The Belgian Tervuren is a friendly breed that has a great personality. They’re brilliant dogs and are naturally curious.
Other Names: Tervuren dog, Chien de Berger Belge, Belgian Sheepdog
Country Of Origin: Belgium
Dog Group: Herding, sheepdog
Size: Medium to large
Recommended For: Families, couples, single owners
Maintenance Level: Moderate
Lifespan: 10-12 years
Temperament: Intelligent, loyal, affectionate
Suitable For the First-Time Owner: No
Good With Children: Yes
Good With Other Animals: Yes
Good With Strangers: No
Good For Apartments: No
Exercise Requirements: Daily walking
Can Live In Hot Weather: Yes
Can Live In Cold Weather: Yes
Can Tolerate Being Left Alone: Yes
Trainability: Easy to moderate
The Tervuren is a breed of herding dog that originates in Belgium, where it has been used as a working animal for centuries.
Along with three other breeds, the Tervuren is known interchangeably by its breed-specific name, or under the general title of “Belgian Sheepdog,” depending on which kennel club the dog is registered with.
Belgian Tervuren is friendly, loyal, and energetic. Although some owners might find it challenging to handle this breed, Tervuren makes excellent family pets and are good with children.
They’re also popular entrants into competitions, with the breed excelling in agility and obedience trials.
Color: Fawn, red, or gray with black overlay and black face mask
Height: Males – 24-26 inches, Females – 22-24 inches
Weight: Males – 55-66lbs, Females – 44-55lbs
Personality and Temperament:
Tervurens are highly trainable and can pick up basic commands very quickly. Owners should also have a little problem teaching them more complex obedience commands, although this requires a firm and confident trainer.
However, if there is not enough mental stimulation given, they can become destructive, so it’s essential for owners to cater to the breed’s playful nature.
While the breed is regularly used for guarding purposes, Belgian Tervuren isn’t aggressive if appropriately socialized.
Tervuren should be taken to training classes as early as possible to ensure success.
However, Tervuren is a very energetic breed, and so plenty of daily exercises is a must. Ideally, the breed needs regular exercise, which relates to its working roles, but one long walk a day would be enough.
Belgian Tervuren also enjoys playing, so exercise should be combined with plenty of mental stimulation to keep them happy and engaged.
Because they love to play so much, Tervuren makes good family dogs, and are great with children. However, they should be socialized early so they can build a good relationship with children and the more large family unit.
Belgian Tervurens aren’t aggressive, and so are usually beautiful to be around small children, although this will vary depending on the dog’s personality and training.
Due to their size and energy levels, the breed isn’t a suitable choice for apartment living. Tervuren ideally needs plenty of lands to enjoy, and don’t really like being kept inside.
However, owners should ensure that any land the dog can access is secure, as the breed enjoys roaming and is known to escape.
Similarly, Belgian Tervuren isn’t the right choice for first-time owners for the same reasons. Although they’re easy to train, the breed needs a firm and confident trainer, which new owners generally won’t be.
Tervurens are most suitable for experienced dog owners, or those who will use the dog for working purposes.
Belgian Tervuren is generally good with other animals, although their herding instinct may kick in around some pets.
Tervurens are good around other dogs, although they generally prefer to be an only pet because they were bred for individual working purposes.
Puppy obedience training classes are a great way to socialize the dog and get it used to the company.
While Tervurens are usually fine around other animals, they can be wary around strangers. Tervurens are regularly used as guard dogs, which should be some indication of their cautious nature.
They will be particularly defensive of their property but will be less so when their owner is around.
Owners who worry this will be a problem should focus on socialization and training to reduce the dog’s cautious temperament.
Tervurens were bred for use in Belgium, and their longer coat means they’re best suited to temperate climates.
However, the breed can tolerate both hot and cold climates, but not to extremes. If you live in an unusually warm place, consider trimming the dog’s coat in the summer and providing plenty of shade during the hottest times of the day.
Due to their role as a livestock herding and guarding dog, Tervuren can be left alone for long periods.
This makes them an excellent choice for working families, although time alone should be carefully balanced against playtime to ensure the dog doesn’t become destructive or hyperactive.
It will probably be a good idea to incorporate crate training if you plan on leaving a Tervuren alone.
Belgian Tervuren has a double-layered coat that has a soft but dense undercoat, and a longer and more coarse topcoat.
They don’t shed very much for most of the year but drop their winter coat during shedding season. Luckily, this only happens once a year.
Throughout the rest of the year, it’s worth brushing the dog weekly to remove any loose hairs.
This is best done with a rubber mitt or slicker brush as this will help catch hairs in the undercoat. During shedding season, however, daily brushing is needed, and a comb with a razor blade is the best tool for the job.
It’s not necessary to bathe Tervurens all that often because their coat is quite good at shedding dirt, and doesn’t smell.
Bathing should be saved for when the dog gets very dirty, and owners should attempt to brush out any dirt before resorting to a bath.
Tervurens have long hair around their ears; meaning owners should check them at least once a week for debris or mites.
They can be prone to ear infections, so regular cleaning is essential too. As with any other dog, regular nail trimming and tooth brushing are necessary to keep the dog in peak health.
Common Diseases and Conditions:
Unlike many other purebred dogs, the Tervuren is reasonably healthy and only suffers from a few hereditary conditions.
None of these are unique to the breed and include common purebred conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and epilepsy.
These conditions are generally easy to manage and should be tested for by the breeder before adoption.
However, some come on later in life, so responsible owners should take a Tervuren for regular checkups with the vet to ensure any conditions are caught early.
Like other low-chested dogs, Tervuren can be prone to gastric problems, such as bloat. Bloat can be fatal, and warning signs include panicked behavior and vomiting.
However, bloat is easy to avoid providing the dog is given a proper diet and fed at the right times.
The Belgian Tervuren is one of 4 breeds of herding dog that originated in Belgium. Depending on which kennel club registers the dog, it may be classed as either a Tervuren or a Belgian Sheepdog, as some kennel clubs recognize all four breeds under one name. This isn’t the case in the USA though. Read Full History
The Tervuren can trace its ancestors back to the middle ages, and possibly further.
Until the late 19th century, Tervurens were bred interchangeably with the other three breeds of Belgian Sheepdog (Groenendael, Laekenois, and Belgian Malinois), although this has been avoided in recent years to ensure a distinct separation between the breeds.
Again, this will depend on the country in which the dog is being bred.
The breed originates specifically from the village of Tervuren, where famous dog breeder M.F. Corbeel took fawn and black specimens and bred them to form the Tervuren we know today.
This is how the breed ended up with black overlay and a black face mask, both of which are necessary traits for recognition.
While Tervurens were initially used for herding and guarding livestock, their resultant intelligence has made them a versatile working dog.
They’re regularly found in military and police roles but also do very well as helper dogs and search-and-rescue animals.
The American Kennel Club recognized the Tervuren as a distinct breed in 1959, before which it was known as the Belgian Sheepdog.
Belgian Tervurens are often mistaken or compared with German Shepherds, as the two breeds share many traits.
However, German Shepherds are generally sleeker and larger than Tervurens, which are more square and smaller.
However, both Tervurens and German Shepherds are lively and energetic breeds, and both are excellent choices for family pets.
Belgian Tervuren Facts & Figures
Did You Know?
- Tervurens feature in the 1984 film, The Company of Wolves, in which they played the wolves. The dogs had to be dyed to make them the right color.
- A Tervuren also features in popular British comedy Friday Night Dinner, playing the dog Wilson.
- A Tervuren by the name of Snowflower Maine Topper was one of the first on the scene at the Oklahoma City bombing, where it helped rescue injured people.
- A lack of black markings, particularly the face mask, is a severe breed defect and can lead to disqualification in most competitions.
- Alexandre Clarys, a famous Belgian painter, features a Tervuren in one of his most famous paintings.
- A Tervuren won the first-ever American Kennel Club herding competition, which illustrates their natural herding skills.
- The price of a Belgian Tervuren depends on the area, but owners can expect to pay anywhere between $1,000 and $4,000 for an excellent specimen from a reputable breeder.