The Belgian Sheepdog

The Belgian Sheepdog is a serious and watchful breed with a strong protective and territorial instinct. This breed excels as a police dog and natural guardian, as well as agile, strong, intelligent, loyal, and active.

Since 1891, these dogs were known as Belgian Shepherds. Since that time, four separate varieties of the Belgian Shepherd have been developed. They have the same basic body type but with different coats (color, texture, and length). In Belgium and France these dogs are all registered as Chien de Berger Belge. In every country in the world EXCEPT the United States, they are considered one breed with four varieties. In the United States, the AKC recognizes the four varieties as separate and distinct breeds.

In addition to the Belgian Sheepdog or Groenendael (long black coat), the other Belgian Sheperds include the Belgian Malinois (brown, short coat), the Belgian Tervueren (long coat any color but black) and the Belgian Laekenois (wire coat). Of these, only the Laekenois is not recognized by the American Kennel Club.

The Groenendael, as with other Belgian Shepherds, was developed in Belgium. This particular variety was primarily associated with the Chateau de Groenendael and was developed by Nicholas Rose, a Belgian breeder. This dog was bred to be an intelligent and loyal dog and has been used in search and rescue, police work, message carriers, and ambulance dogs in World War I. Today, the Groenendael is more often used as a companion dog and as a performance dog. They are very popular and excel in agility, tracking, obedience, and more.

The Groenendael was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1912 as Belgian Sheepdogs and was placed in the working group. In 1959, the breed was split into three separate breeds, and later was moved to the Herding Group. At this time, the Laekenois is only recognized as a foundations stock dog.

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Last Updated: September 1, 2023