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Getting to Know Your Belgian Tervuren

belgian tervuren


The Belgian Tervuren is a majestic animal that is one of four of the Belgian Shepherd breeds. While it is part of the group that shares the same origins, each are different with distinguishing coat colors and types. If you are a new Belgian Tervuren owner or looking to adopt one, here is a little on getting to know your Belgian Tervuren. We’ll take a look at the Belgian Tervuren history, characteristics, traits, and a little of everything you need to know.

The History of the Belgian Tervuren

In the past, the aforementioned four Belgian Shepherd breeds were considered the same. Since the coat was the only difference, they were classified the same. Now, the distinctions are the Belgian Tervuren, the Belgian Malinois, the Belgian Sheepdog or Groenendael, and the Laekenois. The Tervuren has the longest coat, while the Belgian Sheepdog has a long coat as well. The Malinois has a short coat and the Laekenois has a wirehaired coat.

According to the AKC

Known in their homeland as the Chien de Berger Belge, the breed’s English name derives from the village of Tervuren, the home of master breeder M.F. Corbeel. In the early years of the 20th century, Corbeel made judicious crosses between black dogs and fawn dogs to standardize the modern Terv.

It was back before the Industrial Age that farmers in Belgium needed a dog good at both guarding and herding. The Belgian Tervuren was ideal at both and became a companion and worker.

Since the rise of mechanized farming, Terv owners have found new outlets for their breed’s renowned work ethic and versatility, forged long ago in Belgium’s pastures and barnyards. Today’s Tervs are employed as military and police K-9s, search-and-rescue workers, service dogs for the disabled, actors (in the movie “The Company of Wolves,” the wolves are played by Tervs), and champions at dog shows, on agility courses, and in obedience and herding trials.

Its recognition became official in 1891 but it wasn’t until 1893 that it got its official name. Yet it was in 1901 that the Belgian Tervuren was recognized further by the Société Royale Saint-Hubert. This solidified its breed distinction even further and the rest is history.

While it took quite a bit longer for the distinction of four separate breeds, in 1959 that happened and the Belgian Tervuren got its own name. However, according to the American Belgian Tervuren Club:

In the rest of the world’s kennel clubs, the Belgian Shepherd Dogs have remained one breed. Although the AKC separated the Belgians into three breeds 33 years ago, the ancestry of American imports continues to reinforce interdependency, as is evident in the occasional puppies that more closely resemble one of the other Belgian Shepherd Dog breeds that the breed of their parents.

The Look and Characteristics of the Belgian Tervuren

The Tervuren is a medium sized dog. It is easily recognized by its long, luxurious coat and alert stature. The average height is from 22 to 25 inches tall and the weight is around 40 to 65 pounds.

The Tervuren is classified as a herding dog and has a lifespan of around 10 to 12 years.

Often, people mistake the Tervuren for a German Shepherd due to some of the characteristics being similar.

Standard colors are either fawn and black or mahogany and black. There is a thick and lush double coat that is especially thick around the middle of the body but not quite as thick at the head and legs.

Insure Your Tervuren Here

Show Dog Qualities

The breed standard for the Belgian Tervuren is quite specific, just like with any dog being shown. Here are a few qualities that are look for that will also give you more of an idea of the look of this breed.

The Tervuren’s basic appearance should have a strong carriage of its neck and head. It should stand elegantly on all fours and have an agile, athletic, yet graceful appearance. These dogs are muscular but should never look too bulky. And it is important that males look masculine and females have feminine features.

The size of the Tervuren depends on if it is male or female. Males should be not larger than 26 1/2 inches tall and no shorter than 23 inches. Females over 24 1/2 inches or under 21 inches tall are penalized for the deviation. The dog should look well-balanced with a square look.

The head should be non-exaggerated with a chiseled look. The ears are stiff and erect while the eyes are alert, expressive, and intelligent. The teeth are important and there are penalties for missing or uneven ones.

There are so many areas that have specific qualifications to be a winner in show world. For instance, the coat has specifics like being long and luxurious without a rough texture.

The Belgian Tervuren has a specific gait that is important. It should be effortless, graceful, and showcase the ease of which the dog displays movement.

There are a few disqualification factors from the AKC:

Males under 23 inches or over 26½ inches or females under 21 inches or over 24½ inches.Hanging ears, as on a hound.An undershot bite such that there is a complete loss of contact by all the incisors.A cropped or stump tail.Solid black, solid liver or any area of white except as specified on the chest, tips of the toes, chin, and muzzle.

Care of Your Belgian Tervuren

Care for the Tervuren is much like other breeds with a few exceptions.

Nutritional Needs

A quality dog food is sufficient for the Tervuren but make sure it is appropriate for your dog like specifically for puppies, seniors, overweight dogs, etc.


The Belgian Tervuren has an undercoat so special care is needed when grooming. When it’s not shedding season, care is much easier with just a thorough brushing once or twice a week. Yet, when the dog is shedding about once a year, it will need more care and time. Instead of just brushing, get a rake tool for the dead hair. It also might take 15-20 minutes to brush out.


This is a breed that is very active. In fact, all four of the Belgian breeds are always in motion. Many say that this not a dog for beginners so keep in mind that this dog needs tons of exercise, tons of play, and is at best feeling like he has a job to do. A sedentary lifestyle won’t work at all for this breed. Playtime that is challenging and a lot of hard work is exactly what the Tervuren thrives on. Whether it is competing in agility competitions or herding around the farm, the Tervuren needs something to do.


The Belgian Tervuren needs training in social skills and obedience. This is a very intelligent animal so training won’t be that hard. Yet keep in mind that this dog is sensitive so harsh training is not conducive to its learning. However, using play skills and game challenges help tremendously. As far as socialization, make sure your puppy is acclimated to being around other dogs and people for the best experience and safest experience.


This is a pretty healthy breed of dog. Yet like any breed, there are considerations. The American Kennel Club suggests checking for specific conditions this breed is predisposed to like:

Regular vet visits and tooth care is needed. You might consider pet insurance to help defray any costs of veterinarian care and emergency costs. It is better to have a backup plan than not be able to afford your dog’s treatment if something does come up.

Learn More: American Belgian Tervuren Club

Finding a Belgian Tervuren

As mentioned earlier, the Belgian Tervuren is more rare than some of the other dogs within the Belgian Shepherd breeds. That doesn’t mean you cannot find one.

Rescuing a Belgian Tervuren

Rescuing a dog is one of the most selfless acts you can do. There are rescue groups like Belgian Tervuren Rescue Inc where you can help place or home one of these wonderful creatures. There, an adoption application has to be completed and if there are any dogs available that match your needs, you are responsible for transportation and according to their site, an adoption fee.

The standard fee is $200 for dogs over the age of 18 months, and $300 for puppies under 18 months old, or the cost of expenses incurred on behalf of the dog. All dogs will be spayed/neutered, current on vaccinations, heartworm tested clear, free of parasites, and micro-chipped at the time of adoption. BTR will also provide an appropriate safe collar for the dog.

Choosing a Breeder

If you’re looking for a puppy, there are reputable breeders to choose from. A good place to start is the breeder’s website something like the AKC. It’s a way to relieve a little of the research you must do on your own. These sites may have breeders who are trusted and reviews and information from other people who have gotten a dog from them. For example, the AKC has a breed finder that lists Belgian Tervuren puppies for sale. You can sort by breeders of distinction, club members, dog size, if there are puppies available, champion bloodlines, and those who list photos of their dogs.

Once there, you can look at the breeder’s information where there is a page dedicated to them. It will list their website, name, phone number, messaging capability, location, If they have photos, there is a gallery where you can see the dogs they have or have had in the past.

Life With a Belgian Tervuren

The Belgian Tervuren makes a great companion and an excellent guard dog. They are incredibly intelligent and learn commands and actions well and fast. Keep in mind that these are often the dog of choice when it comes to emergency rescue and police departments.

According to Indulge Your Pet:

The Belgian Tervuren is one of those “kinds” of dogs that’s not going to be shy or afraid, and ready to “mix it up” if it has too, while being very friendly and social all at the same time. This is why you’ll typically find that most Terv’s will seek out the attention of his or her owner and won’t like to be left on his own for extended periods of time. He’s almost like an energetic bunny, always up to something.

These dogs need a companion who keeps them on their toes. They are always aiming to please you and love working. Make sure they have toys that expand their mind but they also love to snuggle with a toy bear or chew on a squeaky toy. And chasing balls is something they love to do over and over.

Fun Facts

There are plenty of fun facts about the Belgian Tervuren. For instance, the Tervuren was an important companion on the battlefield during WWII. They are loyal, brave, and strong! The Belgian Sheepdog breed was also used in WWI to deliver messages to the allies. There is a famous story about Taki, who was a war hero. It’s incredibly uplifting and wonderful.

Dogster tells the story of a true hero too:

In the 1920s, an Amsterdam Terv police dog named Albert tracked down more than 200 fugitives. A statue of him stands in an Amsterdam park.

Hero or companion, the Belgian Tervuren is both. This dog is a loyal member of the family, a hard working dog, and one with a personality that can’t be beat. The intelligence is rarely outwitted and as long as you keep them working or entertained, they are one of the best breeds around.

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