Belgian Tervuren

Belgian Tervuren
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The Belgian Tervuren is a dog breed of medium size that originated in Belgium. This dog breed is sometimes classified as a variation of the Belgian Shepherd Dog, but sometimes it is listed as a breed in its own right – the Belgian Tervuren. This beautiful dog breed is known for being able to perform numerous activities such as herding and athletics. The Belgian Tervuren is also a great and affectionate companion who seeks a lot of exercise.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessAbove Average
Exercise NeedsHigh
Dog Breed Group:Herding Dogs
Height:1 foot, 9 inches to 2 feet, 2 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight:Generally 40 to 70 pounds
Life Span:10 to 12 years

When it comes to adaptability, the Belgian Tervuren is more or less easily adaptable to most environments. He can live in an apartment as long as it is spacious enough because this is a dog breed of medium size after all. Besides that, the Belgian Tervuren would definitely prefer a house with a big yard because this is a breed that needs a lot of exercise and activity. As for novice owners, this breed might not be the best choice for somebody who has never owned a dog before.

This breed has a strong herding instinct which makes it go after other animals and there is also a strong need to satiate wanderlust so a novice owner may not be ready to train a dog like this. As for sensitivity level, the Belgian Tervuren does not tolerate being alone, at all. This dog is very sensitive and if left alone for a long period of time might become self-destructive and depressed. If you are a person with a busy schedule who is always away from home you might reconsider getting this dog. The Belgian Tervuren tolerates both cold and hot weather relatively well.

The Belgian Tervuren is affectionate with family, but he is more a one person dog because he really gets attached to his owner. He can be relatively friendly towards children, but it is more as if he is not interested in hanging around them. If he is brought up with other smaller animals and dogs he will be friendly, but in order for him to be well-mannered towards the unfamiliar ones, you would have to train and socialize him from an early age. This is a sensitive dog that can easily develop separation anxiety so he is not very trustful and open toward strangers and unfamiliar animals.

When it comes to health and grooming, the Belgian Tervuren is more or less a healthy dog even though there are some conditions that affect this breed more than the others. The Belgian Tervuren does shed a lot but his grooming is relatively easy. He does not drool much and does not have a potential for weight gain, which is a plus. His size is not suitable for a really small apartment though.

In terms of trainability, the Belgian Tervuren is easy to train if an owner is experienced and can take on such an energetic dog to begin with. The Belgian Tervuren is very intelligent and he loves to do anything his owner tells him to. He does not have a high prey drive or potential for mouthiness, but he does have a tendency to bark which can be annoying if not trained on time. This dog already has a huge wanderlust potential due to his herding instincts and can wander off anywhere unless he is on a leash.

Being active is an important part of this breed’s life and you would have to work with him on a daily basis. This dog has a huge level of energy and the intensity of games and exercises should be high as well. The potential for playfulness is always there and this dog simply loves to have anything to do and yearns for both mental and physical stimulation. You should walk him on daily basis and also play with him more than once per day.

Main Highlights
  • The Belgian Tervuren is a very intelligent dog, but he is not recommended for novice owners because he can be overwhelming.
  • This dog breed needs an early socialization because it is not friendly towards other dogs and animals and it can be very shy.
  • The Belgian Tervuren has a huge wanderlust potential because of his herding instincts, therefore you should never keep him off leash in open and unfamiliar places.
  • Unless your dog is trained for herding activities he will most likely never listen to you when off leash (aka ‘selective deafness’).
  • The Belgian Tervuren is not very interested in children and he prefers to be a one person dog, even though he is affectionate in a family.
  • This dog breed can become very self-destructive if left alone or neglected for long periods of time, it can develop separation anxiety as well.
  • They have a tendency to chase anything that comes to their attention so a fenced yard is a must.
  • This dog loves being part of any activity that his owner takes, he hates being neglected!
  • Never purchase puppies from unfamiliar and unknowledgeable puppy mills or suspicious pet stores! Sometimes it is simply better to adopt.
Breed History

The Belgian Tervuren belongs to the group of four shepherd dogs that originated in Belgium in the late 1800s. The other three are the Malinois, the Laekenois, and the Groenendael. The Belgian Tervuren is recognizable for his grace and elegant body.

It is interesting to note that the United Kennel Club recognizes all of the four types officially as separate breeds while the American Kennel Club recognizes only three (the Laekenois is not recognized).

In 1891, the Club du Chien de Berger Belge (Belgian Shepherd Dog Club) was formed in order to find out the differences between all of the shepherd dogs in Belgium. The professor Adolphe Reul soon realized that the Belgian Tervuren was quite different from the others so he decided to examine this breed further.

The breed was officially recognized in 1901. Some of the first duties of this breed were to guard but during the World War I this dog was used in the military and police. Even nowadays this breed is used in a variety of activities which is the proof of how athletic it is. It is currently ranked 107th by the AKC.


The Belgian Tervuren is a dog of medium size. The males are a bit bigger than the females, weighing 55 to 70 pounds while females reach 40 to 55 pounds. When it comes to height, the males are usually 23 to 26.5 inches tall while the females are 21 to 24.5 inches tall.

Personality and Character

The Belgian Tervuren is known as an energetic, affectionate, elegant, observant and vigilant dog who is perfect for an owner who can give him full attention and do all kinds of activities with him. He loves being part of the family but he also gives his loyalty and trust to his owner, therefore he is quite suspicious of strangers, especially unfamiliar dogs.

The important thing to note is that you should never leave your Belgian Tervuren alone or stuck somewhere in a kennel because he might develop separation disorder and become sick and depressed. Belgian Tervurens might even become destructive and find their own entertainment by playing with your furniture or stuff in the yard. That is something that you should definitely avoid.

When we say that you should include your Belgian Tervuren in all activities, that means that he would love to go to the park with you and he certainly would love playing fetch games and other puzzle-solving games for dogs. This is a wonderful breed that is meant for active people because only they can fulfill all his needs.

Health and Potential Problems

The Belgian Tervuren is more or less a healthy breed; however there are some medical conditions that affect him more than the others. You should be aware of them so you can react on time if needed. Some of them are:

  • Hip Dysplasia is an inherited condition which affects most of the dog breeds and Belgian Tervurens that are diagnosed with it should not be bred. The thighbone of a Belgian Tervuren does not fit properly into the hip joint. It can be diagnosed with X-ray screening. Some signs include lameness and pain. Arthritis might be one of the consequences of hip dysplasia in Belgian Tervurens and sometimes this condition can be worsened with high-calorie diets or injuries.
  • Epilepsy is mostly an inherited condition but it can be also the result of an unknown It is a seizure disorder that can be managed with medication but it can never be cured. This means that a Belgian Tervuren can live a normal life under proper monitoring and the medication can lessen the intensity and regularity of attacks.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a disease that affects Belgian Tervurens’ eyes and leads to the gradual deterioration of the retina. The Belgian Tervurens that become affected by this condition usually become night blind and later on even completely blind; but the affected dog can lead a normal life.
  • Elbow Dysplasia is just like hip dysplasia a hereditary condition that is usually caused by the improper growth of three bones that make the elbow. This condition leads to painful lameness and surgery may help.
  • Other: gastric problems (bloat and torsions), ear and eye infections.
Care Features

When it comes to care features, the basic needs of a Belgian Tervuren are almost the same as for all dogs and it includes both dental and nail care. The breed adapts more or less relatively well to both house and apartment living but they have high energy levels so they should be walked and exercised regularly on a daily basis.

You should always check your dog carefully after each walk to make sure there are no cuts, fleas, ticks, bruises or some other kind of injury on his body or skin. Besides regular brushing, bathing, brushing teeth, nail clipping and grooming, the Belgian Tervuren also requires daily walks and regular intense exercises outdoors because he adores both mental and physical stimulation. Additionally, the Belgian Tervuren should not be left in the yard because he will bark without stopping and become destructive towards himself and the environment if his owner neglects him for a long period of time.

This breed is also known for strong wanderlust and herding instincts which means that Belgian Tervurens love chasing down anything that moves. This behavior can be controlled only with early training.

Feeding Schedule

The Belgian Tervuren is a dog of medium size so his diet should be of high quality and filled with vitamins and proteins. Speaking of recommended daily dosage of food for a Belgian Tervuren, it should be 2 to 3 cups of high-quality dog food per one day, which is usually divided into two meals.

Make sure to always buy your pet food of high quality and include vitamins, vegetables and proteins, otherwise your Belgian Tervuren might develop health problems later on. Additionally, even if your dog is very active that does not mean that you are allowed to overfeed him – this breed is not really prone to weight gaining but it still may develop various gastric problems which might be life threatening.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The Belgian Tervuren has a double coat and he is famous for his long and straight top coat that looks and it is harsh to your touch, which means that it is never silky or wiry. When it comes to his undercoat, it provides protection from the harsh weather and the thickness might vary depending on where your dog lives. The fur is shorter on the dog’s head and outside the ears, including the front part of the legs. This dog also has what is known as a ‘mini mane’, which is located around the neck and it is easy to assume that it is more noticeable in males.

When it comes to the color, it is the famous rich fawn that can be also found in a russet mahogany with a black overlay. The color usually becomes darker as the dog ages. The coat sheds year round which is not unusual for double-coat dogs. You will need to brush your Belgian Tervuren daily in order to get rid of dead hair and prevent tangles. The grooming is not very difficult and it is not always required.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The Belgian Tervuren is considered a good family dog even though he prefers his owner’s attention and love than hanging around with children. You should also keep in mind that this dog breed has a strong herding instinct which means that he can start nipping at children’s heels, unless his behavior is trained on time. It is perhaps better to keep a Belgian Tervuren with mature children and not toddlers because of this.

When it comes to other pets and unfamiliar dogs, the Belgian Tervuren may go well with them as long as they have been raised together since an early age. This dog breed is sensitive and shy and it needs proper socialization because unless you do socialize your puppy, he might grow up to be either completely shy or maybe even a bit aggressive, chasing down other pets and dogs.

To sum up the article, we have covered the most important characteristics of a dog breed called the Belgian Tervuren. You are now familiar with Belgian Tervuren’s physical traits, personality quirks and most importantly – his basic needs that should be met every single day, as he deserves.

Having in mind that the Belgian Tervuren is a very energetic and active dog, a cramped apartment won’t do well for him, and even if it is spacious enough, you will need to provide both mental and physical exercises on a daily basis so he would not become bored and self-destructive.

The Belgian Tervuren is a sensitive dog who becomes sick and depressed if his owner neglects, therefore if your schedule is preventing you from taking care of such a breed, you should not purchase it. Every dog deserves love and proper care and you, as his owner, you should provide it. The Belgian Tervuren is a beautiful and graceful dog that might surprise you how athletic and affectionate he can be, so you should keep that in mind.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.