Background and Registry
Belgian Tervuren, from the name itself, originated in the town of Tervuren in Belgium in 1800. It is one of the four variations of the Belgian Shepherds that were bred particularly for watching over properties in the farmlands and herding livestock.
Initially, the four types of Belgian Shepherds, made up of Groenendael, Tervuren, Malinois, and Laekenois, were considered to be just a single breed due to their likeness. However, later on, they were split into four categories due to the differences in their coat and also their color. Nevertheless, among the prominent characteristics present in all four types were their exemplary intelligence, alertness, and powerful build that make them great on the job they were originally bred for.
Nowadays, although there are still Belgian Tervurens that work on the farm, they can be seen mostly as part of the K9 units of the police force and military, and assistance dogs providing services especially to those with disabilities needing additional care.
There is a total of four Belgian herding breeds. Of these, the American Kennel Club acknowledges only 3 including that of the Belgian Tervuren breed. The Laekenois breed is not recognized by the American Kennel Club.
On the other hand, the United Kennel Club does not recognize any of the four varieties of the Belgian Shepherd Dog breeds separately and only considers all four as one.
General Information on a Belgian Tervuren
- Height24 to 26 in for Male Tervuren, 22 to 24 in for Female Tervuren
- Weight55 to 75 lbs for Male Tervuren, 45 to 60 lbs for Female Tervuren
- Lifespan12 to 14 years
Confident, Loyal, Affectionate, Active, Athletic, Playful
Families with older kids, home with fenced-in yard, active families
A Belgian Tervuren is one of the most beautiful and proud dogs you will ever see. Although they seem very big at first glance because of their coat, they are just medium-sized dog breeds with a muscular physique which is not surprising because they are working dogs. They also have slightly long faces due to their pointed snout. They have erect ears that are triangular in shape, brown eyes that expressive of their intelligence and mischief, and a black nose.
The coat of Tervurens is very thick. They are double-coated wherein short and dense fur under were overlaid with long, straight hair that is almost water-resistant. The coat of Tervurens protects them well from too hot or too cold weather. It also comes in two or more combinations of the following colors – black, brindle, cream, fawn, and mahogany. The black coloring almost always covers the surface of its coat, some parts of the chest, the tips of its tail, ears, and most of its face. Tervs also have longer and fluffier hair on the neck part, tail, and the back of their front legs. The dark coloring of a Terv is said to go deeper in color as it matures into adulthood.
Male Belgian Tervurens typically grow bigger than their female counterparts. While the former can grow between 24-26 in and weigh 55-75 lbs, the latter can only grow between 22-24 in and weigh up to an average of 45-60 lbs.
Truly, Belgian Tervurens are among the dog breeds that will get a second look in whatever crowd.
Food and Feeding
Since a Belgian Tervuren is energetic and almost always on the move. Because of this, it is important that it only consumes food containing a balanced diet so it can stay healthy and fit all the time, and so it can have the energy to keep up with its daily activities.
Ideally, a balanced diet should consist of protein and good fat. It should also be packed with vitamins and minerals. It should not contain a high percentage of carbohydrates because it would just lead to obesity given the love of Terv for food.
There are many dog food choices available commercially that can meet all these requirements. Whether wet food or kibble, all you need to do is be discerning of the ingredients. You should pick one with whole grains other than those refined ones which may be ripped already of all the nutrients your Terv would need.
While a Belgian Tervuren needs to be fed as much as 4 times a day during puppyhood, this can be slowly decreased to up to twice a day during adulthood as long as enough portion is still provided based on their level of physical activity. A fur parent could distribute 2 to 3 cups of good quality kibble during this twice a day feeding schedule for an adult Terv and just adjust this as necessary.
With the type of coat a Belgian Tervuren has, you should already expect that it needs a lot of grooming time. You should start gearing yourself up with a high-quality slicker brush and a comb that will be good in addressing matted mane. If you have extra, then better get so a good undercoat dog rake.
A Belgian Tervuren would need at least twice a week rigorous brushing to remove dirt and debris that got stuck in its mane and to keep its hair mat-free. The brushing should even be more frequent, if possible daily, during those months of the year when it undergoes heavily shedding so that you won’t end up with a moving ball of fur.
Bath time with a Belgian Tervuren doesn’t need to be often unless it becomes really dirty and or it suddenly decides to give itself a mud bath. However, it is imperative that it maintains good oral hygiene because it is susceptible to dental problems.
Brush the teeth of your Belgian Tervuren regularly. There are dog-friendly toothpaste and toothbrush available at the pet store for this need. Just a heads up that you cannot use regular human toothpaste for a Terv because this can be poisonous to your dog.
Clipping the nails and ear cleaning are also parts of the grooming process that you should not forget. It is understandable that you may get a little nervous thinking about doing this. If this is the case, you can also get the help of a professional groomer to do it for you.
Getting your Terv pampered by professional groomers from time to time would do them good specially since they are known to be thorough on the services they provide.
Exercise and Physical Activity
Being one of the varieties of Belgian Shepherd Breeds that were predominantly herding dogs back in the day, it can be said that Belgian Tervuren is a dog breed that is used to doing hard work. This makes the exercise they need daily on the moderate to high-intensity side. Even if this is the case, however, it is still important that they will not be forced to go beyond their capabilities so they won’t be overexerted which could lead to injuries.
A Belgian Tervuren needs an average of 1-hour of exercise daily. You can go for a normal fetch game, jogging, and some dog sports because this won’t just test their skill but would also stimulate them mentally. It is very important that your activity involves a lot of challenges because this would also help hone the skills of your Terv especially if you have plans to let it join dog competitions or dog sports in the future.
A Tervuren that does not get the daily physical activity it needs tends to feel depressed. It also develops bad behaviors such as incessant barking and gnawing at your shoes and furniture to release its pent-up energy which would not just be annoying but can be costly too.
Belgian Tervurens are naturally energetic and very smart dog breeds which make training them both a worthwhile experience and a challenge. This is also why Tervs are not for everyone especially first-time owners who are inexperienced in handling similar dog breeds.
Right Training Approach
Training a Terv is not as easy as training just any other dog breeds because you will be successful with it until it is comfortable with you and it trusts you. Thus, the relationship between the owner and the Terv should be developed first.
Contrary to what some owners believe, Belgian Tervurens do not respond well to negative reinforcement. In fact, this could just do more damage and can lead to aggravated aggression on the part of Tervurens. They can even turn on their owners especially in the face of intimidation and brute force, damaging permanently their disposition.
The best approach is still rewards-based training after you have already established a rapport with your Terv.
Aside from being constantly around its owner, a Belgian Tervuren needs to be exposed also other people, animals, and even places. This is the most effective way to teach a Terv how to behave when meeting strangers and drive the message they can be comfortable around others.
When not socialized during the early stages of their life, Tervurens tend to be too territorial and aggressive towards others outside the normal set of people they see on a daily basis. They are also likely to be violent towards strangers to the point that they may cause hurt and damages that can lead to possible legal problems. Further, they are also prone to give chase especially to children and small animals which look like prey because of their natural herding instinct.
Belgian Tervurens can get the socialization they need by simply going out on a walk in the neighborhood, playing at the park, and mingling with your friends and relatives, with your guidance, when they visit your home.
Before jumping into complicated tricks that you can teach your Tervuren, you should start with the very basic first and the most important – potty training.
Of course, no fur parent would like their fur babies, especially as big as a Belgian Tervuren, to have their “accidents” inside the house. Thus, it is just right to start with this task, and the fastest way to see the result is by creating a schedule and being consistent.
Check for the tell-tale signs that your Terv already needs to go. The ideal schedule is after waking up in the morning, every after eating and drinking, and before you go to sleep. You’ll see after a while that your Tervuren would get the hang of this and there are even times when it would be the one to tell you that it already needs to go.
Among the normal signs include pacing back and forth by the door, whining, or even scratching the door.
In training a Tervuren, you’d need extreme patience before you achieve the fruit of your labor. This will not come easy since while Belgian Tervuren has an inclination to please its owner, it also has an instinctive urge to turn everything into a challenge.
Common Health Concerns
Purebred dogs are highly susceptible to hereditary diseases. It is the reason why nowadays, more and more designer breeds are emerging. Many breeders are hoping to eliminate genetic disorders that are easily passed on by parents to their offspring and create a healthier breed.
Like any other dog breed, there are also health concerns associated with Belgian Teruvens and they are listed below:
This is a neurological health condition that can affect a Tervuren and is denoted by repetitive uncontrollable seizures arising from a problem in the brain. This can be acquired genetically or can be developed from other conditions.
There are 2 types of seizures an Epileptic Tervuren can suffer from – Generalized and Focal. The symptoms of the former include involuntary movement in your Terv and your fur baby may be unconscious as it happens. Focal seizures, on the other hand, may affect only one part of the body which makes it hard to recognize it early. This can also transform later on to a Generalized seizure.
There are treatments available to manage the seizures experienced by Epileptic Belgian Tervurens. However, it is also important that owners are aware if their fur babies are already suffering from the condition because you would play a vital role in securing your Terv through an episode.
It is recommended that fur parents seek guidance from a vet for proper assistance if they have an Epileptic Tervuren.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive Retinal Atrophy is an inherited condition wherein the photoreceptors in the retina slowly deteriorate which eventually leads to permanent loss of vision. The symptoms include Tervs having difficulty seeing at night and becoming clumsier to the point of bumping into furniture as it walks around the house under dim lights.
The disorder comes without pain but it significantly affects the life of a Tervuren. However, due to the presence of the other senses of the affected Belgian Tervuren, it is still likely that it could live a normal life. The important thing is that there is still its owner who will be patient and encouraging enough to guide it through the necessary adjustment.
There is no remedy for Progressive Retinal Atrophy.
Hypothyroidism is a health disorder wherein thyroid hormone is not sufficiently produced causing a slow down in the metabolism of a Tervuren which then affects all other body parts.
A Terv suffering from this can be observed to be tired all the time with no particular reason, patches of hair loss on different parts of the Tervuren’s body, skin disease, obesity, and muscle weakness. Sometimes, this even leads to infertility. For some Belgian Tervurens, this disorder also causes them to be aggressive.
There is no treatment known that would totally cure Hypothyroidism but there are ways to manage it such as by administering thyroid replacement hormones.
Hip Dysplasia is a disorder affecting the skeletal makeup of a Tervuren particularly its hip joints. Normally, there is an abnormal formation wherein the ball and pelvic socket of a Belgian Tervuren do not grow to be a perfect fit for each other which causes dislocation. This mostly impacts big dog breeds but was also observed on other dogs that come in smaller sizes.
The disorder can be very painful for a Tervuren. As such, a Terv suffering from one can be observed to exhibit limping, little bunny hopping motion as it walks, reduced mass of the hind legs but muscled upper body, decreased movement, and obvious pain. Hip Dysplasia can lead to osteoarthritis if not detected and treated early.
Depending on the severeness of Hip Dysplasia, there are several options for treatment such as anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and surgical procedures.
Studies show that Hip Dysplasia is a hereditary condition, thus, cannot really be prevented. However, a Tervuren is most likely to develop one if it is overweight and is always subjected to strenuous exercises. As such, owners should not subject their fur babies to over-exertion and should be watchful of their food intake. They can also give their Tervs supplements that help with the development of their bones and prevent disorders like this from happening.
Like Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia is an abnormality on the bone of the Tervuren. The difference is that the latter affects the front limbs often resulting in lameness. This disorder arises from the inability of the three bones on the elbow of the Tervuren to fit together for normal mobility because the pressure during movements is concentrated only in one area.
Elbow Dysplasia can also result in osteoarthritis. Aside from this, there may be bone fractures as well that can develop which need to be treated in addition to Elbow Dysplasia. The available treatment can be through surgical and non-surgical means.
Research shows that the leading causes of Elbow Dysplasia include injuries, obesity, and genetics. Needless to say, this is painful not only for a Belgian Tervuren but for any dog breeds alike.
There is no absolute way to stop the health disorder of a Belgian Tervuren especially if it is genetically transferred from one or both of its parents. What a would-be owner could do is to ensure that the Tervuren sire and dam that were bred together have a clean bill of health before adopting any of their offspring. Other than that, there are also different tests available to ensure that a Terv you are getting is in good condition.
A Belgian Tervuren dog has an average lifespan of 12-14, years old. But this will only be achieved if it is healthy and well-cared for.
This is why Tervuren owners should ensure that their fur baby is receiving the right amount of nutrition daily. Proper exercise should also not be missed. So do the necessary vaccines and regular check-ups that would give the assurance that your Belgian Teruven is in perfect condition at all times.
Belgian Tervurens are naturally confident dog breeds. They are very active and athletic which bode well for people who have the same characteristics because Tervs would be excellent companions to your next adventures. They are packed with high levels of endurance that would withstand long hiking trails. They are also very vigilant and protective which gives you the making of good watchdogs.
Tervurens can be very proprietorial especially when it comes to their owners. This is why it is important to subject them to training and socialization starting from an early age so that the harm resulting from this kind of behavior can be mitigated immediately.
Belgian Tervurens that are well-trained and socialized are known to have good temperaments. They are sweet, gentle, affectionate, and friendly fur babies. They are very approachable too and good in getting along with others including children and other pets particularly those that were raised with them. They are also not naturally aggressive and tend to scrutinize first the situation before attacking without reason.
Belgian Tervuren as a Family Member
If you want a loyal friend and a guard dog in one, then definitely, Belgian Tervuren is the best dog for you. Its affectionate and friendly nature makes it easy to get along, while its eagerness to please its masters gives way to a valuable companion. It is naturally smart so it is not hard to include it in any family activities. Moreover, although it can be very people-oriented when trained well, it still has reservations towards strangers and is very sensitive on how its owner feels towards other people, making it always prepared to act if its fur parent needs protecting.
A Belgian Tervuren can be good with children especially those older ones. Small children should not be left with a Terv unattended.
Its not hard for a Belgian Tervuren to have a harmonious relationship with other family pets especially if they are raised together. Trust that a Terv will treat them as their own and protect them like its brother and/or sister.
For new pets, it is also not an impossible feat for a Terv to easily be friends with them. It just needs to get past the adjustment stage and develop trust with the new pets. This can be done with the help of their fur parents. You’ll find in no time that your Terv and the new family pets would be inseparable and friends for life.
The Cost of Getting a Belgian Tervuren
There is a notable cost involved in getting a Belgian Tervuren whether you will buy it from a breeder or will adopt it from the shelter.
Purchasing a Tervuren Puppy
If you are planning to get a Tervuren puppy then you may already start preparing USD1500 – USD2000 on average. But this can still increase especially if it will come from a superior lineage and if it comes in a bigger size. It is, however, recommended to get only your Belgian Tervuren from a reputable breeder.
Why should you not consider buying from a puppy mill, if you may ask?
This is because, with a reputable dog breeder, you have the assurance that all the parent Belgian Tervurens that will be mated underwent a strict quality check before being paired with each other.
There is normally a wide variety of testing involved to ensure that mating couples are in very good health and do not have any pre-existing health conditions that they may pass to their offspring. They are also well-cared for starting from the nutrition, exercise, and even the needed medical care which is extended to their litters starting from their birth up to the time they are transferred to their would-be fur parents.
Unlike backyard breeders, reputable and professional ones are not only in the business for the bucks. Instead, they are in it to produce quality puppies that will be a good addition to the family. They are not into unethical practice that would only just cost would-be owners more in the long run.
Other Costs to Consider
After purchasing a Belgian Tervuren puppy, the owner should keep in mind that the cost of owning one is just starting. In fact, the fur parent should even gear up to more costs coming his way such as the cost of making the home comfortable for a Belgian Tervuren puppy.
Among the immediate needs of a Terv would be a closed-in fence for the backyard, dog proofing the house, and getting the bare essentials it needs such as food, bowl, leash, chew toys, treats, and even a dog bed. There are the vaccination costs to ensure the good health of the Terv and the medical expenses whenever the Terv would need vet care. There is also the money spent on grooming and other miscellaneous costs related to growing a Tervuren puppy.
All these expenses would just grow as the puppy grows to match its needs – e.g. an adult Terv would need more serving of dog food than a Tervuren puppy, would need more frequent grooming, etc. These should not be overlooked to ensure that a Belgian Tervuren would be well-cared for.
There is no doubt that a Belgian Tervuren would be a good family pet especially if it has gone through the needed training and socialization to ensure so that it would always be on its best behavior that would make getting along with any family member and other pets a seamless process. It will not only be a great companion with its loyalty but would also be a great protector of the whole family.
However, before proceeding into getting one, it is a must for a responsible owner to consider first the costs of getting a Belgian Tervuren dog and the commitment it would entail. Not doing this would surely lead to the heartbreak of not just the dog owner but of the Belgian Tervuren as well.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Are Belgian Tervurens aggressive?
A: Belgian Tervurens can develop aggressive behavior when not trained well and exposed to early socialization. This is why fur parents let their Tervs go through these as early as puppyhood.
There are instances when training a Terv can be challenging especially to new dog owners but there are professional trainers out there that could help you out. Socialization, on the other hand, can be done by slowly introducing your Terv to your neighbors during regular walks and to other animals, you encounter along the way.
Q: Do Belgian Tervurens make good pets?
A: There is no reason why Belgian Tervuren should not be a good pet if well-trained and socialized because they are loyal and friendly by nature, and they are good watchdogs due to their innate vigilance and protective instinct which they acquired from being historically herding dogs. They are a joy to be with too because they are smart. Due to their athletic physique, they will be great companions too especially for very active owners.
Q: Is a Belgian Tervuren the same as a Belgian Malinois?
A: Even though both Belgian Tervuren and Belgian Malinois dog breeds were both varieties of Belgian Shepherds, they are considered by the American Kennel Club as two separate dog breeds. One can easily set them apart because they have different coloring and coats.
Q: How much is a Belgian Tervuren puppy?
A: A Belgian Tervuren dog pup would cost you an average of USD1500 – USD2000. But this can still increase depending on some aspects such as the lineage. Also, getting one from a reputable breeder would likely result in a would-be owner to shed more bucks but this would be worth it in the end because you can trust that a Belgian Tervuren puppy you will get is of high quality and of a healthy breed.