Showsight Presents The Belgian Sheepdog

SHEEPDOG BELGIAN

Let’s Talk Breed Education!

judging the

BELGIAN SHEEPDOG BY LINDA ROBEY

T his arti- cle is s i m i l a r to the one I did for the Belgian Ter- vuren, but there are definite differences in the wording of the two different standards. Th e Belgian Sheepdog is one of the four Belgian breeds recognized by the AKC. Th e others are the Belgian Tervuren, Belgian Malinois and the newly recognized Belgian Laekenois. In the rest of the world the four Belgians are varieties of the same breed, the Belgian Shepherd. Th e AKC standards do have some di ff erences, but they are essentially the same, so judging each breed will be similar. In the US, the varieties

were shown together until 1959. In 1959, the AKC gave each variety separate breed status. Th e long-haired black took the original name of Belgian Sheepdog. Th e Tervuren and Malinois formed new breed clubs and drew up their own breed standards. Th e standard for each of the Belgians is based on Belgium’s single breed standard. "The Belgian Sheepdog is

recognized by the AKC." ONE OF THE FOUR BELGIAN BREEDS

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TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BELGIAN SHEEPDOG GO TO: BSCA.INFO FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT OUR CLUB CONTACT: Corresponding Secretary

corrsec@bsca.info General Education gened@bsca.info

JUDGING THE BELGIAN SHEEPDOG

"A square body is one of the

characteristics of the Belgian Sheepdog." MOST IMPORTANT

JUDGING THE BREED You will fi nd that Belgian Sheepdogs are mostly owner-handled. Th is is true of specials as well as the class dogs. Th is is a breed that is typically free stacked and doesn’t require excessive posing or hand

the chest is equal to the elbow to the ground. Th e length of hair can hide the proportions, especially on a full- coated male. So when judging, be sure to feel for the point of breastbone and the depth of chest. You will see many

di ff erent proportions; some long in body or short on leg. You will also fi nd dogs that appear shorter in body and longer in leg, which is equally incorrect. So look for the square, balanced dog. When we say bitches may be longer we mean “slightly” longer. We still want a bitch that appears square. When looking at proper proportions, be aware of the surface the dogs are standing on. If they are outside in long grass it can really distort your impression. Bone structure should be moderately heavy in proportion to height, neither spindly and leggy nor cumbersome and bulky. Th is is another area where the standard gives a clear direction on the fact that we want a strong, medium-sized, agile breed that can perform many functions. HEAD While the Belgian Sheepdog is not a head breed, the head is one of the areas that really de fi nes breed type. Here are a few lines from the standard that I think are key in describing an ideal head. Head: clean cut and strong, overall size should be in proportion to the body. Eyes: brown, preferably dark brown, medium size, slightly almond shaped, not protruding. Ears: triangular in shape, sti ff , erect. Base of ear should not come below the center of the eye. Skull and muzzle: top skull fl attened rather than rounded. Th e width approximately the same, but not wider than the length. Th e standard does not mention skull to muzzle proportions, but we are looking for the muzzle and the top skull to be of equal length. Parallel planes are also not mentioned in the standard, but to get the proper expression we are looking for close to parallel planes. Look for a head that is balanced and a slight wedge. We are not looking for a narrow head as you see with a Collie and not a larger wedge like you would see in the Australian Cattle Dog. What you are looking for is a clean wedge. Look for the balance in the skull and muzzle being equal in length; give the side of the head a quick feel to check for the fl atness on the checks. Th e breed’s high set >

stacking. An important thing to remember is that the Belgian Sheepdog is very focused on the handler, so be sure the dogs know you are approaching before you go over the dog. I do this by just saying hi to the dog or you can just speak to the handler. It is important to approach with con fi dence, as with so many of the Herding and Working breeds, if the judge is hesitant the dog starts to think something is wrong. Always remember to never accept questionable temperament. Excusing a dog that is having a bad day is okay. GENERAL APPEARANCE Th e Belgian Sheepdog standard states in the fi rst lines: “ Th e fi rst impression of the Belgian Sheepdog is that of a well balanced, square dog, elegant in appearance, with an exceedingly proud carriage of the head and neck. He is a strong, agile, well muscled animal, alert and full of life.” When fi rst stepping into the ring, look at the line up of dogs. Th ey should appear square with an outstretched neck that goes smoothly into a level topline. A square body is one of the most important characteristics of the Belgian Sheepdog. SIZE, PROPORTION, SUBSTANCE Th e ideal height is 24-26" for males and 22-24" for bitches. We have a strong desire to keep our dogs and bitches medium in size so we have height disquali fi cations. Males under 22 ½ " or over 27 ½ " and bitches under 20" or over 25 ½ " are to be disquali fi ed. Th e Belgian Sheepdog standard allows a greater range on either end for the disquali fi cation than the Belgian Tervuren and Belgian Malinois standards. So please check the standards before judging the Belgian breeds. But do remember that the ideal is the same for all three breeds. Th e length, measured from the point of breastbone to the point of rump, should equal the height. Bitches may be slightly longer. When looking at the height, the point of the withers to

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tiring, exhibiting facility of movement rather than a hard driving action. He tends to single track on a fast gait. Th e backline should remain fi rm and level. When you move the dog down and back you should be looking for single tracking movement. When viewed from the side the front legs should extend to about the nose and the rear should be in balance with the front. A square dog can move as cleanly and easily as any breed. Th e di ffi culty is the front and rear angles; with a square dog the angles must be proper and in balance. You just don’t have as much body to cover up movement faults. TEMPERAMENT Th e Belgian Sheepdog is not required to be friendly with the judges, but is expected to be approachable. Th e standard says, “He should not show fear or shyness.” Please do not award points to a dog that displays poor

triangular ears are necessary to help de fi ne the proper type. In the standard we ask for a full complement of strong white teeth, evenly set meeting in an even or scissors bite. Be aware that the Belgian Sheepdog standard does not mention faults when it comes to teeth or bite. We do want you to look at the bites and the standard does ask for a full complement of teeth. When examining the mouth we want you to check (or have the handler show it if you prefer) the front of the mouth for even or scissors bites. Th en, gently lift the side of the lips and check each side for evenly set premolars and molars. We don’t expect you to pry open the mouth as you would in a Rottweiler or Doberman. If there are missing teeth, most likely they will be the small premolars. Since the standard does not address missing teeth there is no reason to open the mouth. BODY Th e standard is pretty clear on the body and it is not that di ff erent than many of the herding dogs. We are looking for a strong level topline. Th e lowest point of the brisket should reach to the elbow. With the coat you will not see this, so you must check for it with your hands when judging. Front feet are round (cat footed), toes curved close together, well padded. You may fi nd white on the tips of the front toes, it is allowable, but a fault. Rear feet are

slightly elongated and well padded. White is acceptable on the tips of the hind feet. Please check for fl at feet, the well padded feet are necessary in a herding dog. COAT Th is is a long coated breed, but the coat should never be so excessive that it would interfere with the working ability or mask the elegant outline. Coat texture is more important than the length and amount. Bitches seldom carry the same coat as males, but they should always be given equal consideration. I often describe the di ff erence in male and female Belgian Sheepdogs as the di ff erence in a lion and a lioness. Do not let the coat get in the way of fi nding the best dog or bitch. COLOR Th e Belgian Sheepdog is a black dog with white allowed in certain areas described in the standard. I hear many people saying it is hard to judge a solid black dog. Please look at the outline and remember the standard. While a solid black dog may not look as fl ashy in the Group ring, it may be an excellent example of the breed. What makes an excellent Belgian Sheepdog are the characteristics discussed in this article and we would love your consideration in the Group ring as well as the Breed ring. MOVEMENT Proper movement is essential in a Herding breed. Th e standard describes it as smooth, free and easy, seemingly never

temperament. SUMMARY

Th e Belgian Sheepdog is not a high pro fi le breed at the AKC shows, but we who are dedicated to the breed care about its future. We would ask all judges that wish to judge our breed to take our standard as seriously as we the people who own and love this breed do. Th e Belgian Sheepdog Club of America’s Judges Education Committee has an online illustrated standard on the parent club website. Th e link is http://bsca.info/judges- education/judges-responsibility/ .

BIO Linda Robey is the Judges Education Chairperson for the Belgian Sheepdog Club of America (BSCA). She is also a member of the Judges Education Committee for the American Belgian Tervuren Club. Linda has been judging the Belgian Breeds since 1995 and is currently approved for the Herding Group, Sporting Group, 26 Working breeds, Dalmatians, the Miscellaneous breeds, and Best in Show. Linda has had the honor of judging the Belgian Sheepdog National twice, the Belgian Malinois National twice, and the Belgian Tervuren National twice.

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BELGIAN SHEEPDOG THE

1. Where do you live? What is your occupation? How many years in dogs? 2. Do you have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? 3. When did you first become aware of the Belgian Sheepdog? 4. How does the breed differ from its Belgian cousins? 5. Does the Belgian Sheepdog have a high energy level? High intelligence? 6. How sensitive is the breed to positive training methods? To corrections? 7. How important are coat texture, ornamentation and color? 8. What makes the Belgian Sheepdog a good show dog? 9. Is there a reliable market for pet quality puppies? 10. What would people be surprised to learn about the Belgian Sheepdog? 11. Is there anything else you’ d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. CHRISTINE EVERHART STATEN

then goes and lays down. No more tricks until I can show her I have more treats. How sensitive is the breed to positive training methods and cor- rections? Belgian Sheepdogs are very easy to train, they want to please you. Rarely have I had to do more than a firm “No” or a “Leave it.” I use the word “Look” to get her attention for a correc- tion and she will try the command again. A hard “No!” puts her on the ground, even though she has never had a hand laid on her. How important are coat texture, ornamentation and color? You have to have all three to be in the breed standard if you plan to show in conformation. If we are talking working or performance, I feel the only one that is important is texture. Proper texture allows a Belgian Sheepdog to be an any-weather worker. Poor texture does not shed water, holds dirt and mats easily. As we are breeding for long, massive coats, we are getting a softer and not as weather-resistant coat for herding sheep full-time. What makes the Belgian Sheepdog a good show dog? Most love to show and it shows in flowing movement and good attention to both the handler and the judge. All they want to do is please, they show on a loose lead and really could do it on their own. Is there a reliable market for pet quality puppies? I am not a breeder, although I would like to breed my girl. Belgians are hard to find if you do not have contacts in the Belgian group. I looked for 18 months before I found an ad on the AKC site. The last year or so there have been quite a few Belgian litters. I have not heard of anyone not having homes for all their puppies by 10 to 12 weeks. I know of at least four people looking for pet Belgian Sheepdogs and more looking for show prospects. What would people be surprised to learn about the Belgian Sheepdog? The thing I think surprised me the most was how easy Belgian Sheepdogs are to keep. They will mold themselves into any lifestyle, they will want to do what you are interested in. They will be as active or laid back as the owner. I will say all the Belgian breeders I know work hard to match the puppy to the new owner and what they want to do with the dog. Be it a family member, farm dog, top in performance, outstanding in conformation, or a dependable service dog, there is a Belgian Sheepdog puppy that will grow to fit the need. LINDAMCCARTY

I’m an award-winning artist and have been showing my Belgian Sheepdog, OHBIS OHRBIS BOSS NOHS Plati- num GDCHS CH Spitfire’s Naughty Nightie Lagniappe CGCA CGCU TT TKN FMC FMD JMD AOM AOE, “Secrets,” for the last five years to top honors. She is NOHS #1 Lifetime.

I live on a farm about an hour south of Kansas City on the Kansas side. I am an artist, retired from my Porcelain Doll Manufacturing Company. I have been in dog showing for at least 50 years. Outside of dogs, I manage a farm, garden and do mostly dog art and sell at breed nationals. When did I first become aware of the Belgian Sheepdog? A good friend adopted a dog from a shelter and was told it was a Border Collie/Chow mix. When I saw the dog at her shop I asked who had a Belgian Sheepdog. She was shocked when she Googled BSD’s. It was the best dog. I was looking for a breed for the farm and Belgian Sheepdogs had what I was looking for. How does the breed differ from its Belgian cousins? I have only had one Belgian and she is 5-1/2 years old. But I have traveled with and shown all four varieties. The Sheepdogs and Tervs seem to be very much a like. The Mals are more serious and detailed in their thought process, their on/off switch is quicker and they are always ready to be “on.” Does the Belgian Sheepdog have a high energy level and intel- ligence? My girl is high drive for her two favorite things to do: play Frisbee and Flirtpole. You can’t say the word out loud or you better be ready to go out and play. She could care less about balls or play- ing tug. The rest of the time she likes to sleep. She is very smart, she learns from watching what other dogs do, then is willing to try to do the same. We play puzzles, hide and seek and scent games to keep her entertained. She has a trick routine for Meet and Greets and when we visit hospitals; but she is a union dog, she will not work without pay. If I run out of treats in my pocket she knows,

Linda McCarty was active for 40 years in the breed. Her Kennel, Rolin Ridge Belgians, was nationally and internationally recognized for quality Champion Groenendael. Her dogs were known to be versatile in all venues earn- ing BIS’s, National BISS’s, and perfor- mance event Championships. Retired from breeding and showing, she judged the breed’s National Specialty in 2012

and is eligible to judge all four varieties. I live in Central Virginia. I’m retired and have 40+ years in dogs. Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? Bead weaving and jewelry making. When did I first become aware of the Belgian Sheepdog? I saw my first BSD at an obedience training club where I was teaching. How does the breed differ from its Belgian cousins? Really they are all very much the same with perhaps the Malinois and Laek- enois often having stronger drives and need to work.

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BELGIAN SHEEPDOG Q&A

intuitive understanding of the situation. They have the ability to react and integrate into whatever environment they find themselves in. Depending on which collar we put around their neck, that’s their signal for the job and they don’t think twice about it once they’ve learned it. Their training needs to be consistent, in short bursts with an equal amount of playtime. Most of them are very toy oriented and food ready. Whatever tasks you throw at them, it takes about a week to learn the simple parts, and then you can put all the pieces together in the next month. Obviously, if you’re looking for perfection, they just need a few training sessions a week to keep them current and motivated. They are an interesting breed in the sense that they love the accomplishment of doing it right and don’t need overpraise or stimulation in order to do the job. The best thing of all is that they love doing it with the person, not necessarily for the person, and once they’re trained, they will pretty much do their best for anybody. They have a keen memory and can work as a part of a team or individually. To be honest, corrections are rare, and it’s just a matter of redefining the space for them and the job you really want them to do. Our dogs have participated in many arenas of life, from reading companionship in the Chicago public library to sheepherding and, obviously, the show ring. We haven’t got them to empty the trash yet, but they will pick up their toys and put them back in the box when game time is over. How important are coat texture, ornamentation and color? The coat in a Belgian Sheepdog should not be silky or wiry—it should be long and enhance the general appearance of that particular dog. The hair is shorter around the head and lower parts of the legs and shows off the appearance of a square outline. The undercoat should be dense and full and help protect them from predators and to with- stand the climate conditions. It works as an insulator in the dog in both cold and hot climates. The color must be black with white limited to the chest or between the pads. Sometimes reddening in the coat is due to natural sun exposure and should not be considered a disqualification. The ornamentation of the Belgian Sheepdog should give off an abundance of a collarette shape around the neck, and long hair down the back of the hindquarters, britches and on the tail. This should show-off the appearance of an outline that is well-balanced, square in overall general appearance. What makes the Belgian Sheepdog a good show dog? When we are evaluating a puppy that might have the show ability, we are watching for soundness of temperament and structure. The dog should have good social skills and an individual confidence, with that effortless movement and elegant presence. In essence, the per- fect Belgian Sheepdog we all dream about. I checked with a couple of handlers that have given me their viewpoint of a Belgian Sheepdog in showing: Tiffany Saxon: “The breed is extremely intelligent in nature and that alone makes it a fabulous show dog. The breed shows cour- age, attentiveness to its show ring human, and a loyal devotion to his family. The breed can sometimes be observant and vigilant with strangers, but not show any apprehensiveness, aggression or fear. He is very affectionate, loyal and is eager to please its trainer which makes this breed exceptional in the show ring. I have had the opportunity to show Belgian Sheepdogs, Malinois and Tervs and all love performing in the show ring. They make my job easy as a handler. They know they have a job to perform and enjoy the energy of the moment. It has been my experience that this breed is going to show and win and love every minute of it. It has been a fabulous experience over several decades to share so many lovely Belgians in the Group ring [and] leading a Belgian Sheepdog to a Best In Show placement.” Professional handler Andy Linton says he has been showing Bel- gians for over 30 years. He remembers that one of his top three all-time favorite dogs was a Belgian Sheepdog named Jackson. >

Does the Belgian Sheepdog have a high energy level and intelli- gence? Compared to some breeds, yes. They can be quite adaptable though to varying amounts of exercise if their mental needs are met. Exercise needs can also vary from line to line. Belgians are highly intelligent and learn fast, but bore easily with repetition. They have fabulous memories of both good and bad. How sensitive is the breed to positive training methods and to corrections? Most Belgians do quite well with positive training as they are sensitive and want to please. They have a strong sense of justice and resent being corrected unfairly. They generally dislike harsh corrections. How important are coat texture, ornamentation and color? All of these are quite well described in our standard. Of those, for me, texture is the most important. Correct texture makes a world of dif- ference in how clean the dog stays, how often you must groom and bathe the dog. Correct texture is a joy requiring minimal care of a double-coated dog. In the BSD, black is the required color. Orna- mentation should be pronounced on males. What makes the Belgian Sheepdog a good show dog? I’ve really never thought of the Belgian as a show dog. He is a working com- panion that happens to be owned by someone who shows! He learns to like it because his owner does. Oh, there are a few here and there that love the limelight (and I’ve had a couple that did). While they are my breed of choice, they are very far from much fancier breeds considered as “show dogs.” Is there a reliable market for pet quality puppies? It can be dif- ficult to find a breeder and they are pretty well scattered across the US. You could have a wait for one. What would people be surprised to learn about the Belgian Sheepdog? That we are one of four varieties (the Groenendael) everywhere in the world except the US and that we occasionally have Tervuren in our litters. SANDIE SKINNER

We live in the Southern California area and have been here most of our lives. We are now both retired. My husband had a wood turning manufacturing business, and I worked as an educator and with the Court Appointed Special Advocates. My husband and I have been raising and breeding dogs since we were married over 50 years ago. I grew up in a household that bred Boxers and a few other breeds. We

have three children and four grandchildren. Our hobbies include raising and breeding orchids, Hobie Cat sailing, and training and showing dogs. We became interested in the Belgian breed because we were interested in doing high-level obedience. At the time we had a Bearded Collie, and the Belgians were always in the ring before us or after us. My grandparents always had Collies and Kelpies so there was something about those dogs in the ring that attracted me. We saw one or two of them in the obedience ring so we started search- ing the SoCal area to find out more about the breed. How does the breed differ from its Belgian cousins? Honestly they really don’t differ too much from their cousins Belgian Mali- nois, Belgian Tervuren or Laekenois. Mainly the difference is in the coat. The breed standard in some countries is identical as far as temperaments, structure and conformation, the difference really only being the coat as far as laying, color, density, etc. Belgians are a versatile and instinctual, thinking dog. The Bel- gian does have a high energy level, but it’s very controlled. It’s not wasteful, and a Belgian uses its energy as a very broad brush to survey any situation. Their intelligence is epic, along with their

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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

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JUDGING THE BELGIAN SHEEPDOG Y ou’ve reviewed the standard. You are well versed in flaws and faults of structure and movement and with this knowledge, you enter your ring. It is doubtful you will have huge entries of this

mostly owner-handled breed as they are few and far apart. It takes a while to get to know them well. Ah, there are only two entries today. Being a solid-colored dog, you know you must look more closely because the details can get lost in poor indoor lighting. But you also know most herding, working breeds don’t appreciate direct stares. Now you are ready. Th e day is sunny with a soft breeze flowing. He is standing natu- rally, square on all fours and alert. He seems totally engaged in his handler. He is lively and eager to get going. He’s not inclined to stand still, particularly if he’s young. His jet black medium harsh coat drapes over him sparkling and shimmering in the soft wind. Th e beautiful mane which frames his head is full and characteristic of a male. On the other hand the female carries a shorter but equally dense coat and her head is framed by a collarette around the neck.

least equal in length to the topskull. From the side, his head is not deep. Th e stop is moderate. Th e planes though not men- tioned in the standard, approach parallel and his bottom jaw is well developed. Th e gaze from his dark brown, slightly almond shaped eyes is direct, intelligent and ques- tioning, but not bulging, fierce or piercing. Going past his head, you find that he has a well arched elongated neck which is essen- tial to his silhouette. His slightly high wither blends into his strong level back. His shoul- ders are long and oblique and form a sharp angle to his upper arm which is well under him. His loin is short but strong. His croup is gently rounded and gradually meets his beautiful plumed tail which he holds low, the tip bent back level with the hock. Th e bone of the tail reaches his hock. His chest is deep and to the elbow. His prosternum, though not mentioned in the standard either, is well developed and prominent. His underline smoothly sweeps up to his loin. His bone is oval and his legs and hocks are straight and parallel to each other. He has the feet of a herding dog. His front feet are cat feet and they are well padded. His hind feet are slightly elongated but also well padded. His pasterns are of medium length, strong and very slightly sloped to give him the resilience he needs to move e ff ortlessly. by LINDA MCCARTY

He has no white spot on his chest or on the tips of his back toes. It’s not to be fault- ed as long as the chest spot or strip is small to moderate. He has some short white hairs on his chin which is called “frost” and some white between pads of feet and that’s okay also. Sometimes black hair can have reddish tinges when the sun reflects o ff from the finer hair behind the ears, in the feather- ing, behind the shoulder and the tips of the chest hair. Shedding dogs have red- dish tinges when the hair is dead and ready to drop. Puppies in particular have more delicate coats which burns easily from the sun. When he’s shed out, it can appear as if the thigh and shoulder on the side have been sculpted or cut out but that’s just tem- porary until more hair grows in. Th e mane should be distinct from body hair. Th ey do not resemble Collies in coat. Th ey should never have an open coat. He exudes elegance in his silhouette due to his balanced proportions and square body. His height is between the preferred 24 to 26 inches. His length is measured from point of breastbone to point of rump and equals his height. His outline, proud head carriage and erect ears are his trade- mark. He reminds us of a black stallion. On occasion, you see dogs who appear

short on leg and this definitely detracts from elegance but be sure he’s not in tall grass or has excessive length of chest hair. Other illusions with big coats are lack of neck and length of body. Th is is where you must use your hands. He turns towards you because he sensed you long before you think he did due to his inherent aptitude as a guardian of flocks and protectiveness of the person and prop- erty of his master. He appears all at once extraordinary. Tentativeness on your part would only breed suspicion. You approach him directly and with confidence. He senses your confidence and he stands his ground. Sometimes youngsters can be unsure and you always give them the time, patience and gentleness they require and deserve. He has a full mouth and a scissors or level bite covered with taught black lips. Th ough pink on his gums is distracting, as long as the outside of his lips are black, it’s perfectly fine. His head is clean cut and proportionate with his body. Th e skull is topped o ff with small triangular and well-cupped prick ears and the base of the ears comes well above the center of his eye. Running your hands along the sides of his skull finds flat cheeks and sides. Looking from the top you see a one piece head and blunt wedge. Your hand finds a flat topskull and a muzzle that is at

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JUDGING THE BELGIAN SHEEPDOG by LINDA ROBEY T he Belgian Sheepdog is one of the four Belgian breeds recog- nized by the AKC. Th e others are the Belgian Tervuren, Bel-

remember is that the Belgian Sheepdog is very focused on the handler, so be sure the dogs knows you are approaching before you go over the dog. I do this by just say- ing hi to the dog or you can just speak to the handler. It is important to approach with confidence, as with so many of the herding and working breeds, if the judge is hesitant the dog starts to think something is wrong. Always remember to never accept questionable temperament. Excusing a dog that is having a bad day is okay. Th e Belgian Sheepdog standard states in the first lines: “ Th e first impression of the Belgian Sheepdog is that of a well bal- anced, square dog, elegant in appearance, with an exceedingly proud carriage of the head and neck. He is a strong, agile, well muscled animal, alert and full of life”. When first stepping into the ring, look at the line up of dogs. Th ey should appear square with an outstretched neck that goes smoothly into a level topline. A square body is one of the most important charac- teristics of the Belgian Sheepdog. Th e ideal height is 24 to 26 inches for males and 22 to 24 inches for bitches. We have a strong desire to keep our dogs and bitches medium in size so we have height disqualifications. Males under 22 ½ " or over 27 ½ " and bitches under 20" or over 25 ½ " are to be disqualified. Th e Belgian Sheepdog standard allows a greater range on either end for the disqualification than the Belgian Tervuren and Belgian Malinois standards. So please check the standards before judging the Belgian breeds. But do remember that the ideal is the same for all three breeds. Th e length, measured from the point of breastbone to the point of rump, should equal the height. Bitches may be slightly longer. When looking at the height, the point of the withers to the chest is equal to

the elbow to the ground. Th e length of hair can hide the proportions, especially on a full coated male. So when judging, be sure to feel for the point of breastbone and the depth of chest. You will see many di ff erent proportions; some long in body or short on leg. You will also find dogs that appear shorter in body and longer in leg, which is equally incorrect. So look for the square, balanced dog. When we say bitches may be longer we mean “slightly” longer. We still want a bitch that appears square. When looking at proper proportions, be aware of the surface the dogs are stand- ing on. If they are outside in long grass it can really distort your impression. Bone structure should be moderately heavy in proportion to height, neither spindly or leggy nor cumbersome and bulky. Th is is another area where the stan- dard gives a clear direction on the fact that we want a strong medium-size agile breed that can perform many functions. While the Belgian Sheepdog is not a head breed, the head is one of the areas that really defines breed type. Here are a few lines from the standard that I think are key in describing an ideal head. Head: clean cut and strong, overall size should be in proportion to the body. Eyes: brown, preferably darn brown, medium size, slightly almond shape, not protruding. Ears triangular in shape, sti ff , erect. Base of ear should not come below the center of the eye. Skull and muzzle: top skull flattened rather than rounded. Th e width approximately the same, but not wider than the length. Th e standard does not mention skull to muzzle proportions, but we are looking for the muzzle and the top skull to be of equal length. Parallel planes are also not mentioned in the standard but to get the proper expression we are looking for close to parallel planes.

gian Malinois and the newly recognized Belgian Laekenois. In the rest of the world the four Belgians are varieties of the same breed, Th e Belgian Shepherd. Th e AKC standards do have some di ff erences but they are essentially the same so judging each breed will be similar. Th e known history of the Belgian Shep- herds traces to the 1880s when these dogs along with German Shepherds, French Shepherds and Dutch Shepherds were all called Continental Shepherd dogs. In 1891, the Club du Chein de Berge Belge (Belgian Shepherd Dog Club) was formed for the purpose of determining if there was a true shepherd dog representing only Belgium. Th e club discovered in one of the prov- inces there was a consistent type of native herding dog: a square, medium-sized dog with well set triangular ears and dark brown eyes that only di ff ered in the tex- ture, color and length of hair. In 1892, a standard was issued and recognized three varieties; dogs with long coats, short coats and rough coats. In the US, the varieties were shown together until 1959. In 1959, the AKC gave each variety separate breed status. Th e long haired black took the original name of Bel- gian Sheepdog. Th e Tervuren and Mali- nois formed new breed clubs and drew up their own breed standards. Th e standard for each of the Belgians is based on Bel- gium’s single breed standard. You will find that Belgian Sheepdogs are mostly owner handled. Th is is true of specials as well as the class dogs. Th is is a breed that is typically free stacked and doesn’t require excessive posing or hand stacking. An important thing to

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Look for a head that is balanced and a slight wedge. We are not look- ing for a narrow head as you see with a Collie and not a larger wedge like you would see in the Australian Cat- tle Dog. What you are looking for is a clean wedge. Look for the balance in the skull and muzzle being equal in length; give the side of the head a quick feel to check for the flatness on the checks. Th e breed’s high set triangular ears are necessary to help define the proper type. In the standard we ask for a full complement of strong white teeth, evenly set meeting in an even or scis- sor bite. Be aware that the Belgian Sheepdog standard does not mention faults when it comes to teeth or bite. We do want you to look at the bites and the standard does ask for a full complement of teeth. When examining the mouth we want you to check (or have the han- dler show it if you prefer) the front of the mouth for even or scissors bites. Th en, gently lift the side of the lips and check each side for evenly set premolars and molars. We don’t expect you to pry open the mouth as you would in a Rottweiler or Dober- man. If there are missing teeth most likely they will be the small premo- lars. Since the standard does not address missing teeth there is no rea- son to open the mouth. Th e standard is pretty clear on the body and it is not that di ff erent than many of the herding dogs. We are looking for a strong level topline. Th e lowest point of the brisket should reach to the elbow. With the coat you will not see this so you must check for it with your hands when judging. Front feet are round (cat footed), toes curved close together, well padded. You may find white on the tips of the front toes, it is allowable but a fault. Rear feet are slightly elongated and well padded. White is acceptable on the tips of the hind feet. Please check for flat feet, the well padded feet are necessary in a herding dog. Th is is a long coated breed but the coat should never be so exces- sive that it would interfere with the working ability or mask the elegant outline. Coat texture is more impor- tant than the length and amount. Bitches seldom carry the same coat as males, but they should always be

given equal consideration. I often describe the di ff erence in male and female Belgian Sheepdogs as the dif- ferent in a Lion and Lioness. Do not let the coat get in the way of finding the best dog or bitch. Th e Belgian Sheepdog is a black dog with allowed white in certain areas described in the standard. I hear many people saying it is hard to judge a solid black dog. Please look at the outline and remember the stan- dard. While a solid black dog may not look as flashy in the group ring, it may be an excellent example of the breed. What makes an excellent Belgian Sheepdog are the character- istics discussed in this article and we would love your consideration in the group ring as well as the breed ring. Proper movement is essential in a herding breed. Th e standard describes it as smooth, free and easy, seemingly never tiring, exhibiting facility of movement rather than a hard driving action. He tends to sin- gle track on a fast gait. Th e backline should remain firm and level. When you move the dog down and back you should be looking for single tracking movement. When viewed from the side the front legs should extend to about the nose and the rear should be in balance with the front. A square dog can move as cleanly and easily as any breed. Th e di ffi culty is the front and rear angles, with a square dog the angles must be proper and in balance. You just don’t have as much body to cover up movement faults. Th e Belgian Sheepdog is not required to be friendly with the judg- es, but is expected to be approach- able. Th e standard says, “He does not show fear or shyness.” Please do not award points to a dog that displays poor temperament. Th e Belgian Sheepdog is not a high profile breed at the AKC shows, but we who are dedicated to the breed care about its future. We would ask all judges that wish to judge our breed to take our standard as seriously as we the people who own and love this breed do. Th e Belgian Sheepdog Club of America’s Judges Education Com- mittee has an online illustrated stan- dard on the parent club website. Th e link is http://bsca.info/judges-educa- tion/judges-responsibility/

In the rear, his thighs are broad and heavily mus- cled. Th e upper and lower thigh bones form a rela- tively sharp angle at stifle joint. Th e angle at his hock is relatively sharp. Dewclaws are not allowed on the rear feet. He is not over angulated. His rear angles match his front angles. He is robust and substantial but in no way is he cumbersome or heavy. A fat Bel- gian is not a working dog. He feels solid, lean and well-muscled. Immature Belgians are often very lean due to their activity level. Your hands glide over him finding no abrupt changes of direction over his body. Everything about him “fits” the picture. Th ere are no exaggerations and in this simplicity is great beauty. Now you ask him to go around the ring. His demeanor changes and he’s suddenly alive and ready to get going, finally! His head drops to just about level to his back to allow for e ffi cient movement and maximum reach and around he goes. His foot timing is impec- cable and his topline remains firm followed by a tail that is raised and has a curl, which is strongest toward the tip. Although he is moderate in angulation his con- struction allows him reach and drive that is balanced giving his movement a light-as-a-feather look rather than a hard driving action. His movement is e ffi cient, e ff ortless and covers maximum ground. Going away and as speed increases, his legs converge to a centerline forming a “V”. Coming towards you reveals the same action. It is here that you see his marked tendency to herd and circle. His head is often wrapped around the handler, especially if he’s young and inexperienced. You might have to let him try that again because you might not have a clear picture of his movement. He can be quite exuberant as a youngster and may herd his owner, jump up on him, as well as nip at his sleeve or jacket! Th is is a slow maturing breed with some not reaching their full potential until 5 or more. Th ey can be seen competing in rings as old as 9 to elev- en and sometimes even longer! You know that any deviation from the Belgian Sheepdog standard is a fault. In determining whether a fault is minor, serious, or major, two factors should be used as a guide: 1. Th e extent to which it deviates from the standard. 2. Th e extent to which such deviation would actually a ff ect the working ability of the dog. You are aware of the breed’s disqualifications which are under 22 ½ or over 27 ½ inches in height for males and under 20 ½ or over 25 ½ inches in height for females, ears hanging (as on a hound, cropped or stump tail and any color other than black and lastly, viciousness. You’ve covered the essentials and you are content in knowing THIS dog is the Belgian Sheepdog! But wait... now SHE comes into sight. SHE leaves no doubt she is a female. Not as impressive as the male with all his coat and big mane, but, oh my! She’s a beauty and she’s melting your heart. SHE is equally well made. SHE moves as well and SHE is steady on her exam. Just when you thought you had your win- ner you may have to reconsider. No one said this is going to be easy.

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SHARING YOUR LIFE WITH A BELGIAN SHEEPDOG By Lisa Leffingwell Liswyn Belgians F irst, Belgian Sheepdogs are uncannily smart! And puppies are always busy and thinking. It is impor- tant for the person want- ing to bring a Belgian into

their home to realize that attention and perseverance are key to molding their pup- py or young adult into the valued family member. However, time passes quickly and Belgians pick up training very easily and soon you will have the hard work behind you. Belgians are generally both very active and sedentary. Th ey like to be with their owners and will stay close at hand. If you are in the house, that is where the dog pre- fers to be. If you want to lead an active life- style, the Belgian has the energy to keep up and go along with you. Th ey easily bore so keeping the young ones entertained, busy and active is a must! Puppies are also easily assisted with their training when an older dog is present. Th ey observe and pick up the good behaviors of the older dog and this makes the training process easier for the owner. Also, Belgians are a social breed —they like the companionship of another dog and this also helps keep a young one entertained. Th ey tend to prefer dogs in their own breed and can be a little snob- by towards other breeds. However, they generally do well when raised with other dogs, cats and children. Th ey are naturally protective of their family, always alert and observant, without specific training in this field. Th eir appearance alone makes a stranger take notice.

“...the Belgian has the energy TO KEEP UP AND GO ALONG WITH YOU.”

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Belgians do not well kept full-time in the back yard and can get easily bored as they want to be with their owners. A bored Belgian is one that can create trouble! Noticing di ff erences in environment and actually being uncertain about new people, places and things are the mark of a smarter Belgian. Th ey actually are smart enough to figure out the di ff erences and that there may be situations, people, etc., deserving of fear or uncertainty. Confi- dence can develop both through social- ization, training, age and experience. Be prepared to socialize your puppy or young adult as to new people, animals, environ- ment and situations, as this is critical to the dog’s self-confidence. Training dictates that a Belgian puppy or adult be food, tug, praise or ball/toy motivated. Belgians are easily motivated. Di ff erent dogs are motivated in di ff erent ways and that can also be ever chang- ing. It is the responsibility of the owner/ trainer to figure out how best to motivate the dog to achieve the desired behavior or performance—that is what makes them part of the family or if working in exhibi- tion venues, a team. Most Belgians achieve their best when training techniques are very black and white and are very eager to please. Th e performance owner, experienced and inexperienced, can achieve success

with Belgians as they are so smart and make it look so easy. However, ultimately, the choice of puppy made for its home, achieved by the sharing of information, experiences and expectations between the breeder and potential owner, along with the breeder’s observations and knowledge of their puppies makes for a great start! Sometimes, mistakes are made in the pairing; all breeders have experienced this. But Belgians are so adaptable and versatile that they do generally well and adjust when their owners/trainers just fig- ure out what makes them tick! Belgians are very versatile and agile, never bulky and consistently turn out beautiful performances in all performance venues rewarding their owners and trainers time and time again for their hard work. Our vigilant breeders are very inter- ested in Belgian Sheepdog health, as they should be. Our breed su ff ers occasionally from hip and elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, some inheritable eye problems and cancer (mainly gastric carcinoma, lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma). Our breeders routinely perform health checks before breeding and diligently screen potential Belgian own- ers to do their best to make sure that their puppies are the right fit for their homes. A potential Belgian owner should be very candid when interviewing potential breed- ers to make sure they are paired with the

right dog. Th e potential Belgian owner should also interview di ff erent breeders to make sure that they are comfortable with answers to their questions about the breed- ing program, health, parents and the pup- pies. Th is will be a lifelong relationship and almost all breeders love keeping in touch with their puppies and their puppy buyers throughout the dogs’ lifetimes and beyond. Belgian breeders are also generally good about taking back their own dogs so that few end up in shelters and rescue programs. Belgians are easily groomed and their coats do not easily mat. Regular brushing, nail clipping and ear cleaning take mini- mal time and shedding is minimal. An elegant and proud Belgian Sheepdog walk- ing smartly on its leash almost always gen- erates compliments from the public as the Belgian creates a memorable impression. Th e Belgian Sheepdog was ranked 124 in 2012 out of all the AKC breeds. BIO Lisa Le ffi ngwell from Dallas, Texas, owned Belgian Sheepdogs since 1979. She has been involved in limited breeding since 1985 and has trained and exhibited in obedience and conformation all along the way. Her kennel name is Liswyn. She has bred and owned Belgians that excelled to #1 in conformation, obedience, herding and agility venues.

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