Belgian Shepherd Groenendael
The Groenendael is one of the four varieties of Belgian Shepherd Dogs. They originated as herding dogs in the various provinces of Belgium and worked as living fences for the many flocks of sheep found in the region – they were much prized for their tireless quick gait, their intelligence and intense loyalty.
In 1891 the first gathering of Belgian Shepherds from various Belgian counties was organised and from this, four distinct varieties could be seen and these were named after the areas from which they were most prevalent.
The first breed standard was written in 1892 which separated the varieties into long haired, short haired, and rough haired.
During World War One Belgian Shepherd Dogs were used on the battlefields serving as ambulance dogs, message carriers and even pulling machine guns. The period after the war saw an increase in popularity of the breed world wide and Groenendaels were exported to many parts of the world.
Groenendaels are strong, agile, quick, intelligent, watchful and trainable – these qualities explain the breed’s impressive versatility and usefulness for all kinds of canine sports, training disciplines and service; the BSD can truly turn it’s paw to anything – but they need active owners and careful socialisation when young.
Of medium build a Groenendael should give the impression of a well balanced square dog, elegant in appearance with a proud head carriage. Groenendaels have a profuse double coat and males are longer coated than bitches with a pronounced mane framing the head. The Groenendaels coat must be solid black with only limited areas of white on the chest and frosting on the muzzles’ and tips of the toes is allowed. Apart from coat type and colour all four varieties of BSD should be identical.
Overall the BSD is a healthy breed, it’s ‘natural’ build means that it does not suffer from extremes of conformation that could be harmful to it’s health or well being.
All breeding stock should be tested for Hip Dysplasia although the average scores for the breed are low and eyes should be tested for hereditary cataracts.
Epilepsy is the most serious health problem in the breed – often late onset and with a complicated mode of inheritance, research projects have been started to examine heritability and to survey how widespread the problem is – many breed clubs now compile databases showing affected dogs which can enable breeders to avoid using those lines.
The BSD requires no special care and has a low incidence of medical problems and it is most likely that your dog will never suffer form these hereditary defects.