The Fédération Cynologique Internationale is, as its name says, an association, a combination of ninety-one national canine organisations, defending common values, sometimes defending their own values, having however, a constant interest in mind : the DOG.

The FCI has to deal with, sometimes, 91 different points of views and each FCI member, in its turn, has to deal with a number of standpoints which is equal to the number of breeders/members affiliated to them in their country. It is therefore easy to figure out the multiplicity and the diversity of opinions with which we, FCI, have to deal daily.

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Y. De Clercq
FCI Executive Director
The FCI is donated a collection of ancient Belgian purebred dog medals!

Interview with the generous donor, Mr Jean-Marie Vanbutsele

Mr Vanbutsele, could you please introduce us to the collection of medals you have donated to the FCI Museum?

The set the FCI Museum was offered comprises about sixty ancient medals. These are the most beautiful specimen in my collection. The medals exclusively address Belgian dog breeds – and breed clubs, this goes without saying. The Société Royale Saint-Hubert was the first to issue medals with the bloodhound –the sole survivor of our scenthound breeds– as an emblem. Top-quality medals were issued by the three bigger historical Belgian Shepherd Dog clubs: the “Club du Chien de Berger Belge” (Belgian Shepherd Dog club – founded in 1891), the “Royal Berger Belge Club” (Royal Belgian Shepherd Dog club – founded in 1898) and the “Royal Groenendael Club” (founded in 1910). The set also features a few medals from dog training clubs, as well as a series of very nice medals from the “Royal Schipperkes Club” and other small-sized Belgian breeds such as the Griffon bruxellois and the Papillon. The Belgian Mastiff and the Bouvier are represented too. Some of these medals were signed by renowned artists such as J. Fisch, G. Devreese, De Vigne-Hart, L. De Smeth, Vandercasseyen, or De Greef.

What first sparkled your interest in Belgian breeds?

It all started in June 1982, as my family purchased a young “Malinois” bitch. The dog's peculiar behaviour and temper prompted me to gather any material about the Belgian Shepherd Dog. A few years later, in 1988, I wrote a review of our Shepherd Dog breed’s history – the text ran to over one hundred pages. My elder daughter, Pascale, translated it into English, and it was published on the initiative of a British club: “The Belgian Shepherd Association of Great-Britain”. The booklet in English was quite a success abroad. It was even translated into Danish and Norwegian for publication. This experience encouraged me to further deepen my understanding of dog breeds. From then on, I expanded the scope of my research to all other Belgian dog Breeds, too. Then, to share the findings of my extensive research, I produced a quarterly journal named “Journal of History” for five years, from 2002 to 2006. The journal embraces all Belgian dog breeds and gathers all the articles that were published, in both French and Dutch, in several Belgian canine journals from the year 1884 to the year 1975. In the last few years, I have set out to publish works on a number of Belgian dog breeds around one consistent core theme: that of their historical significance to the country of origin. These books are a boon for genuine dog lovers who know that, to be properly acquainted with a breed, one should have a thorough grasp of its history. And it's all thanks to an outstanding Malinois bitch…

Where did you find the various items in your wonderful collection?

I found some medals at the flea market; others were bought from the Internet. I was offered a few by acquaintances within the dog world. One day, a medal from the Huyghebaert family came as a surprise in the mail. It is a very rare and beautiful item bearing the following wording: “Chien de Berger Belge à Poil Court” (Short-haired Belgian Shepherd Dog). The medal was most probably used as a prize at the 1903 show, when the first big training contest took place. Both events had been organised in Mechelen by the Huyghebaert brothers. The 'Awards and Certificates' section of the catalogue reads: “silver-gilt, silver, or bronze medals”.

Such a wide variety of styles, themes, materials and artists is remarkable. How long does it take to collect such treasures?

It takes several years, for opportunities to acquire such items are quite infrequent; they even tend to become increasingly scarce. One has to be diligent in their quest, as is the case with any other collection such as ancient books and journals, or old postcards.

Mr Vanbutsele, thank you for this interview!

Interview by Marie Luna Durán
FCI Marketing and Public Relations Manager

Curriculum Vitae

Jean-Marie Vanbutsele was born in Brakel (Belgium) in 1941. He's now retired from his career as a chartered accountant.

Ever since G’Lady (female Belgian Shepherd Dog – Malinois) turned up in 1982, he has taken interest in the Belgian Shepherd's history, and has had numerous articles published in Belgian and foreign journals.

He has long admired Louis Huyghebaert, who fostered the breed, as well as Charles Huge, a distinguished cynologist.

He has gathered a large collection of journals, books, postcards, medals, and posters dedicated to Belgian purebred dogs.

Bibliography of the author

  • Le Chien de Berger Belge - Messages d’Antan (2011)
  • Le « Saint-Hubert » - Un Chien de Légende (2011)
  • Histoire du « Griffon Bruxellois, Griffon Belge et Petit Brabançon » (2011)
  • Le Schipperke - L’unique petit berger (2011)
  • Le Papillon et le Phalène - Grands cœurs en petite taille (2012)
  • History of the Griffon Bruxellois, Griffon Belge & Petit Brabançon (2012)
  • Histoire illustrée du Chien de Berger Belge (2012)
  • Le Chien de Berger Belge - Regards sur le Passé (2013)
  • Le Chien de Berger Belge - Les couleurs de robes (2013)
  • De Belgische Herdershond - Geschiedenis en Erfelijkheid (2013)
  • Il Pastore Belga - Storia illustrata della razza (2013)
  • The Belgian Shepherd Dog - 125 Years of Illustrated History (2014)