Belgium was always a big producer of milk and milk chocolate, so it is no wonder that Belgium farmers needed a lot of skilled sheepdogs. In 1800s, there was a lot of different herding dogs, whose type was varied and whose coats were extremely dissimilar. That changed in 1890s, when group of enthusiasts formed the Belgian Shepherd Club and the first written breed standard was written in 1892.
2) Black and Longhaired
The Belgian Shepherd breed was determined by their typical triangular ears, squared and medium sized body and some other distinctive feature, but they still differ in the texture, color and length of the hair. That is why there were, and still are four varieties of Belgian Shepherd – the Groenendael, Malinois, Lakenois and Tervuren. The Groenendael is the black long haired type.
3) Belgian Sheepdog
In most countries in the world, the Groenendael is recognized as one of the four varieties of Belgian Shepherd, but in the USA, they are recognized as a separate breed known as Belgian Sheepdog. The Lakenois, Malinois and Tervuren kept their original name and are recognized as separate breeds as well, the only variety whose name was changed was the Groenendael. So in the USA – Groenendael is the name as Belgian Sheepdog.
The original purpose of Groenendael is herding, but over the time this dog served for many more purposes, this is very versatile breed. They are used for protection and law enforcement, tracking, drug and bomb detection, for search and rescue and lately also sometimes as therapy dogs. This breed also excell at various dog sports, for example in agility, obedience and herding events.
5) Smart and active
Everyone who is describing the Groenendael temperament use the words intelligent and energetic and indeed, the Belgian Sheepdog is not a breed that enjoys lazing around the house. This is a worker and they need something that will occupy them physically but also mentally. They will always be ready for long outdoor adventures, as well as for interactive and task oriented playtimes and training sessions. This dog is capable of learning new commands very quickly.
This is a great companion dog, but they are not for everyone. First of all, they need an active owner who will provide enough exercise. If so, than they can live happily live even in smaller apartments, these dogs will be happiest if they can live around their people, around their pack. They truly thrive for companionship. This is loyal, affectionate dog that bonds deeply with its owner.
This breed is naturally protective and they are typically alert and wary of strangers. Of course, this can be vastly influenced by early socialization, but the dog should never be agressive without a reason. But they can be easily trained to become excellent watchdogs and guards, who will protect its people and territory.
This is well proportioned, athletic and squared built medium-large sized dog breed with average height between 56-66 cm, which is 22-26 inch and weight is typically between 20-30 kg, which is 44-66 pounds. Females are little bit smaller than males.
Groenendael has a thick double coat that sheds all year long and it sheds quite a lot. Because of that, they require a lot of brushing to minimize the shedding and to keep the coat in good condition. Once or twice a year they will shed extremely heavily and you will have to brush their coat every day. But they do not need any other special grooming or maintenance. Just like with all dogs, you should regularly check their eyes, ears and nails and clip them or clean them if needed.
The average lifespan of Groenendael is between 11-13 years. They are relatively healthy dogs, but they do suffer from some health issues like hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, progressive retinal atrophy, cancer, cataracts or epilepsy.