Belgian Groenendael (Belgian Sheepdog)


A medium to large sized Belgian Groenendael
Belgian Groenendael Quick Summary
Also Known AsBelgian Sheepdog
Height (at withers)22-26in (56-66cm)
Weight60-75lbs (27-34kg)
Hair Colour(s)Black
Lifespan10-12 years
Energy LevelMedium
Litter size6-10
Barking TendencyMedium
Exercise requirementsMedium
Ease of trainingHigh
Suitability for kidsMedium
Animal compatabilityMedium
Aggression levelsLow
Distress if leftHigh

The Belgian Groenendael is a medium to large sized hardy looking dog. A Belgian Sheepdog, it is called the Groenendael to differentiate it from the other three Belgian Sheepdog varieties called the Malinois, the Tervuren and the Laekenois, to which it is very similar apart from its coat. The body is muscular with a deep chest, well-sprung ribs, a level topline and a fluffy tail. The head has a pointed muzzle, a black nose, upright triangular ears and dark brown eyes. The double coat consists of a dense undercoat and a long, thick and straight outercoat, and the colouring tends to be black with occasional white markings.


Belgian Groenendaels are alert, graceful and obedient dogs. With bags of energy and an appetite for play, they are also affectionate and make devoted companions and family dogs. Early socialisation and consistent training is recommended, and these sociable dogs do not like being left alone for long periods of time, which can lead to boredom and destructive behaviour. They are intelligent and determined, learn quickly and are generally obedient which can make training easy, but as they can have dominant and stubborn streaks and are also quite sensitive, they are best suited to those with some experience of dog ownership and training. Belgian Groenendaels get along well with older, more considerate children they have been raised with, and need proper socialisation with other household pets and may tend to chase smaller animals. As they have generous protective streaks they tend to be reserved and rather wary around strangers, and so make good watchdogs.

History & Skills

Belgian Groenendaels originate from Belgium, rather unsurprisingly, where they were originally bred in the late nineteenth century for both herding and guarding sheep. Also known as Belgian Shepherds, Groenendaels are Belgian Sheepdogs named after Groenendael, the Belgian village in which they were developed. This name helps distinguish them from the other three Belgian sheepdog varieties: Malinoises, Tervurens and Laekenoises. Groenendaels look much like these other breeds but are currently the most popular of the four varieties. In addition to herding and guarding, these dogs were outstanding on the battlefields during the First World War as ambulance dogs, message carriers and even in pulling machine guns. These days they are popular as companion dogs and pets, and they retain their old skills and perform pretty well in herding trials, obedience sports, and are used in search and rescue missions and in drug detection.

Breed Specific Ailments

Belgian Groenendaels tend to live between 10-12 years and are considered to be quite a healthy breed. Some of the health problems that have been noted includes hip dysplasia, PRA, epilepsy, thyroid problems, cataracts and skin allergies.


Belgian Groenendaels are heavy shedders that also shed even more heavily on a seasonal basis, and so are probably unsuitable for those suffering with allergies. Their grooming requirements are not overly high, and the coat will need brushing twice a week, and more so during periods of heavier shedding, and the hair between the outer ears and toes, plus areas that tend to matt easily such as the ruff and legs, will need occasional trimming. It is important to clean and check the teeth regularly to avoid possible dental problems.

Exercise & Environment

Belgian Groenendaels tend to live indoors and can even be suitable for small homes such as apartments. They prefer cooler climates and will need time outdoors and plenty of exercise, which can be provided by having access to a secure yard or garden plus a daily walk or jog.


FCIFCI - Federation Cynologique Internationale
KCThe Kennel Club (UK)
AKCAKC - American Kennel Club

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