Breed Group: Herding
Temperament and Behavior
Keenly intelligent and always ready to work, a Belgian Tervuren (ter-VER-en) is a strong, active, responsive dog that throws himself into whatever he is doing, whether it is guarding, agility competitions, playing, police work, or search and rescue. At the same time, they are loving of family including children, and have a need to be around their people. The Belgian Tervuren is not a dog for someone who spends long hours away from home or travels frequently. Also important is keeping them occupied both physically and mentally. Denying them the companionship they crave or letting them become bored will lead to obsessive behavior. These are not dogs you can put in the backyard and forget about. A walk around the block won’t do either. They need hard exercise such as running, hiking, or chasing a frisbee. Advanced obedience, tracking, and agility training can provide the mental challenge they need. They are exceptional watch and protection dogs who communicate with their voice freely. They are reserved with strangers and territorial with other dogs. If raised with them, they will likely accept other pets but may still view cats, rabbits, and birds as prey and should be introduced with caution. Many poke or nip in an effort to herd.
Physical CharacteristicsA Belgian Tervuren is a large agile, well-muscled dog without being bulky. Males stand 25 to 26 inches tall and weigh between 50 and 75 pounds. Females are an inch or two shorter and about 10 pounds lighter. They have a long coat which is colored anything other than pure black. The coat needs minimal grooming. Belgian Tervuren shed moderately year round with heavy seasonal shedding twice a year. They do well in temperate climates.
Trainer's NotesTo prevent Belgian Tervuren from becoming shy or suspicious, they need more attention paid to socialization as puppies than most breeds. Thinking dogs that learn very quickly, they are not for a novice owner or trainer. They will challenge all but the best trainers to keep up with them; learning bad habits as quickly as what is intended. Some are sensitive dogs that need a light touch while others are “harder”.
HealthBelgian Tervuren are generally healthy dogs with less than 5% suffering from either Hip Dysplasia or Elbow Dysplasia. Even less frequently seen is Epilepsy. They live to be about 12 years old.
PopularityRanked 100th in popularity with about 500 dogs registered per year, the Belgian Tervuren is one of the less popular AKC breeds in the United States. The breed is much more popular in Europe, especially in France and Belgium. Young dogs that are too rambunctious for a novice owner or who fail to meet the temperament requirements for police work are often available through the breed rescue organization.
Breed HistoryThe Belgian Sheepdog, Belgian Malinois, and Belgian Tervuren were originally three local variations of one breed called the Belgian or Continental Shepherd. It was originally bred to guard and herd livestock. It traces its development back to the late 1800s. In the United States, the American Kennel Club recognized the Belgian Tervuren as a separate breed in 1959.
Additional InformationIn Europe, the AKC breeds called the Belgian Sheepdog, Belgian Malinois, and Belgian Tervuren, together with the Belgian Laekenois (a wire-hair variety the AKC does not recognize) are viewed as the same breed (all called the Belgian Shepherd), with different coat colors and textures. The Tervuren is used less in guarding and more in herding than the other Belgian Shepherds. The National (US) Breed Club is the American Belgian Tervuren Club.