Many who seek to find the best breed of dog to act as their emotional support animal (ESA) end up overwhelmed and even stumped by the process. After all, how can you know which breed will best fit your personality, lifestyle, and specific needs related to your disability?
However, there are a few key places you can start to get the right idea of what you’re looking for. If you’re searching for the best dog breed to fit as your ESA, it may be a very good idea to consider the unacknowledged Belgian Laekenois!
Basic Description of Belgian Laekenois
While it is the least common of the four Belgian herder dog breeds, there are many great things to note with the Laekenois. Known for its rough coat (which comes in several shades, from red to grey) and strong build, this breed is typically 22-26 inches in length and weighs 55-65 pounds. If you decide to get a Belgian Laekenois, you can expect a lifespan of roughly 10-12 years. These dogs are bred for work, so they are energetic, sturdy, agile, and more than capable of some physical activity. In fact, they crave it!
This breed is known not only for its high intelligence and insightful curiosity but also its general love for its masters and fierce, protective loyalty and strong sense of devotion. These dogs are also prone to motion and have an alert awareness, though they should never come across as shy or unfriendly. Generally, this breed will function best with access to both indoor areas with its family and a good outdoor area for exercise and activity.
To sum up this short description, the Belgian Laekenois is a strong and steady work dog who you will also find is more than capable of friendly affection, duty, and high trainability. In other words, you won’t ever find yourself bored with a dog like this!
Origin of the Belgian Laekenois
A sweet and simple knowledge of this breed’s origin is quite easy to remember: The town it often called home, Laeken, is right in the name. The breed quickly gained a reputation in Belgium in the early 1900s for being a highly effective work dog that could be put to many different uses. For example, the Laekenois was commonly found not only protecting and herding flocks but also looking over linen as it dried in the field. During WWII, this breed even served as a messenger dog, which unfortunately did no favors for its population size (but was a worthy sacrifice nonetheless!) afterward.
While still not recognized by the American Kennel Club, the breed has made great progress in its journey toward official status and is currently in the last stage before full recognition by the AKC as it has been added to their Miscellaneous Class. Over the course of time, this breed has had an eventful, though rocky, history that has proven its ability to remain loyal to humans even in difficult times and perform a large variety of jobs and duties.
Nutrition and Health
In terms of nutrition, the Belgian Laekenois will do very well given a high-quality diet with an emphasis on the proper number of calories, as some members of this breed might be prone to obesity or becoming overweight in general.
When it comes to health in general, make sure to get proper screenings and tests done if you’re concerned that your Laekenois is beginning to develop an illness or disease. As with all breeds, there can be genetic conditions associated with this breed as well, so it can be a good idea to stay vigilant and watch out for any symptoms you notice with your dog.
Problems that have been seen somewhat frequently in the Laekenois are hypothyroidism and dysplasia of both the hip and elbow. It’s generally recommended to observe your dog and see if any signs of these conditions develop; if they do, you’ll want to take your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Training and Exercise
Due to their high intelligence, abundance of energy, and strong physical build, this breed is in many ways perfect for training purposes. That said, it can still be incredibly helpful to make use of socialization and classes in order to condition your dog more readily for training. With this combination and given the Laekenois’ natural abilities, training is likely to be quick, easy, and effective.
The flip side of this breed’s energy and a tendency toward movement is that they must be exercised frequently and consistently. There is a strong recommendation here to give your Laekenois as much play and exercise as both of you feel comfortable with. Naturally, this part can be combined very well with the training, particularly when it comes to teaching your dog games and tricks.
Would a Belgian Laekenois be a Good ESA?
There are a great number of different factors that go into choosing an ESA, so we would suggest that you weigh what you now know about this breed against the specifics of your disability, your general lifestyle, and what you’re broadly looking for in a pet. It’s also worth noting that these dogs are loving, devoted, and easily trained, so there are many qualities that work well in their favor for acting as emotional support animals.
At the end of the day, however, the decision is ultimately up to what you’re personally trying to find in an ESA, so there will be a lot of personal concerns that factor heavily into this decision.
How do I Register My ESA?
For those who have at last found your perfect dog to become your ESA, you might have some concerns and questions when it comes to the factors, benefits, and processes to consider as you go about registering your ESA. Fortunately, we’ve organized a few facts to share with you that should be a useful aid in sorting out these thoughts and getting the right information you need to move forward.