The elegant Belgian Sheepdog is a muscular black dog, solid but not heavy, and very agile, with a proud carriage. The body is squarely proportioned. The triangular ears stand erect and the muzzle is long and tapering. The coat is very full, moderately long, with a ruff around the neck and extra feathering on the underside, legs, and tail. There is a dense undercoat. The face and lower legs are covered with short hair. A little white on the chest, chin, or toes is permitted in the standard. The long feathered tail reaches at least to the hocks. The brown eyes are almond shaped and the nose is black.
In most of the world, the Belgian Sheepdog is known as the Groenendael (pronounced Grow-en-en-doll), named for the village in Belgium. It is one of four varieties of Belgian Shepherd Dogs: Groenendael (longhaired black); Malinois (shorthaired fawn with black mask and black overlay); Tervuren (longhaired, in shades of fawn through gray, with black mask and black overlay); and Laekenois (rough-haired fawn). These four are considered a single breed in most of the world. Since 1959, the AKC has recognized the Groenendael, Malinois, and Tervuren as separate breeds, but doesn't recognize the Laekenois at all. The Belgian Sheepdog was developed by Nicholas Rose, a breeder from 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 has been used in herding, as a police and war dog in two world wars, in drug detection, in search and rescue, as a Schutzhund, and as a family companion and guardian.