AKC Group: Herding
Known in Belgium as the Groenendael, the Belgian Sheepdog is the third of the four types of Belgium Shepherd dogs. Coming from a single kennel in Groenendael, they were developed in the late 1800s from a pair of all black shepherds. Bred for herding and protection, they grew in popularity with each litter.
Size: 22 to 26 inches; 60 to 75 pounds.
Color: Solid black. Some may have small areas of white on the chest, toe tips or on the hind feet.
Life span: 13 to 14 years.
Health problems: Like the other Belgian Shepherds, nothing major occurs. Minor concerns include epilepsy, skin allergies, eye problems, hip or elbow dysplasia. The dogs have a genetic leaning towards either shyness or aggressiveness. This breed can become overweight from excessive feeding or lack of exercise. Make sure your Belgian Sheepdog doesn’t develop a couch potato personality.
Groenendaels are athletic, strong, imposing dogs. They are muscular dogs with a flattened skull. Medium-sized, almond-shaped eyes are always brown. Erect ears are triangular in shape. Their tails are feathered and usually have their dewclaws removed. Their feet look cat-like. Groenendaels have a weather-resistant coat with a ruff around their neck and extra feathering on their legs, tail and undersides.
Groenendaels are extremely intelligent, active, loyal dogs that are genuinely affectionate. If you have the time and energy to give to this dog, you’ll get a lifelong friend in return. Early, firm and loving training and socialization is a must. They are wary of strangers and protective of their family. They do great with kids as long as they’re introduced to them as a puppy. Their bonds of love run deep and cannot tolerate an outdoor life away from you.
Their long, straight heavy outer coat covers a dense undercoat that requires brushing every day. When shedding, they may need multiple brushing. Mats should be clipped out especially from the ruff or legs. The toe hair and outer ear hair should be clipped too.
Training should never be harsh or punitive. Positivity will be the name of the game for successful training. Socialization needs to start from day one. Obedience training is an excellent idea with a Groenendael. A naturally obedient dog, your kids will love doing obedience or agility events with them. (What a great bonding experience for them both.) A Groenendael wants to — and if properly trained and socialized will be — a huge part of your family.