Workingdogs & Dogsport -  14 - Eric Vermeylen: about Belgian ringsport in the NVBK and IGP-FCI
Eric Vermeylen: about Belgian ringsport in the NVBK and IGP-FCI
"If we want to understand the present, we must know the history." These are words my mother-in-law often repeats when we discuss politics and current events such as elections, the war in Israel, Ukraine, and terrorist attacks. My mother-in-law holds a degree in history, was a teacher for 40 years, served as president of the Ghent Guides Association, and remains a very active and beloved guide in her proud city of Ghent. Wise words from a wise lady! I can't imagine a better conversation partner to clarify certain matters.
As a dog sports enthusiast, trainer, lover, and admirer of the Belgian Shepherd, particularly the Malinois, I also enjoy reading and learning about the history of this very special variety of the Belgian Shepherd. So I am eager to listen to witnesses who were present themselves or to people who have researched this topic.
Dog sports are one of the few sports you can practice from a relatively young age until old age, as long as your health allows it. Think of the late honorary president of the NVBK, Jef Vandebroek (1920-2020), who at the blessed age of 90 still achieved fifth place at the Belgian Championship. Young and old work together towards the same goal in the sport. Take IGP, for example, where the helpers are often fast, athletic young men. This doesn't mean that experienced helpers no longer play a significant role—far from it. On the contrary, they are still crucial, but their role is different.
Workingdogs & Dogsport - Eric Vermeylen: about Belgian ringsport in the NVBK and IGP-FCI - 13Dog sports are also a field where both men and women can compete. It's not uncommon for a couple to engage in dog sports together, or for the entire family to be involved. Fantastic, isn't it? But this also means that the veterans in the field often reminisce about the past. We often hear, "It was better back then." And not just in dog sports. As a good policeman, I don't just take everything at face value but like to seek the truth. Was it really better back then? Were those dogs really stronger than today's generations? Did they have such hard characters? Were they really so phenomenal or spectacular? Or have those famous names simply become myths over time? And are there no strong dogs today as there were back then? These are questions I ponder as a curious dog sports enthusiast.
There is some information available about the history of the Belgian Shepherd. The books by Jean-Marie Vanbutsele are particularly helpful in this regard (see: [Belgian Dogs]( Eric Vermeylen also shares this interest in the history of the sport and the Malinois. We had already noticed that Eric knows a lot about the history of the Belgian Shepherd and can substantiate his claims, assertions, or opinions. This retired engineer, born in 1956, is active in IGP with his Tusk du Feu de Wotan: [Tusk du Feu de Wotan]( Like his wife, Nancy Matheysen, the couple are sincere animal lovers and passionate dog sports enthusiasts.
Years ago, Eric made the unusual switch from Belgian ringsport to IGP. He has quite a few years of experience as an active dog sports enthusiast and has had the good fortune to witness some mythical names or legends up close. Out of interest, Eric likes to actively seek out the truth about certain anecdotes, pedigrees, dogs, breeders, and incredible stories. He contacts older enthusiasts, breeders, helpers, or other witnesses to uncover the truth.
So, an interview with a direct witness from both past and present!

Eric: Those books by Jean-Marie Vanbutsele are indeed very valuable, and I enjoyed reading them. I still refer to them regularly. Georges van Ceulebroeck's book is also highly recommended but unfortunately hard to find.
Workingdogs & Dogsport - Eric Vermeylen: about Belgian ringsport in the NVBK and IGP-FCI - 12 When did you get involved in dog sports?
Eric: I started at the obedience club BRABO of Sint-Hubertus in 1976 with a German Shepherd, Joe (see photo). That club still exists and was very well-known in our area, Antwerp, at the time. Incidentally, Ronny Van den Berghe, multiple world champion in the WUSV, also started in that same club.
I had to euthanize that German Shepherd due to epilepsy. After that, I chose a Groenendael. An instructor from Brabo invited me to accompany him to another club, which he believed would be more suitable for my Groenendael, because that dog had some aggression issues. The Groenendael was prone to sudden aggression. That was my first encounter with the Belgian ring program, specifically at the club 'Politiehond Schoten,' which was still a Sint-Hubertus club at the time. That club later transitioned to the NVBK. Thus, I also automatically ended up in the NVBK. Eventually, I rehomed that Groenendael because he wasn't very good at guarding an object. His new owners were very happy with a nearly fully trained dog. Workingdogs & Dogsport - Eric Vermeylen: about Belgian ringsport in the NVBK and IGP-FCI - 5
This gave me the opportunity to start with my first Malinois. A young dog that I took over from another club member. That dog was a great-grandson of MISSOU. MISSOU had once been Belgian champion in the NVBK with his handler, Eugène JACOBS. [](
With that dog, named Sam, I became club champion twice. But I also sold this dog to a club member who also became club champion with him. Eventually, that same dog was sold by that man to Spain. At that time, it was not unusual at all for a dog to be sold or taken over.
I did one breeding with Sam, with a daughter of Missou. From that litter, I kept one puppy, but he was too strong. Even at just 9 months old, I found him too strong. I called him Missou.
I used an electric collar, but Missou didn't respond to it. It made no difference to him. I then sold him to people from the KNPV in the Netherlands. They were crazy about him. I wonder if they ever managed to get that dog to out. But that Missou, well, he was a real one!

Workingdogs & Dogsport - Eric Vermeylen: about Belgian ringsport in the NVBK and IGP-FCI - 20 We've heard that before: "a real one." What do you mean by that?
Eric: You need to have control over a real Malinois, or you can forget it. Because they won't stop for anything. A real one, as I call them, never backs down! Let me give you an example.
That son's name was KING. That was his call name because his pedigree name was MIRZA.
I was training in Bazel at the time with a colleague who was a member of a Rottweiler club. And that club had a pond. KING had never swum before. I threw a retrieve item into the water, and he went to get it without hesitation. He jumped into the water without hesitation, even though he had never swum before. His swimming was terrible, of course. He flailed with his paws in the water, struggling to stay afloat. Then that colleague challenged me to do an attack on a helper on the other side of the pond. Well, KING didn't hesitate again and dove into the water. He wasn't scared at all. He had to paddle hard to get to the other side because he still couldn't swim, but he made it and fearlessly bit. Many dogs would hesitate. Ultimately, they might do it, but KING was a real one and didn't hesitate at all. That kind of hesitation doesn't exist in such dogs. Well, KING was one of those real ones!
I also remember another anecdote. We had left the field to give the decoy time to hide so we could practice finding him. When we came back onto the field, KING had seen the decoy because he had hidden in a shed and passed by the window. That shouldn't have happened, of course, because the dog is not supposed to know where the decoy is and has to search for him. Believe it or not, but KING literally jumped through the glass of that window. He didn't search for a way to get into that shed. That typifies KING and thus also a "real" Malinois.

Such dogs aren't the ideal characters for participating in competitions, are they? Let alone scoring high points?
Eric: Correct. But I still competed in a total of 32 NVBK competitions with KING.
KING was a direct son of CARTOUCHE with a daughter of DEBBER.
In his last competition, he was completely out of control. During the search exercise, he escaped from me before the exercise, jumped over the fence, and went straight to the decoy without searching for him. I still wonder how he knew where the decoy was without searching. He literally dragged the decoy out of the hiding place.
That was the end of KING's competition career.
By the way, in the search exercise, the decoy had to wear a mask. I also remember an anecdote about that. A strong decoy from that time, Louis Heuvelmans, refused to wear that mask even though I had advised him to and explicitly asked him to. This happened when I was a white dog at the grand prix of the provinces. That used to be called the Grand Prix Jan Nijssens. During the transport of the decoy, the decoy would fall to see if the dogs would keep biting or release. Of course, KING kept biting. That was no challenge for him, and he released on command. But when Louis stood up, KING reacted by biting him in the face. Fortunately, I was quick to react and gave KING the command to release.
Louis didn't want any excuses. He thought it was his own fault. He readily admitted that I had warned him, and he hadn't listened and ignored my advice. I wasn't happy with what had happened, but I appreciated that he didn't make excuses and took the blame himself.
KING was truly a handful and thus not an easy dog. This resulted in difficult releases and in interrupted attacks where he would still bite.
In fact, KING wasn't the ideal sport dog because he wasn't a points dog. Quite the opposite. I thought he was more suited as a practical dog. He would bite in every attack. There was never any doubt with KING in that regard.
KING was very popular because he was spectacular. We were well-liked at competitions, and clubs often invited us to participate in their events.
Was KING used for breeding?
Eric: I had my own kennel name: VAN DE CARDI. Under that name, I bred only one litter in the NVBK. I did breed four litters without pedigrees because there wasn't much demand for them at the time. I'm talking about the period in the 1980s.
I had a litter myself with KING, and there were 5 males. Four of them were trained. One of those four also competed in the championship of the NVBK but was later sold to someone from Sint-Hubertus.
Another dog was sold to someone in the USA through Frans VERDONCK from the Beersel club. One son of that dog in the USA actually came back to Belgium.
There was also a second litter with KING as the stud dog with another person. From that litter, among others, came FRITS, owned by Dino DE GRUYTER. FRITS became vice-Belgian champion in the NVBK category 2.
A brother of FRITS, ARNO, was trained as a search and rescue dog and participated in practical competitions. Arno also found victims of earthquakes under rubble. ARNO is said to have been widely used for breeding, but I don't know the details about that.
Workingdogs & Dogsport - Eric Vermeylen: about Belgian ringsport in the NVBK and IGP-FCI - 8 I also bred a litter with my female, QUENNY, who was a daughter of LEOS. LEOS was a dog of Willy WUYTS, the well-known NVBK judge. Quenny's mother was a granddaughter of GROBBER. And as a stud, I used NASTINUS. NASTINUS, call name Mickey, was owned by Hubert VAN BENEDEN. Mickey was also a son of CARTOUCHE. So Mickey was, in other words, a half-brother of my KING.
Mickey was at the top at the time. He was easier to train and therefore more manageable. Mind you, that wasn't easy.
From that litter, RADJA VAN DE CARDI was born. And that name may sound familiar to you because it appears in many pedigrees of the NVBK. Radja was the grandmother of the very successful and well-known ERIEM VAN ’T BEENHOUWERKE of Romain SNEYERS.
By the way, the mother of Radja van de Cardi, QUENNY, was also my property. She didn't have a pedigree, and I only played two competitions with her.
After that, I worked in the management of a company and had to prioritize other things. For example, I obtained my degree in industrial engineering through evening classes. At that time, dog sports were very low on the list of priorities.

But not permanently because you started again?
Eric: That's correct. That was in 1995. At that time, I bought another Malinois: Y’KING. This dog came from the grandson of KING who had returned from the USA.
I played a whole season with him in the NVBK in category 3, and he was ready to participate in the championship. But due to circumstances, I had to suspend his competition. He passed away in 2008.
Workingdogs & Dogsport - Eric Vermeylen: about Belgian ringsport in the NVBK and IGP-FCI - 14 But when or how did you get involved in IGP then?
Eric: In 2005, my wife got the idea to start with boxers and even to breed them.
After a few years, I decided to do IGP with a boxer. It was a male that we had bought as a puppy for our breeding: IRCO VAN DE BOXDOORN. I obtained a BH with him. By the way, he was a very nice and fantastic dog, but due to an injury, he couldn't jump well anymore, and competition was out of the question. However, because of his qualities, we did use him for breeding.
After him, I bought another boxer, but this time in Germany. With KING KONG VON ALLEGRO, I played IGP 1. He was ready for IGP 2, but he died far too young from bone cancer.

Ultimately, you started again with Malinois, didn't you?
Eric: Yes, and once again it was my wife who made the switch. She started with Sancho SAXON BLOOD DE LA MAMBA NOIRE, who is now 5 years old and has achieved IGP 3 and tracking dog 1, with the ambition to also achieve tracking dog 2. Sancho comes from Belgian and French lines.
And your dog?
Eric: A year later, I also started again with a puppy, and that became TUSK DU FEU DE WOTAN. Of course, I chose him consciously.
His father is NOX DE LA CROISSEE DES LOUPS. NOX was the Belgian champion in Ring 2 in Sint-Hubertus in 2023 and was the vice-champion in Ring 1 in 2022.
It's clear. The circle is complete. You have a soft spot for CARTOUCHE!
Eric: Is it that obvious? I knew CARTOUCHE personally and saw him compete. He was an incredibly strong guard dog with a very powerful bite. When I talk about guarding, I mean guarding an object in the ring sport, not guarding as in IGP. CARTOUCHE was very stable. These are qualities I really appreciate. He wasn't easy to control, but his owner, Marc DE WILDE, managed it well.
For me, CARTOUCHE deserves the label of "top dog."

Workingdogs & Dogsport - Eric Vermeylen: about Belgian ringsport in the NVBK and IGP-FCI - 7 Did he also pass on those qualities?
Eric: Yes, I believe so. If you look at, among others, G’BIBBER, G’VITOU DES DEUX POTTOIS, YVAN DES DEUX POTTOIS, and his brother ITUSK DES DEUX POTTOIS, at NASTINUS, and so many more dogs, then you know it.
CARTOUCHE's brother, SNAP, from Maurice LAMPAERT (see photo), also produced very strong dogs.
By the way, the brothers CARTOUCHE, SNAP, and LOUCI, all of whom I've seen working, come from CASTOR VAN KRONENBURG.
And that CASTOR was nicknamed 'the blind one'. But he wasn't blind at all. That's a misunderstanding that I'd like to clarify. The truth is that he lost an eye in an accident. So, it wasn't genetic or medical at all. It's sometimes claimed that CASTOR would pass on blindness, but that's a fallacy. I didn't personally know CASTOR, but apparently, he was a very difficult dog.
I do know that he bit off a thumb of Mrs. LECLAIR. That lady was also the owner of CASTOR, and I've met her myself. So, I know that firsthand.
CASTOR was actually a grandson of MISSOU. We're now talking about the early days of the NVBK. So, it's even before the period when I was active in the NVBK.
CASTOR's father was EDUCO, and EDUCO was a son of MISSOU. And EDUCO's mother was A’JEN, a female from Sooi VAN STEENBERGEN, who was also a judge in the NVBK. In my opinion, A’JEN was an important female because she appears in all good NVBK lines such as those of DEBBER, CARTOUCHE, GABON DU BOSCAILLE, TOBY II etc. 
A’JEN didn't have a pedigree. However, she was later approved in the NVBK. A’JEN's father was a very good sports dog from the Kennel Club.
A’JEN is one of the reasons why those lines of CARTOUCHE and DEBBER blend well together because she appears in both pedigrees.

So, you don't just look at the males then?
Eric: Well spotted. And rightly so. There's too much focus solely on males for breeding, and I find that very incorrect. I believe it's only natural that females are just as important.

From whom have you learned all these things?
Eric: I've learned from a whole range of people such as:
  • Sooi VAN STEENBERGEN, who bred under the kennel name VAN DE SOOI. By the way, Sooi owned the mother of ERIEM VAN HET BEENHOUWERKE. Sooi bought RADJA VAN DE CARDI and bred well with her and TOURTEL VAN ’T MUIZENBOS. TOURTEL VAN ’T MUIZENBOS, owned by Luc JOSTEN, was in the same club as Sooi at that time. That's how it was back then.
  • Mariëtte OOMS. This lady had a son of CABIL and trained with dogs from Robert NAESSENS from Sint-Hubertus in the Merksem club.
  • Rik DE LAET, who bred under the name VAN DE WERF. Rik became Belgian champion with CARLO VAN DE WERF in the Kennel Club in the 1930s.
  • His brother Mil DE LAET
  • Gust ROGGE, also a former Belgian champion
  • Louis LAUWERS. Louis owned T’BIO. He played in the NVBK with T’BIO but never became champion, although he was a very good dog.
  • Roger ROSSEELS. I bought MIRZA from Roger when he was 15 months old. I learned to work with the TELETAC from Roger.
All these people had 'real' Mechelaars!

What can you tell us about that TELETAC? Because you also witnessed that evolution up close, right?
Eric: Indeed. I experienced the introduction of the TELETAC and saw it evolve. I was very interested in it because I have a technical background and I'm trained as an engineer. Those first electric training collars, teletacs as we call them, were big boxes with only one button and one frequency. TELETAC was American-made and was imported. I suspect that those devices were already in Belgium earlier, but in the hunting world. At that time, they were very expensive, but I don't remember the price anymore. If you were lucky, those devices worked. But you had to be careful that there wasn't a second user of the teletac, or that dog would also get a shock.
I worked with them. That is to say, one of the club members owned such a device, and I operated the button for him and his dog.
My dog didn't react to it. Because I was technically trained and interested in it, I made one myself, and it was five times stronger. But even that had no effect on my dog. You could see that he got a shock, but it didn't bother him at all.
I lent my device to someone else, and his dog reacted very strongly to that shock. That's when we all realized even more how strong KING (thus the line of MISSOU) was.
I then stopped using electricity because it was pointless.
In 1995, when I was working with Y’KING, I bought a new device against my better judgment. It still only had one button. As long as you pressed that button, there was electricity. That was also of American make and called TRI-TRONICS. Bart BELLON and Jan CLAES sold those devices. But I wasn't satisfied with that device either. In some places, there was no reception, and then I had to move to a place where I did have reception, but then it's hopelessly too late. I know that the current collars have evolved enormously and no longer suffer from those teething problems, thankfully, because the electronics have improved tremendously. I compare that every time with the mobile phone. The first mobile phones were big devices, but the current ones are much smaller but much better, and they can do a lot more.
However, I haven't used those electric collars for 20 years now.
Why not?
Eric: Because I find the result unstable. If the dog realizes he's wearing such a collar, then it's all over. Basically, this means that the dog respects the collar but not his owner.
Fortunately, a lot has changed in training. I also trained for 6 months with Louis LAUWERS. He had trained at 't Jaegerke in the 1950s. 't Jaegerke was a restaurant in Merksem (Antwerp) back then. A fun fact: many clubs at that time had their field behind a café or restaurant. Louis taught me that most clubs trained with corrections like a stick. But Louis and the other members of that club at 't Jaegerke also trained with a stick but mainly rewarded with a treat. In other words, with rewarding and correcting. And that system produced much better results back then, and they won a lot of competitions.

About RODE JACK, I also have some questions.
Eric: I did some research on that myself, and I learned that Rode Jack was born and bred in Limburg by Paul INDEKEU. Paul is now 80 years young and is still a decoy in his own club. Paul had a dog named EROLF VAN DE STEENKAPPER, and that dog is RODE JACK's father. The mother was also owned by Paul, by the way.
Why is that dog important?
Eric: I first saw Rode Jack at ROSSEELS. He wasn't the first owner because the dog was sold several times. RODE JACK was a very good biter, but I wasn't that crazy about him. RODE JACK had been handled too roughly by previous owners and therefore bit at civilians. ROSSEELS managed to train RODE JACK properly and even competed with him in the championship ring 3. But ROSSEELS always wore protection under his clothing for his own safety. The biggest problem was giving up the bite. And people on the field couldn't move. Etienne DE MEYER, from the kennel of the Markvallei, was a decoy at Rosseels and told me that RODE JACK couldn't tolerate anything above his head. That story could be credible when you know that he only played in Cat.3 and that this problem could still be hidden there. Also, during the bite, you couldn't move on the field; his eyes saw every movement. RODE JACK bit very nicely on top of the arm. Sometimes, I can tell from the way they approach and bite which lines they come from. For example, the line of DEBBER tends to bite more on top of the arm, if they are arm biters. The line of CARTOUCHE tends to bite more from below, for example. But there are also dogs with both lines in their pedigree, and then it's obviously difficult to determine. CARTOUCHE bit both in the arm and in the leg. VAN DE OEWA’S is also in his pedigree. RODE JACK had a lot of aggression, which often stems from fear and mistrust. So, I didn't find him stable.
What can you tell us about TORKY? Another illustrious name in the NVBK.
Eric: I don't personally know TORKY, but I do like his lineage, namely ENIG (a DEBBER line) with grandmother LINDA (which includes RODE JACK, SNAP G’VITOU, etc.). LINDA is so good because of SNAP and G’VITOU. The bloodline at mother's side of my dog is a Torky-line.
Workingdogs & Dogsport - Eric Vermeylen: about Belgian ringsport in the NVBK and IGP-FCI - 21And about One van Joâo Lopes?
Eric: Ones was a son of RODE JACK, but his mother is a daughter of CARTOUCHE, my favorite! These strong NVBK lines actually originated much earlier. They are Kennel Club lines and Saint-Hubert lines. We mainly talk about 2 important lines that were regularly used and crossed. I'm talking about SIROL in the 1950s and SNAP VAN DE MOLENBEEK in the 1940s. See the picture.
What are the principles for breeding strong dogs?
Eric: I would like to refer to the book by the Frenchman André VARLET. In short, it comes down to the following principle. On the one hand, you have the strong dogs we call B's, and on the other hand, you have the dogs that are good for scoring high points, which we call A's. Good dogs that can score high points come from such a combination. In other words, combining an easier dog with a strong dog. Later in further breeding, you must always keep this in mind. Use strong dogs to strengthen and use the 'slightly lesser' dogs to keep them manageable and thus able to score points. So, we must definitely continue to keep those strong dogs. Such dogs are not necessarily the top dogs we see in competitions. These dogs are ideal for police work. But even that is questionable nowadays because the police also no longer want this type of dog.

Workingdogs & Dogsport - Eric Vermeylen: about Belgian ringsport in the NVBK and IGP-FCI - 23 So, you know the truth behind many pedigrees?
Eric: Yes, but I'm cautious about revealing it publicly. It is never my intention to put someone in a bad light, hurt them, or cause trouble. You have to consider the context.
Are there still dogs like those from the past? Some claim that they no longer exist.
Eric: I would disagree with that. Look at my own dog, TUSK. He's such a strong dog. It's not a coincidence, of course. And we need these strong dogs to breed stable ones that can achieve results. Training such strong dogs is difficult, even now, despite having much more knowledge and tools. Releasing them is always a problem, even for top trainers. But I can make comparisons.
Where do they still breed such dogs nowadays?
Eric: I'm not following the NVBK as closely anymore because I'm busy with my own dog in IGP. Maybe Marc OSTE from the VAN DE SUIKERDIJK kennel still breeds such dogs, and Paul SLEECKX (GUARDIANS), and Johan LIMBOURG (OF JOLI TROCHEAU)...
What you should know is that not all dogs were as strong in the past either. But people only talk about the strong ones, which gives the wrong impression that everything was better before and that all the dogs were so strong. That was not the case at all. Perhaps there was better selection in the past because it was a different time. It used to be all about biting, biting, and biting. Nowadays, releasing is just as important.
There have been many changes in training over the years, all for the better. I don't think the Malinois breed has declined. Proportionally, there are probably just as many "lesser" dogs now as there were before.
Moreover, in the past, puppies or dogs were switched much more frequently. One reason was that a puppy was much less costly back then. So if it wasn't good, it was quickly disposed of. Nowadays, a puppy with pedigree costs much more. The price of a puppy nowadays may even be half of a person's monthly salary.
In the past, many dogs were bred within a club. Members would breed with a male and female dog from the club, and the puppies would also go to people in the club.
An exception to this unwritten rule of the time was ARAT (better known as DICK 1) from Robert DE MITS because he did not come from his own club but from Tessenderlo. Quite far from DE MITS' club. But DE MITS' wife was from Tessenderlo, hence the connection. Robert himself told me that he didn't have that dog from a puppy. DICK 1 ultimately reached the respectable age of 17. He was born in 1964.
Robert DE MITS was also a famous name in the Verbond. With his GORDON (also known as Tarzan), he once scored 394 points. Yet GORDON was not a strong jumper and did not have a powerful bite. Quite remarkable.
Robert told me in his dialect that DICK 2 was a "dweze." But I don't actually know what he meant by that because I don't know that word.

Do you miss the NVBK?
Eric: No, because I wouldn't be able to do it anymore. In that sense, I find IGP better now, as the program is always the same.
Were you successful in the sport yourself?
Eric: In the NVBK, I competed in a total of 46 trials and once participated in the provincial championship of Antwerp. Winning was never in the cards with those dogs.
In the Belgian ring of Sint-Hubertus, I only competed in 2 trials.
With four dogs, I achieved a BH, with one boxer an IGP 1, and with my current dog, I attained IGP3 and SPH 1. He is only 4 years old. Last week, I still placed second in a trial, so I can continue with him for a while.
I also worked as a decoy in the ring, but I never aspired to compete. I only entered one competition as a decoy in category 3. However, I enjoyed being a helper on the clubs where I was a member or when visiting other clubs. I never obtained a decoy license simply because it did not exist at that time.
In IGP, I occasionally assist with the sleeve, mainly during the exercises in the blinds.

Workingdogs & Dogsport - Eric Vermeylen: about Belgian ringsport in the NVBK and IGP-FCI - 10You've also witnessed the evolution of equipment?
Eric: Yes, I've seen the equipment change as well. I'm 68 years old now, and I can still show you the marks on both my shins from the bite sleeves!
We had to do a lot ourselves. We even had our own sewing machine at the club. We bought jute in large rolls and then made the bite sleeves ourselves. Underneath the pants and jacket, we wore extra protection made of thick fabric that was not easily torn. It was a kind of cloth with padding.
We also used to wear leather pants and sleeves underneath the suit. I've worked with those as well. Fortunately, a lot has changed in that regard too.

Is there such a thing as IGP lines and ring lines for you?
Eric: No, not at all. For me, it's about the qualities of a puppy or a dog.
Of course, if you choose a specific sport, you have to consider certain lines. In French ring, for example, speed is much more important than in Belgian ring.
And what is a pushing bite? Full is full, I believe. In the ring or in IGP. In IGP, they must pull because they have to prevent the decoy from escaping. Actually, biting in IGP is not as easy as people from the ring might think. Let me explain further. In IGP, the attack happens on the dog, whereas in the ring, it's on the handler. Moreover, in IGP, the attack on the dog occurs three times! During the escape, the dog must actually prevent the decoy from escaping. Then, he must guard the decoy, followed by an attack and threat from the decoy at the dog. During the attack out of motion ( long attack ), the decoy walks straight towards the dog. You don't have that in the ring, do you? As soon as the dog bites the helper in the long attack, he turns the dog around. This will put a lot of pressure on the dog's grip and he only can hold this bite if he has enough power. Then the helper starts driving the dog whilst putting a lot of pressure on the dog to show the courage of the dog. 
Every sport has its own challenges. What I mean is that you can just as well select a strong dog for IGP. In that sense, I do think that IGP is somewhat underestimated.
However, you won't hear me saying anything negative about the various sports that exist.
Respect is timeless!
Interview by Axel Van der Borght
Photos: Eric Vermeylen and Chelsy Kowal
Posted on : 1 june 2024
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Workingdogs & Dogsport - 7 - METBOX
Workingdogs & Dogsport - 1 - Original Raw Dog Food DUCK
Workingdogs & Dogsport - 3 - K9 Detection Belgium
Workingdogs & Dogsport - 2 - Eurojoe
Workingdogs & Dogsport - 4 - dog.armour
Workingdogs & Dogsport - 5 - K9 Services Belgium
Workingdogs & Dogsport - 6 - Dark Systems
Workingdogs & Dogsport - 7 - METBOX
Workingdogs & Dogsport - 1 - Original Raw Dog Food DUCK
Workingdogs & Dogsport - 3 - K9 Detection Belgium
Workingdogs & Dogsport - 2 - Eurojoe
Workingdogs & Dogsport - 4 - dog.armour
Workingdogs & Dogsport - 5 - K9 Services Belgium
Workingdogs & Dogsport - 6 - Dark Systems
Workingdogs & Dogsport - 7 - METBOX