By: Bernard Rie, Anderlues Belgium.
The Belgian Laekenois is our very lovely variety that, through time, has always been admired for his fidelity, intelligence and rusticity. They are the lesser known and less bred variety in Belgium, Europe and the world. At the end of the last century, he was very appreciated; his first function was to watch the linen of laundry (linen laid out on "blech fields") the area of Boom (northern Belgium). He was particulary feared for his teethīs blow, by the robbers. He was awoided, and not to be confronted. He took his job seriously. Afterwards, he was used as a herding dog in the Laekenīs royal park (where his name came from) and for police dogs, always with the top satisfaction of his owners - the steadfast and ardent defender. The Laekenois was practically eliminated from existing during the First World War where he was used, along with others, as a war dog (such as stretcher bearerīs dog). Fortunatly, our Netherland friends, always admirers of the "rough hair", had taken the red Laekenois under their protection (as opposed to the grey dog that was recognized by the Belgian Club of that time). Unfortunatly, during this time, the Laekenois type mowed away from that Belgian Shepherd Dog "type". It is propably that some of the Netherlands breeders, very fond of robust and heavy dogs, had introduced Bouvier des Flandres into the variety. That effect gave an impression of heaviness in the dogs, with widening of the skull and reduction of the desired conformation of the typical Belgian Shepherd Dog. Then, in Belgium, some breeders took conscience to set the Laekenois to the Belgian Shepherd Dog type, by making, in accordance with the St.Hubert Society, inbreedings with Malinois. This union between these two varietys is the basis of the renewed success of the Laekenois in Belgium. Since that time, some breeders have taken over in order to continue this long term work. In keeping with his original qualities and his rusticity, the Laekenois regained elegance and fineness in the head lines and body. Now we can see dogs with typical Belgian Shepherd Dog expression and movement. All this has helped the variety to be more appreciated by people and furthermore by other Belgian Shepherd Dog breeders who have respect for the rough hair. Belgium and Netherlands remain the cradle of the Laekenois. His presence is very limited in other countries and especially in France where actual lack of interest is manifested. In this way, there is now hardly any evolution of the Laekenois in that country. However other countries such as Scandinavia and especially Finland have shown a certain interest in the Laekenois. There we can meet very good types of this dogs. Little by little, this variety resurfaced in his original country. In 1995 the Belgian breeders produced 75 puppies (against about 60 in the Netherlands and not many more in France). In 1996 Belgium produced nearly 100 puppies (Netherlands 45 and France 17). The kennels in Belgium numbers even and some of them only breed occasionally. But, if we take the positive side of it, the fact that this dog never experienced very big success has allowed him to keep his authenticity and his ancestral qualities and in particular, to be more calm than the other Belgian Shepherd Dogs. He is suited, among others, for his working ability in obediance, agility and bitework. We can now see, once again with pleasure, his presence in herding, in wich he excels. It is the hope that, in the future, the Belgian Laekenois will not stay the unknown of the Belgian Shepherd Dog, and that he will be made known for his true value, as each owner of the Laekenois will not change for another dog.