Early Twentieth Century
Interrelationships between the
Laekenois, Dutch Shepherd and Bouvier
By Mara Lee Jiles
(As featured in the SCBdFC Bulletin, May 2003. Reprinted here with kind permission from the author)
Jan-Baptist Jansen purchased a yellow rough haired male, Vos, in the area of Boom, Belgium. Vos, born in 1885, became the foundation sire for the Laekenois and Malinois varieties of the Belgian Shepherd Dogs, and can also be found in the extended pedigrees of several Dutch Shepherds and early Bouviers, in the Raad van Beheer’s NHSB studbooks. Vos (later designated Vos I) was mated to a brown/brindle shorthaired female known as Lieske, or Lise de Laeken. From this mating came Diane and Mouche, (short hairs who played important roles in the development of the Malinois), Tom de Vilvorde, a grey rough hair, and Spits, also resumed a rough hair. Spits was bred back to Vos to produce Moor, a black rough hair who is also apparently one of the first recessive blacks in the history of the Belgian Shepherd Dogs. Moor, bred back to her grandsire, Vos, produced Poets (or Pouts), (see below), a light fawn rough haired Laekenois female who did well in several exhibitions at the end of the 19th Century.
Poets played a larger role in this history than previously realized. Bred to her great-uncle, Tom de Vilvorde, she produced Vos II and Belle de Saint-Nicolas. This couple, mentioned only once in the Saint-Hubert studbooks as parents of Turc, appear numerous times as the ancestors not only of Malinois, but early Laekens, Dutch Shepherds, and Bouviers. Bred to Duc II, Poets produced Pitt and Belle II, who appear in the ancestry of some Dutch Shepherds, but remain unmentioned in Belgian Shepherd history. 1901 was the first year that the Belgian Shepherd Dogs were admitted to the Société Royale Saint-Hubert studbooks, but an 1898 color decision by the breed club (CCBB) that the Belgian rough hairs could only be grey, had effectively shut out the more prevalent
fawn and yellow rough hairs until the decision was reversed in 1908. The grey rough haired Basoef LOSH 6137, whelped in 1897, sired by Tom de Vilvorde, son of Vos I and Lieske, became the premiere sire of the grey rough hairs in Belgium for several years. His son, Boer-Sus, whelped in 1901, sired a few grey rough hairs, but the lines from Basoef and Boer-Sus ultimately died out.
With fawn rough hairs originally unable to be registered with Saint-Hubert, many began appearing in the Netherlands, registered in the NHSB studbooks. The Raad van Beheer studbooks, in the first decade of the 20th century, listed pedigrees of the registered dogs who were not from unknown origins. The pedigrees ranged from one to four generations, and it is here that we can find ties between some of the rough haired Dutch Shepherds and early Bouviers to the Laekenois Belgian Shepherd Dogs descending from Vos and Lieske.
The early Dutch Shepherds (Hollandsche Herdershonden) were not all brindled dogs in the beginnings of their history, but dark yellow, sand colored, silver grey, light gold, as well as various shades of brindle. Nor were the early Hollanders all longer than tall, which was added to their standard at a later date. The rough haired Dutch Shepherds were not that dissimilar to the rough haired Belgian Shepherd Dogs of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The first Dutch Shepherd to trace back to Laekenois origins was a brindle shorthair, Duc NHSB 2731, born on May 5, 1905. His sire was Ruw, origins unknown, and the dam was Furette (Duc de Roselies x Diane, both direct descendants of Vos and Lieske).
The following year the Raad van Beheer registered Max NHSB 2735, a yellow rough hair out of
Jules (Spits x Spitska) and Furette (Duc de Roselies x Diane), born on August 1, 1906. The last known early Dutch Shepherd with direct Laeken ancestors was Gusta NHSB 3825, a light yellow-brown rough hair born on October 28, 1908, out of Rex (Jules x Pierette, a sister to Furette, above) x Lydia.
Originally registered in the Raad van Beheer studbooks as "Fransche Herdershonden" (French Shepherds), the early Bouviers were with the Briards, then given the NHSB designation “Chiens de Bouvier” in 1912, two years after the Société Royale Saint-Hubert began registering them as a breed. The colors of the Bouviers registered in Holland prior to World War I were yellow and sand colored. Two stud dogs played a large part in the development of the Laekenois and the Bouvier in Holland during the first decade of the 20th Century. The first was Trotteur, an unregistered rough hair. Trotteur was from Duc x Duchasse, and through Duc a grandson of the Laekenois Vos II and Belle de Saint-Nicolas. In 1907 Trotteur sired Cochere NHSB 3282, a sandy rough hair registered as a French Shepherd. The dam of Cochere was Cora, from the Laekenois Turc x Lot. The following year Trotteur sired Vivandiere NHSB 2454, a sand-colored rough haired Belgian Shepherd Dog. The dam of Vivandiere was Nitouche, sister of Cora, the dam of Cochere. In 1911, Trotteur won a 1st prize at the Amsterdam show as a “Chien de Bouvier”, although his known origins were Laekenois.
The Trotteur, in the photo (right), may or may not be the sire of Bouvier Cochere and Laekenois Vivandiere. The photo does serve to illustrate the similarities between the Dutch, Belgian, and Bouvier French Shepherds at the beginning of the 20th Century.
The other stud dog was Tuf-Tuf, also unregistered, who in 1909 took a 1st prize at Utrecht, shown in the rough haired Belgian Shepherd class. Tuf-Tuf was from Primus x Cora, with no clues to his ancestry other than his sire/dam. Bred to Favorite NHSB 3638, a younger sister of Cochere, Tuf-Tuf sired Jacot NHSB 4179 and Protegee NHSB 4189, on April 3, 1912. Jacot was registered as a sand-colored rough haired Belgian Shepherd Dog, while Protegee was registered as a sand-colored rough haired Chien de Bouvier. This pattern, of Trotteur and Tuf-Tuf siring both Belgian and French Shepherds, continued until World War I brought everything to a halt. Following WWI, the Raad van Beheer studbooks contained no ties to the pre-war dogs. Whether they continued and were behind some of those registered as from “unknown origins” or from those listed with only unregistered sires and dams, remains undiscovered. Although the first Breed Club for the Belgian Shepherd was established in Belgium in 1891, the first Breed Club for the Dutch Shepherd established in 1898 in
Holland, with the Bouvier finding patronage in the second decade of the 20th century, the early dogs themselves were quite similar. It was not until standards became more defined, and colors restricted, that differences became noticeable. The modern Dutch Shepherds, with their brindled colors and longer bodies, still bear a slight resemblance to the Belgian Shepherds. The Bouviers have moved farther away from the Laekens, although there was a period in the Laeken history, in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, where the Dutch-bred Laekens looked somewhat similar to the fawn Bouvier des Flandres.
For all of its history the Laekenois has remained the least popular of the varieties in Belgium, occasionally almost disappearing from the Saint-Hubert and Kennel Club Belge studbooks during the first 60 years of their history. In Holland, through the 1960s, the Laekenois was the most popular of the Belgian varieties, and it was to Holland that breeders had to turn when outside interest in the Laekenois was reborn in the late 1960s. Ironically, no modern Laekenois can trace its ancestry back to Vos and Lieske through its Laekenois ancestors but can through its Malinois ancestors.
I had to go to Belgium, to Jean-Marie Vanbutsele, to find this article which turned out to be from my very own back yard. Mara Lee Jiles lives in Riverside! Very special thanks to Lee Jiles for this article, the research involved in it, and allowing us to share the information with the SCBdFC readers. Special thanks to Jean-Marie Vanbutsele for his help sending me in the correct directions.