The Belgian Shepherd comes in four varieties: Malinois, Tervueren, Lakenois and Groenendael. All Belgians are dogs slightly above average size, extremely intelligent, with a well-developed sense of observation, sensitive, sometimes slightly nervous. The Belgian Shepherd Groenendael is such a dog.
Groenendael Belgian Shepherds have a high temperament and do not like inaction. Sensitive and strongly attached to the household, they need constant contact with the owner, whom they like to accompany throughout the day. As typical shepherd dogs, created to carry out orders, they should not be left alone.
In the case of young animals, this may result in future excessive nervousness, excitability and a desire to dominate. From a puppy, they also need consistent upbringing; require handling with a firm hand but in a gentle way.
They are friendly towards children from “their own herd”, but due to their mobility, they should contact them from adult control. Their relations with domestic animals are good, but foreign males with strong characters are unlikely to get along.
Groenendael are good watchmen; alert and distrustful by nature, have strong territorial instincts. They work in a manner characteristic of drovers – barking and running around, encircling the intruder and forcing them to stop, while trying to avoid the times, which is often mistaken for cowardice.
The original task of the Belgian Shepherds was to help grazing flocks of sheep, numbering up to 200 pieces. The dogs’ work consisted of keeping the sheep in a suitable place on the pasture and herding them to the farm; sometimes it was necessary to drive the herd away. Groenendael was also used to guard farms, and during both wars, they were registered dogs.
They currently serve in the police, are hunters, rescuers and even guides for the blind. They are suitable for comprehensive training, are good at obedience (PT), IPO (guard dog), as well as in herding attempts. They are masters of dog sports, e.g. agility, flyball, frisbee, obedience.
Training and education
Groenendael are dogs with an outstanding passion for work, very understanding and perceptive. They are happy to learn. However, they can also use their intelligence to avoid exercise, especially when they are monotonous. You have to provide them with new activities, just running after the ball is not enough.
They hate coercion – to work well they have to have a great time. Puppies need early socialization with people, dogs and other animals, they should also learn about different unusual situations.
Who is this race for?
They are suitable for active people, doing sports, who like long walks and working with a pet. The owner should have experience in raising dogs, be firm and balanced.
Advantages and disadvantages
requires a lot of movement and attention
poorly brought up can be hyperactive and tend to dominate
very attached to the family
intelligent, suitable for comprehensive training
perfect for dog sports
good watchful watchman
They are resistant and long-lived dogs; they often live to 14-16 years. They may have a predisposition to hip dysplasia.
It happens that the Belgian Shepherd Groenendael suffers from hypothyroidism. Epilepsy and allergic skin changes are also a problem for this breed. You also need to remember about Belgian hypersensitivity to anesthesia.
Belgian Shepherds have fast metabolism and eat quite a lot. They need high-energy and well-balanced karma. The most convenient is to use ready-made food (only reputable companies); You can also prepare meals yourself.
The Groenendael coat does not require any complicated treatments; for combing hair, it is best to use a comb with rotating teeth. We bathe the dog, if necessary, in shampoo for long-haired dogs. You can use cosmetics intended for animals with black color.
There are two theories about the origin of Belgian Shepherds. According to the first, the ancestors of all Belgian varieties were shepherd dogs, which appeared in Central Europe as early as the Bronze Age. The second theory is about a cross between a local mastiff and a greyhound, which was brought by Flemish monks from England in the 13th century.
Dogs in the type of Belgian Shepherds can be seen in the engravings depicting the Habsburg court and the Burgundian princes. The oldest references to Belgians in the literature are from 1356. At the end of the 16th century, an order was issued in Antwerp ordering Hyclom to kill wandering dogs. Only hunting, shepherd, decorative and farm dogs, called Rekel (mischief, rascal), were protected. Probably the Rekel is the direct ancestor of Belgian Shepherds.
The Belgian Shepherds owe their contemporary appearance to prof. Adolf Reul from the College of Veterinary Medicine in Cureghem, who, together with his colleagues, began to seek breeders’ interest in the native breed. In 1891, the Belgian Shepherd Club was founded.
In the same year, an exhibition of shepherd dogs was organized in Cureghem, attended by 117 quadrupeds of various types. Work began on the pattern and standardization of appearance. The dogs were divided into three varieties, according to the type of coat: long-haired black and fawn, short-haired fawn and rough-haired fawn.
The Belgian Shepherd Groenendael was born on the Chateau de Groenendael, owned by Nicolas Rose. He was also the owner of a pack of long-haired shepherd dogs, including the female Petite, highly rated at the aforementioned exhibition in Cureghem. Rose associated her with a male named Piccard d’Uccle.
From this relationship, the famous Duc de Groenendael was born, which we can find in the pedigrees of all modern Groenendaels (the name of this variety was given in 1898 in memory of its place of origin).
The black shepherd quickly gained recognition from the police. At a competition in Mechelen in 1903, a dog named Satan amazed his residents with his skills. The most famous working dog in this period was Jules, who four times (in 1908-1911) won the competition in Paris.
Two world wars exterminated most of the Groenendaels. In the post-war years, when rebuilding this variety, animals that did not meet the standards of ointment and type were often associated with each other, but thanks to the intensive selection they were able to restore the desired appearance.
Belgian Shepherd Groenendael – group I FCI, section 1, reference number 15
Country of origin: Belgium
Original use: shepherd and guard dog
Character: dog of high temperament, lively, energetic; sensitive and attached to the household, he needs constant contact with the owner, he should not be left alone; tends to dominate, and therefore requires consistent but gentle treatment; good and vigilant guardian, although sometimes excessively noisy; very active, he doesn’t like idleness
Size: ideal height at the withers of dogs 62 cm, bitches 58 cm (permissible tolerance 4 cm up and 2 cm down); dogs weight 25-30 kg, bitches 20-25 kg
Coat: on the head, outside of the ears and on the lower parts of the limbs – short hair, on the back edge of the forearm longer, forming tassels; on the rest of the body, long and smooth, longer on the neck and forechest, where it forms a ruff and a jabot, on the buttocks there are abundant fringes, on the tail long hair forms a putty
Color: uniformly black, white markings on chest and feet are permissible
Reaching puberty: 3 years
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Molting: very abundant, twice a year
Activity : very high; needs a lot of movement and activities
Training: the necessary basics of obedience (PT – companion dog); suitable for comprehensive training – IPO (guard dog), PTT (companion-tracking dog), herding competitions, dog sports (agility, flyball, frisbee, obedience)
Vulnerability to training: very high; intelligent dog, learns quickly, but requires an experienced guide
Attitude towards children: tolerant, but due to the high spontaneity his contacts with them require adult supervision
Attitude towards other dogs : friendly towards their own flock; there are conflicts between foreign males
Weather resistance: resistant
Apartment : can live in a house with a garden or apartment
Preparation for exhibitions : no special preparation required
Possibility to buy a puppy: no problems with buying
A major problem for Belgian Shepherds, especially long-haired ones, is epilepsy. Therefore, it is necessary to obtain information whether and how often among dogs related to the parents of a possible puppy she appeared and, of course, buy only a pet with a documented origin.