The Belgian Tervuren is a majestic, black-masked herding dog with a rich fawn to mahogany coat and black overlay at the tips of the hair. Tervs are one of four distinct herding breeds developed in different regions of Belgium. Active and agile, they require owners who welcome their constant need for attention and activity. Tervs are a breed that flourishes when they are working and playing with their family for the better part of the day.
Tervurens are devoted to their families and are highly protective of them. This makes them guarded when meeting people they don't know, and prone to herding children who stray too far from the flock. Intelligent and alert, Tervurens are highly obedient when well trained; the breed seems ever ready for the next command. They are fast learners, but somewhat sensitive, so they should be trained with a gentle touch.
The Belgian Tervuren is often called simply Tervuren or Terv. In Belgium, the breed is known as Chien de Berger Belge.
Belgian Tervurens have an abundant double coat with a long, straight outer coat and dense undercoat. The fur is somewhat harsh to the touch, but not overly so. Extra hair around the neck forms a 'collarette,' particularly on males. Hair on the front of the legs and on the face is shorter than on the rest of the body, and a long fringe of hair grows on the back of the legs and on the tail. The coat color is double pigmented, with fawn or mahogany hairs blackened at the tips. The chest is usually black and the face bears a black mask. The hair coloring on the underside of the tail, body, and rear legs lightens to a cream or light gray.
Average Height: 22-26 inches
Male: 55-75 pounds
Female: 45-60 pounds
Breed Standard & History
The medium-sized Tervuren is a strong, well-balanced dog with an elegant frame. Tervs are courageous, alert, and rugged; it's clear they can manage long working days with ease. They have a long, chiseled head and an attentive, command-ready expression. Their almond-shaped eyes are dark brown and their triangular ears stand erect. Tervurens are loving and loyal with their people, and stand their ground with strangers. They should never be aggressive without first determining a threat.
Belgian Tervurens draw their name from the village of Tervuren in Belgium, where the breeder M.F. Corbeel developed the variety from dogs already established as farm dogs and herders in the region. The breed is closely related to the three other Belgian herding dogs—the Malinois, the Laekenois, and the Groenendael. The primary difference between the breeds is the length and texture of their fur.
After the Industrial Revolution, when Tervs weren't required for farm work, their skills were enlisted for military and police work, as well as for search and rescue, and service work. They continue to do those jobs around the world today. The American Kennel Club recognized the Belgian Tervuren in 1959.
AKC Breed Category
Belgian Tervurens are deeply attached to their families and affectionate and playful with the people they love. They are highly trainable, but require patience and respect during the process, or they may decide you don't deserve their undivided attention. They are courageous and bold as they tackle their daily tasks. Tervs are very protective of their family members; they require early socialization so they learn most strangers are not a threat.
Are Belgian Tervurens Good with Kids? The Tervuren's loyalty extends to the kids in their family, but children may be disappointed that the breed tends to pay more attention to adults. Tervs should always be watched when playing with children, because they may nip when they feel rambunctious tots need herding.
(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)
Are Belgian Tervurens Good with Other Pets? Socialization can help if you must have other animals in addition to your Tervuren. But this breed is probably best as an only pet because they enjoy chasing and herding, and will try to keep other animals in the house in line.
Tervurens are known to be highly protective of their families.
Are Belgian Tervurens Good Guard Dogs? In addition to herding, Belgian Tervurens were bred to guard the homestead and protect the flock on the way to market. Tervs will bark to let their family know someone is approaching, and they'll become aggressive when necessary.
Belgian Tervurens are active dogs with a great deal of energy. They don't tire out easily.
- Socialization is critical so they know most strangers are not a threat.
- They need a lot of daily activity and interaction.
- Tervurens may develop unwanted behaviors and separation anxiety if left alone too long.
- They should always be walked on leash because they will instinctively chase people, bikers, cars, and neighborhood cats.
- They're known to 'herd' children by nipping at their heels.
- They require experienced owners who have the time to give them nuanced training and plenty of exercise.
- They are sensitive to unfair treatment during training.
- Their abundant coats shed year round.
Belgian Tervurens should live inside with their families and don't adjust well to time alone. They shed through the year, and more heavily during seasonal shedding. Keep the vacuum at the ready. They can live in an apartment, but only if you can take them out frequently to exercise and to engage them.
Tervurens benefit from spending hours outside playing, herding, or hiking with their humans. Their hearty coats make this possible year round and no matter the weather. It's ideal if they have access to a securely enclosed yard where they can burn off excess energy with games of fetch.
A healthy Tervuren should get two hours of vigorous exercise each day. Agility training, herding trials, and dog sports are all great options for your Terv.
As herding dogs, Belgian Tervurens have the stamina to walk, hike, or play from morning until night, with a few rests in the shade now and then.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: Belgian Tervurens make excellent jogging partners and will trot by your side for up to five miles. They can jog in winter as long as you are attentive to protecting their feet from ice and salt. In summer, jog with them only during the coolest parts of the day, because their heavy coats may lead to overheating.
- Hiking Miles: Strong, athletic, and adventurous, Tervurens will enjoy five- to ten-mile hikes by your side.
Generally, this breed requires about 2 to 3 cups of good quality dry dog food each day, given in two feedings. This will vary, however, based upon your Tervuren's activity level and age. Talk to your veterinarian about the optimal diet and quantity of food for your Belgian Tervuren.
Belgian Tervurens don't adjust well to spending much time alone and are known to develop separation anxiety. You can leave your Tervuren alone for an hour or so, ideally in a dog crate that they've been trained to consider their den.
Health and Grooming
The Tervuren's thick double coat should be brushed about twice a week for most of the year, and daily during periods of seasonal shedding. They should get a bath about once a month, or when they get dirty. Wash your Terv's ears weekly with a gentle, dog-friendly cleanser to prevent dirt buildup that can cause infections. Tervurens should have their teeth brushed several times a week, and their nails trimmed every month or so to prevent cracking.
Common Health Issues
Though generally healthy, Belgian Tervurens may develop some breed-specific health conditions, including:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Progressive retinal atrophy
You can minimize serious health concerns in a Belgian Tervuren by purchasing from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
Belgian Tervurens are whip-smart and learn basic commands easily. Keep in mind, Tervs are sensitive dogs and require a gentle approach to training. Positive reinforcement, praise, and dog treats garner the best results.
Continued training is a smart move for this intelligent, active breed. Tervurens will enjoy working with you to perfect advanced obedience commands, and participate in new dog sports, such as agility and flyball. They are also, of course, eager participants in herding trials.
Sporting Dog Training
Belgian Tervurens are bred for herding rather than hunting.
No. Belgian Tervurens are not hypoallergenic. Their heavy double coats shed and leave pet dander in your home. Pet dander is the primary cause of pet-related allergies.
Tervurens are naturally protective of their family members and will become aggressive if they sense their people are in danger. They may be confused about what constitutes a threat when they don't learn this at an early age through socialization. When well socialized, they are not aggressive. Don't expect them to be gregarious, however. Tervs are naturally reserved around strangers.
Belgian Tervurens can learn to swim and many enjoy going into the water on a hot day. All dogs have different preferences, however, so let your Terv take the lead. If he doesn't seem very interested in swimming, don't force the issue. All dogs should be watched closely while swimming.