The Belgian Shepherd Dog (Groenendael) is the most popular variety of the Belgian Shepherd Dog breeds. The Groenendael is recognized by all major kennel clubs. In the United States it is recognized under the name Belgian Sheepdog.
Like all Belgian Shepherds, the Groenendael is a medium-sized, hard-working, square-proportioned breed of dog in the sheepdog family. The Groenendael is recognized by its distinctive black coat.
The Groenendael should be athletic, strong, imposing, rustic, and balanced in appearance. It should look natural, never as though it has been prepared just for the show ring. Its coat should be profuse, but never look as though it would inhibit the dog's working ability in any way. The colour is always black, with small white markings being allowed on the chest. When being shown, its handler should never have to force it into position; ideally the handler should not have to touch the dog at all.
The Groenendael should be 24-26 in. (60-66 cm) at the withers
for males, and 22-24 in (56-62 cm) for females. The weight should be approximately 25 - 30 kg for males, and 20 - 25 kg for females.
The groenendael has a thin, double coat. The texture should be hard and dense, never woolly, silky, frizzy, fine, or wiry. The undercoat should be thick and profuse. In conformation shows
, dogs without an undercoat are heavily penalized.
The Groenendael is (very) intelligent, active, loyal and quietly affectionate. Groenendaels are not a breed for the faint of heart. However for those who have plenty of time, energy, confidence and love, they are wonderful friends. They are dominant dogs by nature, and it is important that they never question their owner's authority in order to be trainable. It is a large, powerful breed so training and socializing is essential and the only way one can live with the breed. Once you have established your dominance they are incredibly loyal and obedient. They are wary of strangers and protective. They love children as long as they are introduced to them at an early age. The Groenendael bonds deeply to its people and cannot live outdoors or in a kennel. It needs to spend time with its family every day and may experience separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time.
The Groenendael needs a large amount of exercise as a rule. Expect to spend about two hours a day working with it. Exercise should include not only a walk, but also a training session to keep the dog mentally stimulated. These dogs have great "work ethic" and need a job to do, such as obedience, flyball
training, dog agility
or livestock work in order to be happy. They are a sensitive breed and cannot be trained using harsh training methods, one does not need to use these methods to be dominant, one just has to show their dog that they are a fair, smart leader who the dog can't outwit. They need thorough grooming once a week, however when shedding (which happens once or twice a year) they lose massive amounts of coat and need grooming every day.
See Health section of Belgian Shepherd
for more information.