Belgian Tervuren Dog Breed
A Delightful And Multi-Talented Sheepdog

The history of the Belgian Tervuren dog breed begins around 1892 when the first general standard for Belgian Shepherd dogs was formulated. At about the same time period, the different shepherd types were being sorted out for classification.

Belgian Tervuren Sheepdog sitting in the grassBorg, By ezz_eddie at Flickr

With respect to the Tervuren, Brewer M. Corbeel (yes, he was a brewer) was given credit for establishing the standard for the Tervuren variety of sheepdog, when he bred his fawn dog with a black long-haired dog owned by M. Donhieux.

The Belgian Sheepdog is an impressive dog with a proud carriage that is well defined and exhibits both strength and balance. The head in finely sculpted and compliments his squarely built body.

Belgian Tervuren vs Belgian Sheepdog

Although known simply as the Belgian Sheepdog, or the Terv, in the United States, this breed is well known in many parts of the world as the Groenendael, or Chien de Berger Belge. The name difference came about when they were first registered with the AKC, which included a requirement that they must have three generations of Groenendael ancestors in order to be registered.

The Belgian Tervuren dog is one of four different varieties of Belgian Shepherd dogs, the other three being the Groenendale, the Laekenois, and the Malinois - all named for the towns from which they originated.

These types vary in their coat color and coat type, the Tervuren being longhaired and bearing a full rich coat of fawn to mahogany with black overlay.

The Tervuren sheepdog has a very dignified look about him. His body is solid yet finely built, absolutely symmetrical and very fully coated with a long feathered tail.

His appearance is often likened to that of the German Shepherd dog, though he is more squarely built and has much fuller furnishings, especially around the neck and head. All in all, he is an impressive muscular dog, while at the same time appearing graceful.

Characteristics of the Belgian Tervuren

The Belgian Tervuren dog is intelligence, confident, loyal and very devoted to his family.

Consistent with most breeds of herding dogs, his nature is inherently alert and protective. These traits make him a vigilant watch and guard dog, though not aggressive. He thrives in a family that can give him a lot of interaction and make him a part of everything they do.

This breed is gentle, affectionate and friendly, seeks attention and is eager to please his master.

Belgian Tervurens standing oustside

Tervurens do best with owners that are experienced, capable of providing strong leadership and training without harshness. Early socialization to people and situations is very helpful and desirable.

Today, for the most part, Belgian Sheepdogs are no longer working as herding dog breeds. None the less, they enjoy a job to do and will love it if they are trained in one or more of the areas in which they have proven to excel.

It bears repeating that they are pretty smart and are well-suited to these "jobs": tracking, competitive obedience, police work, search and rescue, assistance and therapy work.

Heritage of the Belgian Tervuran

The Belgian Tervuren heritage is distinguished through his working contributions to both World War I and II, where he was successful in carrying messages on the battlefields, providing ambulance assistance, and even pulling armaments when needed.

Many of this breed were also assigned to guard duty at military bases.

In addition to his excellence in herding, the Tervuren could easily be described as a jack of all trades:

To name a few...he is very successful in competitive obedience, police-related detection work, tracking, agility, and search and rescue. He is also able to provide help in the fields of therapy and guide dog assistance to those in need of these services.

Physical Stats And Care

Height: 22-26 inches
Weight: 56-66 pounds
Color Variations: Rich fawn to russet mahogany with black overtones. Eye color is dark brown.

The medium textured coat is straight, abundant and long, with a thick ruff around the neck. The coat also forms a fringe on the back of the legs as well as the hindquarters.

Maintenance should include regular brushing to remove the loose hair, as well as working out mats and tangles which tend to form in this type of coat.

During the heavier seasonal shedding that occurs a couple of times a year, a bit of extra attention is needed.

One tool that is very useful during periods of shedding is the FURminator. Pets also seem to enjoy being "furminated", I know mine do!

Belgian Tervuren dog breed guide book for pet owners

Health of the Belgian Tervuren Dog Breed

The overall health of the Belgian Tervuren is fairly good, but they are prone to a few health problems.

Those include:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia,
  • Gastric issues such as bloat,
  • Epilepsy,
  • Eye problems such as cataracts, and
  • Thyroid problems.

They also can have some skin problems.

Resource: Belgian Sheepdog Club Of America for health questions

Activity Level

Breeds originating from a working heritage need an active lifestyle.

So it's no surprise that the Belgian Tervuren dog needs lots of exercise including vigorous walks on a daily basis. Ideally, this would be supplemented with frequent opportunities for games and other energetic activities.

If you're a jogger, your Terv will happily go along, but give him some time to transition.

Plus, running off-leash will be really enjoyed if you can find any safe open areas to let him loose.

Ideal Living Space

The ideal home will have sufficient room for a Belgian Tervuren dog to move about freely indoors as well as a decent sized yard outside to provide a play and training area.

While he does not mind being outside for short periods of time, he really prefers being inside with the family.

Is the Terv A Good Pet for Children?

Parents interested in this breed should should take into consideration the large size of the Belgian Tervuren dog breed in relation to the age of their children.

With this in mind, he will do best with children if raised with them from a puppy so that they can just grow bigger together!

As with any breed of dog, it is recommended that interactions between pets and children should always be supervised.

Senior Or Less Active Families?

The high exercise needs of the Belgian Tervuren dog would generally not be sustainable for most senior owners or sedentary families.

That being said, if someone is available to take over the exercise requirements, then the Terv makes an excellent and loyal companion while at the same time providing the assurance of watch dog diligence.

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Knowledge And Pictures

The Belgian Tervuren dog is not widely seen in suburbia and is a rather unique breed. If you have one, won't you tell us about your sheepdog.

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