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Belgian Shepherd Dog Groenendael

Belgian Shepherd Dog Groenendael

Medium sized and square in outline, the Belgian Groenendael long, smooth coat that is black in colour, occasionally with small white markings on the chest and toes. The Groenendael is often mistaken for a solid black long coat German Shepherd, but they are lighter in build and far more elegant and refined.

The need-to-know
  • Dogs suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Generally healthy breed
  • Enjoys vigorous walks
  • Enjoys more than two hours of walking a day
  • Large dog
  • Minimum drool
  • Requires grooming once a week
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Barks and alerts to visitors/anything unusual
  • Could have issues with unknown dogs but gets along with known dogs
  • May need additional training to live with other pets
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a large garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left alone with training
Generally healthy breed

As with many breeds, all varieties of the Belgian can suffer from: 
- Hip dysplasia 
- Hereditary cataracts which is a condition where the lens in the eye becomes cloudy and this can result in blindness.  
- Progressive retinal atrophy which is an inherited disorder where part of the eye degenerates and wastes away which can result in blindness. 

Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing: 
- Hip dysplasia screening scheme 
- Eye screening scheme  

Key Facts

Lifespan: 10 - 14 years
Weight: 27.5 - 28.5kg
Height: Males between 61 - 66cm, females between 56 - 61cm
Colours: Black with occasional white markings on chest and toes
Size: Medium
Kennel Club Groups: Pastoral

Ratings

Family-friendly: 4/5
Exercise needs: 5/5
Easy to train: 5/5
Tolerates being alone: 3/5
Likes other pets: 5/5
Energy level: 5/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 5/5
Belgian Shepherd Groenendael in woods

Personality

Clever and attentive, although somewhat wary of strangers, the Groenendael is to this day, all a herding and guarding breed should be. Very trainable, with a huge capacity for learning but willing to make their own decisions should instruction not be forthcoming, they are in need of a dedicated owner with plenty of time to work with them and train them to a high standard. Friendly, and devoted affectionate to close family and friends, they do take time to warm to strangers and will not tolerate rough handling or over-familiarity from those they do not know.

Belgian Shepherd Groenendael sitting on the ground

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Belgium

There are four varieties of Belgian Shepherd and these were originally just variations in coat type, as they were primarily bred for their ability to herd and guard so they were considered one breed. Now the four types, the Laekenois, Groenendael, Tervuren and Malinois are classified separately as breeds in their own right - although this took some time, with the Belgian Kennel Club only recognising three types initially (the Groenendael, Tervuren and Malinois) in 1897.

The Groenendael is possibly the most striking of the four, with their luxurious black coat and pricked ears and was created by Nicholas Rose, owner of Chateau de Groenendael, south of Brussels in 1885. He owned what would become the foundation bitch, a long-haired black dog named Petite, and spent a year searching for a male that would match her. He found a dog called Piccard D’Uccle, and together these two founded the breed. The Groenendael first reached the US in 1907, but didn’t reach England until 1931.

did you know?

Did You Know?

  • The Groenendael is named after the Belgian Chateau de Groenendael.
  • They are always black; no other colour appears and only very scarce small white markings on the chest and toes are permitted.
  • Groenendael’s have been used as police and armed forces as working dogs since the late 19th Century.

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