The Belgian Shepherd, known as the Groenendael worldwide, and named for this village in Belgium, is one of the four varieties of Belgian Sheepdogs. In most parts of the world the four varieties:the Groenendael (black, long coat, pronounced Grow-en-en-doll), the Laekenois (fawn, rough coat, pronounced Lak-in-wah), Malinois (fawn-mahogany, short coat with black marks and overlay, pronounced Mal-in-wah), and the Tervuren (fawn-mahogany, shades of gray are acceptable in some registries, long coat with black mask and overlay, pronounced Terv-yer-en) are all considered one breed. However, in America since 1959, the AKC has recognized the Groenendael, Malinois and Tervuren as separate breeds, but has not recognized the Laekenois at all. A less well-known, but growing U.S. registry, the UKC, does recognize all four varieties as one breed.
All the Belgian Sheepdogs developed from hardy working dogs, which ensures that the modern breeds are compatibly gifted on the field. The Groenendael was developed by Nicholas Rose, a breeder form Groenendael, Belgium who established the first Belgian Sheepdog kennel with a pair of black sheepdogs, Petite and Picard d`Uccle. Their progeny became the foundation stock for the breed. The highly intelligent and protective Belgian Sheepdog/Groenendael has been used in herding, as a police and war dog in both World Wars, in drug detection, search and rescue, schutzhund, and as a family companion and guardian. Although the Belgian Shepherd is not for everyone, this high energy dog makes an excellent family companion if properly socialized and trained.