Belgian sheepdog, sometimes called Groenendael, breed of sturdy working dog developed from a wide assortment of sheepherding dogs in Belgium in the early 20th cent. It stands from 22 to 26 in. (55.9–66 cm) high at the shoulder and weighs from 50 to 60 lb (22.6–27.2 kg). Its long, straight coat is black, sometimes with white markings on the chin, forechest, and feet. As a result of such developments as the widespread use of fencing, the increasing availability of rail transportation, and a decline in the threat of marauding animals, the necessity for sheepherding dogs began to decline in Belgium toward the end of the 19th cent. Dog breeders began to turn their attention to the show ring. Of the widely divergent types of herding dogs in existence, three varieties differing only in coat and color were finally bred true, i.e., the Belgian Malinois, Belgian sheepdog, and Belgian Tervuren. All were shown under the name “Belgian sheepdog” until 1959 when they were designated separate breeds by the American Kennel Club. See dog.
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