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Belgian Tervuren

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The Belgian Tervuren is a medium to large purebred from Belgium and is one of four Belgian sheepdogs, the Belgian Groenendael, the Belgian Tervuren, the Belgian Malinois and the Belgian Laekenois. The United Kennel Club and most countries kennel clubs sees these as one breed but four varieties, however interbreeding between them is not allowed apart from in Canada. The AKC though seems them as separate breeds apart from the Laekenois. The Tervuren is regarded by most as the more elegant of the four and today as well as being good at herding also does well in police work, as a therapy dog and as an assistance dog. It also does well at sledding, tracking, obedience and agility.

The Belgian Tervuren at A Glance
Name Belgian Tervuren
Other names Chien de Berger Belge, Belgian Shepherd Tervuren
Nicknames Tervuren, Terv
Origin Belgium
Average size Medium to large
Average weight 40 to 70 pounds
Average height 22 to 26 inches
Life span 10 to 12 years
Coat type Dense, harsh, rough, long
Hypoallergenic No
Color Black, fawn, red
Popularity Not very popular – ranked 98th by the AKC
Intelligence Excellent – training will be quick with the right approach
Tolerance to heat Good – can live in warm climates but does not like it hot
Tolerance to cold Very good – can live in cold climates just nothing extreme
Shedding Constant – be prepared to clean up after it daily
Drooling Low – not a breed prone to slobber or drool
Obesity Moderate not a breed prone to easily gaining weight
Grooming/brushing Moderate – brushing daily would help with its heavy shedding
Barking Frequent – training will be needed to control it
Exercise needs Very active – needs physical and mental activity daily
Trainability Easy to train – especially for those with experience
Friendliness Good – socialization is important for this breed
Good first dog Good – with preparation first owners could own this dog but it is best in the hands of the experienced
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Good – need socialization though
Good with other dogs Good but socialization is needed
Good with other pets Good to very good with socialization – prey drive is not super high
Good with strangers Good with socialization – not approachable without supervision
Good apartment dog Can adapt but is best in a home with more space and one with a yard
Handles alone time well Low – this dog does not like being left alone at all
Health issues Fairly healthy breed, some issues include hip and elbow dysplasia, eye problems and epilepsy
Medical expenses $485 a year for pet insurance and basic pet health care
Food expenses $270 a year for dog treats and a good quality dry dog food
Miscellaneous expenses $590 a year for basic training, grooming, miscellaneous items, toys and license
Average annual expenses $1345 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1,250
Rescue organizations Several including the Belgian Tervuren Rescue Inc
Biting Statistics None reported "
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The Belgian Tervuren's Beginnings

The Belgian Tervuren was developed in Belgium in the late 19th century and was bred to be originally a shepherd dog. The Belgian Shepherd Dog Club (Club du Chien de Berger Belge) formed in 1891 and that year was also when fanciers and breeders got together just outside of Brussels to look at different shepherd breeds and judge which dogs were most representative of shepherd dogs that were only developed in Belgium. It was found there were great similarities between them, with the coat being the main difference.

In 1892 the first standard for the Belgian Shepherd Dog was written by Professor Reul and in the first Belgian Shepherd dog show the winner was a Tervuren. The Tervuren name comes from the village in Belgium where the foundation of the breed comes from. As well as being used as sheepdogs they were also used as cart dogs and guard dogs and they were the first dogs used by the Belgian police force. Before World War II international police dog trials were quite popular and the Belgian Tervuren earned several prizes and did very well.

New Lease on Life

Some Belgian Tervuren came to the US but it did not catch on and had gone by the 1930s. Then in 1953 more were imported for breeding in the US and in 1959 the AKC recognized the Belgian Tervuren as a separate breed from other Belgian Shepherds. In 1960 the American Belgian Tervuren was formed and its popularity in the US has risen, though not to epic levels. The AKC ranks it 98th most popular registered dog.

The Dog You See Today

This is a medium to large sized dog weighing 40 to 70 pounds and standing 22 to 26 inches tall. It is a dog with a squared build and a thick double coat that is long, harsh and dense and comes in common colors of mahogany with black overlay and possibly white markings. In some places grey or sable is accepted in show dogs but not in all. There is thicker hair around the neck especially with males that is mane like and longer hair on the front and back legs. It has a deep chest and its legs are straight and end in feet that are cat like. In most cases its dewclaws are removed. The tail has lots of hair and a strong base. The color on its back, ribs and shoulders does darken as it ages, especially on males.


It has a pointed muzzle and black lips. Its eyes are dark brown, almond shaped and medium in size. It has a black mask and the hair on the head and the ears is shorter than the rest of its coat. The ears themselves are erect, triangular and their height is the same as their width.

The Inner Belgian Tervuren


The Terv is an excellent watchdog, it is alert and will bark to let you know of an intruder. It also has strong protective instincts and is fearless so it will act to defend you and the family from attack. It tends to be aloof with strangers observing them for a time until it is confident they are not a threat. Socialization is important to ensure that does not turn to suspicion and aggression. It is also important as some lines are known to have issues with being overly shy and too easy to startle.

It could be an acceptable first dog for a new owner however it would be better with someone with experience. It can be challenging to live with, it is very active so needs an active owner and those territorial instincts can be a problem if it does not have a strong owner. When raised well it is very loyal and is an interesting mix of playful and clownish but then serious and observant. They tend to be mainly used in the police force but can be great companions in the right home. It is intelligent and bright but does bark frequently so training that to stop on command will need to be included in your sessions.

Tervuren are also sensitive dogs, best in homes that are not full of arguments and harsh tones. It does not like being left alone so needs company or owners who are more home than out or at work. If it does not get enough attention, exercise and mental stimulation and does not have a strong leader in its owner it can become aggressive, hard to control and destructive. Some display stronger herding behavior than others such as nipping at the heels or circling and that can be done to children, people and other pets! It is something they will have to be taught to stop.

Living with a Belgian Tervuren

What will training look like?

Training a Belgian Tervuren if you are experienced should be easy as it is intelligent, it obeys and usually needs less repetition than many other breeds. However for anyone with less experience it is important to remember to be firmly in control at all times. Training for you will be harder as it does tend to be a different dog then. It can be dominant, it senses when you are frustrated, it does not like harsh tones or being scolded and its quick reflexes can throw off the timing of your signals if you do not stay ahead of it. It is also very good at reading body language and anticipating your next action to stay ahead of you.


Early socialization is important to avoid it becoming overly nervous and to stop its protective instincts from becoming to strong. Give it a chance to learn appropriate reactions to strangers, children, animals, sounds and places.

How active is the Belgian Tervuren?

A Tern can adapt to apartment living if given enough daily exercise but preferably you have a larger home that offers it access to a yard. It is a very active dog so needs committed owners happy to be active every day, and that means more than a couple of 10 minute walks, this breed needs at least an hour a day in the form of two long brisk walks. It also needs mental stimulation and it should be given the opportunity to run safely off leash a few times a week too, a dog park for example. If it gets bored and is under challenged and exercised it will be destructive, hyper active, out of control and possibly aggressive. Physical exercise might include going on hikes, running or jogging with you, joining you on your bike rides, playing games of fetch. Mental needs can be met with training so going beyond just basic obedience and with some puzzle toys and interactive games.

Caring for the Belgian Tervuren

Grooming needs

The Belgian Tervuren needs a moderate amount of grooming. It sheds constantly so be prepared for a lot of hair around the home, on counter tops, furniture and of course on your clothing. You will need to brush daily if you want to minimize the hair and vacuum it up. Baths should be kept for just when it really needs one so that you do not dry out its skin. The fur around its feet will need a little trimming and you will need to take it to a groomers to trim its long coat now and then.

It should also have its ears checked once a week for signs of infection and then give them a wipe clean using a cotton ball and dog ear cleanser. Not by inserting anything into the ear canal which is dangerous. Its teeth need to be brushed two to three times a week and its nails should be clipped when they get too long, if it is not wearing then down naturally when outside. Take care with the nails as there are nerves and vessels in them. Cutting too far down will hurt the dog and cause bleeding. Use a proper dog nail clipper and if you are new to it, have someone show you how like your vet. You could also leave it to a dog groomer.

Feeding Time

For food you should try to use a good quality dry dog food as it is far more nutritious for it. It should be fed about 2 to 3 cups a day, split into at least two meals. How much exactly will vary a little as each dog is different in terms of size, metabolism, level of activity, health and age.

How is the Belgian Tervuren with children and other animals?

Belgian Tervuren with socialization and when raised together are good with children. They can be playful and lively together, and affectionate and protective. Keep in mind that because of their herding past they may nip at the kid's heels and circle them as a means of herding them, this will need to be trained to control. If you are adopting an adult Terv it would be a good idea to have no children at home or at least older children since you cannot be sure of how well it has been socialized. Make sure too that children are taught how to approach it properly and how to touch nicely.


When it comes to other pets, if raised and socialized they can learn to get along fine but supervision is a good idea and care should be taken. This dog has a high prey drive and there is a chance it will see small animals as something to chase and hurt. It is especially prone to chasing after cats, and other animals that run away. Without strict rules and socialization its prey instincts will win every time. It also have dominance issues with other dogs without that socialization, especially with dogs of the same sex.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Terv has a life span of 10 to 12 years and is a fairly healthy breed but some issues it can have problems with include epilepsy, allergies, eye problems, hip and elbow dysplasia, bloat, skin problems, vom Willebrands and hypothyroidism.

Biting Statistics

Reports from Canada and the US on dogs attacking people over the last 34 years show that the Belgian Tervuren is not mentioned in any attack, though the Malinois is. That does not mean it is not capable of becoming aggressive, or that it will never have a bad day where it reacts poorly to something. Any dog can be driven to snapping given certain situations, the breed only really changes how much damage can be done. With socialization, training, enough attention and the right amount of mental and physical activity a dog is less likely to over react, but it can still happen. Be a responsible owner, know what your dog can and cannot handle and supervise it.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The Belgian Tervuren puppy will cost about $1250 and that is from a trusted breeder of pet quality dogs. For a show quality puppy from a top breeder is going to cost well into several thousands of dollars. You can get a shelter or rescue dog for less around $50 to $400. It will save yo further money as it will likely has some of its medical needs taken care of but often rescue dogs are adults or adolescents rather than puppies. It is important to buy from respectable breeders, try to avoid ads and dogs from backyard breeders, puppy mills or pet stores.

When you have your dog you need to have some things for it at home like a crate, collar and leash, bowls and so on. These will be an initial cost of $180. It will also need to go to a vet for an examination, blood tests, micro chipping, deworming, shots and neutering and spaying. These will cost about $290.


Yearly costs are another factor to consider when thinking of being a pet owner. Its food which should be of a good quality, and the dog treats are going to cost about $270 a year. Check ups, shots, tick and flea prevention and pet insurance is going to be $485 a year. Miscellaneous items, toys, license, grooming, basic training are going to be another $590 a year. This means a yearly cost of $1345 as a starting figure.


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The Belgian Tervuren is a graceful and elegant dog and when raised properly is loving, devoted, protective and trustworthy. It does shed a large amount though so if you are someone who is not prepared to live with some hair everywhere even when you have done a cleaning, this is not the breed for you. It also needs to be in a home with owners who are experienced, it would help if that experience was geared towards working breeds, and with owners who are very active themselves.

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