The Belgian Tervuren is a confident and intelligent working dog. These agile, alert dogs have boundless energy and are affectionate and possessive with their loved ones.
Belgian Tervuren History
The Belgian Tervuren is one of four Belgian herding breeds that includes the Belgian Sheepdog, Malinois, Lakenois, and Tervuren. Aside from different coat types, the breeds are so similar that they were once considered a single breed. The Belgian Tervuren, named for village of Tervuren that master breeder M.F. Corbeel called home, is also known as the Chien de Berger Belge in Belgium.
The Belgian Tervuren is an alert, attentive, skilled working dog with stamina to spare. Farmers relied on the breed to herd and guard their stock. As farming became more mechanized, the dogs were dispatched to other roles in military and police K9 units, search and rescue squads, and as service dogs.
Belgian Tervuren Traits
Belgian Tervurens are strong, agile, muscular dogs. Their bodies are similar in length and height and their topline, forelegs, and hind legs giving them a square appearance. Males appear strong and masculine while females have daintier appearances.
Coat and Coloring
The Belgian Tervuren is a double-coated dog with a dense undercoat and long, straight, abundant, and close-fitting overcoats their guard hairs are of medium harshness, not silky or wiry. Their hair is shorter on the head, ears, and front parts of the legs and longer around the neck, forming a collarette; the hair on their tails and breeches is longer, too.
The coloring on Belgian Tervurens includes rich fawn to russet mahogany with black overlay on their bodies. Their coat is doubly pigmented with black on the tips of their fawn hairs. The hair on their chests is black but can also be a mixture of black and gray, while the underparts of their bodies, including the breeches, are cream, gray, or light beige. The tail typically has a darker or black tip. White is permitted on the chest for show, but must not extend more than three inches above the prosternum, and not to reach either point of shoulder. Belgian Tervurens have black masks on their faces and their ears are mostly black.
Although their coloring becomes darker with age and the breed standard provides allowances for younger dogs, the absence of black coloring on mature dogs is considered a serious fault.
Distinctive Physical Traits
These are medium-sized working dogs with deep chests, short, strong loins, and muscular forequarters. Belgian Tervurens also have moderately pointed muzzles; triangular ears that are stiff and erect; and brown, medium-sized, almond-shaped eyes with an alert, attentive expression and an intelligent gaze.
Belgian Tervuren Temperament
Belgian Tervurens are confident, protective, and reserved with strangers but not aggressive. With their owners, these dogs are known for being affectionate, zealous for attention, responsive to commands, and eager to please.
Belgian Tervurens have strong predatory instincts that can lead them to chase cars, children, and small animals. They are best suited to homes with older (or no) children and with well-socialized dogs of similar size.
Belgian Tervuren Care
Feed Belgian Tervurens a high-quality dog food that is appropriate for their life stage (puppy, adult, senior) and consider a diet formulated for active breeds. Like other breeds, Belgian Tervuren could become overweight if their food intake is not monitored. Portion out their food with a standard measuring cup and limit treats to no more than 10% of their daily calories to avoid overfeeding.
Belgian Tervurens have medium-length, waterproof coats that are a snap to maintain. Brush them at least once per week to remove dead hair and reduce shedding. During semi-annual “shedding season” when the breed blows its coat, daily brushing and regular baths can help. Trim their nails to prevent cracking, splitting and painful overgrowths, and clean their ears. Regular dental care that includes at-home teeth brushing and professional cleanings is also an essential part of their grooming routines.
When it comes to exercise, Belgian Tervurens believe more is better. This working breed has stamina to spare and loves spending time doing high-energy activities with its owners. They are ideal companions for hiking, running, and swimming and excel in dog sports like agility, tracking, herding, and obedience. Due to their strong prey drive, these dogs might not make the best companions at the dog park.
Left alone for too long (or without enough exercise) Belgian Tervurens could develop behavior problems. Provide mental stimulation with games like hide-and-seek, puzzle toys, or other interactive activities to ensure that Belgian Tervurens have mental and physical stimulation.
Training is a must for this intelligent, self-assured breed. These dogs see training as a job and want to master tasks, but they are also known for having mischievous senses of humor and may try to outsmart their owners. Obedience training can help Belgian Tervurens channel their energy in positive directions and may help control their herding instincts; socialization can encourage the breed to be more accepting of strangers. Learning basic commands and new tricks also provides important mental stimulation.
The Belgian Tervuren is a surprisingly sensitive breed that responds best to positive reinforcement and rewards-based training.
Belgian Tervuren Genetic Health Conditions
Spongy Degeneration with Cerebellar Ataxia (Discovered in Belgian Malinois - SDCA2)
Spongy Degeneration with Cerebellar Ataxia (SDCA2) is an early onset disease of loss of coordination, seizures, circling, and blindness.
Spongy Degeneration with Cerebellar Ataxia (Discovered in Belgian Malinois - SDCA1)
Spongy Degeneration with Cerebellar Ataxia (SDCA) is an early onset disease of poor coordination, muscle twitching and seizures.
Knowing if your Belgian Tervuren is a carrier or at-risk for these conditions can help you and your veterinarian plan for your pup’s lifelong care. With Wisdom Panel™ Premium, you can get results for over 200 genetic health tests.
Reviewed July 26, 2020 by Laura Inman, DVM