Belgian Laekenois Sheepdog Temperament: Devoted but Demanding

The Laekenois temperament is loyal and friendly with its family, but it can be very demanding. This is not a dog for everyone.

The Laekenois pronounced “lack-en-wah”) is a versatile dog that’s done a lot of different jobs. It still retains a lot of its instinctive behaviors from the work that it has been bred to do.

With the right kind of training, though, the Laekenois temperament can make her a great family pet.

Let’s explore the Laekenois temperament to see if she is the right dog for you.

The Laekenois Sheepdog Temperament and Personality

Intelligent

The Laekenois is a smart breed that is easy to train.

Eager to Please

The Laekenois temperament is obedient. She enjoys the interactive work of training and takes commands very well.

Devoted

She is very loyal and loving to her family members and she is good with children.

She is a faithful friend and loyal protector.

Friendly

The Laekenois is very friendly to her family and people she knows but reserved with strangers.

The Laekenois can get along well with other dogs. Often, though, they can be combative, especially with same-sex dogs. They need to be socialized young to other dogs to prevent this.

Affectionate

She is very affectionate with her family and people she knows.

Protective

This is a sheepherding breed, so it’s no surprise that she is very protective of her flock, including her human one.

Territorial

She will alert you if there is stranger near. She’s very protective of her family and her home. This is another reason why she needs good socialization from puppyhood.

A guard dog is good, but her territorial nature could turn into stranger aggression.

Instinctive

The Laekenois still have instinctive Laekenois traits. Expect to see herding behaviors, for example. She will likely chase and circle people and nip at their heels.

She can do this for hours and needs to be taught at a young age that it’s not acceptable.

Social

She needs to be with her people and is not a dog who would do well living in the yard. She will do best in a family where there is someone at home most of the time.

The Laekenois temperament needs a lot of attention.

Alert

As a shepherd, the Laekenois is always attentive to its environment. As a guard dog, she watches over her “flock.”

She has earned the nickname “shadow” to some Laekenois owners. She stays very close to her owner or family and is always watchful over them.

Curious

This breed will not be content to lie around the house. She has an active mind and likes to be busy exploring and learning.

Agile

She is good at dog sports such as rally, agility, etc., and loves physical activity.

Lively

The Laekenois temperament is outgoing and energetic. She loves to play and to participate in activities with her family.

Adaptable

The Laekenois temperament is ideal for a number of types of work. They are excellent herders and guard dogs.

They are also used for narcotics detection, bomb work, search and rescue, tracking, sled pulling, and seeing-eye dogs.

Laekenois are adaptable to weather conditions as well but they prefer cool climates but can adapt to warmer weather. She can live outdoors but much prefers to live inside with her people.

Hard-working

The Laekenois temperament is active. She needs to be busy. If she doesn’t have a job to do, she needs lots of outings or interactive playtime.

Otherwise, she will get bored and may be destructive. Click here to see how exercise can benefit dogs with behavior issues.

Brave

The Laekenois temperament is courageous and bold. She makes a great guard dog.

Aggressive Tendencies

This breed can be aggressive toward same-sex dogs. They need early socialization and a firm “alpha” leader to prevent this.

Reserved with Strangers

This could easily turn into excessive shyness or excessive aggression. She needs early and intense socialization with people to prevent this.

Dominant

The Laekenois’s temperament can be dominant. She needs a strong human leader who will make it clear that she is not in charge.

Laekenois History

The Belgian Laekenois originated in Belgium as a sheepherder for the Royal Castle in the city of Laeken.

The Laekenois is the rarest of four native Belgian shepherd breeds. The other three are the Groenendael (often called simply Belgian Shepherd), the Tervuren.

The Belgian Shepherd Dog Club (Club du Chien de Berger Beige) was created in September 1891. At that time, the four breeds were grouped together. The only difference among them was the color and texture of their coats.

In the early 1900s, the four types were separated. They were named for the regions they came from. The fawn-colored type with the coarsely textured hair was called the Laekenois after the town of Laeken.

Like the others, the Laekenois was primarily a sheepdog. She was also used to guard flax crops and linen as it dried in the fields.

During World Wars I and II, the Laekenois was used as a messenger dog.

After the war, the number of Laekenois had decreased. Now it is a rare breed, but breeders are working to restore it.

Laekenois Training

Training the Laekenois properly is a delicate balancing act. She retains her instinctive working-dog Laekenois temperament and likes to be in charge.

She can become aggressive toward strangers and other dogs.

The Laekenois needs a strong leader who can control her dominant tendencies but with a gentle hand. Heavy-handed training measures are likely to make her more aggressive.

She needs to be trained with gentle positive reinforcement methods. She also needs early and thorough socialization with children, other dogs, other pets, and strangers.

If properly trained and socialized, she can be a wonderful family dog. If not, the instinctive Laekenois behaviors can become very difficult to handle.

The Laekenois is not an appropriate breed for an inexperienced dog owner.

Helpful Dog Training Resource:

For help with training your Laekonois dog, you should take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.

Laekenois Appearance

General Appearance

The Laekenois is a medium-sized dog with a square build and long legs.

She has a distinctive rough, tousled coat that can be described as woolly or tweedy.

The Laekenois also has a woolly undercoat.

She has triangular ears that sit high on her head and dark eyes. She has fringe on her head and muzzle.

Her muzzle is slightly pointed. She has a scissor bite.

She has a long, bushy tail but without feathering.

Laekenois Size

Laekenois weight averages 55-66 pounds for males, 44-55 for females.

Height averages 24-26 inches for males, 22-24 inches for females.

Laekenois Colors

This dog’s coat can be red, fawn, or gray with black around the muzzle or tail.

Interesting Laekenois Facts

Other Names

You may also hear this breed called the Laekense or Chien de Berger Belge.

Female Problems

An intact female Laekenois will often have a bit of an “edge” to her when she is in heat and can have mood swings.

One thing you need to know if you plan to participate in agility with your female Laekenois: An intact female Laekenois in heat is prohibited from obedience or agility events.

This is not so much because of her behavior but because having her near can cause male-male aggression.

Puppies

Interestingly, the rough-coated Laekenois can have puppies with smooth coats. In that case, the pups are sometimes registered as Belgian Malinois.

Staying Healthy: Laekenois Health Issues

The Laekenois is a healthy breed with no high-risk health issues. However, there are some lower-risk concerns to watch out for:

Laekenois Lifespan

The Laekenois life expectancy is 10-12 years.

Note: if you agree that your health and your dog's health should be a top priority then get a copy of The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health. Your Laekenois friend will love you for it. This guide will help save you money, time and most of all help you keep your dog healthy.

Caring for the Laekenois

Laekenois Grooming

The Laekenois’s coat is generally fairly easy to care for. They should be thoroughly brushed once a week to detangle, otherwise just a quick brush as needed.

The coat should be trimmed twice a year but never shaved or cut close.

If they get dirty or muddy, they will need brushing and an occasional bath, especially in the winter. But don’t bathe them often. It will interfere with the waterproof quality of the coat.


Once or twice a year Laekenois shedding can be heavy. They have wooly undercoats that they shed.

Males molt once or twice a year, depending on the weather. Females tend to molt about 12 weeks following their heat seasons. They both need thorough daily brushing during their molting season.

Spayed and neutered Laekenois will shed less than intact dogs.

Of course, like most dogs, the Laekenois needs its teeth brushed, nails clipped, and eyes and ear checked regularly.

Laekenois Diet

Any high-quality dry food would be a good choice for the Laekenois.

Laekenois Exercise

This is a fairly high-energy dog that needs a lot of exercise, for both physical and mental stimulation. They like walking and jogging but prefer playing interactively with their owners.

Ideally, they should have a fairly large space to run off leash.

Competition Dog Sports such as obedience, rally, and agility are a joy for the athletic Laekenois.

She is likely to become destructive if she does not have enough to occupy her mind. The Belgian Shepherd Dog Association of Great Britain warns that they are experts at pestering their owners to play with them.

Finding a Laekenois

Buying a Laekenois Puppy From a Breeder

Finding a Laekenois for sale may be difficult, as this is still a rare breed. The best place to start would be the American Belgian Laekenois Association (ABLA). They may be able to point you in the right direction for a reputable Laekenois breeder.

Another way to locate Laekenois puppies would be to search the Internet for owner’s groups. There are forums for nearly every breed online. This would be a good way to get word-of-mouth breeder recommendations.

It would also be an opportunity to talk with folks who already own a Laekenois. You could get a sense of what it’s like to live with one. You would then be better able to decide if the Laekenois is the right breed for your family.

Belgian Laekenois price appears to be around $500 to $800.

Laekenois Adoption – Shelter or Rescue

Finding a Laekenois for adoption will also require patience. Letting your local shelters know that you’re looking is never a bad idea, but again, this is a rare dog.

You may want to try the Belgian Laekenois Rescue and Rehome. You can reach them through the ABLA site above.

If you are fortunate enough to find a Belgian Laekenois to adopt, you will more than likely be getting an adult dog. Because of the demanding nature of this breed, there are some questions you should ask before committing.

You would want to know if the previous owner had socialized the dog properly. Also ask about aggression tendencies and how it gets along with children, if appropriate, and other dogs.

If the answers satisfy you, then adopting an adult dog has some nice advantages. The shelter or rescue will see that the dog is spayed or neutered. It will be up to date on its immunizations.

There is a good chance the dog would be housebroken and have basic obedience training. It may also be microchipped.

An adult dog is less work than a puppy. It is also less expensive. Most shelters charge between $75 and $300 for an adoptee.

You will also have the joy of giving a good home to a dog that needs one.

Is the Laekenois Sheepdog the Right Breed for You?

If you train and socialize The Belgian Laekenois appropriately then she can be a nice family dog. You simply cannot beat the Laekenois temperament for loyalty, devotion, and protectiveness.

However, she needs a firm, no-nonsense “alpha” owner and/or trainer. If you would find this difficult, you should consider choosing a different breed.

She also needs a lot of high-quality exercise. She needs an active life for physical and mental stimulation.

Are you willing to commit to regular interactive activities with your dog? A daily walk is probably not enough to keep this breed satisfied.

She needs a lot of attention and interactive time with you. Dog sports that require teamwork between dog and owner are an ideal way to accomplish this.

If you’re willing to take charge, and if you lead an active life, this breed could be everything you’re looking for. The Laekenois temperament makes this dog a loyal and devoted best friend.