The Belgian Tervuren dog breed is an active and intelligent herding dog belonging to the sheepdog family. They were mainly bred for working with livestock, performing both herding duties and guarding at the same time. Consequently, they have an alert posture at all times, and stand tall and proud, displaying their muscular body and majestic gait.
They are known for their strength, stamina, and speed. They have high energy levels, and can work all day without fatigue. Their double coat of fur hides a lean but muscular body that makes these dogs very agile. It is quite apparent when they run every which way after the animals they herd, and the predators they have to protect the herd from. Today they make excellent guard dogs for the same reasons.
This breed originated in Belgium in the 1800s from a stock of herding dogs in that country. It is one among the four sheepdog breeds that trace their origin to the same stock, but regarded separate breeds today because of the differences in their coat color and structure. Among these related breeds, Groenendael, which later came to be called Belgian Sheepdog, has a long, black coat, the Belgian Malinois has a predominantly tan colored short coat and Laekenois is wire haired. Tervuren’s coat is similar to that of Groenendael in many ways, but not as black.
All these dogs were employed for herding the livestock and for guarding the property, and they freely interbred. They were once referred to as Belgian, or Continental, before they were recognized as separate breeds with standardized features. Named after the village of Tervuren from where this breed was originally known, it remained the least popular among the set for a long time. It was officially registered by the American Kennel Club in 1918.
Belgian Tervuren is a midsize dog, measuring 24 to16 inches at the withers and measuring around 65 pounds. The body is well proportioned, and has a square shape. These dogs have thick double coats. The longer hair at the sides of the face and on the neck gives them a large mane.
The standard color is mahogany with black. Some may have a white patch on the chest and white toes. Dogs of light sandy color and grey also occur, but they are non-standard and not desirable.
The Belgian Tervuren dogs are playful with their own family, but remains alert at all times. They become immediately reserved and guarded in the presence of strangers, and stay watchful with a defensive attitude. They are brave and fearless, always ready to take up any challenge.
These dogs are easygoing, and behave well as a family dog. They love to spend some time indoors with the family. They are gentle with children generally, but are known to nip their heels when trying to herd the younger members of the family.
It is easy to train these dogs; they should be given advanced obedience training. Mentally stimulating tasks are equally important to keep these highly intelligent dogs in good form.
Grooming and exercise
This breed has a double coat that requires regular grooming. Thorough brushing of the coat, twice or thrice a week, may be necessary to keep the dog looking good.
Being a herding dog, Belgian Tervuren should remain active at all times. A vigorous exercise regimen and outdoor activities should be a part of its daily routine. Herding instincts are so strong in this breed that you may find young children being herded by the dog when they are allowed to play together without adult supervision.
Since these dogs have been traditionally used as working dogs, they are quite at home staying outdoors at all times. They can tolerate a wide temperature range but should be protected from extreme cold and heat. This dog is not for a restrictive lifestyle in a cramped apartment. Access to a fenced in yard, to spend the day freely roaming around, is very important. However, it gets strongly attached to its human family; and needs close human contact, and preferably some time inside the house.
Common health issues of Belgian Tervuren dog breed
Belgian Tervuren dog breed lives for 10 to 12 years on average. They are prone to some common canine complaints such as hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. Their eyes may be affected by Progressive retinal trophy and occasionally cataract and pannus. Seizures are a relatively common occurrence in Belgian Tervuren dogs. Some of them may develop endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism and allergies. Incidence of hemangiosarcoma, a cancer of the blood vessels, is also observed in this breed. Regular medical checkups to help identify and treat these conditions are recommended.