If there’s one word to describe the Groenendal temperament, it's energetic. He’s always looking for new ways to entertain himself and loves activities with high levels of exercise. As a result, he can become a fantastic companion for a person with a high-energy lifestyle.
This quality isn’t the only that makes him an ideal fit for a lot of households either; he also has a friendly and gentle disposition that makes him a loving part of the family. His protective instincts make him an outstanding defender of his owner’s home as well.
But if he’s in the wrong hands, he can quickly become a tornado of mischief around your home. Given this information, you must understand the aspects of the Groenendael temperament we discuss below before bringing one home.
The Groenendael Temperament & Personality
The following discussion will showcase why the Groenendael temperament makes him a fantastic companion. But it’ll also highlight some situations where he might not be the ideal dog for a particular owner or household.
Gentle & Friendly
One of the best aspects of the Groenendael temperament is his overall gentleness. He’s a dog that adores his family, and it shows in the bond he creates with them. This affection will even extend to small children, which is a rarity among other dog breeds.
And he’s even known to get along with other pets as well; however, he does better with pets he raised alongside. If you bring a new pet into your home, the Groenendael dominant temperament can be an issue without proper socialization.
This sense of protectiveness comes from his deep love for the people he sees as his family. His affection for his family is so deep that he tends to suffer from separation anxiety: a form of stress brought on by the absence of his owners.
This condition could lead to some destructive behavior around your home. As a result, if you’re always out of the house for long periods, it’s best to avoid getting a Groenendael.
High Activity Level
If you’re looking for a couch potato dog, the Groenendael temperament isn’t going to be a good fit. He has an extremely high level of energy that’ll make even an experienced owner squirm at certain points.
The Groenendael exercise needs are almost unrivaled in the dog community. He needs at least an hour of both physical and mental stimulation to keep him on his best behavior.
If you don’t provide this daily, he’s known to seek it out himself. In other words, he’ll find different ways to release his built up energy. None of these ways will be things you want him to do.
It’ll be actions such as tearing apart pillows, tipping over the trash, or chewing on your shoes. You can avoid these situations by offering many different activities: running, walking, hiking, extensive play, etc.
But whatever you choose, you must remain consistent, or he’ll become an intelligent troublemaker that’s hard to handle.
The Groenendael temperament features an incredibly high IQ. This high level of intelligence makes them easy to train and capable of learning advanced commands; they're uniquely able to do police work and training in dog sports.
It also means you can quickly reinforce good Groenendael behaviors and redirect bad ones; therefore, if a new pet enters the house, he’ll promptly adapt based on your reactions to the animal’s presence.
This ability also helps with meeting new people, as he tends to be wary of strangers; however, this feeling can switch rapidly to acceptance based on your interactions with the person.
But there’s a downside to his high IQ. In some cases, it can make him somewhat stubborn, which can cause a whole bunch of issues. And without proper socialization from an early age, his intelligence can make him shy and independent.
As with most Shepherd breeds, the Groenendael temperament allows him to a fantastic watchdog. Given the Groenendael size and loyalty, he’ll be a handful for any intruder that enters your home.
This protective nature will extend to everyone he sees as family. He also has been known to follow his owner around the home. This trait comes from his need to ensure his loved ones are safe at all times.
It also helps that his high IQ allows him to establish what represents a threat and what doesn’t easily. He isn’t the type of watchdog that’ll bark at every passerby but instead will assess the situation first.
From there, he’ll use his smarts and determine whether or not he needs to act. It’s little traits like this one that made him such a popular pick among shepherds for centuries.
A Brief Discussion of the Groenendael History
Also known as the Belgian Sheepdog, the Groenendael has been a prominent fixture in Europe since the late 19th century. Around this time, dog breeders within Europe became intrigued with developing dog breeds in their countries.
From this interest, Belgium dog breeders concluded there were four different types of herding dogs within their country around 1891: Groenendael, Laekenois, Tervuren, and Malinois. All of these breeds were incredibly similar to each other except in one area: their coat.
And the name Groenendael was given to the breed with the long, black coat in 1910. After being established as a breed, he was used for police work in cities like Paris throughout the early 1900s. The American Kennel also recognized him in 1912 during this time.
His popularity would continue to rise during World War I as he was used in several roles in the war: messenger, sentry, and pulling machine guns. Soldiers grew attached to them and sought them as companions once the fighting stopped.
The Groenendael Appearance
As a double-coated breed, the Groenendael is well known for its ability to do well in cold climates. This characteristic is one of the more distinctive Groenendal traits and makes him an attractive option for many owners.
This double coat also means he’ll have a coarse top layer and a soft undercoat. Both of them will work together to ensure he can deal with the various elements around him. His undercoat’s density will differ depending on where he ends up living.
Just like his fellow European shepherd dog breeds, he’s a large dog with brown eyes and triangle-shaped ears. In most cases, you can expect a full-grown Groenendael weight to be between 44 and 66 pounds.
His fur on his head and the front side of his legs will be shorter than anywhere else. He also has a large amount of long hair in the area around his neck. This feature is called the collarette and is one of the easiest ways to tell a dog’s a Groenendael.
The collarette is most often seen in males and will emerge alongside a trail of long hair: this trail goes down his front legs and thighs. His coat color will fall into one of two categories: black or black with a little bit of white located between his toes, paw pads, or on his chest.
The Groenendael colors are what separate him from the other Belgium shepherds. We should also note that the Groenendael height is 22 to 26 inches.
All You Need to Know About the Groenendael Training Experience
The high energy Groenendael temperament makes them an easy breed to train with the right owner. It also helps that he has a high IQ, which means he can quickly grasp new concepts and commands.
During training sessions, you stick to using reward and praise techniques and avoid harsh methods at all cost. Discipline training methods will make him less susceptible to your efforts. It’ll only make him uninterested and aloof to your commands.
His high IQ does come with one slight side effect as it can make him stubborn. But if you use the right techniques, you should have little to no issue training him. It’s also essential you stick with the same methods from the start of your training and stay patient.
Once you do get a feel for the training, he will take to the sessions quickly. In fact, he loves it so much that he tends to be skillful in many dog sports: agility courses, herding competitions, obedience trials, etc.
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The Groenendael Grooming Requirements
There’s a lot of fantastic things about the Groenendael, but his maintenance level isn’t one of them. His double coat requires a vast amount of upkeep to ensure it shedding doesn’t become a significant issue.
You should expect to give him a thorough brushing about once a week. This brushing should increase during his heavy shed periods: occurring around the beginning of each season. It’s best you brush down all the way to their skin using a pin brush.
This technique is called “line brushing,” which is something your groomer can teach you during your next visit. Other brushing tools that could be helpful are products like a slicker brush, mat comb, and an undercoat rake.
It also a good idea to give him a warm bath when he's heavily shedding as well. This bath will cause his hair follicles to soften up, which will make brushing him much easier. It’ll also keep both the tangling and shedding down to a manageable level.
Other than the baths during the heavy-shedding periods, their bathing requirements are rather mundane. It’ll only be necessary when he ends up rolling in something unpleasant or has too much fun in the mud.
Everything else you need to know about his grooming requirements fall under basic care: brushing their teeth weekly, trimming nails monthly, and checking ears for build ups regularly.
Relevant Groenendael Health Issues
A little good news for prospective owners is this breed isn’t prone to any significant illness. As a result, the Groenendael lifespan tends to be a bit above average ranging between 10 and 12 years.
But this good news doesn’t mean they’re immune to all health issues. The following minor conditions are something you need to aware as a prospective Groenendael owner:
Each of these minor conditions can make your pup’s life rather difficult. It’s best to keep up with regular vet visits, which will ensure you have a professional monitoring your dog’s health. But even with these visitations, he might still fall victim to these issues.
With this in mind, it’s necessary you find a reputable breeder who takes pride in breeding the healthiest dogs possible. These breeders will have paperwork containing the following certifications and evaluations of the puppy’s parents:
- OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) certification and evaluation for Hip Dysplasia
- OFA certification and evaluation for Elbow Dysplasia
- Eye evaluation from the CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation)
Puppies who have parents these certifications and evaluations tend to have less risk of developing these issues. Breeders without this paperwork are typically trying to make a quick buck.
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Finding Your Groenendael
If you understand everything about the Groenendael and feel he’s your choice, you have another decision to make: adopt or buy. The good news is he’s a reasonably popular breed, which means you’ll have a ton of options with either choice.
Groenendael For Sale
If you feel more comfortable buying a Groenendael, the first place you should check is the American Kennel Club. This club will point you toward reputable breeders who operate under their guidelines.
But you’ll have to search under their other name, Belgian Sheepdog, or you won’t find any results. Remember, the Groenendael Belgian Shepherd distinct feature is its black coat coloring: this will be key in separating him from the other three Belgian Shepherds.
If there isn't any available, you could also try looking at the Belgian Sheepdog Club of America. Just like the AKC, this club has its code of ethics their breeders have to follow. These guidelines prohibit selling Groenendael puppies to pet stores.
It also makes sure any breeders associated with them obtain the proper health clearances before breeding. There are sites like Puppyfinder.com as well, which will show you the closest Groenendael puppy for purchase. But regardless, you must ensure you meet with the breeder before you purchase the dog. It’s essential you make sure everything is up to code, and nothing seems fishy. Look out for warning signs such as numerous litters, can pay online via credit card, lack the proper certifications, etc.
If the breeder displays any of these qualities, find a new one. There’s no reason you should contribute to the endangerment of dogs by buying from an unfit breeder. After all, there are plenty of reputable ones out there; you just have to do a little research.
Once you do find one of these high-quality breeders, a Groenendael price should be somewhere between $1200 and $1400.
Groenendael For Adoption
Given the amount of Groenendaels sitting in shelters and rescues, adopting is a route many prospective owners choose. If you’re one of these people, you should check out the Belgian Sheepdog Rescue Trust, which is a Groenendael rescue.
This organization will point you towards numerous dogs that are need of a new forever home. It’s essential you do realize some of them will be coming from neglectful situations; therefore, the transition into your home might be a little challenging.
If this rescue doesn’t have any available dogs, you could try going down to your local shelter. There’s a decent chance a Groenendael is sitting in that shelter waiting to meet you. And if there’s not, it never hurts to let them know your interest in the breed.
There are sites like Adoptapet.com as well, which will show you nearest adoptable Groenendael. As you can see, you have many different options to choose from in the adoption process.
But before you do take one home, please make sure you ask the rescue or shelter some background questions. Getting information about his overall temperament, medical history, and previous home will make his transition into your life smoother.
After you ask your questions and are comfortable with the answers, you can begin the adoption process. The whole thing should cost around $300 depending on some factors such as rescue or shelter and medical costs.
Conclusion: Is The Groenendael the Right Dog For You?
If you’re looking for a high-energy, friendly companion, the Groenendael temperament is an ideal fit. He loves rigorous exercise, and his overall gentle nature would make him a perfect pet for you.
But if you’re a first-time looking for a low attention-seeking dog, you should move onto a different breed. He’ll overwhelm you, and all his bad behaviors will outshine the good ones.