Groenendael (Belgian Shepherd)
The Groenendael dog is a medium-sized, long-haired breed that appears square in its outline. Although often confused with the Longhaired German Shepherd Dog by the general public, they are squarer in profile, lighter in bone, and more refined in head, with a light, brisk movement. The Groenendael breed is black in colour, and adult dogs should measure between 61-66cm and adult females 56-61cm. They weigh between 27.5-28.5kg.
- Category size: Large
- Grooming requirements: More than once a week
- Shedding: Moderate
- Allergies: No
- Noise: Not too noisy
- Dog Group Kennel Club: Pastoral
- Alone: 1 to 3 hours
- Other pets: Medium
- Stability as a guard:High
There are four varieties of Belgian Shepherd Dog – the Groenendael, Tervueren, Malinois and Laekenois – named after the areas in Belgium from which they came. Hardworking sheepdogs from Belgium have been recognised since the Middle Ages. In the 1890s a professor of the Belgian School of Veterinary Sciences recorded standards for the various types of Belgian sheepdogs. It was noted that they were all similar in type with the main difference being the coat. The professor then divided them into varieties and advised breeding them as separate breeds. The Groenendael dog breed was developed from a black bitch of the Belgian sheepdog type being crossed with another black herding dog. The resulting litter became the precedent of the Groenendael.
The Groenendael is an affectionate, devoted companion that wants to join in with everything. Their natural dog guarding instincts will kick in if and when they sense it is necessary. They will protect their home and family, so it is not advisable to encourage his guarding instincts when young, as he could start guarding you in 'normal' situations. Early, thorough socialisation is imperative with this breed.
As with many breeds, all varieties of the Belgian can suffer from hereditary eye disorders, and hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important.
The Groenendael needs two hours-plus of daily exercise and mental stimulation, and to this end they excel at agility and obedience. They are very active dogs and should not be considered as pets if they are to be left alone all day.
Large breed dogs, as well as having large appetites, benefit from a different balance of nutrients including minerals and vitamins compared to smaller-breed dogs.
The Groenendael is a longhaired dog that needs grooming several times a week. He has a long, straight and profuse outercoat with an extremely dense undercoat. Male dogs have a longer coat than females and the 'mane' around the neck is more noticeable in males, too.
Is this the right dog breed for you?
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What to Consider next
It is incredibly fulfilling to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or rescue organization. It often means offering them a second chance in life. There are many dogs waiting for a loving family, a forever home. Reputable centers will be very careful about matching the right people with the right dogs. Staff learns all they can about the dogs they take in, and will spend time getting to know you, your family and your lifestyle, before they match you with any of their dogs. They’ll also be happy to give you advice and answer any questions you might have before and after the adoption.
Finding a good breeder
If your heart is set on a pedigree puppy, then your best bet is to find a reputable breeder. Contact The Kennel Club or a breed-club secretary who may have a list of litters available, or should be able to put you in contact with breeders in your area. Try to choose a breeder who is part of the Kennel Club’s assured breeder scheme.Visit dog shows to meet breeders in person and inquire about availability of pups of your chosen breed.
Welcoming your dog home
Whether you’re bringing home a tiny puppy or rehoming an adult dog, this is a hugely exciting time for everyone. While you’re waiting for the big day you might need to distract yourself, so luckily there are a few things you need to sort out before you welcome your new arrival. Click here for more information