Belgian Sheepdog (Belgian shepherd dog groenendael) is one of four breeds that make up the Belgian Shepherd family. The breed can credit its existence to Nicolas Rose, who established the first known kennel of the breed. His foundation pair, Picard d’Uccle and Petite, can be found in the lineage of most Belgian Shepherds today.
The Belgian Sheepdogs are superb working dogs. The dog breed has a very distinct look. All black (or with just a touch of white on the forechest), the dog stands tall, with head up and with pricked ears. The coat is luscious, with a heavier ruff around the neck and a plumed tail wagging slowly. Males are 24 to 26 inches tall and about 55 to 75 pounds; females are slightly smaller.
The Belgian Sheepdog’s coat is long, of medium harshness, and has a very dense undercoat. Although the coat is not prone to matting, tangles can form behind the ears or in the pantaloons. The coat should be brushed at least twice a week, although during the spring and fall, daily brushing can keep shedding under control. This dog breed was designed to work and likes to be active. Daily aerobic exercise is very important—running alongside a bicycle, jogging with you, playing a vigorous game of retrieve, or a quick run through the agility course.
All Belgian Sheepdog puppies should attend a puppy socialization class when they are young so they get to meet a variety of people. Training should be introduced early, in puppy class, and continued through adolescence, as the breed is very intelligent but can also be somewhat independent. Training should be structured yet fair and fun and should keep the dog challenged.
Belgian Sheepdogs are excellent watchdogs, yet are affectionate and loyal to family and friends. They can be good with children, although they often try to herd (circle) and control rambunctious kids. The breed can be good with other dogs and small pets, although these interactions should always be supervised. Health concerns include hip dysplasia, thyroid problems, and seizure disorders.