The Belgian Shepherd Groenendael is a medium-sized breed of dog that is originally from Belgium. This working dog is very similar in appearance to a German Shepherd but with a slenderer frame. They can measure up to 26 inches at the withers and weigh up to 30 kilograms. This breed is not as well-known as many others, so there are many things about it that people do not know. Here are ten interesting facts about the Belgian Shepherd Groenendael.
1. It is Sometimes Classified as a Belgian Shepherd Dog
Although most breed registries recognize the Belgian Shepherd Groenendael as an independent breed, it is often included in the Belgian Shepherd Dog. The Groenendael is one of four breeds that are categorized in this group. The other three breeds that are considered Belgian Shepherd Dogs are the Tervuren, the Malinois, and the Laekenois. These each have a distinctive coat that differentiates them.
2. It is Named After the Area from Where It Originates
The Belgian Groenendael is named after the area of Belgium from where it originates. The Tervuren and the Malinois are also named after the locations in Belgium from where they originated. The Laekenois is named after the Chateau de Laeken which was the favorite royal residence of Queen Mary Henriette.
3. They Were Primarily Bred as Herding Dogs
When the Belgian Shepherd Groenendael was initially intended as a herding dog. This meant that this working dog was kept mostly by farmers who kept livestock that they needed to herd.
4. They Have Served the Forces
Other than herding, the Belgian Shepherd Groenendael has had many different working roles. Since the late 19th century, they have been used by both the armed forces and by the police force in a variety of roles to support the work of these services.
5. There Are Some Health Conditions for Which This Breed is Prone
Like most breeds of dog, there are some health conditions to which the Belgian Shepherd Groenendael is prone. Some of these include hereditary cataracts, hip dysplasia, and epilepsy.
6. They Are Always Black
One of the most notable characteristics of the Belgian Shepherd Groenendael is its coat color. Unlike many other breeds that come in a wide range of different colors, this breed is always black. Occasionally, there are examples of this breed that have a few very small white markings. They have a thick, double coat that is hard and dense.
7. They Are Highly Intelligent
The Belgian Shepherd Groenendael is a highly intelligent breed of dog. This means that they are one of the best dogs to train and is also the reason why the breed has been used in a working capacity in so many different settings. As they are an intelligent breed, they are also a popular choice among those who participate in dog sports, activities, and events. Some of these include agility competitions, endurance events, Schutzhund, and tracking.
8. They Need Socialization
In many ways, Belgian Shepherd Groenendaels are excellent to train as they learn so quickly. However, it can take expert handling to get the training right. An important element of the training of this breed is socialization. It is important to get this breed accustomed to different settings and situations to prevent them becoming difficult to handle in the future. Examples of settings include areas with large numbers of people and meeting with other dogs. Once this dog is trained, it is very loyal to its owner and can behave excellently in public.
9. Floppy Ears Are Considered a Fault
The breed standards for Belgian Shepherd Groenendaels is that they have sharp, pointed, upright ears. Occasionally, a dog of this breed will have floppy ears. If the dog is participating in events and competitions, the possession of floppy ears is considered a serious fault. This means that most breeders and showers avoid owning a dog that clearly has floppy ears.
10. They Shed Heavily Twice a Year
For most of the year, the Belgian Shepherd Groenendael does not need a lot of grooming. However, this dog sheds large amounts of its coat once or twice a year. During these periods of shedding, it is advised that the dogs are regularly groomed to help it lose the hair quickly and control the amount of shedding.