Belgian Tervurens are medium-sized dogs that are well muscled yet elegant in appearance. Their coats range in color from rich fawn to russet mahogany, and their eyes are dark brown and alert. The breed's guard coat is long, straight, and close fitting, and the undercoat is dense and varies by climate. The coat is short on the head, front legs, and the outside of the ears, with tufts of hair around the ear openings. Belgian Tervurens have black noses and triangle-shaped ears. They measure 22 to 26 inches at the shoulder and weigh 40 to 65 pounds. With proper care, these dogs live up to 14 years.
Watchful and alert, Belgian Tervurens make good watchdogs. This breed is aloof with strangers and generally independent, while also being attentive and affectionate with loved ones.
These dogs are intelligent and devoted to their human companions, and they are best suited for active, outdoorsy families with older children. They are usually tolerant of other cats and dogs, provided they are raised together.
Although the first time a Belgian Tervuren made its appearance in the American Kennel Club books was in 1918, it was not until 1959 that the AKC recognized the Tervuren as a distinct breed.
Belgian Tervurens are intelligent, loyal, and sensitive dogs that make great companions for children because they enjoy cuddling and play. They also have a great sense of humor. These dogs are known to seek attention from their human family and can become possessive. They get along decently with other dogs, but they are not ideally suited to households with cats.
Watchful and alert, Belgian Tervurens make good watchdogs. This breed is aloof with strangers and generally independent, while also being attentive and affectionate with loved ones. In fact, Tervurens will follow their human family around if they are feeling lonely or in need of extra attention.
These dogs are a good fit for active families who regularly engage in hiking, biking, running, and other activities. If left alone for long periods, they may become unhappy and destructive. Tervurens require daily mental and physical stimulation and do well at flyball, obedience, search and rescue, agility, herding, and tracking. These dogs need to be with their family.
Although Belgian Tervurens are generally healthy, the breed is more prone to certain health conditions than some other breeds. Hip dysplasia, skin allergies, and epilepsy are some health problems that affect Tervurens. Another condition, called osteochondritis dissecans, is also a concern. This disorder causes lameness, joint swelling, pain, muscle wasting, and loss of mobility.
Tervurens are prone to a number of eye problems, including progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, and pannus, which is also called chronic superficial keratitis. Pannus is a bilateral, progressive inflammatory condition that affects the corneas. Additionally, Tervurens are known to develop a low white blood cell count, and this can occur even in healthy dogs.
With proper nutrition, regular exercise, routine veterinary care and vaccinations, Belgian Tervurens can live a long life of up to 14 years.
Belgian Tervurens should start training and socialization early in life to prevent problem behaviors from developing and to help the breed become less skittish and more tolerant of strangers and other animals. Training should be firm and consistent, yet fair and gentle. These dogs are very sensitive and respond negatively to harsh criticism or too much pressure during training. Positive reinforcement, including play and food rewards, works best.
These dogs do best when given a job to do. They are intelligent, learn rapidly, and have a strong drive to get things right, which means Tervurens are constantly in search of mental stimulation to stave off boredom. They also need daily exercise as an outlet for excess energy; these dogs are always moving and can become destructive without regular physical activity.
Belgian Tervurens should live inside, but they also need regular time outdoors. This breed must be securely enclosed in a fenced yard or kept on a leash to protect neighborhood cats and rabbits. They are very territorial and may bark at strangers or passing cars. Training and socialization can help with this.
Belgian Tervurens are not low-maintenance dogs, and this should be a consideration before adoption or purchase. This breed has a thick coat that needs twice-weekly brushing to remove dead hair. Grooming sessions may last for 20 to 30 minutes due to the thickness of the coat. A medium-sized pin brush, undercoat rake, slicker brush, and mat comb should be on hand for use during grooming.
These dogs shed a lot once or twice each year. During shedding seasons, more frequent brushing is needed to control loose hair and keep it off furniture and clothing. Bathing is not often necessary, but warm baths can help minimize loose hair during shedding seasons.
The nails should be trimmed as needed, which is usually weekly for puppies and monthly for adults, and the teeth should be brushed often to maintain tooth and gum health. Dental treats and water additives are beneficial. The breed's ears require weekly examinations to check for signs of infection and wax accumulation. Ear cleaning is best done with a veterinarian-approved otic cleanser and cotton balls.
Belgian Tervurens get their name from Tervuren, a Belgian village and home to one of the breed's earliest and most fervent proponents. This breed was slower than other shepherds to gain popularity, but these dogs quickly became in high demand for their protective instincts and exceptional herding abilities.
During and after the industrial revolution, the need for these dogs declined; however, the desire for them did not. Their role shifted from working animals to companion animals, and the Tervuren was first registered in America in 1918. However, the breed's numbers died out before the start of the Great Depression.
Breeding began again after World War II, starting almost from scratch. These dogs have become increasingly popular ever since and are frequently kept as companion animals or found working as therapy dogs, guide dogs, and police dogs. In some parts of the world, the breed is still used for herding.
The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Belgian Tervuren breed in 1959.