This pretty girl hails from the Belgian village of Tervuren. She stands straight and tall, with erect ears, long hair and seemingly inexhaustible reserves of energy. Like her close relatives the Belgian Laekenois, Belgian Malinois, and Belgian Sheepdog, she was bred specifically to herd sheep in Belgium in the late 1800s. Hair and coat length and color are the primary distinguishing features among all four breeds.
Like other dogs in the Shepherd group, the Tervuren is happiest doing a good day’s work (this could be anything from a vigorous walk or run to a sprint through the agility course) and then coming home to her family, for whom she has great loyalty and devotion. At least 60 minutes daily must be devoted to exercise. Tervurens are smart and and obedient when trained and can make wonderful family companions.
As with other shepherd breeds, the Tervuren’s capabilities were discovered to go well beyond shepherding. In popularity they were slow to catch on, but interest in them grew in the mid-20th century. They were found to be proficient at agility, police work, obedience, sledding, tracking, and even the relatively new dog sport of musical freestyle! They possess both physical and mental energy and enjoy solving problems, like how to navigate an obstacle on an agility course.
The Belgian Shepherd breeds were a single dog under AKC rules until 1959, when the organization recognized distinct differences among the varieties and implemented separate show categories for each of the four shepherds.
Males stand 24 to 26 inches at the withers; females, 22 to 24. Ideal weight for males is 55 to 65 pounds and 40 to 50 pounds for females. The typical color configuration is a mahogany coat with a black overlay and black mask. They can also be born sable or gray, but these colors may not be acceptable to all breed organization standards.
Tervurens are generally healthy and can be expected to live 12 to 14 years. Some disorders that have been seen include hip dysplasia, epilepsy, gastric problems (including bloats and torsions), and some eye and skin problems. If you’re buying a puppy, experts recommend you seek out a reputable breeder who has had the dog tested and can demonstrate that the dog is free of a particular condition.
The Belgian Sheepdog’s grooming requirements are intensive but manageable for the willing owner. Like other shepherd breeds, she has a double coat and sheds year-round. She (or more likely, her male counterpart) may display a lovely circle of fur around her face; this is called a collar. All hair is generally coarse to the touch.
Fifteen to 20 minutes of brushing, twice weekly, will go a long way toward limiting the volume of dog hair you see in your house and preventing the occurrence of mats or burrs on the dog. Plus, many dogs enjoy the sensation of being brushed.
Tervs do not require frequent baths, but bathing makes brushing easier by loosening the dirt in the fur. Nails should be trimmed as needed. Many Tervs wear theirs down through activity, but if you can hear them clicking on the floor, it’s time for a trim.
There is a Belgian Tervuren rescue page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/belgiantervuren.rescueme.org/) that facilitates rescues and attempts to help with rehoming if necessary. Because she’s a fairly rare breed, local rescues might be hard to find, but sometimes people are willing to meet you halfway with the driving.
Click here and Donate two cents to your favorite animal rescue.