Belgian Tervuren Dog History, Health And Care

Introduction Of Belgian Tervuren Dog

The Belgian Tervuren, also known as the Terv, the Belgian Tervueren, the Belgische Herdershond Tervuerense and the Chien de Berger Belge, is one of several Belgian sheepherding breeds currently recognized in the American Kennel Club’s Herding Group. Once categorized with the other 3 varieties of Belgian Sheepdogs, this variety is distinguished by its fawn and black (rather than pure black) coat color and long hair. The first Tervuren was registered with the AKC in 1918. Before 1959, these dogs were registered and shown as Belgian Sheepdogs in this country. In 1959, the American Kennel Club granted separate breed classifications designating the Belgian Tervuren, Malinois and Sheepdog (Groenendael) as individual breeds.

The Belgian Tervuren has a watchful yet companionable personality. It is innately protective of its family, without begin overly aggressive, and is somewhat standoffish towards strangers. Like the other Belgian sheepherding dogs, this dog is brave, vigilant, agile, alert and hard-working. It also forms extremely strong bonds with its family, and the breed requires early socialization and training to prevent aggressive or nervous behaviors from developing.

The ideal male Tervuren is 24 to 26 inches in height, and the female 22 to 24 inches, measured at the withers. Males under 23 or over 26 ½ inches, and females under 21 or over 24.5 inches, are disqualified from the AKC breed standard. They typically weigh between 45 and 70 pounds (the females are usually smaller and lighter than the males). The Tervuren’s long double coat is moderately harsh, neither silky nor wiry. This breed can adapt to virtually any climate. This shepherd is a rich fawn to russet mahogany in color, with black overlay on the tip of each hair, and their coats tend to darken with age.

Belgian Tervuren Dog Breed Quick Facts

Affection Level 4/5
Apartment Friendly 1/5
Barking Tendencies 4/5
Cat Friendly 2/5
Child Friendly 3/5
Dog Friendly3/5
Exercise Need 5/5
Grooming Needs 3/5
Health Issues 2/5
Intelligence 4/5
Playfulness 4/5

Belgian Tervuren – Appearance & Grooming


According to the AKC standard, Belgian Tervurens are, “strong, agile, well-muscled, alert and full of life,” and “give the impression of depth and solidity without bulkiness.” They are well balanced dogs with square proportions and defined muscles. They have long heads with triangular, prick ears that are set high atop the head. They have deep brown, almond-shaped eyes with an ever-curious expression. They have medium to long coats with a thick undercoat and a straight, harsh, black-tipped outer coat. The ruff around the neck, called a “collarette” is a distinctive characteristic of the breed and is more pronounced in males. They range in color from fawn to russet mahogany with a black overlay. The lighter hairs are usually tipped in black. Their chests are either black and gray or all black, and their faces have a black mask.

Size and Weight

Belgian Tervurens stand between 21 and 26.5 inches at the shoulder, with the preferred height for females being 22 to 24 inches, and for males 24 to 26 inches. They typically weigh between 40 and 70 pounds, with females averaging in at 47 pounds and males averaging 62. Movements of the Terv should always be light and graceful.

Coat and Color

The Belgian Tervuren’s topcoat is thick, long and straight and feels slightly harsh to the touch. Their undercoat is thick and soft and provides protection from the elements. In warmer climates the undercoat will not grow in as thickly as dogs who live in colder areas. They have short hair on the head, ears and front of the legs. The openings of the ears sport tufts of hair for protection. The hair around the neck of a Terv is called a collarette – which is essentially a mini mane and is more pronounced in males than females.

Belgian Tervurens range in color from fawn to russet mahogany with a black overlay. The lighter hairs are usually tipped in black. Their chests are either black and gray or all black, and their faces have a black mask. Additionally, the ears and tail tips are usually black. Many Tervs become darker with age, especially males. The tips of the toes are sometimes white.

Grooming Needs

Belgian Tervurens are double-coated, which means they shed year round. Males will have a heavy shed in the spring, and females shed heavily between heat cycles. Weekly brushing sessions of 15 to 20 minutes are the norm, but daily brushing can cut back on the amount of hair that gets dropped to the floor. Baths are only required as-needed, which usually amounts to four per year, unless the dog likes to roll around in the muck, which some do. Additional hygiene requirements are regular tooth brushing and ear cleaning. Keeping the teeth clean prevents tarter build up and bad breath, and regular ear cleaning can stave off painful ear infections. If the dog does not naturally wear his nails down outdoors, monthly nail clipping may be required.

Belgian Tervuren – History and Health


The Belgian Tervuren was named after the Belgian village of Tervuren, where rural farmers in the late 1800s had a great need for a general purpose herding and guarding dog. This breed’s protective nature provided security for farm and family, and its instinctive herding abilities helped with daily tending of the flocks. There is little historical record about this breed before the Belgian Shepherd Club was established in 1891, with the first breed standard being approved by that club in 1893. At that time, the Belgian sheepherding dogs that today are separate breeds were lumped together, with a variety of colors and coat lengths being acceptable. Currently, any longhaired Belgian Shepherd that is not black is considered a Tervuren.

In the early years of its development, the breed primarily was used to guard, to protect and to herd. The breed almost became extinct during World Wars I and II, although a small group of dedicated breeders continued preserving and protecting the breed. After World War II, the Belgian Shepherds, generally, experienced a resurgence of popularity. In 1948, in Normandy, France, a pale fawn longhaired shepherd called Willy de la Garde Noire was born, of Groenendael parents (now known as the black longhaired Belgian Sheepdog). Willy was campaigned heavily in Belgium and France and competed equally with the best Belgian Malinois and Groenendael of the time. It is because of Willy that the renaissance of the Belgian Tervuren began in France, ultimately extending throughout Europe and to the United States. The modern Tervuren is a post-World War II descendant of longhaired puppies in Malinois litters and fawn to gray puppies in Groenendael litters. As the breed grew in popularity, it became prized not only for herding but also for its stable, affectionate and loyal personality. They are valued as human companions, therapy dogs and service dogs for the disabled and also excel at obedience, conformation, sledding, schutzhund and agility.


The Belgian Tervuren has an average lifespan of between 10 and 14 years, and they have relatively few inherited health problems. They may be prone to developing allergies, cataracts, epilepsy, hip or elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism and progressive retinal atrophy. Their long coat requires daily brushing to reduce shedding, prevent matting and keep dirt and dander from accumulating.

Belgian Tervuren – Temperament & Personality


The Belgian Tervuren is a breed of the Belgian Sheepdog. Loyal companions, the Tervuren can be a farm dog or a family dog. As with all Belgian Sheepdog breeds, they were bred to herd and protect livestock, so Tervurens need constant activity, whether playing with children, going on long walks, or chasing a frisbee. Always vigilant, they make excellent watchdogs, and can be trained to do just about any task put before them.

Activity Requirements

Tervurens need a lot of activity to remain happy and healthy. These are not apartment dogs. They need plenty of time and space to run, jump and play every single day. If they don’t get enough activity, they can quickly become destructive.

Farms or houses with big, fenced-in yards are the most ideal settings for Tervurens. They will want to be included in all family activities, whether it is doing chores on the farm, playing catch in the yard, or taking long walks in the park. They love to spend time with their people and prefer that time be spent outside, doing something interesting and fun.


Though sometimes willful and stubborn, Belgians are highly trainable and thrive on advanced obedience, trick and agility training. They can read small movements and even changes in facial expression, and are famous for being so “in tune” with their trainers that they can literally stay one step ahead of the person giving commands. For this reason, Belgian Sheepdogs are often competitors (and champions) in agility and herding competitions.

Though easily trainable, Belgians are not for the first-time dog owner. They are highly intelligent and manipulative, and can easily walk all over someone who does not know how to remain consistent with training. Positive reinforcement is the best method to train a Belgian Sheepdog, as discipline can lead to avoidance behavior and stubbornness.

Behavioral Traits

The herding nature of Tervurens makes them prone to chasing and nipping. Bikes, cars, kids, or other animals can cause this dog to take off running. If this breed doesn’t have enough interesting activities to do, he can take to herding children and nipping at their heels.

This inborn herding nature also makes Tervurens, like all Belgian Sheepdogs, protective of their home and family. They can be wary of strangers so it is important that they be socialized as early as possible to learn the difference between a welcome guest and an unwelcome guest, or aggression can develop.

Chewing, barking and separation anxiety can sometimes develop in this breed, but that can be attributed to lack of exercise and boredom. Adopting a Tervuren means adopting an active lifestyle.

Photo Library Of Belgian Tervuren Dog

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