The Groenendael likes to be kept physically and mentally active: multi-hour walks, agility training, or dog frisbee are a must to keep this active animal happy. If you allow him to exercise sufficiently, he will fit in wonderfully with your family. If you are interested in an animal that accompanies you in sports, the Groenendael could be just right for you.
Groenendael – officially recognized as a breed since 1901
The Groenendael is one of the Belgian Shepherd Dogs. Over the centuries, four types of shepherd dogs had established themselves in his country of origin, which supported people at work and differed mainly by their fur. At the end of the 19th century, the “Club du Chien de Berger Belge” (Belgian Shepherd Club) was formed to divide these Shepherds into breed standards. The aim was to establish pedigree guidelines and to standardize breeding for the Belgian Shepherd Dog. In 1901 the Groenendael breed was officially recognized internationally.
Nature of the Groenendael
This working dog is not considered particularly playful and cuddly, but in the family, it proves to be a loving and loyal companion. Due to his temperament, he needs a lot of work and likes to be challenged. He is persistent, willing to work, and grateful for every compliment. His motivation to learn comes from within. The better you meet his needs, the more relaxed and balanced he appears.
The nature of a Groenendael is not fully developed until the age of three. So you have to stay on the ball with his training and keep in mind that your dog’s childhood and adolescence phase lasts longer than with other dog breeds. Dog sport or tasks that demand it are extremely important when keeping these dogs, otherwise, your four-legged friend will become nervous or, in the worst case, aggressive. For example, if your Groenendael often moves quickly in circles or barks excessively, he is probably under-challenged and urgently needs something to do.
Groenendael is not afraid of strangers, he is rather neutral towards them. However, he is always ready to defend his home and family quickly and fearlessly. In such moments, his qualities as a herding dog show.
Education and keeping of the Groenendael
Give your Groenendael as much exercise as possible. In the city, he only feels partially comfortable, but in the country, he takes off. Let him run around in your yard and take him for long walks every day. He will also be happy to accompany you when jogging, cycling, or horseback riding. Even a trip to a quarry pond and swimming with you inspire him. Activity is important to him, also in combination with a mental challenge. Then he can prove his intelligence and docility. Maybe try mantrailing or agility with him?
The Groenendael is not a dog that likes to be left alone: if it feels lonely, it will make a fuss. A second dog or a chore that keeps him busy will help him feel comfortable. He gets along well with cats and dogs, best if he has known them from an early age. However, you should not leave smaller pets alone with him – he is and will remain a cattle dog.
If Groenendael lives in a family with children, this can be a lot of fun for everyone involved. If he is treated with respect by them and kept busy, he is extremely patient with children.
An important point in keeping a Groenendael is training. Start as early as possible, but make sure you balance consistency, patience, and sensitivity. Groenendaels can be resentful and will never forget it if you break the bond of trust. If a Groenendael discovers gaps in a consistent upbringing, he also likes to become the pack leader. The Groenendael is therefore only suitable to a limited extent for people without dog experience.
Grooming is pretty easy: despite the long, thick coat, brushing your Groenendael once a week is enough. You should only pay more attention to caring for your dog’s fur when they change their fur, in spring and autumn. Since he then loses more hair, it is worth brushing him daily.
Groenendael: peculiarities and health
When dry, the Groenendael’s fur hardly emits any of its own odor.
The Groenendael is one of the hardy dog breeds, having been bred for outdoor life. There is only a race-related susceptibility to epilepsy. As a rule, however, this does not shorten his life expectancy, it only restricts him somewhat in his everyday life. Hip dysplasia, which is common in large dog breeds, can also occur in Groenendaels.