Belgian Tervuren

Breed At A Glance

Classification
Herding

Personality
Loving, loyal and protective

Life Expectancy
12-14 years

Average Height
Males 24-26 inches; Females 22-24 inches

Average Weight
Males 55-66 lbs; Females 44-55 lbs

Coat Color
Fawn to mahogany with black overlay, small amounts of white on chest or toes

Coat Length/Texture
Long topcoat of medium harshness, fine undercoat

Shedding Propensity
Consistent year round, and seasonally heavy once or twice per year

Also known as Belgian Shepherd Dog, Belgian Tervueren, Belgian Sheepdog, Chien de Berger Belge

General Temperament

The Belgian Tervuren is a loyal and affectionate breed that craves the attention of it’s family, often forming an especially close bond with one or two people. They are protective and devoted to familiar people, but may not be immediately friendly to all. They can also be sensitive and shy, and should be extensively socialized from the beginning. Training a Tervuren can be an rewarding process for both the dog and the experienced owner, as long as the training is consistent and firm (but not harsh). Once properly socialized and trained, this high energy dog makes an excellent family companion dog.

Tervurens get along with well-behaved children, but given their sensitive nature, will respond negatively if teased. They can be dominant with other dogs, and this should be kept in mind when considering the Belgian Tervuren as a family pet. Provided they are correctly socialized with cats and other non-canine pets, they should not present any problems.

Belgian Tervurens are highly energetic, intelligent dogs who thrive on vigorous activity and require a job to keep them occupied – if this breed is ignored, it will find ways to entertain itself, often at the owner’s expense. Their work can involve herding, obedience, agility, flyball, tracking, or protection work. Tervurens have also found work as Search and Rescue (SAR) dogs, finding missing persons and avalanche victims, and make excellent police and guard dogs. They enjoy agility and play sessions with their family, and are not well suited for sedentary owners or apartment dwelling.

Breed History

The Belgian Tervuren, named for the Belgian village of Tervuren, is one of the four varieties of Belgian Sheepdogs. The other varieties include the Groenendael, the Malinois, and the Laekenois. In their home country, all four are considered the same breed, distinguished only by their coat color and texture. The American Kennel Club, on the other hand, has given the Tervuren it’s own separate classification.

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 mental development of the breed as a versatile helper and attentive companion paralleled the physical evolution of a medium-sized, well-balanced animal with strength and stamina. With industrialization, the rural farm dog became less important, but the beauty and loyalty of the breed made them well appreciated as family companions.

The first Tervurens appeared in the U.S. in the early 20th century, but prior to 1959, these dogs were registered and shown as Belgian Sheepdogs. In that year, the AKC granted the separate breed classification designating the Belgian Tervuren as a distinct breed.

Body Structure and Composition

The first impression of the Belgian Tervuren is that of a well-balanced, medium-sized dog, elegant in appearance, standing squarely on all fours, with proud carriage of head and neck. They are strong, agile, and well-muscled. Males generally appear unquestionably masculine, and females have a distinctly feminine look. The ears stand straight up from the head with a high set, and the tail is carried down or straight out from the body (it does not curl up over the back). The Tervuren body resembles that of a German Shepherd. It has a fast and lively gait and it’s tendency is to move in a circle rather than a straight line, owing to it’s herding history.

Medical Information

This hearty and healthy breed has little to no major health concerns, although approximately 10 percent of Belgian Tervurens have been known to have Epilepsy, a common chronic neurological disorder that is characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures, which can be controlled with medication. On rare occasions, Tervurens have been known to experience Hip or Elbow Dysplasia, and condition in which the head of the bone no longer fits firmly in the “cup” provided by the socket, causing loss of mobility and arthritis-like symptoms. They can also experience eye problems such as cataracts or Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), which leads to degeneration of the retina and eventual loss of sight.

The Tervuren sheds lightly throughout the year, and regular brushing is required to prevent matting. In addition, females will experience heavy shedding twice per year, whereas males will shed heavily only once.

Anecdotal Information

The herding nature of the Belgian Tervuren expresses itself in many aspects of it’s life. They can even be seen attempting to “herd” family members and friends by encircling them and harmlessly nipping at their heels.

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