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Belgian Shepherd Groenendael: Breed Info, Pictures, Facts & Traits

Written by: Ashley Bates

Last Updated on April 30, 2024 by Dogster Team

black belgian shepherd groenendael standing outdoors

Belgian Shepherd Groenendael: Breed Info, Pictures, Facts & Traits

The Belgian Shepherd Groenendael was definitely built for utilitarian purposes. They are good at just about everything, but they have not even a fraction of the recognition of their more popular cousin, the German Shepherd. Even the Belgian Malinois, the stock counterpart, is more popular, excelling at tasks such as police work, special forces tasks, and other highly focused areas of study.

The Belgian Shepherd Groenendael can be trained in all of the same categories, but they are much harder to come by. They also make great companion dogs. In this article, learn more about the Belgian Shepherd Groenendael so you can decide if this breed is right for you.

Breed Overview


24–26 inches


45–75 pounds


13–14 years



Suitable for:

Active families, guard dog duties, service training


Patient, trainable, loyal, even-tempered, swift

The Belgian Shepherd Groenendael is a beautiful breed that often doesn’t get enough credit. These lovely shepherds are highly skilled in many areas of training and capable of developing these skills at any point.

This intelligent breed thrives on activity and would make a fantastic companion for someone who had a very active lifestyle. If you’re the kind of person who wants to focus heavily on training, this is a perfect breed to consider.

Belgian Shepherd Groenendael Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

Belgian Shepherd Groenendael Puppies

If you choose to buy a Groenendael puppy, they will be roughly 8 weeks old when you bring them home. During this time, they will be adorable little love bugs that want to snuggle up on your chest and take a snooze.

The Groenendael will grow to be a substantial dog quickly. Even though these dogs aren’t as large as some shepherds, they rapidly develop in the first 6 months and slow down afterward.

During this time, you will go from watching your sleepy puppy snooze most of the day to running around shredding everything in sight. They will change and develop before your eyes, growing into a beautiful mature adult that is obedient and good-natured.

If you are interested in the Groenendael, we highly recommend looking for a reputable breeder in your area. Since this dog isn’t as common as some, you might have to travel or be put on a waiting list for future litters.

While rarer, you might find a Groenendael at a local rescue or shelter. If so, you could always weigh your pros and cons with adopting versus purchasing a puppy.

Belgian shepherd groenendael puppy sleeps
Image Credit: Serova_Ekaterina, Shutterstock

Belgian Shepherd Groenendael Breed Origin & History

You may look at the name Belgian Shepherd Groenendael and wonder where on earth the name came from. It was actually tied to the creator of the breed, Nicholas Rose. His estate at the time was named Chateau Groenendael, so it only seemed fitting to add the title to the new canine specimen.

The Groenendael breed was developed in 1893, just outside of Brussels. For ease of remembering, these dogs are also called Belgian Sheepdogs. They were, as the name implies, originally a herding dog, though the breed’s skillset has broadened significantly over time.

Temperament & Intelligence of the Belgian Shepherd Groenendael

If you ask many fanciers of this breed, they will tell you that they don’t understand why the Belgian Shepherd Groenendael is not as popular as the German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois.

These dogs are exceptionally intelligent with even temperaments, even exceeding that of the German Shepherd. Their trainability remains in the same arena and they are highly skilled at their work. Their proficiency has landed them several roles in areas like search and rescue, bomb detection, and guarding.

The Belgian Shepherd Groenendael requires firm, consistent training where they learn their role in the household. These dogs are not like normal canines in the sense that you can be the master and they are the servant.

These dogs thrive on mutual respect, and they will be your teammate until the day they die. But they will never be beneath you. This dog absolutely requires a job to do on a daily basis. If this dog is bored for any length of time, they can start to develop destructive tendencies that lead to poor behaviors and pricey fixes.

If this dog is properly stimulated, they will provide infallible companionship and assistance in any way they can.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

This breed can work very well with children and other pets, permitting they are raised alongside them. These dogs form strong bonds with families, but they look at their role in the pack as that of service, and they don’t necessarily focus too much on snuggling up on the couch with people.

Life with a Belgian Shepherd Groenendael is like having a partnership rather than a master-servant relationship. These dogs give respect and demand it in return. If you want to win the heart of this breed, you must treat them with decency, respect, and understanding.

Due to their high activity requirements, these dogs often don’t do well in smaller living spaces unless you are capable of providing the exercise outlets they need. This is not the kind of breed that you can relax during retirement with. If you prefer a more relaxed lifestyle, we highly recommend getting a different dog that requires less stimulation.

Border collie dogs and belgian shepherd dog running in the park in winter
Image Credit: Miachikova Natalia, Shutterstock

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

The Belgian Shepherd Groenendael can and should be raised alongside other canine companions. This dog thrives on pack mentality, and they do best when they have a partner in crime.

However, these dogs are prone to same-sex dog aggression. So, if you already have a female dog, you should get a male puppy. If you have a male dog, you should get a female puppy. While it might not happen in every case, it happens too frequently to take chances.

This breed can also be raised alongside cats and acclimate well, but they might not adjust as well if they are introduced later in life. These dogs are well-trusted among farm animals of all kinds.

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Things to Know When Owning a Belgian Shepherd Groenendael:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Since this is such a highly athletic breed, they require a protein-rich, high-quality recipe. Wet canned food and dry kibble are still viable options for this, but they would thrive on raw or fresh crafted recipes.

These dogs are extremely athletic, so no matter what kind of recipe you choose, it should always have high protein and fat content. They need to replenish what they lose daily, so you should work alongside your veterinarian to determine the best diet possible.

Many families are turning to fresh food and raw food selections for their dogs, as these seem more biologically appropriate and nutritionally friendly. Some people even make homemade recipes for their dogs with specially tailored recipes.

Of course, you should always get the green light from your veterinarian before you decide to make a homemade diet for your dog.

Exercise 🐕

The Belgian Shepherd Groenendael is a highly athletic breed. You should plan to devote a lot of your time to the great outdoors. These dogs thrive in their natural environment and will love to accompany you on virtually any adventure and tend to be very good at navigating.

On average, you can expect to spend roughly 90 minutes exercising your Shepherd every day. You can break it up as long as you don’t undershoot it. A Groenendael cannot compromise on exercise, or they will have pent-up energy and develop poor behaviors.

These dogs will enjoy activities such as hiking, jogging, tracking, and going on scavenger hunts. You can think of tons of ways to really get your dog’s creative juices flowing by providing puzzles and other mentally stimulating games for the daily physical regimen.

Training 🎾

The Belgian Shepherd Groenendael is immensely trainable. In fact, although they’re not quite as common as their German cousins, they are equally as intelligent. Should you opt for this breed, you are going to want to give them some formal training.

Since these dogs tend to view humans as equals, rather than masters, they will start every relationship they have with this type of mutual companionship in mind. If you are the kind of person who thinks that you’re going to dominate over them, this isn’t the way to properly train them.

If you are a novice owner and you’re not sure where to begin, it really helps to get the assistance of a professional. You can find local trainers near you or check out resources online. You can opt for paid or free resources, depending on your budget and needs.

Belgian Shepherd Groenendael dog jumping on the snow
Image Credit: Miachikova Natalia, Shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

This breed is known for their heavy shedding potential. They are long-haired and double-coated, leading to dense shedding that not everybody is prepared to deal with. If you are an allergy sufferer, no matter how severe, these dogs are absolutely going to trigger the issue.

The breed is relatively easy to maintain, permitting you don’t mind doing one quick, grooming session a day. During the changes of the seasons, you can get ahead of it by keeping up with extra housework and routinely brushing your dog.

If you get your puppy acclimated to brushing early, they will look forward to grooming time. You can give this dog a bath or take them to a professional groomer once every 4 to 6 weeks to give them a total body makeover.

Always have the appropriate tools and products on hand for grooming. You will need the appropriate shampoos, nail clippers, toothbrushes, brushes, and other hygiene items.

Even though this dog is a long-haired breed, you should never shave them during the summer months. Their body is designed to self-regulate their temperature with the hair on. If you cut their hair, it can actually make it harder for their body to regulate their temperature. Instead, you should make sure your dog is well groomed to prevent bulk shed in the coat.

Health and Conditions 🏥

The Belgian Shepherd Groenendael has a structurally sound body and few health concerns to mention. They are a rugged breed able to withstand extreme temperatures and inclement weather.

This breed was intended to be incredibly healthy so they could survive in most conditions. Today, they remain a very robust, strong breed with minimal health issues to mention. However, there are certain health issues that can still plague the breed.

To avoid or get ahead of developing health issues, routine vet care is recommended. Your vet can examine your dog to see if there are any changes that are noteworthy and require further evaluation.

Minor Conditions
  • Skin allergies

Serious Conditions
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Canine hip dysplasia
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Seizures

Male vs. Female

Male and female Belgian Shepherd Groenendaels are quite a bit different in size. Males are substantially larger than their female counterparts and tend to be stockier.

When it comes to personality, each of these dogs will be different, and it does not necessarily matter what sex they are. However, it is more common for females to show same-sex dog aggression. Males can be capable of this too, but it seems to be less of an issue.

If unaltered, males might mark their territory and get slightly aggressive when hormonal. Females will go into heat cycles and bleed and undergo certain personality changes during these times.

Your vet will likely recommend that you get your dog fixed before their hormones hit around 6 months of age. Each vet is different, so work alongside the advice of your particular practitioner.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Belgian Shepherd Groenendael

1. The Belgian Shepherd Groenendael Can Make a Great Protector

If you are looking for a canine that can protect your household, this dog can certainly do the job. They will take their duties very seriously and guard their families with intention. If you properly train this breed, they will be able to easily differentiate between a threat and a friend.

We highly recommend professional training if you plan on using your Belgian Shepherd Groenendael as a guard dog of any kind.

2. In Europe, Shepherds Are Lumped Together

In most areas of Europe, shepherds are lumped together in the same category. They are often just considered variations of the same dog. In America, they are separated into different breeds.

3. The Belgian Shepherd Groenendael Is a Rare Breed

Depending on the area you live in, finding one of these dogs might be quite a challenge. They often aren’t easy to come by and could require research and travel if you are dedicated to owning the breed.

Black Belgian Shepherd Groenendael Autumn Portrait
Image Credit: xkunclova, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Now you know all the basics about the Belgian Shepherd Groenendael. This highly intelligent breed is a fabulous choice for a person willing to train the animal properly. Whether you want to train them heavily or use them as a guard dog, this pup is up for the task.

Remember, this dog needs constant mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy. If you’re up for the task, you can research breeders near you.

Featured Image Credit: icemanphotos, Shutterstock

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