The Belgian sheepdog has a lot of energy and a lot of hair, thanks to the thick, long double coat that protects him from the elements as he shows the sheep who's boss. What, your shep doesn't herd? No problem. Grooming requires brushing often to keep his hair neat and clean.
The bushy, double-layered coat of your Belgian sheepdog requires regular brushing to keep the coat tangle-free. Brush him thoroughly with a pin brush at least once a week, and work in sections to make sure you get him completely.
Lay him down on his side and part his hair in a line across his his body – from head to rump – to brush in sections. Start low on his body, the section on his belly and chest, and concentrate on smoothing one section at a time. Flip up the upper layer of hair and brush the lower portion until it's smooth. Make sure the brush pins get all the way down to the skin. Pull down another line of hair when you finish the previous section, and systematically work up his side. Once you reach his back, flip him over and do his other side like you did the first. Finish up by brushing his legs and tail.
Giving your sheepdog a quick daily rundown with his brush will help the weekly thorough brush sessions go much easier, as you won't have to fight with a weeks' worth of tangles.
As a working breed, your Belgian is not meant to be primped and pampered like a show dog, requiring weekly baths and extensive hair care sessions. He typically needs a bath only when he gets dirty or gives off a particularly strong doggie odor.
Soak him completely when you bathe him, running your hands through his coat to make sure the water penetrates both layers. Massage in a gentle dog shampoo, making sure to get all the way to the skin. Rinse him completely to remove all the shampoo residue, as dry shampoo can irritate his skin. Towel away as much moisture as possible, and either let him air-dry or use a hair dryer on a low-heat setting.
Your big, poofy pooch will shed year-round; the more you brush, the less hair you'll find floating around and covering everything in your house. He'll completely shed his entire coat at least once a year, meaning you'll have to brush him more often to keep up with the hair loss. A warm bath during his heavy shedding season can also help release the hair and bring your “Oh my gosh there's hair everywhere!” freakouts to an end.
Belgians with heavy coats will produce quite a pile of discarded hair during his once-a-year shed. If you're a crafty person or know someone who is, you may want to spin his shed hair into yarn to use in projects or even to make your own warm sweater. It's the ultimate in recycling, and you'll have your furry friend with you wherever you go.
Ears, Teeth and Nails
Grooming entails more than just coat care, as your sheepdog needs to be able to hear, eat and walk properly and without pain too. Check his ears once a week for signs of injury or infection such as redness, swelling or unusual odor. Clean them with cotton balls and ear cleaner to remove any excess wax or dirt. Brush his teeth at least three times a week to encourage healthy chompers and minimize bad doggie breath.
Your sheepdog's nails will need trimmed at least once a month to keep him comfortable, but this chore may be best left to a professional groomer or your vet. Dog nails have a vein inside called the quick that will bleed and cause pain if nicked. Your pooch will not be happy about this and will most likely become extremely uncooperative the next time the trimmers come out. A professional will know how to trim them with little chance of hurting your pup.