The rough haired Belgian Laekenois has many qualities of an excellent sheepdog which has been rediscovered again in the last twenty years. He is absolutely the most quiet and most modest of Belgian Shepherds and is therefore the most appropriate as a companion and family dog. The proverb »Power is in modesty and silence« definitely holds for a Laekenois.
By nature Laekenois is a little bit reserved and because of that some people think it is afraid or shy, which usually is not true. Laekenois is unlimitedly devoted to his owner and his family for whom he would do everything. But on the other hand he is very careful and very slow when making contacts with strange people. He does not care for other people much and he is not that kind of dog who would run to greet every person he meets. He prefers to be left alone and if people are very rude and want to hold and caress him against his will he will back off and/or even show his teeth. People who want to make contacts with a Laekenois must be very patient. They must give the Laekenois their hands to smell and they must approach very slowly and than the Laekenois will maybe let them touch him. For your own safety you should never touch a strange Laekenois before asking his owner if you could do this. After all, Laekenois is a Belgian Shepherd and his reactions can be very unpredictable and very quick sometimes.
Normally Laekenois has a very balanced temperament and is a very easy dog to live with. He loves his owner and his family with all of his big heart and would do everything for them. He is an excellent guard dog and he defends his home vigorously and with all of his being. He was always well-known for his strong teeth and everyone must be aware of this. Altough he accepts friends of his owner he always monitors their movements and their actions just in case. He is a true philosopher among Belgians and usually lies calmly on the floor and just checks the situation with »eyes half-open«. He is never completely relaxed when visitors are in the house - he is always ready for action if something happens. But he is very friendly and trustful with all friends of his owners, which he also accepts as his friends.
Laekenois is very friendly with children, altough he is not always in the mood to play with them. Because of his higly protective nature Laekenois strongly protect »his« home children from other children, therefore we must be very careful when we let our and other children play together. If he is not in the mood to play, he will usually closely monitor the shouting group of children at their plays calmly with eyes half-open and he is capable to bear their tricks for a long time. However dangerousness arises if children start to quarrel and to fight, because then Laekenois will jump quickly and vigorously defend »his« children. Altough he is not a biter he could unintentionally hurt strange children if they would be aggressive to »his« children. So Laekenois should never be left alone with small kids because of his higly protective nature. Always a presence of an adult person is required.
But despite that Laekenois is a wonderful companion and totally devoted to his owner and his family. The bond between Laekenois and his owner is very strong and can never be broken. But first his owner must earn his trust. It is quite difficult because Laekenois is a very sensitive, suspicious and reserved dog and has a very good memory for all things - good and bad, unfortunately. Harsh words, heavy-handed and heartless behaving scare him away. We must start with consequentional and consistent upbringing from the first day when puppy comes into our home. Upbringing of a Laekenois requires a lot of love, attention, patience, good will and time. We must always be calm and consistent and we should never raise our voices or hit him, because he resents us such behaviour immensely. He is very quickly offendend and once we lost his trust it will be hard to regain. He does not forget rudeness shown for a very long time.
So Laekenois is an ideal dog for quiet, loving and very patient people with stable temperaments and it is certainly not the right dog for very energetic, fast and untolerant people who are not loving, affectionate and very patient and who would like to have working successes with their dogs very soon. He grows up very slowly and he reaches his full maturity at three years of age. He must know you love him unconditionally and you must show him that every day because he is a very sensitive and tender dog. When he accepts you for his leader he will do just anything for you just to please you. He is a very quick learner and can do well in obedience classes, defence work, tracking, agility, flyball and herding or he is just a very loyal companion. But also when practising you should never overdo it. If there is too much repeating of lessons learned then Laekenois will get bored and will not be interested in working anymore. Generally he loves to work and learn new things if the lessons are not too long. And it is important that Laekenois is working with his owner (whom he trusts unconditionally); he will never do good with strange people.
Laekenois has to feel absolute love and friendship from his owner and then he is able to guard him for the rest of his life. He needs one owner he will love forever and change of ownership is definitely a tragedy for him. He is also a very gentle dog and understands well with other pets in the household. He will defend smaller dogs and will be ready to share food with them. He trusts his owner completely and he knows he will get food every day so he never steals food from the table and he rarely begs for food. He is also not a loud barker - he only barks if strange people are coming into the house or if he hears suspicios noises outside.
Because he is very loyal and does not have a mind of his own he can be kept off leash on walks almost all the time. He is not a vagabond and he always keeps himself near his owner. The command »Come here« always works, except when he is chasing cats. So near big roads it is wise to have him on the leash.
If Laekenois is happy he is fantastic clown, merry, jolly, cheerful, very intelligent. Inside the house he is normally very quiet and he loves to be caressed and talked to very much. Altough he is quite a big dog he enjoys very much to sit or lie in your lap while watching TV or to sit on the chair beside you at the table if you are doing something else. He will often put his head in your lap and lick your face or hands and ask for some affection. If allowed he would gladly sleep in the bed with his owner - if possible with his head on the pillow. Laekenois is truly a funny dog to live with - he likes to imitate his owner - and it always makes me happy to see such things. And he understands almost everything - he is also a very compassionate dog and he feels people moods. He always adapts his mood to the mood of his owner. If the owner is sad he will do everything to cheer him up and to console him. And if the owner is happy and in good mood then Laekenois is also dancing of joy and smiling.
If Laekenois has a caring and loving owner then two of them become inseparable and perfect couple and if they really understand each other then they can do well on any competition they take. Laekenois loves his owner with all of his heart and in his mature and older years he becomes his owner's shadow following him everywhere and understanding him without words. Among dog breeds it is hard to find a breed who would be more loyal and more loving than a Laekenois. It is a little difficult to understand his character if you don't have one, but it is a fantastic dog if properly educated and if you get one you will probably get with him your best and most faithfull friend you could ever imagine.