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History of the Belgian Shepherd Dog in Canada & around the world

The Belgian Shepherd Dog in Canada

Belgians were first introduced to North America by returning servicemen who had seen the breed overseas during World War I. Although several Belgians were imported at that time and even shown in the breed ring, the breed did not become firmly established in North America and had to be, in effect, re-introduced after World War II. Ironically, the two World Wars which were so hard on the Belgian Shepherd Dogs in Belgium and France, were also responsible for introducing North Americas to this special breed. Gradually in the late 40's and 50's, Belgians became more widely known in both Canada and the United States.

Canada, in accordance with the practice in Belgium and other European countries, recognizes only one breed - the Belgian Shepherd Dog. Which includes the four varieties, (Groenendael, Laeken, Malinois and Tervuren).

Belgians had been bred, owned and shown in Canada for many years; when a group of 19 Belgian fanciers met in Thorold, Ontario in June 1964. The group formed the Belgian Sheepdog Club of Canada, (B.S.C.C.) "to foster and promote the best interests of the breed."

When the B.S.C.C. was formed, the centre of activity for the breed in Canada was in southern Ontario. Since then, other centres have developed throughout the country. Any area with sufficient interest in Belgians, meeting the requirements of the Club Constitution can form a section of the national Club. The sections enjoy considerable autonomy; electing their own officers and directing their own regional activities, such as booster shows, picnics, training classes, obedience trials, agility and herding trials. Anyone wishing may join the national Club. The area of the Country lived in constitutes which section you are a member of. Sections work under the guidance of the national Club in accordance to Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) policies.

On January 1, 2003, (after many years of debate amongst Club Members) the Belgian Sheepdog Club of Canada's name was officially changed and is now known as the Belgian Shepherd Dog Club of Canada, (B.S.D.C.C.).

Amongst other activities the BSDCC publishes a quarterly newsletter and holds a yearly National Specialty Show.

Belgians Around the World

The Belgian Shepherd Dog originated as a herding dog in Belgium. At the end of the nineteeth century, steps were taken to standardize the breed. Admirers found it relatively easy to agree upon the basic characteristics and qualities of the sheep herding dogs of Belgium, traits which form the fundamental of today's breed standard and reflect the Belgian's origins as a working dog.

The Fedération Cynologique Internationale, which governs purebred dog breeding and showing in many countries, including Belgium, currently recognizes three acceptable coat types; long-haired, short-haired and rough-haired. Within those groupings, the varieties are;

Groenendael: long-haired solid black;
Tervuren: long-haired fawn with black overlay and black mask;
Malinois: short-haired fawn with black overlay and black mask;
Laeken: rough-haired fawn with traces of black overlay, mainly on the muzzle and tail.

Club de Ckiens de Defense, Mouscronnois, 21 Octobre 1925

Courtesy of Robert McLoud's post card collection

Excerpts: The Belgian Shepherd Dog Breed Brochure, Published by the Southern Ontario Section of the Belgian Shepherd Dog Club of Canada