The Belgian Tervuren is a herding dog from Tervuren, Belgium and is traced to the late 19th century. The Tervuren is a strong mix of beauty and grace with intelligence and work ethic. The Terv isn’t just a herding dog anymore. It is used as a guide for the blind and the deaf, as helper for the handicapped, as a search and rescue dog, including avalanche rescue work, as sentry and courier in wartime, and as a tracking dog. They thrive on high activity and work.
Tervs made their debut in United States in 1953 and the American Kennel Club granted separate status in 1959.
Belgian Tervuren Appearance
The Belgian Tervuren is medium-sized. They stand 22 to 26 inches at the shoulder, are on average the same length as their height having a square stature, and weigh 45 to 75 pounds. Their coloring includes fawn and black and mahogany and black.
The Tervuren coat consists of a dense undercoat and a harder outer coat, requiring brushing once or twice a week with a pin brush and a slicker brush. They have longer hair like a collar around the neck; fringe of long hair down the backs of their legs and long, heavy hair on their tail.
For most of the year, Tervs require weekly brushing. At least once a year, though, Tervs shed heavily. During shedding season, the brushing sessions lasts 15 to 20 minutes and are needed more often; a rake should be added to the brushing tools to help remove all the dead hair. Bathe once a season or to remove dirt.
Tervurens life expectancy is 12 to 14 years. In temperament, the Tervuren is highly individualistic; some are very lively, while others are mellow. Tervs are true companions being responsive to their owner and family. Tervs are outstanding family guardians; most Tervurens are suspicious of strangers until told by their owner to accept the strange person. Their intelligence and high activity level can be a challenge for the less creative individual who may not understand the breed’s need to work. But Tervurens are not grim, mechanical worker drones; they take delight in their ability to perform any task.
They require plenty of mental stimulation in the form of training and play, especially with puzzle toys such as Buster Cubes, as well as interactive play such as fetch games. They need at least an hour of exercise per day and variety to keep from becoming bored. He wants to be doing things with the family like playing frisbee and other retrieving activities, hiking and jogging, and tracking or agility exercises. He may just run around the yard in circles; a demonstration of his herding heritage. If he’s left alone, he’s likely to create his own destructive entertainment or develop separation anxiety.
Tervs are devoted to their families, including children, but they’re more interested in hanging with the adults. They can get along well with other dogs and cats if they’re brought up with them, although they may have issues with strange animals that come onto the property. They love to chase, so cats who stand their ground be better than those who run.
Caring for a Belgian Tervuren
Next, we’ll go into how you should care for a Belgian Tervuren.
Belgian Tervurens do well when consuming high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured with meat listed as the first ingredient or home-prepared (with veterinarian’s supervision and approval). Fresh fruits and vegetables can also be included in the Tervs diet. All diets need to be appropriate for the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). To avoid an overweight Tervuren, calorie consumption and weight level needs to be monitored. Although helpful in aiding training, giving too many treats will cause obesity. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times. Of course, a veterinarian is the best resource when there are questions regarding diet.
Belgian Tervurens need at least an hour of exercise per day, which can be broken up into a few different sessions. They thrive on contact with their human so exercise for them needs to be engaging with you; letting them outside by themselves isn’t going to be enough. They enjoy playing with a ball or going for a long run, or it could also mean training for and participating in obedience, agility, tracking, or herding competitions, or canine sports such as flyball. If possible, provide your Tervuren with some off-leash exercise in a fenced area in addition to long walks or jogging.
While the Terv is smart and highly trainable, he is an independent thinker. To succeed in training him, you’ll need to earn his trust and respect without the use of anger, intimidation, or physical force. For all his confidence and strength, the Tervuren is sensitive, and his temperament can be damaged, sometimes irreparably, by harsh corrections. He does best with a combination of firm, fair, consistent rules and rewards for correct behavior. Use positive training techniques, rewarding him with praise, play, or treats when he performs commands correctly or does anything you like even if you didn’t ask him to.
The Belgian Tervuren is a healthy breed, but can be prone to minor health issues like hypothyroidism (low production of thyroid hormones), hip and elbow dysplasia where the ball and socket of the joints do not fit properly, and hemangiosarcoma which are tumors in the blood vessels in the spleen or liver are known to exist. Tervs are also known to have eye problems such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA); a degeneration of the retina causing vision loss, and cataracts which affects the lens of the eye causing blurred vision. They may also develop epileptic seizures and convulsions. To identify some of these issues early, a veterinarian may recommend regular tests on the dog’s eyes, hips, and elbows.
Tervs ears should be checked regularly for signs of infections. Teeth should be cleaned a couple of times a week. Keeping teeth and gums healthy is inevitable for the dog’s health. Gum disease can lead to heart, liver, and kidney problems. Nails need to be trimmed regularly. Nails should never touch the ground; trimming is past due if nails are clicking on the kitchen floor. Nails that aren’t trimmed can splinter and infect the quick or grow and curl into the flesh.