The Tervuren (pronounced /tərˈvjɜrɛn/,and sometimes spelled Tervueren), is a member of the Belgian Shepherd Dog family of dog breeds. Its classification varies, being classified under some breed standards as a breed in its own right, and in others as one of several acceptable variations of the Belgian. It is usually listed within breed standards under one or other, or a combination, of these names.
In the United States, since 1960, the AKC recognizes it under the name Belgian Tervuren. Prior to that date, all recognized varieties of the Belgians were called Belgian Sheepdog.
In Canada, the Canadian Kennel Club recognizes the Tervuren as a variety of the Belgian Shepherd Dog (prior to 2005, Belgian Shepherd Dogs were called Belgian Sheepdogs).
Like all Belgian Shepherds, the Tervuren is a medium-sized, square-proportioned dog in the sheepdog family. Males stand between 24 and 26 inches, and weigh approximately 65 lb. Females are finer and smaller. It is recognized by its thick double coat, generally mahogany with varying degrees of black overlay (completely missing overlay on males is a serious fault), including a black mask. A small patch of white on the chest is permissible, as well as white tips on toes. The Tervuren may also be sable or grey, but this may be penalized in the show ring in some countries according to the standard of the registering body.
Tervurens are highly energetic, intelligent dogs who require a job to keep them occupied. This can be herding, obedience, agility, flyball, tracking, or protection work. They are also found working as Search and Rescue (SAR) dogs, finding missing persons and avalanche victims. Tervurens that are not kept sufficiently busy can become hyperactive or destructive.
As companion animals, Tervurens are loyal and form strong bonds with their family, leading some to be shy around strangers. They are good watch dogs, being very observant and attentive to the slightest change in their environment. Some can be nervous, depending on breeding and early experiences, so care must be taken to adequately socialize Tervuren puppies to a wide variety of people and situations.
Tervuren at 7 monthsAs with all the Belgian Shepherd Dogs, Tervurens are not generally recommended to first-time dog owners due to their high maintenance level.
Adult males are distinctly masculine and females are likewise feminine. Their appearance projects alertness and elegance. The breed is known for its loyalty and versatility. Those who own them, report being charmed by their intelligence, trainability, and, perhaps most of all, their sense of humor. They excel in many kinds of activities. Today the breed is still relatively rare in the United States, but it is well-established.
Generally healthy, but Tervurens can have a susceptibility to hip dysplasia, epilepsy and some eye and skin problems.
The Tervuren has a thick, double coat similar to the Groenendael. Regular brushing is necessary to remove loose undercoat, but in general, the fur is not prone to matting. A properly textured Tervuren coat is slightly hard, laying flat against the body (unlike, for instance, the Samoyed's off-standing fur). It naturally sheds dirt and debris, but burrs and seeds may stick to the feathering on the legs.
The Tervuren is shown in a natural state, with minimal trimming and cosmetic products. Bathing, brushing, and trimming the fur on the feet with scissors to emphasize their tight, cat-footed shape is the extent of most exhibitors' grooming routines. Products that alter the coloration of the coat and masking are not allowed in the ring.