When we think of Belgium, the first thing that comes to mind are those delicious, fluffy waffles, followed immediately by the country’s renowned mouth-watering, creamy chocolate. However, this Western European nation is not only home to some delicious food, but it’s also the birthplace of some our most beloved four-legged companions. Belgian dog breeds are known to be highly active, with excellent wit and supreme intelligence. Most of them were originally bred for herding purposes—which explains the high energy—but thankfully, they’ve been domesticated enough to live with people in harmony and make the best hiking, jogging and walking buddies. Below, nine Belgian dog breeds that make the most active companions.

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1. Belgian Sheepdog

Average height: 23 to 25 inches

Average weight: 55 to 77 pounds

Life expectancy: 10 to 14 years

If you’re looking for a dog that’ll be obsessed with you and loves the outdoors as much as you do, then the Belgian sheepdog is your soulmate. Also known as the Belgian Groenendael, this medium-sized and affectionate pup is not the type to flourish without human interaction. That means not only will they want all the cuddles, but they’ll also want some high-energy play time with you. A measly walk around the block for fresh air is fine as long as you also put in major time for long runs or hikes.

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2. Belgian Laekenois

Average height: 24 to 26 inches

Average weight: 55 to 65 pounds

Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Characterized by a rough, tousled coat that comes in shades of red or fawn, this herding dog will easily stand out in any setting. Wary of strangers, this is not the pup to mindlessly pat without first getting acquainted. Laekenois are highly trainable dogs who also love some action-packed play time. They’re known to be highly protective and devoted to their owners and once trained and adjusted, they’re great with children and interact seamlessly with other dogs. Their distinct coat needs to be trimmed twice a year by an experienced hand because cutting it too short may ruin the appearance for a long time.

belgian dog breeds belgian shepherd tervuren
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3. Belgian Tervuren

Average height: 24 to 26 inches

Average weight: 45 to 75 pounds

Life expectancy: 12 to 14 years

Elegant and agile, the Belgian Tervuren is a gentle shepherd dog most beloved for its ability to adapt. Feel free to teach this intelligent pup tricks and skills because there isn’t a challenge they can’t master. And while their jolly personality is a major plus, once they’re accustomed to their environment, they do require a firm and authoritative tone during training (which should also come as early as possible) because their free spirit can be hard to wrangle if left alone. Other than that, these cheerful dogs will happily go for a dip with you at the beach or trot alongside your bike.

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4. Belgian Malinois

Average height: 22 to 26 inches

Average weight: 40 to 80 pounds

Life expectancy: 14 to 16 years

Of all the herding dogs, the Belgian Malinois may be the most recognizable given the fact that it’s often used as a military guard dog or police K-9 in the U.S. And with good reason. This superbly versatile canine is easy to train and gets its joy from performing tricks for its owner. Highly active and eager to get those long legs moving, a great game of fetch or squirrel chase in the park is the best type of exercise for this nimble dog. It’s also the only one of the shepherd dogs with a short coat.

belgian malinois schipperke
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5. Schipperke

Average height: 10 to 13 inches

Average weight: 10 to 16 pounds

Life expectancy: 12 to 14 years

Don’t let the stout legs and small frame fool you, this teeny dog has some serious big dog energy. Not only will they be able to keep up on that miles-long run around the park, they’re also a sight for sore eyes, with a glistening black coat that you’ll just be drawn to. Originally bred to be rat-catchers, Schipperkes have strong jaws and front legs and are highly aware of their surroundings, so intruders beware. With their owners, these pups are extremely loving, protective and relish in copious amounts of playtime.

belgian dog breeds brussels griffon
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6. Brussels Griffon

Average height: 7 to 10 inches

Average weight: 6 to 10 pounds

Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Another small but mighty breed, what Brussels Griffons lack in size they make up for in vocals. While this petite pup may be good for apartment dwellers because they don’t take up too much space, they may get the neighbors upset with their relentless barking and incessant pitter patter. Still, as with many small dogs, their sheer size will turn even the staunchest frown upside down as their scruffy face, deep eyes and charming personality will win anyone over. Don’t be surprised if these canines act a little posh sometimes; Queen Henrietta Maria of England, Scotland and Ireland was smitten by the breed back in the 1870s, so really, you should be honored to be in their presence.

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7. Belgian Bloodhound

Average height: 23 to 27 inches

Average weight: 80 to 110 pounds

Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Don’t let the name intimidate you, this Belgian breed is actually more docile than the others on this list. While they’d love nothing more than trekking a local trail—they were originally bred for hunting deer, wild boar and later used to track people after all—Belgian Bloodhounds don’t mind spending some down time lounging around the house as you get some work done. They’re very affectionate and easy to love, but they also have a stubborn streak, so owners must use a firm hand while training them.

belgian dog breeds Bouvier Des Flandres
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8. Bouvier Des Flandres

Average height: 23 to 26 inches

Average weight: 59 to 88 pounds

Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Another Belgian breed that understands the art of taking it slow, the Bouvier des Flandres is equal parts active and chill. Don’t let the friendliness with its family and other familiar faces fool you into thinking you can get too close. This breed is uber protective of its people and very suspicious of any strangers. These pups are also very territorial, so it’s important to socialize them with other pets early on, otherwise, they can be aggressive towards other animals.

belgian dog breeds papillon
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9. Papillon

Average height: 7 to 10 inches

Average weight: 4 to 8 pounds

Life expectancy: 13 to 15 years

No one can deny the appeal of a papillon’s small face and peaky ears, and the best part is, these miniature dogs have the equally amicable personality to match. Weighing an average of eight pounds, they make the best lap dogs, always willing to snuggle with you as you attend some Zoom meetings or watch a flick. And while we cannot get enough of those pointy ears, owners are encouraged to remove excess hair as much as possible and give them a full-body brushing frequently since their thick coats are prone to entanglement.

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