Because they are rarely seen outside of their native Belgium, the Laekenois is considered one of the rarer breeds of the canine world. Vigilant, smart and steady, not only were they used as Belgian police dogs they were used as army dogs as well. As part of the sheep dog family, they are quite independent but still require close human contact in order to stay healthy mentally and emotionally. They are adaptable and at their best when given something to do that requires using their alert mind. They are perhaps most noted for their rough coats that give the appearance of being somewhat unkempt. Many have noted that even with a fawn or reddish coat and dark shading, the breed resembles a bushy German Shepherd to some extent.
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The Laekenois is a very sturdy breed. Mostly used for the herding of sheep or cattle, the dog has an instinctive ability to direct large herds using nips, bumps and ferocious barking. For this reason, it is important that those who keep the dog for a pet put their Laekenois in socialization and obedience classes from the very start. They dislike overbearing guidance and need owners that can respect a dog's boundaries. Of the four types of Belgian Shepherd dog, it is the Laekenois that goes unrecognized by the American Kennel Club. Nonetheless the breed is openly recognized by the United Kennel Club with its other three brethren.
The Laekenois expects to stay active. The more off leash time they can have, the better. Yet in doing so, they will likely require quite a commitment to grooming. Their wiry fawn colored coats are their most eye catching feature but have a tendency to pick up quite a bit. While the feathered coat will need a regular brushing with a stiff wire comb or brush for tangles, they need very little bathing. There is shorter, darker hair in the face and muzzle as compared to the rest of the body. Mats have a tendency to form anytime the coat is left ungroomed. Keeping grooming sessions down to five minutes a day ensures that the coat will stay in good condition.
Since they are classified as sheepdogs, one of the easiest ways to keep the Laekenois busy is to allow them to put their natural instincts to use via agility course competitions or obedience trials. The dog may do well in rally trials as well. The Laekenois that is left to languish in the backyard is likely to experience extreme stress and anxiety that manifests in the form of barking or destructive chewing. In the most extreme cases, the Laekenois has been known to give into a fear based biting reflex. The sensitive breed simply prefers a calm but loving environment.
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