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Belgian Tervuren

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An energetic working dog of great intelligence, the Belgian Tervuren is also a fabulous pet. Named for a village in Belgium, this breed requires plenty of exercise and stimulation but will reward owners with great loyalty. Boasting a long and dense coat, the Tervuren needs regular grooming and sheds throughout the year.

Which breed group is the Belgian Tervuren in?

Breed group: Pastoral (As the Belgian Shepherd)

Belgian Tervuren breed history

The striking Tervuren is one of four types of Belgian Shepherd dog which emerged in the 19th century. The others are the Malinois (fawn-mahogany, short coat with black mask), the Laekenois (fawn, rough coat), and the Groenendael (black, long coat). The Tervuren has a dense and long coat (fawn-mahogany with a black mask) and was bred to herd livestock. The four types of Belgian shepherd are recognised as a single breed by the Kennel Club but separately in many countries including America.

Also utilised to guard farms, the Belgian Tervuren has served as a police dog and in the military. Many dogs have been exported around the world and particularly to America where they are popular choices as workers, pets and competitors in obedience competitions.

Belgian Tervuren breed characteristics

These fine dogs are double-coated. The topcoat is abundant with long, straight hair that feels a little harsh to the touch. The soft, dense undercoat provides protection from the weather and varies in thickness depending on the climate. The coat colour varies from fawn to russet mahogany with a black overlay. Lighter guard hairs are tipped with black.  Tervurens are also characterised by black masks, black ears and tails with black tips. The dogs may become darker with age, especially if they are male.

Tervurens are medium to large dogs and with a somewhat square appearance. They are loyal and confident working dogs which are powerful but never overly stocky. They carry their heads proudly and are affectionate but may be wary of strangers. They will generally protect their family and property with only an appropriate level of aggression. However, this breed doesn’t tend to be particularly friendly with other dogs. Their intelligence ensures that they are easily bored.

  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Height: up to 66cm
  • Weight: up to 30kg
  • Somewhat square appearance
  • Muscular
  • Long, dense coat (fawn to mahogany)
  • Black mask and ears
  • Energetic
  • Hard-working
  • Obedient
  • Affectionate
  • Wary of strangers
  • Good watchdog
  • Easily bored
  • Can be destructive when bored

Health issues with the Belgian Tervuren

A robust dog which benefits from a lengthy lifespan for a large breed, the Belgian Tervuren is generally healthy but is prone to the following conditions:

  • Cataracts
  • Epilepsy
  • Thyroid disease
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Anaesthesia sensitivity
  • What is the Belgian Tervuren bred for?
  • What sort of owners does the Belgian Tervuren suit?

What is the Belgian Tervuren bred for?

This dog was originally bred to herd livestock and guard farms but is now a popular choice for police and the military.

What sort of owners does the Belgian Tervuren suit?

Tervurens are highly energetic dogs which are happiest when working or living with active families. They are good with children but as they are large, powerful animals, they are not the best choice for families with toddlers. Tervurens don’t tend to relish the company of other dogs and they may chase small animals. As such, they should ideally be the only pet in the household. They are easily bored and so are best suited to owners who can devote a generous amount of time to keeping them entertained. If not sufficiently stimulated, they can be destructive and highly vocal.

Tervurens require constant grooming and shed throughout the year. This is a serious consideration for busy owners as all that brushing and clearing up hairs takes time. As these dogs also need a lot of exercise, they are most likely to thrive when living in the countryside with enthusiastic walkers or when herding livestock on a farm.


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