About Belgian Tervuren

Belgian Tervuren in a Nutshell

The first thing to learn is how to say “Tervuren”. It’s not so hard. Just say, “Martin van Buren, Belgian Ter-ver-en. Three syllables, sounds like the name of the 8th President of the United States. The Belgian Tervuren is one of a variety of sheep herding dogs from Belgium. They were first imported to America in 1953. The four varieties of Belgians all originated from the same foundation stock. They differ in coat color, length or texture. There is the black, long haired Groenendael (Belgian Sheepdog) ; the fawn, short haired Malinois (Belgian Malinois); the fawn, wire haired Laekenois (Belgian Laekenois, not fully recognized by the AKC); and the fawn or mahogany long haired Tervuren (Belgian Tervuren).

The Tervuren is a medium sized, long coated dog. Their color ranges from warm fawn to a rich mahogany with black tipped hairs. The face has a black mask, crowned by high set triangular ears, framed by a lion’s mane of hair around the neck. This gives them a distinctive, elegant appearance. Belgian Tervuren stand squarely on all four feet, with height at the shoulders and body length being approximately equal. Their tails are long and bushy. In movement they are agile and light on their feet, moving effortlessly at a trot.

Males range in height from 23 – 26 inches with a weight of 45 – 70 lbs. Females are slightly smaller, standing 21 – 24 inches and weighing 40 – 55 pounds. Females also lack the abundant mane of the males. In temperament Tervuren are devoted and loyal. They are a one family dog. They may appear aloof with strangers, but are very affectionate and demonstrative with their family and friends. They are naturally protective of their home and property.

Quite a few Belgian Tervuren retain some of their natural herding ability. They have been known to round up family members as a substitute for sheep!

Most herding breeds, including the Tervuren, are fast learners and extremely trainable. Quick, learning, trainable dogs require very consistent training. Example: You teach the dog a “Sit” command while accidentally scratching your left arm. The dog learns what you want almost instantly. The next day you go to practice the newly learned “Sit” command and you start accidentally scratching your right arm. Whoa!! The dog knows that when you scratch your left arm it means sit, but he can’t figure out what you want when are scratching your right arm.

Health Concerns

All dogs, purebred or mixed, are at risk for some inherited health problems. In the Tervuren, the following are the health issues most often seen:

  • Epilepsy: Idiopathic Epilepsy occurs in all purebreds and mixed breeds. Idiopathic Epilepsy is defined as “repeated seizures of unknown cause”. Causes of epilepsy can include heat, poison, head trauma, infections, parasites, diabetes, and birth defects. The relative incidence of epilepsy/grand mal seizures is ~14%. It usually does not surface until between 2 and 5 years of age. Typically, epileptic seizures occur once every several months, and will last about 5 minutes, although some more frequent and severe cases have been reported. This is probably considered the Tervuren’s most troublesome health problem.
  • Hip Dysplasia: The incidence of HD is low compared to many other breeds of this size and it isn’t considered a major problem for the Terv. The Greyhound is the only breed reported to have no known cases of hip dysplasia. Buyers should insist on seeing proof that both parents have certified normal hips by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). Elbow Dysplasia: The incidence of elbow dysplasia appears to be higher than hip dysplasia although many numbers of dogs have not been evaluated. Buyers should request proof of certified normal elbows by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an inherited condition that leads to eventual blindness. It’s been reported in only a few Tervuren and is not thought to be widespread. Buyers should insist on proof that both parents have received an eye examination within the last year that was certified by the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF).

Tervuren are extremely versatile. They have the intelligence, agility and endurance to be well suited for many tasks. Obedience; agility; herding; tracking; schutzhund; canine freestyle; flyball; police and military working dogs; carting ; weight pulling; service dogs; search and rescue are a few of the activities that Tervuren have excelled in.

Is A Belgian Tervuren The Right Dog For You?

Think carefully before you buy.

Tervuren need vigorous exercise and mental activity to keep them happy. If you do not provide them with gainful employment, they will take the initiative and find a job. Left to their own devices, Tervs can be quite creative. Some of their self declared professions have included:

  • Landscape Design – “Let’s help and pull out all those “weeds” (your prized orchids)
  • Archeology – “I wonder if there really is a lost temple buried beneath the lawn?” or Geology – “I’m sure I can dig a hole to China”
  • Interior Design – “This room is so outdated. Simply removing the fabric off the sofa would really make this room pop!” or “You want tile in the kitchen? No problem. I’ll pull the linoleum right up.”

They are a long coated breed and require regular, weekly brushing to keep their coats healthy and tangle free. Twice a year they shed heavily and require more frequent brushing during this time. Tervuren are naturally clean and have little doggy odor. While they should have a fenced yard, most Tervuren would rather be inside with their family.