Ardent, Elegant, Versatile Companions

Epix Belgian Sheepdogs has recently relocated back to the Pacific Northwest - to beautiful southwest Oregon. Although Epix is our kennel name, none of our dogs are kennel dogs. All are our household and traveling companions, spending their days and nights living, working, and playing with us. We currently have 3 generations of Belgian Sheepdogs (Groenendael). We are planning to add our next generation Belgian in the next year or two, but never want to have more dogs than we have time to train and care for. Belgian Sheepdogs, like most other herding breeds, are both rewarding and time-consuming companions.

Braxi, Arden, and Ceth, Epix Belgian Sheepdogs

The Belgian Sheepdog was developed to perform functional tasks in close cooperation with a master. This is a high-energy breed, although settled and calm about the home with proper training, and when it is allowed to work at a job suited to its breeding. That job can be as simple as helping around the house, keeping a watchful eye on the children, with a nightly game of frisbee at the park. It can also be as demanding as helping manage a flock of sheep, assisting an owner with physical or sensory disabilities, or working in a police K9 unit. Of course, most Belgian owners choose something in between. Activities such as agility training, therapy work, search and rescue, competition obedience, flyball, skijoring, conformation showing, Schutzhund, and sheepherding are some of the typical outlets for the breed's energy and desire to learn.Whatever you do, don't let the elegant physique fool you - these are tough dogs with a strong need to do a job.

Epix Black Gryphon, from our first Epix litter

This is an overwhelmingly intelligent breed, and this astute mind should be combined with a desire to work with its master. Although "master" may seem an outdated word, it applies well to Belgians. This is a breed that calls for a self-assured owner who is comfortable calling the shots. This doesn't mean a rigid, humorless, or heavy-handed owner. Such a person will bring out the worst in this impressionable breed. If anything, the extreme playfulness and sense of humor exhibited by most Belgians calls for similar qualities in the master. But it is imperative that a potential Belgian owner "says what he means, and means what he says". While it is true that most dogs of any breed respond best to such an approach, a Belgian who does not trust that its master will expect obedience can be a danger to those around it.

Epix Cethern

We have a small, selective breeding program at Epix, and only breed a litter every few years. Our breeding goal is a "Renaissance Dog": a well-rounded, capable, versatile companion. Robust good health is essential. We hope to ensure our dogs have their best chance of this by following Natural Rearing practices. Structure should be sound, functional, and correct for the breed. Stable temperament is a must. Without this even the most physically beautiful and healthy dog is at best no joy to the owner, and at worst a liability. Finally, we believe in strict selection for talent, trainability, drive, and love of learning, in the belief that these are fundamental to the character of the breed.

Epix Beowulf as a puppy

The Belgian Sheepdog is not for everyone. It is said that with Belgians "Thought is Action". Their impetuous nature can be un-nerving for someone unaccustomed to it. Also, bear in mind that not all Belgians are alike. Level of drive, activity, and ability will vary among lines, and even within a litter. If you have met only a few Belgians, or none, commit to spending some time with several before you make a decision. Expect breeders to discuss with you the positives and negatives of their lines, as well as of Belgians in general. Think hard about whether you want a dog that demands so much of your time and mental energy, a dog that will get into mischief if not adequately stimulated (physically and mentally), a dog who will bond to you like glue (expect to never be lonely again).   While Belgians do not require large amounts of physical maintenance, they do insist on a high degree of relationship maintenance. If you are intrigued rather than dismayed by such a prospect, a Belgian Sheepdog may well be your companion-of-choice.

Epix Cethern

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Julie A Cantrell
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