that are happy to do whatever their people ask of them—from hiking, tracking, agility etc., to sitting on the couch and watching TV. I also focus on structure and soundness of body. Does the Belgian Sheepdog have a high energy level and intel- ligence? The Belgian Sheepdog is a high-energy dog that does best with an owner who wants to include them in their daily activities. Belgians want to be with their people—they are not sedentary dogs. How sensitive is the breed to positive training methods and cor- rections? Belgian Sheepdogs are very responsive to positive training methods; they want to please their owners. However, as with all dogs, they do sometimes require corrections. This could be verbal or physical—depends on the dog and the situation. Belgian Sheep- dogs are very intelligent and do best with an owner who enjoys spending time with the dog and teaching the dog new things. How important are coat texture, ornamentation and color? Bel- gian Sheepdogs have a harsh, double coat and must always be black to show in conformation. A small amount of white on their chest or back toes is acceptable, but deviations from that are typically not acceptable in conformation. What makes the Belgian Sheepdog a good show dog? The best show Belgian Sheepdogs are the puppies that naturally self-stack and move at an even trot as puppies. Additionally, Belgian Sheep- dogs that are confident with people and other dogs are the best show dogs. A reactive temperament is not ideal for the show ring. Is there a reliable market for pet quality puppies? Yes. Most quality breeders have waiting lists for their show and companion puppies. What would people be surprised to learn about the Belgian Sheepdog? Belgian Sheepdogs have a high rate of stomach cancer and we see epilepsy in the breed. The Belgian Sheepdog Club of America encourages all Belgian Sheepdog owners to participate in their DNA research studies regarding these issues. More informa- tion about those studies can be found at bsca.info .

Sherri Wilmoth Swabb acquired her first Belgian Sheepdog in 1985. Since then, she has been an avid fan and fancier of the breed. In her lim- ited, hobby-breeding program, Sherri has produced over 30 champions as well as many performance titled dogs. Sherri is a dedicated owner-handler, having produced several Owner- Handled Best In Show (O-H BIS) and

Reserve Best in Show (RBIS) dogs in her breeding. I live in Bellbrook, Ohio. I am the Director of Marketing for Yaskawa Motoman (an industrial robot manufacturer). I have been in dogs for 34 years. Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? We participate in conformation, FCAT, rally, obedi- ence, and agility. I am an instructor at Dayton Dog Training Club

184 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JULY 2020

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