Welcome to the
Belgian Laekenois
History page

This page is currently under construction. 
Please check back for more exciting past history
on the Belgian Laekenois.

To begin our new page,
here is an article by Dave Spang
(used with his permission).

The Division of the Belgian Shepherds
into Separate Breeds by the
American Kennel Club
By Dave Spang


Dave has been the Historian/Archivist for the BSCA for many years and serves
a similar capacity with UBSDA.

This article was written at the request of some of the newer owners of
Belgian Shepherds who knew the American Kennel Club had separated the
varieties and approved 3 separate standards effective July 1, 1959; but they
did not know the background of this change.

It is important to remember that in 1949, when the BSCA was incorporated
there were not more than 20 individuals with Belgians (mostly Groenendael).
They were primarily in the midwest but there was at least one in Arizona
(Vestals- Rio Carmello) and a few on the East Coast (Goris - Beldome; Lutz - de Belgique). 
The BSCA was incorporated by 3 couples (Browns- Fume de Fleur; Brindels - Beaute Noir;
and Rowlands - Roll In). In 1946 there were a total of 20 Belgians registered with the AKC;
1947- 30; 1948- 40; 1949- 46 total dogs were registered, almost all black.

In 1948 a business man from Chicago, Rudy Robinson, became interested in the
breed and began to import heavily.  He developed good communication with
major European breeders, published his own newsletter and advertised regularly
in Dog World.  His imports also began winning both regionally and at the National
Specialties.  His stock was in strong demand so that older members started using his studs.

There slowly developed 2 factions based on whether they were in favor of
Rudy's imports or not. Then, in 1954, Rudy imported the first Tervuren seen
in the US in 30 years. These dogs also did their share of winning, much to
the displeasure of the older breeders. In 1957, there was a discussion about
changing the constitution and bylaws. There were 18 full members at that
time who were the long-term breeders; there was a second class of Associate
Members, without voting privileges. Also, two intervariety  breedings were
done and there was talk of a Groenendael X Malinois litter although no
evidence has been found to show that one was ever whelped.

In November, 1956 a letter was sent to the AKC stating, in part, "there is a
very concerted effort by a very few to lower the cost of
membership ($25), and build our club with names only.  This means that the
serious breeders and charter members of this club, the folks that
reactivated this club, are to be outnumbered by single dog owners."

A letter writing campaign to the AKC began saying that the Tervuren was a
different breed and the few Malinois and Laekenois did not look like the
other two at all. Letters were received from Mme Aubry (Chemin des Dames)
dated 2/17/56, and Felix Verbanck, (secretary of the Royal Groenendael Club
in Belgium) dated 10/12/1955, both of which supported intervariety breeding.
There is no evidence that these letters were forwarded to the AKC although a
letter from the President of the French Club (M. Wassel) was sent directly
to AKC.

The AKC on March 12, 1958 sent a letter to the President of the BSCA saying,
in part,
         "Generally each of the dogs of these other types (L,M,T) has been
mated with another dog of the same type, but recently there has been some
interbreeding especially between Groenendael and Tervueren, and in at least
one case between Groenendael and Malinois.
    While the breeding standard specifies that dogs of all the different
types should be identical except for their coats and colors, the fact is
that the Malinois and Tervueren  which we have seen bear little resemblance
in conformation to the Groenendael, and the Laeken bear no resemblance at
all to any of the others."

         "What concerns us is that if this interbreeding of the different
types is permitted to continue we are likely to end up with a great many
registered dogs whish even an expert could not confidently identify as
purebred Belgian Sheepdogs.... All Poodles, whether
Toy, Miniature, or Standard, are registered as Poodles, and all
Dachshunds,.... are registered as Dachshunds... Our registration records
make no distinction as to variety."

         "As I told you in our conference, our Board of Directors
considered this problem some months ago, and they seriously wondered whether
the interests of the breed would not best be served if we should consider
each of the different types a separate and distinct breed, even though we
know that originally they sprang from similar stock.  Our board asked me to
discuss this matter with you and suggested that you get a formal expression
of opinion on the subject, preferably by mail vote, from all the members of
your club."

The Archives does not have a copy of the letter which the BSCA President
sent to the membership of about 90 people. A tabulation of the results,
presented to the AKC on June 9, 1958, shows that 8 were opposed, 2 took a
middle position, and 32 were in favor of the
separation.  Of the 32, 3 were not BSCA members.

By July 31, 1958 AKC reached its decision to separate the varieties.  The
initial intent was to relegate the Tervueren and Malinois to the
Miscellaneous Group.  After much discussion, the Tervueren were allowed to
be shown in the same group as the Groenendael.  There were too few Malinois
registered at that time so they remained in the Miscellaneous Class until
1965.