Belgian Shepherd

Grooming Advice

These striking herding & guard dogs, are long well established, dating back as far as the 1890’s for their fi rst written standard. A good working medium sized dog that proportionately should fi t within a square, he must carry a coat that suits his open air life and able to resist a variable climate such as his native Belgium.

Calm and alert, this vigilant and fearless dog is highly prized as the watchful guardian of any property. He is keenly sought for his readiness to leap to action - not a lazy dog at all. He is ever aware and shows sharp interest in all his surroundings - I love the way they virtually check out the whole of our booth in 2 seconds fl at when they come to visit with their owner. Don’t you just love intelligence in a dog?

Both coats of the Groenendael & Tervuren are much alike, colour being the noticeable variation. Both coats must be dense and of good texture with the undercoat providing protective covering. Herding breeds are invariably dogs who must withstand the elements and be able to do their job. These are dogs that would have had to earn their keep and their workability was often dependant on ability to work in all weathers and in this case, likely more often than not, wet and cold conditions.

The golden rule for all coats that have to retain texture is not to use a conditioner. The temptation when faced with a dry or dehydrated coat is to reach for the conditioner. We are so conditioned (no pun intended) to thinking how we would correct our own hair instead of stepping outside the square and not relating to the human situation. The way to keep a coat hydrated without softening or changing texture is to oil the coat. However one mustn’t make the coat greasy either. I recommend Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil. This fabulous oil is sourced from Evening Primrose Oil and Calendula Oil and other natural niceties. It is not oily as such, being top quality natural plant oils and is applied by diluting in water to gain even dispersion throughout what is in this case, a fairly weatherproof coat. Just spraying the oil onto this coat is not going to do the product or the coat justice. You need to get right down to the skin with the oil to keep the whole coat hydrated and gleaming with healthy vigour.

It is best to thus dilute the oil at a ratio of 1 tbspn to 1 gallon/4 litres water - this will give you enough mixture to thoroughly saturate the coat of a good medium sized breed. Apply this after you have shampooed the coat, using for the Groenendael, Plush Puppy Whitening Shampoo diluted 5 parts water to one part shampoo again for easier dispersion and to minimise rinsing time on this rather thick coat or the Plush Puppy All Purpose Shampoo for the Tervuren, at the same dilution. The Whitening Shampoo is a toning shampoo and will not lighten but instead deepen the tone and give a pearly sheen to the black coat. This will also assist in offsetting any unwanted reddish tones too. (You can also use a regular application of Plush Puppy Sunshade along the topline to protect against sun damage & fading during the week.) The All Purpose is the shine shampoo and will give good lustre and vibrancy to the Tervuren coat. So, having shampooed and rinsed, apply the oil as specifi ed above and leave in - do not rinse out.

Your standards also require the ornamentation around the neck to be long and abundant described as like a collarette. Thus you are seeking to build and make much ado with this area as also the tail, the back of the forearm and the breeches. The procedure is that after applying the Seabreeze Oil mix, apply Plush Puppy Puffy Dog which is a strong holding product to the areasdescribed for maximum lift and volume. If a softer less voluminous effect is desired, then use Plush Puppy Quick Fix Spray for a light hold and for an overall volumising effect to the whole of the coat, especially good for when out of coat, use Plush Puppy Volumising Cream by using 1 tbspn to 1 cup water and applying generously. The Volumising Cream will give a more coated effect whereas the Puffy Dog or the Quick Fix will give more lift to the coat - you can use the Volumising Cream in conjunction with either of the other two - they just do different things and sometimes you need to do them all.

For texture to the coat, you can add extra harshness by using Plush Puppy Ruffy Tuffy Coat Spray. I go through bucket loads of this when Belgian Sheepdog people are around. They just love this. Spray lightly to the coat and wait a couple of seconds to allow it dry and then keep reapplying as before, until the level of harshness is achieved. This is not a sticky obvious product and one that is very popular for this purpose. Coats tend to go through various stages- especially trying for those of us who own double coated breeds where the coat is ever changing as it graduates from just perfect to the about to blow situation - then we go through the naked stages and then not enough to show stages to start the cycle yet again. How frustrating when that all important show is looming. It’s those times I envy those with the shorter coated breeds or those that just don’t shed that all important undercoat. Thus the need to be versatile and adjust your grooming techniques to suit the situation. For extra boost to a less than abundant coat or when out of coat is to switch to Plush Puppy Body Building Shampoo diluted 3 parts water to one part shampoo for maximum body and a 5 to one dilution for a less needy situation.

You can use the Puffy Dog, Ruffy Tuffy and Volumising Cream also on show day for that extra bit of texture and lift too. Sometimes when it’s borderline to going or staying home as the coat is not quite grown back enough, you need to lift the coat back up after the dog has slept on it all night and fl attened out what looked like a spectacular blow dry the night before. Just spritz the 1tbspn to 1 cup Volumising Cream mix over the whole of the coat, add a touch more Puffy Dog to the ruff and blow dry quickly to fl uff the hair back up. Finish with the light spray of Ruffy Tuffy and a light last minute spray of Plush Puppy Shine & Comb to the topline area, the pants and the front of the dog. The Shine & Comb gives just that extra bit of good natural looking sheen to the coat without weighing down the hair. Hold at least 12 inches/30 cms away from the coat when applying.

I don’t mind a pleasant smelling dog either without being too artifi cial and smelling like a room deodorant. Plush Puppy Odour Muncher is a clean smelling deodoriser with a light fragrance. It minimises odours and gets rid of that slept in a crate all night smell. I do believe judges use not just sense when judging but a lot of their senses including their olfactory senses and love a clean nice smelling dog.

The other thing to keep in mind with a double coated breed is to blow dry using a pin brush such as the Plush Puppy Pin Brush which has secure pins, without knobs that tend to rip the coat to bits, and is one of the best I have used. Blow dry everything up and forwards towards the head till 7/8ths dry and then use just the air of the dryer to fi nish off with the coat coming back into its natural fall. This method also assists in reducing unwanted wave. A good wide toothed Poodle comb is benefi cial also to be able to work the coat through from root to end to avoid any chance of matting or felting as the coat ages. I often see coats that have only been half dried and/or not worked through from the skin to ends. Maximise everything you have with these coats.

These wonderfully confi dent natured dogs have a lot of grace and power. They have the ability to work with great skill in a pretty full on job yet remain calm. Your dog not only watches out for the fl ock but also is protective of and devoted to his master. These are dogs ready to go and work at an instant. I love the subtly hidden energy they refl ect when at ease. I like the way they take in all that is happening yet don’t lose focus and I admire the relationship they have with their owners.

Just because you have a working dog never diminishes his right to look glamorous or well presented with as much devotion as the more labour intensive coated breeds. It is wrong to dismiss these coats as being natural and therefore assume you don’t naturally have to do a thing to them. Imagine a gorgeously proportioned dog with a beautifully presented coat routine and I will show you a winner every time.

- Cheryl Le Court