The Belgian Tervuren, also known as the Terv, the Belgian Tervueren, the Belgische Herdershond Tervuerense and the Chien de Berger Belge, is one of several Belgian sheepherding breeds currently recognized in the American Kennel Club's Herding Group. Once categorized with the other 3 varieties of Belgian Sheepdogs, this variety is distinguished by its fawn and black (rather than pure black) coat color and long hair. The first Tervuren was registered with the AKC in 1918. Before 1959, these dogs were registered and shown as Belgian Sheepdogs in this country. In 1959, the American Kennel Club granted separate breed classifications designating the Belgian Tervuren, Malinois and Sheepdog (Groenendael) as individual breeds.
The Belgian Tervuren has a watchful yet companionable personality. It is innately protective of its family, without begin overly aggressive, and is somewhat standoffish towards strangers. Like the other Belgian sheepherding dogs, this dog is brave, vigilant, agile, alert and hard-working. It also forms extremely strong bonds with its family, and the breed requires early socialization and training to prevent aggressive or nervous behaviors from developing.
The ideal male Tervuren is 24 to 26 inches in height, and the female 22 to 24 inches, measured at the withers. Males under 23 or over 26 ½ inches, and females under 21 or over 24.5 inches, are disqualified from the AKC breed standard. They typically weigh between 45 and 70 pounds (the females are usually smaller and lighter than the males). The Tervuren's long double coat is moderately harsh, neither silky nor wiry. This breed can adapt to virtually any climate. This shepherd is a rich fawn to russet mahogany in color, with black overlay on the tip of each hair, and their coats tend to darken with age.
History & Health
The Belgian Tervuren was named after the Belgian village of Tervuren, where rural farmers in the late 1800s had a great need for a general purpose herding and guarding dog. This breed's protective nature provided security for farm and family, and its instinctive herding abilities helped with daily tending of the flocks. There is little historical record about this breed before the Belgian Shepherd Club was established in 1891, with the first breed standard being approved by that club in 1893. At that time, the Belgian sheepherding dogs that today are separate breeds were lumped together, with a variety of colors and coat lengths being acceptable. Currently, any longhaired Belgian Shepherd that is not black is considered a Tervuren.
In the early years of its development, the breed primarily was used to guard, to protect and to herd. The breed almost became extinct during World Wars I and II, although a small group of dedicated breeders continued preserving and protecting the breed. After World War II, the Belgian Shepherds, generally, experienced a resurgence of popularity. In 1948, in Normandy, France, a pale fawn longhaired shepherd called Willy de la Garde Noire was born, of Groenendael parents (now known as the black longhaired Belgian Sheepdog). Willy was campaigned heavily in Belgium and France and competed equally with the best Belgian Malinois and Groenendael of the time. It is because of Willy that the renaissance of the Belgian Tervuren began in France, ultimately extending throughout Europe and to the United States. The modern Tervuren is a post-World War II descendant of longhaired puppies in Malinois litters and fawn to gray puppies in Groenendael litters. As the breed grew in popularity, it became prized not only for herding but also for its stable, affectionate and loyal personality. They are valued as human companions, therapy dogs and service dogs for the disabled and also excel at obedience, conformation, sledding, schutzhund and agility.
The Belgian Tervuren has an average lifespan of between 10 and 14 years, and they have relatively few inherited health problems. They may be prone to developing allergies, cataracts, epilepsy, hip or elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism and progressive retinal atrophy. Their long coat requires daily brushing to reduce shedding, prevent matting and keep dirt and dander from accumulating.
Temperament & Personality
The Belgian Tervuren is a breed of the Belgian Sheepdog. Loyal companions, the Tervuren can be a farm dog or a family dog. As with all Belgian Sheepdog breeds, they were bred to herd and protect livestock, so Tervurens need constant activity, whether playing with children, going on long walks, or chasing a frisbee. Always vigilant, they make excellent watchdogs, and can be trained to do just about any task put before them.
Tervurens need a lot of activity to remain happy and healthy. These are not apartment dogs. They need plenty of time and space to run, jump and play every single day. If they don't get enough activity, they can quickly become destructive.
Farms or houses with big, fenced-in yards are the most ideal settings for Tervurens. They will want to be included in all family activities, whether it is doing chores on the farm, playing catch in the yard, or taking long walks in the park. They love to spend time with their people and prefer that time be spent outside, doing something interesting and fun.
Though sometimes willful and stubborn, Belgians are highly trainable and thrive on advanced obedience, trick and agility training. They can read small movements and even changes in facial expression, and are famous for being so "in tune" with their trainers that they can literally stay one step ahead of the person giving commands. For this reason, Belgian Sheepdogs are often competitors (and champions) in agility and herding competitions.
Though easily trainable, Belgians are not for the first-time dog owner. They are highly intelligent and manipulative, and can easily walk all over someone who does not know how to remain consistent with training. Positive reinforcement is the best method to train a Belgian Sheepdog, as discipline can lead to avoidance behavior and stubbornness.
The herding nature of Tervurens makes them prone to chasing and nipping. Bikes, cars, kids, or other animals can cause this dog to take off running. If this breed doesn't have enough interesting activities to do, he can take to herding children and nipping at their heels.
This inborn herding nature also makes Tervurens, like all Belgian Sheepdogs, protective of their home and family. They can be wary of strangers so it is important that they be socialized as early as possible to learn the difference between a welcome guest and an unwelcome guest, or aggression can develop.
Chewing, barking and separation anxiety can sometimes develop in this breed, but that can be attributed to lack of exercise and boredom. Adopting a Tervuren means adopting an active lifestyle.
The first impression of the Belgian Tervuren is that of a well-balanced, medium-size dog, elegant in appearance, standing squarely on all fours, with proud carriage of head and neck. He is strong, agile, well-muscled, alert and full of life. He gives the impression of depth and solidity without bulkiness. The male should appear unquestionably masculine; the female should have a distinctly feminine look and be judged equally with the male. The Belgian Tervuren is a natural dog and there is no need for excessive posing in the show ring. The Belgian Tervuren reflects the qualities of intelligence, courage, alertness and devotion to master. In addition to his inherent ability as a herding dog, he protects his master's person and property without being overtly aggressive. He is watchful, attentive, and usually in motion when not under command. The Belgian Tervuren is a herding dog and versatile worker. The highest value is to be placed on qualities that maintain these abilities, specifically, correct temperament, gait, bite and coat.
Size, Proportion, Substance
The ideal male is 24 to 26 inches in height and female 22 to 24 inches in height measured at the withers. Dogs are to be penalized in accordance to the degree they deviate from the ideal. Males under 23 inches or over 26½ inches or females under 21 inches or over 24½ inches are to be disqualified. The body is square; the length measured from the point of shoulder to the point of the rump approximates the height. Females may be somewhat longer in body. Bone structure is medium in proportion to height, so that he is well-balanced throughout and neither spindly or leggy nor cumbersome and bulky. Head - Well-chiseled, skin taut, long without exaggeration. Expression intelligent and questioning, indicating alertness, attention and readiness for action. Eyes dark brown, medium-size, slightly almond shape, not protruding. Light, yellow or round eyes are a fault. Ears triangular in shape, well-cupped, stiff, erect; height equal to width at base. Set high, the base of the ear does not come below the center of the eye. Hanging ears, as on a hound, are a disqualification. Skull and muzzle measuring from the stop are of equal length. Overall size is in proportion to the body, top of skull flattened rather than rounded, the width approximately the same as, but not wider than the length. Stop moderate. The topline of the muzzle is parallel to the topline of the skull when viewed from the side. Muzzle moderately pointed, avoiding any tendency toward snipiness or cheekiness. Jaws strong and powerful. Nose black without spots or discolored areas. Nostrils well defined. Lips tight and black, no pink showing on the outside when mouth is closed. Teeth Full complement of strong white teeth, evenly set, meeting in a scissors or a level bite. Overshot and undershot teeth are a fault. An undershot bite such that there is a complete loss of contact by all the incisors is a disqualification. Broken or discolored teeth should not be penalized. Missing teeth are a fault. Four or more missing teeth are a serious fault.
Neck, Topline, Body
Neck round, muscular, rather long and elegant, slightly arched and tapered from head to body. Skin well-fitting with no loose folds. Withers accentuated. Topline level, straight and firm from withers to croup. Croup medium long, sloping gradually to the base of the tail. Chest not broad without being narrow, but deep; the lowest point of the brisket reaching the elbow, forming a smooth ascendant curve to the abdomen. Abdomen moderately developed, neither tucked up nor paunchy. Ribs well-sprung but flat on the sides. Loin section viewed from above is relatively short, broad and strong, but blending smoothly into the back. Tail strong at the base, the last vertebra to reach at least to the hock. At rest the dog holds it low, the tip bent back level with the hock. When in action, he may raise it to a point level with the topline giving it a slight curve, but not a hook. Tail is not carried above the backline nor turned to one side. A cropped or stump tail is a disqualification.
Shoulders long, laid back 45 degrees, flat against the body, forming a right angle with the upper arm. Top of the shoulder blades roughly two thumbs width apart. Upper arms should move in a direction exactly parallel to the longitudinal axis of the body. Forearms long and well-muscled. Legs straight and parallel, perpendicular to the ground. Bone oval rather than round. Pasterns short and strong, slightly sloped. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet rounded, cat footed, turning neither in nor out, toes curved close together, well-padded, strong nails.
Legs powerful without heaviness, moving in the same pattern as the limbs of the forequarters. Bone oval rather than round. Thighs broad and heavily muscled. Stifles clearly defined, with upper shank at right angles to hip bones. Hocks moderately bent. Metatarsi short, perpendicular to the ground, parallel to each other when viewed from the rear. Dewclaws are removed. Feet slightly elongated, toes curved close together, heavily padded, strong nails.
The Belgian Tervuren is particularly adaptable to extremes of temperature or climate. The guard hairs of the coat must be long, close-fitting, straight and abundant. The texture is of medium harshness, not silky or wiry. Wavy or curly hair is a fault. The undercoat is very dense, commensurate, however, with climatic conditions. The hair is short on the head, outside the ears, and on the front part of the legs. The opening of the ear is protected by tufts of hair. Ornamentation consists of especially long and abundant hair, like a collarette around the neck, particularly on males; fringe of long hair down the back of the forearm; especially long and abundant hair trimming the breeches; long, heavy and abundant hair on the tail. The female rarely has as long or as ornamented a coat as the male. This disparity must not be a consideration when the female is judged against the male.
Body rich fawn to russet mahogany with black overlay is ideal and preferred. Predominate color that is pale, washed out, cream or gray is a fault. The coat is characteristically double pigmented whereby the tips of fawn hairs are blackened. Belgian Tervuren characteristically become darker with age. On mature males, this blackening is especially pronounced on the shoulders, back and rib section. Blackening in patches is a fault. Although allowance should be made for females and young males, absence of blackening in mature dogs is a serious fault. Chest is normally black, but may be a mixture of black and gray. White is permitted on the chest/sternum only, not to extend more than 3 inches above the prosternum, and not to reach either point of shoulder. Face has a black mask and the ears are mostly black. A face with a complete absence of black is a serious fault. Frost or white on chin or muzzle is normal. The underparts of the body, tail, and breeches are cream, gray, or light beige. The tail typically has a darker or black tip. Feet - The tips of the toes may be white. Nail color may vary from black to transparent. Solid black, solid liver or any area of white except as specified on the chest, tips of the toes, chin and muzzle are disqualifications.
Lively and graceful, covering the maximum ground with minimum effort. Always in motion, seemingly never tiring, he shows ease of movement rather than hard driving action. He single tracks at a fast gait, the legs both front and rear converging toward the centerline of gravity of the dog. Viewed from the side he exhibits full extension of both fore and hindquarters. The backline should remain firm and level, parallel to the line of motion. His natural tendency is to move in a circle, rather than a straight line. Padding, hackneying, weaving, crabbing and similar movement faults are to be penalized according to the degree with which they interfere with the ability of the dog to work.
In his relationship with humans he is observant and vigilant with strangers, but not apprehensive. He does not show fear or shyness. He does not show viciousness by unwarranted or unprovoked attack. He must be approachable, standing his ground and showing confidence to meet overtures without himself making them. With those he knows well, he is most affectionate and friendly, zealous for their attention and very possessive.
Faults:Any deviation from these specifications is a fault. In determining whether a fault is minor, serious, or major, these two factors should be used as a guide:
1. The extent to which it deviates from the standard.
2. The extent to which such deviation would actually affect the working ability of the dog.
Males under 23 inches or over 26½ inches or females under 21 inches or over 24½ inches.
Hanging ears, as on a hound.
An undershot bite such that there is a complete loss of contact by all the incisors.
A cropped or stump tail.
Solid black, solid liver or any area of white except as specified on the chest, tips of the toes, chin, and muzzle.
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Sources: American Kennel Club