As you’d expect from the name, the Belgian Tervuren hails from Belgium. In fact, they’re named after the same Belgian village that was home to the man who developed the breed – M.F. Corbeel, a local brewer and dog lover. After deciding to breed his male dog Tom, whose responsibilities included pulling Corbeel’s beer cart by day and standing guard over the brewery at night, and his female dog Poes, he created the foundation of the Tervuren breed as we know it today. Elegant, athletic, and enduringly loyal, Tervurens make amazing family dogs and companions. To find out more, here are ten things you didn’t know about the Belgian Tervuren.
1. They were developed as farm dogs
During the breed’s formative years, the Belgian Tervuren was considered a working farm dog with a superbly versatile streak. Not only could it herd livestock during the day, but it could also protect and guard both the animals and the farmstead at night. Over time, the breed’s high intelligence and excellent trainability began to draw attention from other quarters, and it soon began to be used for police work. These days, its excellent temperament and graceful good looks make it just as popular as a companion dog as a working one.
2. They’re one of four types of Belgian sheepdog
The Tervuren is one of four types of Belgian sheepdog. The other three types are the Belgian Malinois, the Groenendael, and the Laekenois. In the US, the Belgian Tervuren is considered a separate breed and has been recognized as such by the Amerian Kennel Club (AKC). However, as the AKC itself notes, many other countries consider all Belgian sheepdogs to be one and the same. Considering that they all share the same size, build, and temperament (in fact, the only way you can really distinguish between each type is by their coats), it’s perhaps not too surprising.
3. They can weigh up to 75 pounds
The Belgian Tervuren is an athletic, elegantly proportioned dog with the same medium-sized build as other Belgian sheepdogs. Although sizes vary to some degree, most female Tervuren’s will have a height of between 22 and 24 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 45 and 60 pounds. Males are a little heftier, standing between 24 and 26 inches tall at the shoulder and tipping the scales at 55 to 75 pounds.
4. They need lots of interaction
As DogTime writes, the Tervuren is hard-wired to chase around after a flock of sheep all day. Even though most of them wouldn’t be able to tell a sheep from a mouse these days, that instinct is still strong, as is their requirement for plenty of mental and physical stimulation. If they aren’t provided with enough fun and games to keep them busy, they’ll create their own entertainment, usually to the cost of your furniture and furnishings. There’s also the risk that a Tervuren who spends long stretches of the day alone and without adequate activity will develop separation anxiety.
5. They’re sensitive
The Tervuren is smart, inquisitive, and responds incredibly well to training… providing that training is of the right sort. As well as being an independent thinker, the Tervuren is a sensitive soul that will become easily harmed by scolding and punishment. To capitalize on their excellent trainability without making them nervous or skittish, a training program that relies on fair, consistent rules and plenty of positive reinforcement is best.
6. They love the thrill of the chase
Tervurens make excellent family pets, and usually get on very well with kids providing they’ve been well socialized from an early age. Beware, though, if you have any cats in the house. Although Tervurens like other cats and dogs well enough, their instinct to chase can sometimes get the better of them. If your cat is confident enough to stand its ground, there shouldn’t be too many issues. If, on the other hand, they’re the flighty kind, prepare for plenty of drama. Because of their high chase instinct, Tervurens shouldn’t be allowed to run around unleashed in unsecured areas.
7. They come in a variety of colors
What marks the Tervuren out from other Belgian sheepdogs is its luxurious, abundant double coat. The dense undercoat is soft and protective, while the outer coat is long, slightly coarse, and close-fitting. They typically have black and white markings and black points. Colors vary considerably, but the most common varieties include gray and black, cream and black, mahogany and silver, silver and black, fawn and black, fawn and liver, mahogany and black, black, and brindle.
8. They’re high maintenance
If you’re in the market for a low-maintenance dog, you might need to keep looking. The Belgian Tervuren may be many things, but easy to care for they aren’t. As K9 Web notes, the Tervuren is a heavy shedder and is likely to leave little reminders of themselves all over your furniture if you’re not careful. To keep on top of their grooming needs, they should be brushed at least 2 to 3 times a week. To minimize shedding and reduce the build-up of excess fur and dander, a high-quality shed shampoo should be used whenever they’re bathed. Nails will need to be checked and clipped regularly while ears should be cleaned monthly with a soft wipe.
9. They can live for up to 14 years
The Belgian Tervuren has a decent life expectancy of 12 to 14 years. They are, however, susceptible to several health complaints that need to be watched out for. These include Hypothyroidism, Hip Dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Allergies, Elbow Dysplasia, Osteochondritis Dissecans, Epilepsy and Seizures, Persistent Pupillary Membranes (PPM), Cataract, Pannus, and Hemangiosarcoma. Regular checkups, screenings, and hip, elbow, and thyroid evaluations should be carried out to spot any signs of trouble.
10. They’re expensive
If you’re hoping to welcome a Belgian Tervuren puppy into your life, you’d better start saving. Like most pure breeds, Tervuren’s come with a considerable price tag. Although the cost of a pup will vary depending on breeder, lineage, and even litter size (most litters average around 6 to 10 pups, but the fewer puppies there are in a litter, the more you can expect to pay), you’re unlikely to come away with one for anything less than $1,500 to $2,000.