Country of Origin
There are four closely related breeds of Belgian Shepherd collectively referred to as ‘Chien de Berger Belge’, which were classified as independent breeds in 1891. All are herding and guard dogs, and are primarily distinguished by their appearances: the Malinois has short hair, the Laekenois (not currently recognized by the American Kennel Club) has wiry hair, the Groenendael (also known simply as the ‘Belgian Shepherd’) has long, black hair, and the Tervuren has long hair of any other color. The Tervuren was named after the Belgian city of Tervuren where it was developed. It was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1918, but nearly went extinct before World War II. Recently, it has enjoyed moderate popularity as a versatile breed and excellent herder.
The Belgian Tervuren Shepherd has a shoulder height of 58-64 cm (23-25 in) and weighs 18-34 kg (40-75 lbs). It has a flat skull, almond shaped eyes, a moderate stop (point at which the muzzle meets the forehead) and triangular, erect ears. Belgian Tervuren Shepherds have a flat back, curved tail, and small, round ‘cat feet’. They are muscular and lithe with square-proportioned bodies.
The Belgian Tervuren Shepherd has a long, thick double coat, which comes in brown with possible black overlay (which may darken with age) and a black mask. Chest and toes may contain small patches of white. The Belgian Tervuren Shepherd may also be sable or grey, but this is penalized in the show ring in some countries. Belgian Tervuren Shepherds shed heavily once or twice a year.
The Belgian Tervuren Shepherd is energetic, lively and eager to work. It is bred for intelligence and awareness of its surroundings. Belgian Tervuren Shepherds require frequent face time and playtime with their master. They tend to bond very strongly with one person. Belgian Tervuren Shepherds can develop phobias of certain objects or locations as puppies, but usually grow out of it by adulthood.
The Belgian Tervuren Shepherd should be socialized as a puppy if it is to live with other dogs or pets. It is shy around strangers, but gets along well with children. It has high socialization and activity requirements, making it less than ideal for those unwilling or unable to invest significant time.
Belgian Tervuren Shepherds require brushing and combing twice weekly, more often when shedding. Excessive brushing or combing can damage the undercoat. Belgian Tervuren Shepherds have a long life span of 11-13 years. Belgian Shepherds have similar health problems as other breeds, but are particularly susceptible to epileptic seizures, especially the Tervuren.
The Belgian Tervuren Shepherd should be trained gently, but with determination. Belgian Tervuren Shepherds are highly adverse to harsh treatment; hitting or yelling at them will only have negative effects. Best results are achieved through awards-based training methods. Belgian Tervuren Shepherds require mental stimulation, so training should not be overly repetitive. Obedience and sport-specific training (such as tracking or dog agility) will reap great benefits and allow the Belgian Tervuren Shepherd to realize its full potential.
The Belgian Tervuren Shepherd needs a sufficient amount of outdoor exercise every day, including a long jog or walk and active playtime in the yard. Belgian Tervuren Shepherds thrive on mental stimulation, and will enjoy a complex game or sports training session even more than a simple round of catch.