AKC Herding Group
The Belgian Tervuren (pronounced Terv-yer-en), named for the Belgian village of Tervuren, is one of the four varieties of Belgian Shepherd Dog. In most parts of the world, the Groenendael (black, long coat), Malinois (fawn-mahogany, short coat with black mask and overlay), Tervuren (fawn-mahogany, shades of gray acceptable in some registries, long coat with black mask and overlay), and Laekenois (fawn, rough coat) are considered to be one breed. However, in America, since 1959, the AKC has recognized the Groenendael, Malinois, and Tervuren as separate breeds. The Laekenois is a member of the AKC Miscellaneous Class. (A less well-known, but growing U.S. registry, the UKC, does recognize all four varieties as one breed.) An intelligent, versatile dog, the Belgian Tervuren excels not only in herding, but also in protection/law enforcement, drug/bomb/gas detection, search and rescue, tracking, obedience, sledding, agility and therapy/assistance to disabled, ill, or elderly people. Though not for everyone, properly socialized and trained, this high-energy dog makes an excellent best friend and/or family companion.
The elegant Tervuren is well balanced, squarely proportioned, and solidly muscled, but not bulky, with a proud carriage and medium bone structure. The topline is level from hip to withers, leading to a graceful, arched neck. The chest is neither broad nor narrow, but is deep, reaching to the elbow. The head is chiseled and long, but not exaggerated, with high-set, triangular prick ears. The base of the ear should not extend below the centerline of the eye. Top lines of the skull and the muzzle should be parallel and equal in length with a moderate stop between. The eyes are dark brown, almond shaped, and reflect an alert, questioning, intelligent expression. The nose and tight lips are black, with no pink showing outside when the mouth is closed. The teeth should meet in a scissors or level bite. The shoulders lie flat at approximately a 45-degree angle, and form a right angle with the upper arm. The front legs are very straight and parallel to each other, with round, catlike feet. Dewclaws may be removed on the front legs and should be removed from the back legs.
The coat is medium to long, consisting of a very dense undercoat and an abundant, rather harsh, straight, black-tipped, outer coat, which produces the characteristic black overlay. The hair on the head, legs, and outer surface of the ears is short. There is extra feathering on the rump and backs of legs as well as a ruff around the neck, extending down the chest, though females often do not have as much ruff or feathering as males. The long, feathered tail reaches at least to the hocks. The base color of the Belgian Tervuren is generally fawn to mahogany with a black overlay, though some registries accept shades of gray. Tips of the fawn hairs are usually black. Some white is acceptable on the chest, toes, muzzle, and chin. The Tervuren has a black mask and mostly black ears, and the chest and tip of the tail are generally black. The underside of the dog and the breeches should be cream, light gray, or beige. Belgian Tervuren generally darken as they get older, so older males might have additional black on the shoulders, back, and ribs. The Belgian Tervuren appears to always be in motion, with a light, graceful, almost floating gait.
- Height: 24 to 26 in. (male); 22 to 24 in. (female)
- Size: Large
- Weight: 60 to 75 lbs. (male); 40 to 55 lbs. (female)
- Availability: Might take some effort to find
- Talents: Tracking, retrieving, herding, watchdog, guarding, police work, search and rescue, agility, competitive obedience, Schutzhund, and performing tricks
Light shedding is continuous, with males shedding heavily once and year and females twice a year. The coat needs a good, thorough brushing once or twice a week. Long hairs on the feet and hocks should be trimmed. Prefers cooler climates, but adapts well to others. The Tervuren can live indoors or out, but prefers being with his people. With proper training and socialization, they can usually get along quite well with other well-mannered pets and children. Needs an experienced, trusted leader, willing to devote time for exercise, training, and social skill development. An active, highly intelligent breed, the Tervuren can easily become difficult to manage without outlets to exercise his mind and body. Tervuren instinctively demonstrate herding behaviors such as chasing, circling, and moving effortlessly for hours. Though incidence of hip dysplasia is fairly low in this breed, look for OFA or PennHIP certified parents and grandparents. It is also recommended that eyes of breeding stock be certified clear by CERF or OFA. Ask questions of owners and breeders concerning family history of seizures and temperament, as well as hip and eye disorders. Though achievement records and appearances are often impressive, don’t base your purchase solely on these attributes.
Smart, serious, and responsive—excellent for competition obedience and agility. Confident, proud, alert, and protective. If not given proper socialization and training, the Belgian Tervuren can tend toward extremes of being territorial and dog-aggressive, or being shy and fearful. Time should be taken to learn about various temperaments in order to select a good dog-family match. Needs continuous socialization from an early age and motivational training methods. Needs to be part of the family, not a good kennel dog. If ignored, the Tervuren will find ways to entertain himself, often at his owner’s expense. Tends to bond strongly to one or two people.
- Children: Best with older, considerate children
- Friendliness: Reserved with strangers
- Trainability: Very easy to train
- Independence: Moderately dependent on people
- Dominance: Moderate
- Other Pets: Generally good with other pets
- Combativeness: Can be a bit dog-aggressive
- Noise: Average barker
- Indoors: Moderately active indoors
- Owner: Not recommended for novice owners
- Grooming: Daily grooming is best
- Trimming and Stripping: No trimming or stripping needed
- Coat: Medium-long coat
- Shedding: Constant shedder
- Exercise: Vigorous daily exercise needed
- Jogging: An excellent jogging companion
- Apartments: Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
- Outdoor Space: Best with at least an average-size yard
- Climate: Does well in most climates
- Longevity: Average (10 to 12 years)