|Ardent, Elegant, Versatile Companions
Epix Belgian Sheepdogs has recently relocated back to the Pacific Northwest - to beautiful southwest Oregon. Although
Epix is our kennel name, none of our dogs are kennel dogs. All are our
household and traveling companions, spending their days and nights living,
working, and playing with us. We currently have 3 generations of Belgian Sheepdogs
(Groenendael). We are planning to add our next generation Belgian in the next year or two,
but never want to have more dogs than we have time to train and care for.
Belgian Sheepdogs, like most other herding breeds, are both rewarding
and time-consuming companions.
The Belgian Sheepdog was developed to
perform functional tasks in close cooperation with a master. This is a
high-energy breed, although settled and calm about the home with proper
training, and when it is allowed to work at a job suited to its breeding.
That job can be as simple as helping around the house, keeping a watchful
eye on the children, with a nightly game of frisbee at the park. It can
also be as demanding as helping manage a flock of sheep, assisting an
owner with physical or sensory disabilities, or working in a police K9
unit. Of course, most Belgian owners choose something in between. Activities
such as agility training, therapy work, search and rescue, competition
obedience, flyball, skijoring, conformation showing, Schutzhund, and sheepherding
are some of the typical outlets for the breed's energy and desire to learn.Whatever
you do, don't let the elegant physique fool you - these are tough dogs
with a strong need to do a job.
This is an overwhelmingly intelligent
breed, and this astute mind should be combined with a desire to work with
its master. Although "master" may seem an outdated word, it
applies well to Belgians. This is a breed that calls for a self-assured
owner who is comfortable calling the shots. This doesn't mean a rigid,
humorless, or heavy-handed owner. Such a person will bring out the worst
in this impressionable breed. If anything, the extreme playfulness and
sense of humor exhibited by most Belgians calls for similar qualities
in the master. But it is imperative that a potential Belgian owner "says
what he means, and means what he says". While it is true that most
dogs of any breed respond best to such an approach, a Belgian who does
not trust that its master will expect obedience can be a danger to those
We have a small, selective breeding
program at Epix, and only breed a litter every few years. Our breeding
goal is a "Renaissance Dog": a well-rounded, capable, versatile
companion. Robust good health is essential. We hope to ensure our dogs
have their best chance of this by following Natural Rearing practices.
Structure should be sound, functional, and correct for the breed. Stable
temperament is a must. Without this even the most physically beautiful
and healthy dog is at best no joy to the owner, and at worst a liability.
Finally, we believe in strict selection for talent, trainability, drive,
and love of learning, in the belief that these are fundamental to
the character of the breed.
The Belgian Sheepdog is not for everyone.
It is said that with Belgians "Thought is Action". Their impetuous
nature can be un-nerving for someone unaccustomed to it. Also, bear in
mind that not all Belgians are alike. Level of drive, activity, and ability
will vary among lines, and even within a litter. If you have met only
a few Belgians, or none, commit to spending some time with several before
you make a decision. Expect breeders to discuss with you the positives
and negatives of their lines, as well as of Belgians in general. Think
hard about whether you want a dog that demands so much of your time and
mental energy, a dog that will get into mischief if not adequately
stimulated (physically and mentally), a dog who will bond to you like
glue (expect to never be lonely again). While Belgians do not require
large amounts of physical maintenance, they do insist on a high degree
of relationship maintenance. If you are intrigued rather than dismayed
by such a prospect, a Belgian Sheepdog may well be your companion-of-choice.
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