1. Key Characteristics
- AKC Group: Herding
- Height: 22–26 inches
- Weight: 60–75 pounds
- Life Expectancy: 12–14 years
The Belgian Tervuren is a breed subset of Belgian sheepdogs.
Also included under the heading of Belgian sheepdogs are the Belgian Malinois, the Groenendael and the Laekenois. Currently, the United States is the only country to recognize these dogs as separate breeds.
The Tervuren is well balanced, medium-sized and elegant. The ears are triangular and held erect; their width is equal to their height at the base.
Tervurens have dark-brown, slightly almond-shaped eyes. Their coats are neither silky nor wiry, falling somewhere in between while being straight, close-fitting and thick. Their undercoats are dense.
Coat colors include rich fawn to russet mahogany, or shades of gray with black tips. The chest, toes and chin may have some white, and the coat usually darkens as the dog gets older.
2. Where They Came From
The history of the breed is entwined with that of the other Belgian sheepdogs. Until 1959, when the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the Malinois, all 4 types of sheepdogs were shown together.
The Tervuren was first bred in the village of Tervuren in Belgium in the 1880s by breed devotee M.F. Corbeel. The goal was a dog who excelled in both protection and herding.
According to the AKC, “Prior to the Industrial Age, the rural farmers of Belgium had a great need for a general purpose herding and guard dog. The protective instinct of these dogs provided security for the farm and the family, and their herding abilities assisted with the daily maintenance of the stock.”
The Terv was distinguished from other breeds during a gathering in Cureghem, Brussels, where veterinary professor Adolphe Reul and other attendees examined and separated several breeds — German Shepherd Dogs, Old English Sheepdogs, Beaucerons, Briards, Bouviers and collies — and identified the 4 breeds of Belgian sheepdogs.
This led, in 1893, to the first breed standard written for the Terv, by Professor Reul and the first Belgian Shepherd Club.
The breed registered with the AKC in 1918, but by the time the Great Depression hit, the breed had disappeared from the record books.
In 1953, Tervurens were being imported again. In 1959, the Tervuren was officially recognized as a separate breed.
3. How Friendly Are They?
This breed is intelligent, courageous and determined, with strong territorial and protective instincts. Because of these traits, the dogs are primarily used as police or guard dogs.
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Tervurens have strong herding instincts and an iron will. They can become overly shy, suspicious and possibly destructive when not given enough interaction with other people or dogs.
According to the AKC, “Early socialization of this breed is recommended for a well-adjusted dog. They also benefit from obedience training and a variety of other activities and dog sports like agility, rally, herding, coursing ability test and tracking.”
The dogs were bred to be herders, so if you bring one home, keep a watchful eye out to prevent unpleasant run-ins with smaller, non-dominant pets.
4. Is This the Right Dog for You?
HIGH: The Belgian Tervuren was bred to work. Yours will need lots of exercise, including long daily walks as well as plenty of playtime to stimulate the mind.
Agility, jogging and various types of training are all good outlets for the Tervuren.
HIGH: The Tervuren has a heavy outer coat and dense undercoat that require daily brushing and mat inspections. Remove mats as soon as you notice them. Even with daily brushing, there will be some shedding.
MEDIUM: The Belgian Tervuren is relatively healthy, but here are some medical issues slightly more common to this breed:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Eye issues, such as cataracts and PRA
- Von Willebrand disease
Watch these beautiful Tervuren siblings play rough in the snow:
5. Where to Adopt One
Many Belgian Tervurens around the country need good homes. If you’re looking to adopt, check Petful’s free adoption search page.
If you decide to buy from a breeder, be sure to avoid accidentally funding a puppy mill. Ask for health histories and parentage on your chosen Terv before paying money.
- AKC’s Belgian Tervuren Page
- American Belgian Tervuren Club
- Belgian Shepherd Dog Club of Canada
- Belgian Shepherd Association of Great Britain
- Deutscher Klub für Belgische Schäferhunde — Germany