The existence of the Belgian Sheepdog can be traced back to Belgium in the 1800s where they were used for centuries to herd sheep and even guard property. In 1910, the Groenendael (pronounced "groe-nen-dael"), heir to the name Belgian Sheepdog, was named after the kennel who selectively bred these solid black dogs since 1893. During the 19th century, Professor Adolphe Reul of the Belgian School of Veterinary Medicine categorized the shepherd dogs of Belgium into eight groups, which were further condensed to the four varieties we see today that includes the Groenendael (longhaired, black), Laekenois (wirehaired), Malinois (shorthaired), and Tervuren (longhaired, "blackened" fawn or mahogany). In Belgium, they are considered four varieties of the same breed since all coat types would appear in one litter. In addition to herding, the Groenendael has been used in police work, guardian positions, and as customs agents.
Although the Belgian Sheepdog, or Groenendael, is the most elegant-looking of the four varieties, they are also muscular, well-built, and hard-working herding dogs. Their striking black weather-resistant coat has a long-haired topcoat over an extremely dense undercoat. Tireless and determined, the Belgian Sheepdog can work for long hours and tends to move in circles rather than straight lines due to their herding instincts. Their dark brown eyes are slightly almond-shaped and they have triangular-shaped ears that stand straight up. The muzzle of the Groenendael is moderately pointed with a black nose to match the gorgeous dark color of the coat and they have a large sturdy tail that hangs low at rest.