The Standards and the Varieties of the Belgian shepherd Dog

1. The first standard of 1892

In the illustrated weekly journal ‘Chasse et Pêche’ of 15 December 1889, one could read the following passage:

“We only know of two shepherd dog breeds being classified: the Collie and the Old English Sheepdog without tail. In Belgium we know shepherd dogs and gooseherds with all types of coat. No club or commission has ever described them.”

That is why at the end of 1891 a large number of passionate fanciers got together in Brussels. Their aim was to research the best methods for making the brilliant physical and moral qualities of the native shepherd dog known and appreciated. On this occasion the Club du Chien de Berger Belge was founded on 29 September 1891. The club had obtained the patronage of the Société Saint-Hubert (founded on 18 February 1882).

From 1883 onwards the Société Royale Saint-Hubert will publish its Studbook (LOSH) annually.

The Club du Chien de Berger Belge did not waste any time. They started a meticulous survey of the state of purity of the Belgian Shepherd breeds. By eliminating the elements of uncertain origin and practising serious breeding, the transcendent qualities and the perfect homogeneity will end up by establishing themselves generation after generation. By mediation of numerous veterinarians from over the whole country the club studied all the shepherd dogs with type. Some members of the club visited the Frankfurt exhibition in order to compare our dogs to the German ones.

The dogs from the Brussels urban area and the Brabant province were gathered. The event took place in the large clinic room at the veterinary college in Cureghem on Sunday 15 November 1891 at ten o’clock in the morning. The weather was extremely foul and did not permit to take photographs. In spite of this hitch 117 dogs were presented. Mr. L. Vander Snickt wrote the following about this gathering:

“From this inspection resulted that several types of shepherd dog existed in the province of Brabant. The most widespread and considered as the most beautiful is a dog measuring in average 50 to 55 cm at the shoulders. There were dogs with a shoulder height of 62 cm. The coat was either black, almost black, with or without a white spot on the chest, sometimes it was brindled brown or yellowish. The hair lying down, colorless and stiff, is short on the face, the forehead, the front of the legs and the hock. On the body the hair is semi-long. It is long on the collar, the hind part of the forelegs, the belly, the hind part of the thighs and on the underside of the tail. The ears are straight, well implanted, triangular and well garnished with hairs on the inside and on the rim of the ear lobes. The hair is short on the outside of the ear lobes. The eyes are brown without showing the white of the eye. The dogs have a broad, rather flat forehead with a slightly pronounced break of the nose. The muzzle is slender, the mouth is strongly cut and the jaws are very well developed. Furthermore the back is straight, the loins are sturdy, the shoulders are oblique, the chest is narrow, low and deep. The tail is long and pending when at rest but turned-up at the end.

The category of dogs with rough hair differs substantially from the preceding one and is less homogeneous. The ruffled hair is often greyish or brown-grey. The forehead seems less broad. The ears are longer but carried upright. The less pointed ears are placed very high on the head. Often these dogs have only a stump of a tail. Is this a sign of relationship with the French Bouvier?

The short-haired dogs are less numerous. They have the majority of the characteristics of the dogs with half-long hair. The hair is short all over the body but remains a little longer on those parts where it was longer for the other ones. The tail is still pear-shaped and crew-cut.”

On the other hand, a large number of dogs in the other provinces were examined at home by the delegates of the club.

At the General Meeting of 3 April 1892 the Club du Chien de Berger Belge established the standard of the breed. It divided the breed into three varieties without any distinction of colour: the long-haired, the short-haired and the rough-haired.

The comparative study by Prof. A. Reul served as a basis for the standard. He gathered his information from different foreign sources. One of these sources was the written work published in 1888 ‘The Collie, Its History Points and Breading’ by Veterinary Hugh Dalziel.

Almost every noble animal breed that offers maximum uniformity, has been created by or under the direction of one single fancier. The creation of the Belgian shepherd dog breed could not make an exception to the rule. This person was Professor Adolphe Reul. With the hand of a master, he drew a remarkable portrait of the Belgian shepherd dog. He elaborated a physiological standard, meaning that every characteristic can be explained by the kind of life led by the original breed.

“Variegated coat: black, almost black, brown, brindled brown, greyish, earth colour, etc.” said the first standard published in ‘Chasse et Pêche’ of 24 April 1892.

Also: “The hair of the Belgian shepherd dog is diversified in length, outlook and direction. According to this aspect three varieties can be distinguished within the breed:

· long-haired

· rough-haired

· short-haired

In this classification the Belgian shepherd dog appears at the exhibitions until 12 March 1898. No standpoint is taken concerning the colours.

On Sunday 25 October 1896, some forty Belgian shepherd dogs were gathered as being the best representatives of their breed. Two families were well represented and drew the public’s attention. They were the family of Picard of Nicolas Rose from Groenendael and the family of Poets of J.-B. Jansen, a shepherd from Laeken.

The descendants of Picard were beautiful dogs with long black hair. These of Pouts had yellowish rough hair. Among the short-haired dogs was Samlo of P. Beernaert and Mouche of Ms. Duchenoy.

The main object of this session was to establish the existence of three varieties (long, short and rough hair) before a commission in order to admit the Belgian shepherd dog to the Studbook. This commission was designated by the Société Royale Saint-Hubert and Prof. Ad. Reul was part of it. At a certain moment afterwards there was some talk of abandoning the category of short-haired dogs because it lacked uniformity. At the next commission meeting, Prof. Ad. Reul took the defence of this category of beautiful dogs upon him. He recalled their perfect aesthetic, the lively intelligence and the remarkable flair.

It is about this period (1897-1898) that it became imperative for the Belgian shepherd dog to have a complete tail and to carry it low. It was decided that in the future Belgian shepherd dogs without tail would be no longer rewarded. The tail itself constitutes an ornament and adds to the elegance of the gait and the ease ‘from head to toe’ that a shepherd is obliged to show a thousand times a day. The tail is not only an ornament, it is also a protection for the genital organs and the anus.

2. Selection of one colour per type of coat in 1898 and 1899

On 12 March 1898, on the occasion of the exhibition of the Schipperkes Club, the public will for the first time see the black long-haired Belgian shepherd dog showed separately from the other coloured long-haired. The club will give them the name ‘Groenendael’. It is only from mid 1909 onwards that the names of ‘Groenendael’ and ‘Malinois’ will be used in the official catalogue. The group of black dogs of Groenendael left a theatrical impression on the benches of the exhibition. The dogs and bitches had struck the public with their family air and uniform style. To form a homogeneous group per colour, just as L. Vander Snickt had recommended, would turn out to be a success formula. This principle will induce the club to select one colour per type of coat. On the other hand the appreciation of the other coloured long-haired by Prof. Reul was not really flattering when he said: “This class is as a faulty as it is numerous.”

Before 1898 the club started to flounder and because of lack of orientation it went through a crisis. The following opinion of Prof. Reul was published in ‘Chasse et Pêche’ of 28 April 1901 on the occasion of the special exhibition, commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Club du Chien de Berger Belge on 21 April 1901.

The first prizes at this exhibition were won by the black long-haired Dax (grandson of Picard d’Uccle and Petite), Pek Zwet (a valuable stud-dog) and Baronne. For the short-haired the winners were Tjop, Vos (father of Dewet) and Cora I. Bazoef, Rita and Mira won the laurels for the rough-haired.

“The main reason why these efforts were pointlessness was easily understood. At each exhibition a new judge with full power was appointed because the former one had ceased to please. One was quickly used and demonetized at the club. It discouraged the most tenacious exhibitors and drove the most experienced breeders crazy. Within the office, the resignations succeeded each other and I was one of the departing. In short, they ended up where they should have started. A single judge was designated and chosen outside the club ranks. They gave him full power to act and the possibility to classify the exhibited dogs during a sufficient number of years to enable the unquestionable fixation of the types. I had the honour of fulfilling this ungrateful task. It was my job to judge the dogs according to a pre-set and invariable line of conduct based on the knowledge of and the respect for the standard.”

During the years 1898, 1899 and 1900, Professor Reul acted as sole judge for the Belgian shepherd dog. His comments are precious little works of art denoting a real writer’s talent with a very descriptive style.

Since Professor Reul was a relentless supporter of inbreeding, he wrote the following:

“The progress realised during these last years has really been extraordinary. The Sunday exhibition was so successful that many regretted that it did not continue the next day. The public wanted to review the exhibited groups in all their splendour and admire their prominent character. The dogs are so well divided into three classes: fawn short-haired with black overlay, black long-haired, ash grey rough-haired _

But it would not have come to this if we had not sometimes practised inbreeding or if the breeders had hesitated to base their operations on incest. It is deeply immoral in anthropology, but the breading in and in between healthy and morally sane half-brothers/sisters gives the most remarkable results in zootechnics, _”

Compared with the aristocratic Collie, Barzoi and other gun dogs, the Belgian shepherd dog is originally a plebeian dog, labouring hard like a proletarian. It will take him several years to establish his pedigree. It is only after quite a long training period, more precisely in 1901, that the first Belgian shepherd dogs are admitted to the St-Hubert Studbook (LOSH). The first one to be admitted with number 5847 is Vos, fawn short-haired with black mask and overlay. He was born in 1897 and belonged to Miss J. Van Haesendonck living in 33 rue de l’Aigle in Antwerp. Vos is the father of Dewet, one of the pillars of the Malinois.

In a meeting mid 1898 of the Club du Chien de Berger Belge (published in ‘Chasse et Pêche’ no. 46 of 14 August 1898) the letter of the secretary-general of the Société Royale Saint-Hubert was read. It recommended the classification of the Belgian shepherd dog based on the three coat types with determined colours.

The veterinary surgeon Van Hertsen, club member and speaker of the day, asserted that the colour of each coat should have been determined a long time ago. Every animal breed has its own colour. The Belgian shepherd dog should not be an exception, he said. The philosophy of this speaker can be summarized as follows: “Black is a sign of strength and intelligence. Pale colours betray the degeneracy.”

At the end of the conference, various members addressed themselves to Mr. Van Hertsen. They wanted to know what colour he recommended. He replied that he did not have a specific colour in mind, but that he spoke with the intention. The matter had not been sufficiently examined. The details can be discussed after having agreed upon the principle of colours. It is understood that the Belgian shepherd dog is divided into three categories according to the length and texture of the coat. Must a specific colour be attributed to each of these divisions? Do we admit the principle of colour. Chairman Libens put the question to the vote. The outcome was a unanimous ‘yes’.

In 1898 it is decided to attribute a specific colour to the rough-haired and in 1899 for the short and long-haired:

a) Black for the long-haired
The success obtained by the Groenendaels at the exhibition of 12 March 1898, as opposed to the other colour long-haired who received a rather negative report from judge Prof. Reul, must without any doubt be taken into consideration.

b) Fawn with black mask and overlay for the short-haired
Since at that moment a very beautiful dog, Tomy, exceeded by far his competitors, his fawn colour was adopted for the dogs with his type of coat. Among others he obtained the first prize in Cureghem in 1894. The strict application of one colour has enormously contributed to impregnate the chosen colouring with the short-haired.

TOMY, short-haired belgian shepherd dog, belonged to H. Segers

In an article published in ‘La Chasse Moderne’ of 1913, Mr. Cotte said:

“It will not be long before we notice that the majority of the short-haired dogs has a reddish-brown coat and only a minority has a brindled coat. Since we could not agree upon the designation of the reddish-brown colour, says Mr.G. Drabs, the Club du Chien de Berger Belge has asked Prof. Reul to study the question. Prof. Reul restricted himself to the following definition fawn short-hair with overlay (with as much black mask as possible).”

c) Dark ash grey for the rough-haired
The very characteristic fawn coloured rough-haired and homogeneous group of shepherd dogs belonging to shepherd J.-B. Jansen from Laeken was rejected. Dark ash grey was preferred, even though at that period only two such dogs existed belonging to Mr. A. Claessens.

BOER SUS (born 21 may 1901) & TONY (born 20 march 1906)
belonged to Jules Hautot (Brussels)
This choice would reveal itself to be an error of Professor Adolphe Reul. Perhaps he was influenced by the owners of the dark ash grey? They were active members of the Club du Chien de Berger Belge, where shepherd Jansen could understand and talk Flemish.

Why were the other colours rejected? Why were the brindled, the pale fawn, the isabel-coloured and the black short haired discouraged? A lot of fine dogs whose colour did not correspond with the new standard were ousted from the exhibitions. This provoked dissatisfaction that still has repercussions today. A great deal of good but other coloured reproducers were relinquished. Among these were the brindled as was testified by the first international dog show organised by the Kynos Club from Liège. The event was judged by Professor Adolphe Reul on 22, 23 and 24 April 1899. The first prize in the open class for the short haired was attributed to Fox, a brindled dog belonging to A. Braconnier. The second place was taken by Malitou, a black short haired dog with a white spot on the chest.

The long-haired were divided into two classes, the black and the other coloured. In this latest class, Duc a brindled dog obtained the second prize.

As for the rough-haired, the ash grey Basoef was awarded the first prize since the fawn coloured had been ousted starting mid 1898. Why choose a single colour per type of coat? Not because it was the only right one, but because it united a larger number of followers and because it offered a way of giving the exhibited groups a more homogeneous aspect.

In 1938, F.E. Verbanck wrote:

“Was this a good or a bad decision? It is obvious that a severe restriction to one colour per variety has required our breeders to practice inbreeding. This has certainly had its advantages, since the ennoblement of our shepherd dog was fast. Unfortunately by this measure our breed was built on a narrow basis. Would it not have been more preferable for our long-haired to let the black Groenendaels and the grey long-haired coexist? Personally I regret the disappearance of the pale fawn dogs (like type Fram to Mr. Huyghebaert). I also miss the pale grey with black mask and black velvet ears like you could find in the litters of Fram du Bois de la Deule. The dark brindled grey with their heavier structure that you could meet in the region of Gent along with the black short-haired have also grown scarce.

The choice of a single colour for the rough-haired was the most unfortunate decision of all. The pepper-and-salt coloured were exceptions and despite of the exclusiveness of the club, the fawn coloured formed the majority within this variety.”

3. The victims founded the Berger Belge Club in 1898

That is how the fawn long-haired, the fawn rough-haired, as well as the Malinois with pale fawn coat and almost white undercoat no long appeared in the show ring. All these types that were formerly loaded with medals and prizes have been sacrificed as Belgian shepherd dogs. Should we not notice a predominance of the capital over the province in this debarment from the Club du Chien de Berger Belge against the dogs of the Malines section? Nevertheless, the majority of these pale yellowish dogs did not entirely discourage this group of fanciers. One of them mated Cora I (LOSH 6134), who had very light overlay, with Tomy to Mr. H. Segers of Brussels. From the first attempt he obtained Tjop (LOSH 6132). Tjop was born on 1 November 1899 and combined all the qualities required by the Club: elegance, presence and a beautiful deep fawn colour. Like his father he had little mask but more overlay than him.

In that period an other group of fanciers founded the Berger Belge Club. This club organised in the garden of ‘La Maison Rouge’ in Laeken the first dog show dedicated to the first victim of the colour principle: the fawn rough-haired, later called Laekenois. From that moment on the breeding of the Belgian shepherd dog continued on the one hand under the aegis of the ever prospering Club du Chien de Berger Belge, on the other hand the non-recognised fawn varieties were guided by the Berger Belge Club. The Berger Belge Club was founded on 18 July 1898 in Laeken and became Royal at its twenty-fifth birthday thanks to the dynamism and the persistence of its chairman Joseph Demulder.

At the end of 1902, some members of the Berger Belge Club put the judges of the Club du Chien de Berger Belge in quite an embarrassing position by enrolling their dogs into the classes of non mentioned dogs. One of them summarised his impressions by saying that the existence of a second club for the Belgian shepherd dog could not be justified if the first wanted to create categories of shepherd dogs with long hair other than black and rough hair other than dark ash grey. The number of exhibited dogs would rise to the advantage of the national breeding.

No less than 118 dogs were gathered in the rooms of the Schaerbeek slaughterhouse on Sunday 2 October 1904 for the third Berger Belge Club dog show for fawn coloured Belgian shepherd dogs. For the rough-haired variety, the first place was awarded to Top of Mr. Nicolas for the males over one year old and to Belle from St-Nicolas for the females. Turc of Mr. de Lombaerde was exhibited outside the show.

For the fawn long-haired variety, Milsart of Mr. Cloetens and Léa of Mr. Buls won first prize. Slim of Mr. de Lombaerde was out of show.

For comparison purpose, the total number of enrolments for the Club du Chien de Berger Belge dog show of 10 April 1904 was of 165 and composed as follows:

· 80 black long-haired

· 55 fawn short-haired with overlay

· 30 dark ash grey rough-haired

4. The coexistence of the two standards starting in 1907

a. The Club du Chien de Berger Belge leaves the Société Royale Saint-Hubert

A few years later an other split occurred in the canine world. The Société Royale Saint-Hubert exercised its guardianship of the special clubs too strictly. The task of the breeding commission consisted in treating all questions without any possible appeal.

For example in 1904 a letter from the Société Royale Saint-Hubert was addressed to the Malines Section. In this letter the Société Royale Saint-Hubert expressed its regrets that it could not award the requested championship certificates for the practical trials (ring) scheduled in April 1905. These certificates can only be awarded to trials that enhance the breed’s natural qualities, like field trials for pointers, sheep trials for shepherd dogs, etc. In its report of 1905 the Société Royale Saint-Hubert recognises to have yielded to the authorities of the Malines Section by allocating championship certificates for these trials. Other parties also wanted to introduce changes in the direction of canine sports.

On 15 February 1905 a General Statuary Assembly of the Société Royale Saint-Hubert was organised in the Hotel Belle-Vue in Brussels. The aim of the meeting was the election of nine out of twenty-seven outgoing members of the committee. A group of representatives of the patronised clubs felt they could not sufficiently assert their rights and made up a list of opposing candidates. On this list appeared Henri Van Aldaba De Haan Hettema, member of the current committee of the Société Royale Saint-Hubert and at that time chairman of the Club du Chien de Berger Belge. This new list obtained the majority of the votes.

However, the committee declared the election null and void because of the extensive use of proxies. In fact one person had succeeded in collecting twenty-six proxies and had used them beyond their intended purpose. A new General Meeting took place on 16 March 1905. No compromise was found within the committee, not for the modalities, nor for the list that had to be submitted to the Assembly. The members elected during the last Assembly of 15 February resigned the evening before and abstained themselves. From that moment on the break was final and the Fédération des Sociétés Canines de Belgique was founded in Brussels on 18 June 1905. The Fédération possessed and maintained a studbook under the name of “Livre des Origines Belge” (LOB). The rules of the LOB were published on page 150 of ‘Chasse et Pêche’ of 28 October 1905.

On 21 October 1905 a letter of the Société Royale Saint-Hubert signified that ‘Chasse et Pêche’ had ceased to be the official club magazine for the Club du Chien de Berger Belge. The Club du Chien de Berger Belge had abandoned the patronage of the Société Royale Saint-Hubert. Here too, the break was final. The Malines Section of the Club du Chien de Berger Belge decided in the meeting of 11 November 1905 to remain loyal to the Société Royale Saint-Hubert and to resign from the Club du Chien de Berger Belge. The Malines section became autonomous under the name ‘Société du Chien de Berger Belge’.

b. The Berger Belge Club under the aegis of the Société Royale Saint-Hubert

At the beginning of 1906 the Berger Belge Club appeared in the special clubs’ reports in ‘Chasse et Pêche’. Upon request of the Société Royale Saint-Hubert, the Berger Belge Club agreed to join them on condition that the fawn long and rough-haired varieties would be recognized. Both varieties were excluded in 1898 by the Club du Chien de Berger belge.
Thanks to this change of alliances within the canine world the Berger Belge Club organises on 5 May 1907 its fifth exhibition which is the first under the banner of the SRSH and where the five varieties were represented. Among these five varieties, the fawn colour was found in the three coat types. The first dog show at which the five varieties were represented was the exhibition (16 to 18 March 1907) of the Schipperkes Club in Brussels.

Baronnet, Tervueren, belonged to A. Bernard.

On the occasion of the International Dog Show in Antwerp (Southern velodrome) the five varieties were enrolled in the programme. The show was organised by the Union Canine d’Anvers (Société Royale Saint-Hubert) on 15, 16 and 17 June 1907. Frantz Huyghebaert was charged with judging the Belgian shepherd dog with short fawn hair and black overlay and mask as well as the ash grey rough-haired and black long-haired. The newcomers, or the fawn long-haired were judged by Paul de Lombaerde and the ones with fawn rough hair by Joseph Demulder, chairman of the Berger Belge Club (also called Berger Club de Schaerbeek).

The terms ‘Malinois, Groenendael, Tervueren or Laekenois’ were not used in the catalogue or prize list of this dog show. Two years later, on initiative of Louis Huyghebaert, the agenda for the « Assembly of Delegates » (S.R.S.H.) on June 16, 1909 includes a point for the official recognition of the names « Groenendael » and « Malinois ».

All these events signified that starting from 1907 two standards of the Belgian shepherd dog co-existed.

5. The evolution of the standard applied by the Berger Belge Club until 1914

The standard attributing a specific colour per type of hair, was only published on 24 September 1899 in the review “Chasse et Pêche”, the official body at that time of the “Club du Chien de Berger Belge”.

I retrieved a booklet edited in 1909 by the “Société Nationale pour l’Amélioration du Chien de Berger Belge”. This club was recognised by the Société Royale Saint-Hubert. Its Secretary-Treasurer was none other than Louis Huyghebaert. Apart from the mention ‘The Société Royale Saint-Hubert also recognises the fawn colour for the long and rough-haired’, the text is identical to the standard applied by the “Club du Chien de Berger Belge”.

Ostracised on the same level as the fawn long-haired and rough-haired, the black short-haired did not develop but has nevertheless continued to subsist.

In that period existed some beautiful types of black short-haired. Anatomically they had the same structure as the Malinois with the small difference that their coat was still a bit shorter.

At the ninth dog show of the Berger Belge Club on 12 and 13 March 1911, among the 165 dogs of different varieties judged by Frantz Huyghebaert, six black short-haired were noticed. The black short-haired was recognised by the Berger Belge Club and he was seen at dog shows until 1914. On the eve of the First World War the Belgian shepherd dog counted six varieties (five recognised and one accepted) as indicated by the following facts.

On 17 May 1914 the Société Canine Malinoise (founded on 4 July 1913) organised its second dog show in Malines under the patronage of the Société Royale Saint-Hubert.

The catalogue listed the following six varieties of the Belgian shepherd dog:

Ring 1: Malinois shepherd dogs

Ring 2: Groenendael shepherd dogs
Belgian shepherd dogs with black short hair

Ring 3: Belgian shepherd dogs with fawn long hair
Belgian shepherd dogs with ash grey rough hair
Belgian shepherd dog with fawn rough hair

Since its coming into effect on 1 January 1912, the Société Royale Saint-Hubert was part of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (F.C.I.).

6. The evolution of the standard applied by the Club du Berger Belge

In 1909 the standard was published in the second edition of the book ‘Chien de garde, de défense et de police’ written by Joseph Couplet. He was a member of the committee of the Club du Chien de Berger Belge.

The Fédération des Sociétés Canines de Belgique to which the Club du Chien de Berger Belge was affiliated, soon experienced some difficulties. Its official club magazine ‘Chasse et Elevage’ disappeared. In 1907 some more or less secretive negotiations between the managers of the Fédération and the Société Royale Saint-Hubert ended in a treaty that was signed on 8 January 1908. This agreement however was not unanimously accepted within the Fédération des Sociétés Canines de Belgique and provoked serious upheaval.

In its General Meeting of 2 February 1908, the Club du Chien de Berger Belge considered the treaty between the Fédération and the Société Royale Saint-Hubert as null and void. The opinion was that although the majority agreed to the alliance, an agreement could only be valid if it had first been submitted to the federated clubs.

Such a prior negotiation would show respect of the individual rules, institutions and prerogatives that had been stated in the conditions of affiliation to the Fédération des Sociétés Canines de Belgique.

The magazine ‘L’Eleveur Belge’ was designated as the official club magazine.

At the meeting of 7 February 1908, the committee of the Club du Chien de Berger Belge expressed itself as follows:

“The committee wishes to clear up any misunderstanding about the intentions of the Club du Chien de Berger Belge. We consider that the agenda voted by the General Meeting on 2 February, as proved by the text itself, has no hostile intention versus the Société Royale Saint-Hubert. Moreover, the Club seems in no way responsible for the events that have provoked the issue. This committee expresses the wish toestablish a cordial relationship between the Société Royale Saint-Hubert and the Fédération des Sociétés Canines de Belgique.”

This cordial relationship expressed itself with the participation of two out of three judges of the Club du Chien de Berger Belge in the twenty-fifth dog show organised by the Société Royale Saint-Hubert on 14, 15 and 16 March 1908.

The columnist of the ‘L’Eleveur Belge’ praised the Société Royale Saint-Hubert in his report for the well-organised dog show. But he also caustically criticised the presence of the fawn long and rough-haired and requested the Société Royale Saint-Hubert to remove this impurity from its catalogue.

On 27 May 1908 the representatives of the Fédération des Sociétés Canines de Belgique were gathered to discuss its dissolution and the necessary measures for the liquidation. A group of opponents organised a dog show on 13, 14 and 15 June in Brussels in the Parc du Cinquantenaire: 377 dogs were gathered. This was the first event organised by the newly constituted ‘Kennel Club Belge’. It issued from those people who refused to accept the conditions of the merger agreed upon by some delegates of the Fédération des Sociétés Canines de Belgique and the Société Royale Saint-Hubert. They justified their actions and synthesised their grievances in an ‘Open letter’ dated 20 July 1908.

The Kennel Club Belge continued the studbook ‘Livre d’Origine Belge’ (LOB). ‘L’Eleveur Belge’ ceased permanently to be published at the beginning of the hostilities in 1914.

The « Club du Chien de Berger belge», during its general assembly on December 27,1909, decided not to join the « Belgian Kennel Club » (B.K.C.) but to become independent under the legal form of a « Professional Union ». However, in its statutory general Assembly on February 20, 1910 the majority voted a proposal of alliance with the B.K.C. Apart from some modifications to the standard, the interest of this assembly lies on the adoption of the long hair fawn as the fourth variety of Belgian shepherd dogs. This decision caused a division in the club immediately.

In fact, against inter-variety breeding between Tervueren and Groenendael, a group of amateurs met on March 31, 1910 under the presidency of Vital Tenret, in a general assembly that created a new club, the Groenendael Club. Some weeks later, the new club was acknowledged by the « Royal Society Saint-Hubert » (see point 7).

On Sunday 24 September 1911 the Club du Chien de Berger Belge organised its twentieth international dog show in the Palais du Cinquantenaire in Brussels. The catalogue mentioned the participation of four recognised varieties in the following terms:

· Belgian shepherd dog with black long hair (Groenendael)

· Belgian shepherd dog with fawn long hair (Tervueren)

· Belgian shepherd dog with fawn short hair and black overlay (Malinois)

· Belgian shepherd dog with dark ash grey rough hair

At the Kennel Club Belge dog show of 1912, some black short-haired were present in the ring.

In 1913 the ash grey rough-haired was replaced by the rough-haired of all colours.

6 Groenendaels in departure for Brasil (1913)The foundation of the Groenendael Club in 1910

7. The foundation of the Groenendael Club in 1910

On 31 March 1910, presided by Mr. Vital Tenret, the constituent assembly of the new Groenendael Club was gathered. The purpose of this club was the protection of the Belgian shepherd dog with long black hair. The reasons for founding this club besides the Berger Belge Club were resumed in the ‘Journal des Eleveurs’ of 1910:

“Right now a turnaround is taking place with a group of fanciers that are trying to breed fawn long-haired shepherd dogs or Tervueren again. This is perfect, but apart from that they crossbreed Tervueren with Groenendaels (apparently to put a stop to inbreeding).

In the litters of course you find black, fawn and brindled coat. What will those dogs reproduce in the future? No-one can tell whether they will give fawn, black or brindled pups. We have worked fifteen years to obtain this beautiful breed of Groenendaels and now some fanciers are looking to ruin it by intervariety breeding.”

The Groenendael Club set up a system of granting pedigrees to avoid abuse. The use of a particular studbook was effective for the proscription of intervariety breeding with black long haired dogs.

The Groenendael Club organised its first dog show together with some other clubs (for example, Berger Belge Club) on 23 and 24 October 1910. All varieties of the Belgian shepherd dog were admitted

8. Projects for revision of the standards in 1914

In 1914 two revision projects of the standard were elaborated, one by the Société Royale Saint-Hubert and another by the Kennel Club Belge.

The Kennel Club Belge agreed with the Club du Chien de Berger Belge to hold an open congress on 10 May 1914 to examine the preparatory study by Mr. Edgar Couvreur, an official Kennel Club Belge judge.

The particular characteristics of each of the four varieties were formulated and published in 1922 in the official club magazine. Until now I do not dispose of a copy of this document.

In an interesting article of the illustrated monthly ‘La Chasse Moderne’, a number of subjects were taken up, for example the height, that could justify a revision of the standard on its own.

Concerning the height an other article, by Mr. Cotte (breeder under the affixe of “Des Elfes”), was published in that same magazine of January 1914.

“The standard indicates: an average of 55cm. It should be noted that this is an average and that consequently some dogs will be taller and others less tall than that. Messrs. Drabs, Reumon, Mingers and I have always been of the opinion that 55cm is rather small. The famous Tjop, who was an average dog, measured 57cm and the equally famous Dewet was 60cm high. Considering the environment and the evolution, it is quite normal that the breed in general becomes taller. This growth is the obvious result of a better life with regular and plentiful nutrition in a milder climate.”