Other Names : Chien de Berger Belge, Belgian Shepherd, Belgian Sheepdog
Country of Origin : Belgium
Dog Group : Working Dog
The Belgian Shepherd dog is the only breed in the world that comes in 4 varieties: the long-haired black ‘Groenendael’, the long-haired fawn, red or grey ‘Tervueren’, the short-coated red, fawn or grey ‘Malinois’ and the rarer rough-coated reddish fawn ‘Laekenois’. Originating from Belgium, they are named after the areas in Belgium from which they came Groenendael, Tervuren, Malines and Laeken. Hard working sheepdogs from Belgium have been recognised since the Middle Ages. At this time the type varied greatly and breeding was based on working ability. As they were bred locally certain common characteristics began to appear. In the 1890’s 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. Once there were as many as eight varieties; now there are only four. The Groenendael 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 breeding schedule of these dogs suffered during the war. During the war they were used to find wounded soldiers and to carry messages at the front. The first Belgian Sheepdog Club can be traced back to 1893, and the name Groenendael was officially chosen in 1910.
The Groenendael is a medium sized, longhaired dog that appears square in its outline. Although they are often confused with the ‘long-haired 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.
Feeding & Ownership
The Groenendael is an undemanding dog to feed with no special dietary requirements; they generally have a good appetite.
The Groenendael is a devoted companion and does not make an ideal kennel dog, as they become bored and destructive. They are very affectionate and totally devoted to their families. Not a breed for those wanting ‘just a dog’. The Belgian wants to join in with everything including doing the washing up, digging the garden etc. They will protect their home and family but it is not advisable to encourage their guarding instincts when young, as they can get confused and start guarding you in inappropriate situations. Their natural guarding instincts will kick in, if and when necessary.
The Groenendael is a longhaired dog that needs a fair amount of grooming. They have a long, straight and profuse outercoat with an extremely dense undercoat.