Belgian Tervuren

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belgian tervuren portrait
Get ready to be charmed by the alluring Belgian Tervuren! These elegant, brainy, and adaptable dogs boast a lush, long-haired coat and an adventurous spirit that's hard to resist. With a unique blend of beauty, smarts, and playfulness, it's no wonder Belgian Tervurens have garnered a dedicated fanbase.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Belgian Tervuren is an excellent choice for individuals and families who are seeking an intelligent, energetic, and affectionate companion. They thrive in active households where they can be engaged both mentally and physically. However, they may not be the best fit for first-time dog owners or those with a more sedentary lifestyle, as Tervurens require consistent training, socialization, and exercise to truly flourish.

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEBelgian Tervuren
OTHER NAMESTerv, Belgian Shepherd, Chien de Berger Belge
ORIGINBelgium
BREED GROUPHerding Group
BREED SIZELarge
HEIGHT22-26 inches
WEIGHT45-75 lbs
LIFESPAN12-14 years
LIVING SPACELarge
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERLow
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSModerate
EXERCISE NEEDSVery High
TRAINABILITYVery High
BARKING TENDENCYModerate
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELModerate
POPULARITY RANK104th
two belgian tervurens outdoor
Photo: SnottyBoggins/Pixabay

Appearance

The Belgian Tervuren is a medium to large-sized dog, showcasing a well-balanced and elegant appearance that embodies strength and agility. This breed typically stands between 22 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder, with males being slightly larger than females. Males usually weigh between 55 to 75 pounds, while females tend to range from 45 to 60 pounds.

The Tervuren’s body is characterized by a strong, straight back, a deep chest, and well-sprung ribs, all contributing to a powerful and athletic build. Their tails are long and set high, with a slight curve and abundant feathering that adds to their regal appearance.

The head of a Belgian Tervuren is well-proportioned to the body, displaying a clean-cut and refined outline. Their skull is flat and moderately wide, with a slight but distinct stop between the eyes. The muzzle is strong and tapers slightly towards the nose, which is always black.

Tervurens have medium-sized, almond-shaped eyes that exude an intelligent and alert expression. The eye color typically ranges from dark brown to lighter shades of brown, harmonizing with the dog’s coat color. Their ears are triangular, erect, and set high on the head, further accentuating the breed’s attentive and keen demeanor.

One of the most striking features of the Belgian Tervuren is its luxurious double coat. The outer coat is long, straight, and abundant, with a somewhat harsh texture that provides protection against various weather conditions.

The undercoat, on the other hand, is dense and soft, offering additional insulation. The coat is particularly profuse around the neck, forming a distinctive mane or ruff, more pronounced in males. The back of the legs, tail, and rear end also sport longer hair, known as feathering or breeches.

The Tervuren’s coat comes in a range of rich colors, including shades of red, fawn, and gray, with black overlay and black mask. The coat may also exhibit varying degrees of blackening along the hairs, referred to as “blackening” or “smudging.”

Overall, the Belgian Tervuren’s appearance exudes grace, intelligence, and athleticism, making them an attractive and eye-catching breed. Their distinctive coat and expressive features contribute to their unique charm and allure, setting them apart from other breeds.

belgian tervuren standing in a park
Photo: AvanHeertum/Getty Images Pro

Temperament

The Belgian Tervuren is known for its intelligent, affectionate, and loyal temperament. These dogs are highly devoted to their families and form strong bonds with their human companions. Tervurens are also known for their lively and spirited nature, often displaying a playful and mischievous side that makes them delightful companions.

With people, the Belgian Tervuren is generally friendly and sociable, always eager to please their owners. They thrive on interaction and enjoy being involved in family activities. This breed is also known for its sensitivity, often displaying an uncanny ability to pick up on their owner’s emotions and respond accordingly.

When it comes to children, the Belgian Tervuren can make an excellent playmate and guardian. They are typically patient and gentle with kids, especially when raised together from an early age. However, due to their size and exuberant nature, it is essential to supervise interactions between Tervurens and young children to ensure everyone’s safety.

With strangers, the Belgian Tervuren can be initially reserved or aloof. They possess a natural wariness of unfamiliar people, which contributes to their effectiveness as watchdogs. However, once they assess that a stranger poses no threat, Tervurens can warm up quickly and become friendly. Early socialization is crucial to help them develop into well-rounded and confident dogs.

Belgian Tervurens tend to get along well with other pets, particularly if raised together from a young age. Their herding instincts may sometimes cause them to attempt to control or corral other animals, but this behavior can be managed through proper training and socialization. It is important to note that Tervurens may have a high prey drive and may not be compatible with smaller pets such as rodents or birds.

One unique personality perk of the Belgian Tervuren is their remarkable versatility. These dogs are capable of excelling in various activities, from herding and agility to obedience and search and rescue work. Their intelligence, trainability, and enthusiasm make them highly adaptable and well-suited to diverse roles.

Despite their many positive traits, the Belgian Tervuren may not be the ideal breed for everyone. They require consistent training, mental stimulation, and physical exercise to prevent boredom and the development of undesirable behaviors. Tervurens may also exhibit strong-willed or stubborn tendencies at times, which can pose challenges for inexperienced or passive owners.

Additionally, the Belgian Tervuren’s protective instincts can sometimes manifest as excessive barking or guarding behaviors. It is essential to establish appropriate boundaries through early training and socialization to ensure these behaviors do not become problematic.

Ideal Environment

The ideal environment for a Belgian Tervuren is one that caters to their physical, mental, and emotional needs. These dogs thrive in active households with ample opportunities for exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction.

Physical Environment

Physically, the Belgian Tervuren can adapt to a variety of living situations, from spacious suburban homes with fenced yards to rural properties with ample room to roam. However, they are not typically suited for apartment living, as their size, energy levels, and protective instincts may not be compatible with such close quarters.

A securely fenced yard or designated outdoor space is highly recommended, as it provides a safe area for them to expend energy and engage in play or training activities.

Climate Adaptability

Regarding climate adaptability, the Belgian Tervuren’s dense double coat provides protection against cold weather conditions, making them well-suited for cooler climates. They can tolerate moderate heat but may struggle in extreme temperatures. It is essential to provide shade, fresh water, and controlled exercise during hot weather to prevent overheating or heatstroke. Regular grooming and coat maintenance can also help keep them comfortable in varying weather conditions.

Ideal Owner

When it comes to pet parents, the Belgian Tervuren is best suited for those with previous dog experience, particularly with working breeds. First-time dog owners may find the Tervuren’s intelligence, energy, and strong-willed nature challenging to manage without prior knowledge or experience.

Additionally, this breed requires a firm and consistent leader who can establish clear boundaries and provide guidance through positive reinforcement training methods.

Other Pets

In terms of other pets, the Belgian Tervuren can coexist harmoniously with dogs and other animals, particularly if raised together from a young age. However, their herding instincts and high prey drive may require extra supervision and management around smaller pets such as rodents or birds.

belgian tervuren doing in an agility training
Photo: AvanHeertum/Getty Images

Grooming

The Belgian Tervuren is a moderately high-maintenance breed when it comes to grooming, due to their luxurious double coat. Regular grooming is essential to keep their coat clean, healthy, and free from mats or tangles.

Coat Care

The long, abundant coat of the Belgian Tervuren requires regular brushing to remove loose hair, prevent matting, and distribute natural oils throughout the coat. It is recommended to brush your Tervuren at least two to three times per week using a slicker brush or a long-toothed comb.

During shedding seasons, which typically occur twice a year, daily brushing may be necessary to manage the increased hair loss and keep your home free from excess fur.

Belgian Tervurens do not require frequent bathing as it can strip the coat of its natural oils and lead to dry skin. Generally, bathing your Tervuren every two to three months, or as needed, is sufficient to keep them clean and fresh. Use a gentle dog shampoo that is specifically formulated for double-coated breeds to maintain the coat’s health and appearance.

Ear Care

Regular ear cleaning is essential for the Belgian Tervuren, as their erect ears can be prone to dirt and debris buildup. Check your dog’s ears weekly for signs of redness, irritation, or odor, which may indicate an infection.

Gently clean the outer ear with a cotton ball or soft cloth moistened with an ear-cleaning solution specifically designed for dogs. Avoid inserting anything into the ear canal, as this can cause injury or push debris further in.

Dental Care

Dental care plays a crucial role in maintaining your Belgian Tervuren’s overall health. It is recommended to brush your dog’s teeth at least two to three times per week using a soft-bristled toothbrush and dog-specific toothpaste. Regular teeth brushing helps prevent tartar buildup, gum disease, and bad breath. Additionally, providing your Tervuren with dental chews and toys can help support good oral hygiene.

Nail Care

Nail care is another important aspect of grooming for the Belgian Tervuren. Their nails should be trimmed every three to four weeks, or as needed, to prevent overgrowth and discomfort.

Use a guillotine-style or scissor-style nail clipper specifically designed for dogs, and be cautious not to cut the quick, which is the blood vessel inside the nail. If you are unsure about trimming your dog’s nails, consider seeking assistance from a professional groomer or veterinarian.

belgian tervuren playing in a pool
Photo: AvanHeertum/Getty Images

Exercise

The Belgian Tervuren is a highly energetic and athletic breed with significant exercise needs. Being a working breed, they require consistent physical activity and mental stimulation to keep them happy, healthy, and well-behaved.

Exercise Amount & Types

On average, a Belgian Tervuren requires at least one to two hours of exercise per day. This can include brisk walks, jogging, hiking, or running in a securely fenced area. Off-leash playtime in a safe environment is also beneficial, as it allows the Tervuren to stretch their legs and burn off excess energy while enjoying the freedom to roam and explore.

Interactive games, such as fetch or tug-of-war, can also be a fun and engaging way to exercise your Belgian Tervuren. These games not only provide physical activity but also help reinforce training commands and encourage good behavior. Puzzle toys and treat-dispensing toys can offer additional mental stimulation, keeping your Tervuren’s mind sharp and occupied.

Dog Sports

In addition to regular walks and play sessions, the Belgian Tervuren excels in various dog sports and activities. These canines are known for their agility, obedience, herding, and tracking capabilities, making them ideal candidates for participation in competitions or organized events.

Engaging your Tervuren in these activities not only provides them with physical exercise but also offers mental stimulation and strengthens the bond between you and your dog.

Exercise Precautions

It’s crucial to remember that the Belgian Tervuren’s exercise needs may vary depending on factors such as age, health, and individual temperament. Younger dogs and those with higher energy levels may require more exercise, while older or less active dogs may benefit from shorter, less intense activities.

Always monitor your dog’s response to exercise and adjust the routine accordingly to ensure their needs are met.

Training

Training a Belgian Tervuren can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience due to their high intelligence, eagerness to please, and strong work ethic. These attributes make the Tervuren highly trainable and capable of excelling in various tasks, from basic obedience to advanced dog sports. However, it’s essential to approach training with the right mindset and techniques to ensure success.

One key aspect of training a Belgian Tervuren is to start early and remain consistent. Early socialization and exposure to various environments, people, and other animals are crucial for the development of a well-rounded and confident dog.

Puppy obedience classes can be an excellent way to begin the process, teaching your Tervuren basic commands and manners while also providing valuable socialization opportunities.

Belgian Tervurens respond best to positive reinforcement training methods, which emphasize rewards such as treats, praise, or playtime for desired behaviors.

This approach helps create a strong bond between you and your dog while keeping training sessions engaging and enjoyable for both parties. Avoid harsh or punitive training techniques, as these can damage the relationship with your Tervuren and may lead to fear or aggression.

It’s important to remember that Belgian Tervurens can be strong-willed and independent at times, which may present some challenges during training. Patience, persistence, and a calm demeanor are essential when working with this breed. If you find yourself becoming frustrated, take a break and resume the training session later with a fresh mindset.

belgian tervuren standing by the sea
Photo: Ana Iacob/Getty Images

Diet & Nutrition 

The diet and nutrition of a Belgian Tervuren play a vital role in maintaining their overall health and well-being. Providing your dog with a balanced and nutritious diet will help support their energy levels, maintain a healthy weight, and promote a shiny coat and strong immune system.

What to Feed & How Much

When selecting food for your Belgian Tervuren, look for high-quality dry, wet, or raw foods that meet the guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

These guidelines ensure that the food contains all the necessary nutrients and is formulated to meet the specific needs of your dog’s age, size, and activity level. Opt for products made with wholesome ingredients such as lean meats, whole grains, and vegetables, and avoid those with artificial additives or fillers.

The amount and frequency of feeding will depend on your Belgian Tervuren’s age, weight, and activity level. Puppies typically require more frequent meals, around three to four times per day, to support their growth and development.

As your dog matures, you can gradually reduce the number of meals to two times per day. It’s essential to follow the feeding guidelines provided on your chosen dog food packaging or consult your veterinarian for personalized advice based on your dog’s individual needs.

Treats

Treats can be a useful training tool and a way to bond with your Belgian Tervuren, but they should be given in moderation to prevent weight gain or nutritional imbalances. Look for healthy treats made with natural ingredients and avoid those high in fat, salt, or sugar. Treats should not exceed 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake.

Water

Fresh water should always be readily available for your Belgian Tervuren, ensuring they stay well-hydrated throughout the day. Make sure to provide clean water in a suitable bowl, and check it regularly to refill or refresh as needed.

Health

The Belgian Tervuren is generally a healthy and robust breed, with a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years. However, like all dog breeds, they can be predisposed to certain health issues. Responsible breeding practices, regular veterinary check-ups, and proper care can help mitigate these risks and ensure your Tervuren maintains a healthy and happy life.

Here are common health issues associated with the Belgian Tervuren:

Hip Dysplasia: This genetic condition occurs when the hip joint doesn’t develop correctly, leading to arthritis and pain over time. Hip dysplasia is prevalent in many medium to large-sized breeds, including the Belgian Tervuren. Regular screening and responsible breeding practices can help reduce the incidence of this condition.

Elbow Dysplasia: Similar to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is a developmental issue affecting the elbow joint, resulting in pain, lameness, and arthritis. Early detection and intervention, such as weight management and anti-inflammatory medications, can help manage this condition and improve the quality of life for affected dogs.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is a group of inherited eye diseases that cause the gradual degeneration of the retina, ultimately leading to blindness. Regular eye exams can help detect PRA in its early stages, and responsible breeding practices can help minimize the risk of this condition in future generations.

Epilepsy: Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. While the exact cause of epilepsy in Belgian Tervurens is unknown, it is believed to have a genetic component. Proper diagnosis and treatment, including anticonvulsant medications, can help manage epilepsy and minimize its impact on your dog’s life.

Allergies: Belgian Tervurens can be prone to various allergies, including food, environmental, and contact allergies. Symptoms may include itching, redness, and inflammation of the skin, as well as gastrointestinal issues. Identifying the cause of the allergy and implementing appropriate treatment, such as dietary changes or medication, can help alleviate symptoms and improve your dog’s quality of life.

belgian tervuren on a pathway
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History

The Belgian Tervuren has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the late 19th century. The breed is one of four varieties of Belgian Shepherd dogs, alongside the Belgian Malinois, Belgian Groenendael, and Belgian Laekenois. All four varieties share similar origins but are distinguished by their unique coat types and colors.

Belgian Shepherds, including the Tervuren, were developed in Belgium as versatile working dogs, capable of herding, guarding, and serving as loyal companions. The breed’s name, Tervuren, comes from the village of Tervuren in Belgium, where the first dog of this variety was bred.

The Tervuren was primarily bred by a man named M.F. Corbeel, who owned a pair of long-haired, fawn-colored Belgian Shepherds named Tom and Poes. Their offspring were the foundation of the Belgian Tervuren breed.

In the early years, the primary purpose of the Belgian Tervuren was to serve as a herding dog for sheep and cattle. However, their intelligence, loyalty, and athleticism soon led them to be employed in various other roles. The breed gained recognition for their abilities as police and military dogs, search and rescue dogs, and even service dogs for people with disabilities.

The Belgian Tervuren’s popularity began to grow outside of Belgium, and the breed made its way to the United States in the early 20th century. The first Belgian Tervuren was registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1918.

However, the breed’s growth in the United States was stunted by the onset of World War I and World War II, which greatly impacted European breeding programs and the importation of dogs.

After World War II, interest in the Belgian Tervuren began to revive, and dedicated breeders worked to reestablish the breed in the United States. The Belgian Tervuren was officially recognized as a separate breed by the AKC in 1959. Since then, the breed has continued to grow in popularity, both as a working dog and a beloved family companion.

In popular culture, the Belgian Tervuren has made several appearances, showcasing their intelligence and versatility. One notable example is the 1990s television series “The Pretender,” in which a Belgian Tervuren named Sydney appeared as a K-9 police dog. Additionally, the breed has been featured in various books and movies, often depicted as loyal and courageous heroes.

Today, the Belgian Tervuren is not only a versatile working dog but also a loving and loyal companion for those who appreciate their unique characteristics and are willing to invest the time and effort into meeting their exercise and training needs. With a rich history rooted in their Belgian origins, the Belgian Tervuren has made a lasting impact on the world of working dogs and canine companionship.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Belgian Tervuren in the United States is the American Belgian Tervuren Club (ABTC). Founded in 1960, shortly after the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club, the ABTC is dedicated to promoting and protecting the interests of the Belgian Tervuren.

The club provides resources on the breed, supports responsible breeding practices, and encourages participation in various dog sports and activities. The ABTC’s website can be accessed here.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. 

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

You can check the Belgian Tervuren’s breed standard set by the American Kennel Club (AKC) here.

young belgian tervuren playing on the beach
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Acquiring

Thinking of adding a Belgian Tervuren to your family? Begin by preparing a comfy bed, balanced food, mentally-stimulating toys, grooming tools for their thick coat, and identifying a trusted vet.

If buying is your choice, it’s essential to opt for a reputable breeder to ensure a healthy, well-socialized pup. But why not contemplate rescue? Many Tervurens in shelters are waiting to share their smart, energetic nature with a loving home. The American Kennel Club and the American Belgian Tervuren Club can aid you in this heartwarming path.

Whether you adopt or buy, you’re gaining more than a pet. You’re inviting a spirited, loyal companion into your life. With a Belgian Tervuren, every day is an adventure filled with stimulation, companionship, and the joy of having a dog that’s as protective as it is loving!

FAQs

Are Belgian Tervurens good family dogs?

Yes, Belgian Tervurens can make excellent family dogs when properly socialized and trained. They are known for their loyalty, affection, and protective instincts towards their family members. However, they require consistent exercise and mental stimulation, so they may not be suitable for families with a sedentary lifestyle.

How smart are Belgian Tervurens?

Belgian Tervurens are highly intelligent dogs, which makes them quick learners and capable of excelling in various tasks, from basic obedience to advanced dog sports. Their intelligence also contributes to their strong work ethic, making them excellent working dogs in various fields such as police, military, and search and rescue.

Do Belgian Tervurens like to cuddle?

Belgian Tervurens can be affectionate with their family members, but their desire to cuddle may vary depending on the individual dog’s personality. Some Tervurens enjoy cuddling, while others may prefer to show their affection through play or other forms of interaction.

Is the Belgian Tervuren the same as the Belgian Malinois?

While the Belgian Tervuren and Belgian Malinois are closely related, they are not the same breed. Both breeds are part of the four Belgian Shepherd varieties, distinguished by their unique coat types and colors. The Belgian Tervuren has a long, thick coat, typically in shades of fawn and black, while the Belgian Malinois has a short coat that comes in a range of colors, including fawn, red, and mahogany with black markings.

How much grooming do Belgian Tervurens require?

Belgian Tervurens have a long, thick double coat that requires regular grooming to prevent matting and keep the coat healthy. Brushing your Tervuren at least once or twice a week is recommended, with more frequent brushing during shedding seasons. Occasional baths will help keep their coat clean and free of dirt.

Are Belgian Tervurens hypoallergenic?

No, Belgian Tervurens are not considered hypoallergenic. They have a long double coat that sheds seasonally, which can trigger allergies in sensitive individuals. If you have allergies, it’s best to spend time around the breed before making a commitment to ensure you can tolerate the allergens.

Can Belgian Tervurens live in apartments?

Belgian Tervurens can adapt to living in an apartment if their exercise and mental stimulation needs are consistently met. However, they are an active and energetic breed, so a home with a yard where they can safely run and play is generally more suitable. If living in an apartment, make sure to provide daily walks, off-leash playtime, and mental enrichment to keep your Tervuren happy and healthy.

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