Weight: 40 to 80 pounds
Height: Male: 61 – 66 cm, Female: 56 – 61 cm
Colour: depends on variety
Life span: 10 – 14 years
Belgian Shepherd Dogs are described as highly intelligent, alert, sensitive to everything going on around them and form very strong relationship bonds. They are said to be loyal, intelligent, fun, highly trainable and well suited to family life. They should receive plenty of socializing as puppies and will benefit from regular activity and close interaction with people throughout their lifespan. Their herding heritage gives them a comparatively high energy level, and mental as well as physical exercise is necessary to keep a Belgian happy and healthy. In 2012, the North Wales Police force harnessed a Belgian Shepherd herding behavior, headbutting, in a novel approach to subduing criminals. The dogs are muzzled to prevent bites, and trained to forcefully headbutt targets at the midriff on command, knocking them off balance.
Belgian Shepherds do well in sports such as obedience training and dog agility. They are used as assistance and search and rescue dogs, as well as police, military and narcotics dogs.
Although a generally healthy variety of dog, Belgian Shepherds can have a susceptibility to hip dysplasia, epilepsy, gastric problems (including bloats and torsions), and some eye and skin problems. Notable health problems prevalent to the Malinois include cataracts, epilepsy, thyroid disease, progressive retinal atrophy, hip dysplasia, and pannus, although these problems have been minimised through selective breeding.
There have been few health surveys of the individual Belgian Shepherd varieties. The UK Kennel Club conducted a 2004 health survey of all Belgian Shepherd varieties combined. The Belgian Sheepdog (=Groenendael) Club of America Health Committee has a health registry questionnaire, but it is not clear whether or when results will be reported. The American Belgian Tervuren Club conducted health surveys in 1998 and 2003. Only the 2003 report included longevity information.