Groenendael in the Grass

Groenendael Dog Breed

Other names:
Belgian Groenendael
Belgian Sheepdog
Chien De Berger Belge

The Groenendael, also known as the Belgian Sheepdog and the Chien de Berger Belge, is one of four varieties of shepherd dogs native to Belgium. This breed is a hardworking, sensitive, sometimes shy animal that forms a close relationship with its owner, and will be a great family dog – especially if it is raised from puppyhood. Also, first time owners should note this breed will require quite a bit of grooming and exercise but is one of the easiest breeds to train.

Groenendael Breed Details

Below are the details and specs for the Groenendael dog breed.

11 - 13 yrs.
22 - 26 in.
65 - 75 lbs
OverallFamily FriendlyChild FriendlyPet FriendlyStranger Friendly
Easy to GroomEnergy LevelExercise NeedsHealthShedding Amount
Barks / HowlsEasy to TrainGuard DogPlayfulnessWatch Dog
Apartment DogCan be AloneGood for Busy OwnersGood for New OwnersIntelligence

Groenendael Breed Description

A medium- to large-sized breed. Males are 24-26 inches at the shoulder in height, and weigh 65-75 pounds; females are 22-24 inches in height, and 60-70 pounds in weight.

Groenendaels are active, sensitive dogs. They have a good work ethic (and with it, a strong herding instinct), and may be stubborn and shy; experts suggest raising this breed from puppyhood for best results. These dogs form close bonds with their families, and will be very protective of them.

A moderate amount of care is required for this breed. A lot of grooming and exercise will be necessary, but not much training will be needed.

Groenendael Breed History

The origin of the Groenendael can be traced back late-19th century Belgium. During the 1890s, dog fanciers identified four different varieties of Belgian herding dogs, and named each according to the town in which it was first bred. The long-haired, black Groenendael was one of these four, as it was bred in the suburban Brussels village of Groenendael; historical records indicate that this particular breed was first developed by a restauranteur named Nicholas Rose, who bred dogs in his spare time. The breed's popularity grew quickly around the world, mainly because of its intelligence and trainability; during the first part of the 20th century the Groenendael was employed as a police dog in major cities like Paris and New York, and Groenendaels were used as messenger and rescue dogs during both world wars.

In 1912, the four varieties of Belgian herding dogs were recognized by the AKC as one breed – the Belgian Shepherd – with differences in coat length and color. But in 1959 the AKC separated the four variants into separately recognized breeds, with the Groenendael gaining official AKC recognition as the Belgian Sheepdog. Today, though a bit rare, Groenendaels are found in most parts of the world.

Groenendael Appearance

The Groenendael's coat is of medium length, with an abundance of fur around the neck and on the legs, tail, and underbelly. The breed's muscular body is normally about equal in length and height. The head is the shape of a narrow oval, the eyes are almond-shaped and brown, and the ears are large, triangular, and stand erect. The chest is narrow but deep, the long legs are well-muscled and parallel, and the tail is long, low-hanging, and often has a J-hook at its end.

Groenendael Colors

The images below represent the coat colors and patterns associated with Groenendaels.


Groenendael Temperament

Intelligent, obedient, observant, and energetic, the Groenendael is a graceful, sensitive animal with an alert, working-class spirit. This breed, true to its herding roots, is normally focused and protective, but can also be quite stubborn and shy; professional trainers highly recommend early socialization with other animals and people (and the earlier, the better!), along with consistent training, to minimize these tendencies. These dogs also have strong herding instincts, so they may try to "direct" people and other pets. But they are devoted to their human families, and form close bonds with them – so close, in fact, that Groenendaels may suffer separation anxiety if left alone, which will lead to destructive behavior. These dogs will require a lot of attention, and are not recommended for first-time owners.

The good news: Groenendaels are both protective and athletic, and make fantastic watchdogs. And they are one of the most easily trained breeds known.

Groenendael Maintenance

Groenendaels will need a moderate amount of care. Little training will be necessary, though this breed learns very quickly and easily; a good bit of grooming is needed, as is exercise.

Grooming Requirements

This breed sheds quite a lot. Frequent brushing is necessary (3-4 times per week, if not daily), concentrating on the excess hair on the neck, legs, tail, and underbelly. Baths should be given every 1-2 months.

Exercise Requirements

Groenendaels need plenty of physical (and mental) stimulation. A good, rambunctious romp in the yard each day is great for these dogs, as is an hour-long daily walk.

Living Requirements

These dogs do better in homes with yards, which will allow them roaming room, but will tolerate apartment living if provided enough exercise.

Groenendael Health

Life expectancy is 11-13 years. The Groenendael is a healthy breed overall, but can suffer from minor issues including hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and hyperthyroidism.

Groenendael Health Concerns

Below are potential health concerns associated with Groenendaels.

Hip dysplasia

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About this Article

Authored by:Dog-Learn
Updated:January 23, 2018