The Groenendael belongs to the Belgian Shepherd dog breed, being one of four types. The Belgian Shepherd Dogs also include: Tervuren, Malinois and Laekenois. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this breed was actively developed and had great success in its homeland. Actually, the first breed standard was drawn up in 1892, and a year earlier the Belgian Shepherd Dog Club (Club du Chien de Berger Belge) was created in Brussels.
Now it is not known exactly when the work on the creation of this national breed began; the end of the 1800s is considered to be the starting point. Under the guidance of Professor A. Ruhl, a group of dog breeders studied local shepherds in Brussels and other regions of Belgium, coming to the conclusion that they all have a very similar appearance, differing only in coat color.
The black Belgian shepherd dog, or Groenendael, was developed mainly in the nursery of Nicholas Rose, and it got its name from the name of this breeder’s estate – “Chateau Groenendael”, in the suburbs of Brussels. The first dogs from which all other representatives of this breed are descended are Petite and Picard d’Uccle.
Literally after the first dog shows, they gained immense fame in Europe and America, they were used by border guards and police. Versatility, strength, endurance, courage and intelligence made these dogs excellent helpers to humans, not only in the service of law enforcement agencies, and at the border, but also during the First World War.
Groenendael dogs carried messages between trenches and headquarters, making their way under a hail of bullets and shrapnel from explosions, and even helped to carry carts with machine guns and first aid equipment. In 1919, the Belgian Shepherd Dog Club of America was even created. Due to their immense popularity, they also took part in the Second World War.
These are dogs of large size, muscular, strong, triangular ears, erect, dark brown eyes. The outlines of the body are square, the tail is fluffy, the coat is long, black.
The Belgian Shepherd has tremendous loyalty to its family members and owner, has an obedient, gentle disposition, and treats its loved ones with great care and attention. These are very intelligent dogs that need intellectual development, love various games, puzzles, have an excellent attitude to the learning process and are interested in it.
Belgian Shepherds and their ancestors have served people as shepherds and guards for centuries, thanks to which they have developed the most valuable qualities. The Groenendael breed has a huge supply of energy and vitality, loves walks, an active lifestyle, and will gladly take a morning run with you.
They are not prone to destruction if they do not find a way out of their energy, but it is still not worth the risk, since the character of the dog largely depends on heredity and other factors. Belgian Shepherd Dogs are great for children, being not just a nanny, but also the best friend of every child. It is important to teach your child the correct handling of the animal, as this breed is very patient and your baby can inadvertently harm the pet if there is no response.
The Belgian Shepherd is still used today in the police, customs and other law enforcement agencies in the United States and in many European countries. These dogs have excellent guarding instincts, are very territorial, observant and treat strangers with great caution. As a guard dog for a private home, it is an excellent choice. They are also used as companions for people with disabilities, since the Groenendael are very quick-witted and intelligent.
They are very adaptable and can get along in a city apartment without any problems if you provide them with the proper level of activity and regular walks. Do not forget about early socialization – despite a good character and natural inclinations, the dog needs to broaden his horizons with the help of new people, situations, smells and sounds.
The Belgian Shepherd Groenendael breed is ideal for teaching both simple and complex commands. That is why these dogs are so widely used in various law enforcement agencies, as well as companions for people with disabilities. They perfectly understand the person, and the learning process can begin from 6 months of age.
First, you need to teach the animal simple commands, then add distractions to the process, gradually increasing their number and adding other people as well as one such factor. That is, you can simply ask your child or, even better, your friend, to just stand there. Then – to stand nearby eating, for example, a hot dog. So the dog will learn to concentrate and follow the command, even under the noise of the street and the abundance of smells. And don’t forget about rewards – this is an important aspect of learning.
In order to train a companion dog for people with disabilities, for example, a guide dog, a professional trainer with an appropriate specialization is usually involved.
These dogs need regular brushing, once or twice a week. Also, be sure to clean your dog’s ears of deposits and dirt, and bathe your pet at least once a week. Eyes should be cleaned as needed, remember to trim your nails.
Despite the fact that the Groenendael breed has good health and good immunity, is hardy and strong, there is still a tendency to certain diseases. Some of them are genetic in nature. Namely:
- dysplasia of the hip joint;
- elbow dysplasia;
- progressive retinal atrophy (PRA);
- cancerous tumors;
- sensitivity to anesthesia – some Belgian Shepherd Groenendael are very sensitive to anesthesia, therefore, in their treatment, doses are often used the same as in the case of a greyhound (greyhound);