Laekenois is the rough haired Belgian Shepherd and his coat should have a rough or dry texture and appear unkempt. The undercoat is thick and woolly. The coat is of medium length on all parts of the body except the head where the hair on the skull is short while the hair on the muzzle is slightly longer forming a beard or whiskers. The coat should be light fawn to red brown in colour. Blackening may appear on the muzzle, ears and tail. The underparts of the dog, tail and breeches are light beige or grey. The tail should not form a plume. A small amount of white is permitted on the chest and the tips of the toes.
Grooming needs are minimal. Care of the coat is not difficult and it does not shed. A weekly thorough brushing is all that is required to keep the Laekenois coat in good condition. The Laekenois coat is not prone to matting except some small tangles may form on the stomach and around the armpits especially at a working dog. Bathing is only necessary a few times a year if your Laekenois is living indoors and/or attending dog shows.
Laekenois is the only Belgian Shepherd that has to be helped to change his old coat for a new one. He does not shed like most coated breeds, so his outer coat must be pulled out or stripped by the hands when it reaches a length of 8 or 10 centimers and is »blown«. When Laekenois needs stripping his coat will part, hang loosely, become dead-looking and lose some of its waviness and roughness.
It depends on each individual dog and his coat quality when stripping will be needed, but usually stripping is needed every 6 or 8 months. First stripping is usually done when Laekenois is about one year old.
It is important that we never use a stripping knife as it will cut and break the coat. This is very important considering that the colour on the hair shaft is at its best in the first 6 cm, after that the hair shaft is pale, we do not want to break the hair and be left with a pale, frayed-haired dog! We should also never use scissors either except for trimming around the genitals and tidying around the pads of the feet.
Hand stripping helps nature accomplish the shed faster and when done over a day or two the new coat will grow in evenly with a deeper colour. Stripping of the whole Laekenois coat including beard, ears, legs, and tail must be done in few days otherwise the coat will have different lengths on the dog when it grows in. The coat needs to grow in about 3 or 4 months before it is nearing the correct length for show purposes.
When we pull the coat out we work slowly and only take small amounts at a time between our fingers. Best way of pulling out the coat is that we hold the skin down with one hand while using the fingers of our other hand to pull out the hair. We should always pull in the same direction as the hair grows. If it does not want to come out or it is hurting the dog then it is not blown and therefore not ready for stripping. It does not hurt if it is ready, it will come out easily. The dog will look a little funny naked and closely resemble the Malinois when stripped out. But stripping efforts will be rewarded with a beautiful full coat a few months later.
The undercoat could be stripped or not - it is a matter of of each owner's personal preference. If the undercoat is very abundant and thick then maybe it is a good idea to pull it out, when the top coat is done. But with regular weekly brushing we also help the dog to loose some of its undercoat and the stripping of undercoat is not necessary.