The Belgian Tervuren: The Most Elegant of the Four Belgian Shepherd Breeds

Last Updated on April 25, 2023

Affectionately known as Terv, the Belgian Shepherd Tervuren is an intelligent, playful, and hardworking canine primarily used for herding in Belgium.

But what else is there to know about this purebred? We’ll help you find out with our comprehensive dog breed information about this mischievous fido with a striking appearance.

a smiling Belgian Tervuren
A purebred Belgian Tervuren

We’ll cover everything, including their looks, coat and grooming, temperament, and health. Stay with us and keep scrolling.

Where did the Belgian Tervuren originate?

The Terv is named after a Belgian village of Tervuren that was home to M. F. Corbeel, the breeder of the fawn-colored “foundation dogs” named Tom and Poes.

In their hometown, these dogs are also called Chien de Berger Belge.“

They are one of four Belgian herding breeds developed in the late 1800s, including the Malinois, Laekenois, and Groenendael.

The Tervuren, however, is considered the most elegant of the four Belgian sheepdogs.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) registered the first Terv in 1918, but their numbers remained so low they almost vanished during the Great Depression.

After World War II, breeders recreated them from long-haired Malinois offspring. Today, they rank at number 107 amongst 155 dog breeds.

Their beauty, grace, and loyalty make them excellent companions. Although they were initially bred as herding dogs and guard dogs, Tervs today can also be seen as service dogs and in a variety of dog sports.

But old habits don’t die for these canines. Here’s a short video showing how Teruvens are still the best at herding.

What does a Belgian Tervuren dog look like?

The Belgian Tervuren is characterized by an abundant and “blackened” fawn-to-russet coat with an impressive mane and notable black mask on its face.

They’re well-muscled, alert, and agile, with an elegant demeanor standing squarely on all fours.

Male and female Tervs have distinctly masculine or feminine qualities that visibly differentiate one from the other.

Their bodies are well-balanced, but females have longer bodies, while the males have more profuse collarettes around the neck.

Generally, this dog has a long, well-chiseled head with taut skin and a moderately pointed muzzle. At the end of the muzzle are tight black lips and nose with well-defined nostrils free from spots or discoloration.

Its eyes are medium in size, almond-shaped, and dark brown with an alert and intelligent expression.

This breed has triangular-shaped ears that are stiff, erect, well-cupped, and set high on the head.

Meanwhile, its neck is round and muscular, with a straight and firm topline from the withers to the coup.

This dog is broad-chested with a moderately-developed abdomen that is neither paunchy nor tucked up.

Its forequarters and hindquarters comprise of long, well-muscled forearms and broad, muscled thighs, while its legs are straight, parallel, and perpendicular to the ground.

Tervuren tails are strong at the base and curved but not hooked when in action.

How big does a Belgian Tervuren dog get?

a Belgian Shepherd Tervuren standing on grassfield
A portrait of a Belgian Shepherd Tervuren

Tervuren males are 24 to 26 inches tall (60 to 66 centimeters) and weigh between 55 to 75 pounds (24 to 34 kilograms).

Females stand at 22 to 24 inches in height (53 to 60 centimeters) and weigh between 40 to 55 pounds (18 to 24 kilograms). Anything smaller than the breed standard is considered disqualified.

Tervurens reach full physical maturity at 16 months old. This medium- to large-sized dog will do fine in an apartment, but they’ll thrive better in an average-sized yard or something more spacious.

Coat type and colors of Tervs

The Belgian Tervuren has a straight and abundant double coat made up of a soft, protective, and dense undercoat and a long, medium-harsh, close-fitting outer coat with a black overlay.

Apart from this, their coats may also have black and white markings and black points, and they can come in the following colors:

  • Black
  • Brindle
  • Fawn and black
  • Fawn and liver
  • Mahogany and black
  • Cream and black
  • Gray and black
  • Mahogany and silver
  • Silver and black

They have short hair on the head, outside the ears, and on the front of the legs. Meanwhile, tufts of soft hair protect their ear openings. 

Belgian Tervuren vs. Other Belgian Shepherd varieties

As mentioned, the Belgian Tervuren is one of the four Belgian Shepherd dog breeds, distinguished mainly through coat types.

The Groenendael, Malinois, and Laekenois have many striking similarities compared to the Tervuren, making it difficult to differentiate them. Luckily, there are a few key differences that can help.

The Groenendael

a Groenendael with long black coat standing outdoors
Source: @chevys.rhav / IG

Also referred to as the Belgian Sheepdog, Groenendaels sets a distinction from the other breeds with its athletic physique, long and solid black coat, and bright temperament.

They’re often confused with Long-haired German Shepherds, but they’re lighter and squarer in build.

The Malinois

a working Belgian Malinois on training
A Belgian Malinois wearing a harness during training

Malinois dogs are the most popular of the four Belgian Shepherd breeds, especially for military and police work in the United States.

Compared to Tervurens, they can be stubborn and may often seem unfriendly because of their independent nature. They’re quite the explorers, too.

The Laekenois

a Laekenois standing majestically on a wood trunk
Source: @sweetwaterbelgianlaekenois / IG

Pronounced /Lak-in-wah/, these dogs differ from their fellow Belgian canines in the region of origin, as well as coat length, texture, and color.

This rarest Belgian Shepherd from Laeken town is distinguished by their tousled fur that can either be grayish, fawn, or red. They’re also known as Laekense.

Belgian Tervuren vs. German Shepherd

a close-up image of a German Shepherd with long coat
A German Shepherd standing on the snow

Comparing the Tervs and other Belgian breeds to the German Shepherd is no surprise because of the resemblance in appearance. But what makes the GSD different?

German Shepherds are heavier and come in silver, tan, red, or black coat colors. They bark less but tend to shed, nip, and herd more. Unlike the Terv, they’re the ultimate service dog.

Temperament: Are Belgian Tervurens good family pets? 

Belgian Tervuren dogs make excellent dogs for families who don’t mind working their playful and active dog into their equally active lifestyle.

Owners of Tervs can expect plenty of energy, affection, and friendliness coming your way!

a Belgian Tervuren biting a blue ball toy
Source: @irreplaceablepenny / IG

They’re as sensitive as they’re clever and love taking part in family activities.

Because they’re highly intelligent and eager to please, this breed can be easy to train.

If you’re an experienced leader who uses gentle firmness, consistency, and positive reinforcement, the Tervuren is the perfect fit for you.

You must display natural authority and confidence without being harsh if you don’t want to hurt their feelings.

Using different training methods and dog sports with a sense of humor are some of the best ways to bond with this breed.

Some Tervs may even enjoy taking a dip with you in the swimming pool on a hot day.

Are Belgian Tervurens aggressive?

While they’re naturally affectionate, they also tend to be more aloof and observant with strangers.

Their protective nature makes them good watchdogs and guard dogs. Tervs are NOT innately aggressive unless they feel threatened.

Through early socialization, they can get along well with other pets and familiar faces.

But, because of their herding instincts, they’ll try to herd small children or chase animals that run from them. This instinct can even extend to cyclists, joggers, and cars passing by!

These dogs also like to nip, chew, and play-bite, so keep an eye on them around kids. That said, they do best with older children who know how to handle them.

You can leave your dog alone for an hour or so, but this breed doesn’t adjust well to alone-time and can develop separation anxiety.

Compared to other breeds, they bark frequently, and their separation anxiety can further trigger this.

Nonetheless, Tervs are natural charmers with the ability to love and protect their humans.

Taking care of your Belgian Tervuren

Compared to other breeds, the Belgian Tervuren is high maintenance.

These canines can adapt to various climates and temperatures. But because of their thick double-coat, they do best in colder weather.

When in warmer temperatures, ensure you keep them cool and provide enough shade and water.

Exercising your Belgian Tervuren

a Belgian Tervuren confidently leaping on poles
A Belgian Shepherd Tervuren doing the agility course

As a high-energy dog breed, the Tervuren requires at least 1 hour of vigorous physical activity every day to stay fit and happy.

Ideally, he should have access to an enclosed yard where he can burn excess energy, especially if he’s kept inside most of the day.

This dog breed loves to play and takes great pleasure in outsmarting their human when completing tasks.

Agility training, herding, and other dog sports work well with breeds that need as much physical and mental stimulation as the Terv.

If not, they may take it upon themselves to keep busy when they’re bored, leading to some potentially destructive results.

Grooming: Do Tervurens shed?

This non-hypoallergenic breed is a heavy shedder. To keep its fur from taking over your home, brush your Terv at least 2 to 3 times a week.

Washing them with quality shed shampoo will help pull the undercoat and dramatically cut down on brush time.

This will keep them clean and prevent matting and the build-up of excess fur and dander.

They don’t have a tendency to drool, which spares your furniture and floors from potential marks. 

And because they aren’t prone to being smelly, you only need to bathe them once a month or when they get dirty. Since this breed loves water, it should be no problem for you.

You can clean their ears monthly using baby wipes while keeping an eye out for signs of infection.

How much food should this fido eat in a day?

a Terv asking for a cucumber with paws up
Source: @whiskeykibler / IG

Most adult Tervs require 2 to 3 cups of high-quality dog food divided into two meals daily. Pups need to eat more frequently, so they should be fed four times a day.

With that said, the kind of food and amount should be based on your doggo’s body weight, age, metabolism, and health.

The Belgian Tervuren’s ideal diet includes a healthy balance of 5-8% fat, 23% protein, and carbohydrates.

You can feed them homemade meals or commercially manufactured dog food, as long as they meet their daily requirements.

What health problems do Belgian Tervurens have?

a Belgian Tervuren laying on a bed
Source: @belgian_tervurens / IG

The Belgian Tervuren has an average life expectancy of 12 to 14 years. But still, there are several health conditions you should keep an eye out for.

Compared to other dog breeds, Tervs aren’t too susceptible to weight gain. But you should still be careful about their food consumption.

Regular medical checkups and screenings for potential health issues can help identify common medical problems for this breed, which include:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Epilepsy and seizures
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  • Allergies
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans
  • Pannus
  • Cataract
  • Persistent Pupillary Membranes (PPM)
  • Hemangiosarcoma

Big dogs, such as the Terv, should have regular hip, elbow, and thyroid evaluations recommended by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).

You should also send them for ophthalmologist evaluations, as recommended by the Canine Eye Registration Foundation.

How much do Belgian Tervuren puppies cost?

five Belgian Tervuren puppies sitting adorably
Pack of smiling Tervuren puppies

A Belgian Tervuren puppy has a price range of $1,500 to $2,000, but it may vary due to factors like lineage or pedigree and litter size.

Tervs can have 6 to 10 puppies, but if there are only a few pups available, they can be more expensive.

Belgian Tervuren breeders

Looking for a Belgian Tervuren puppy to welcome into your family? The AKC Marketplace and American Belgian Tervuren Club are a great start to look for your new canine companion.

When looking for a reputable breeder, it’s crucial to do your research before working with a breeder.

It’s also best if you can visit the kennel or where the pups live to ensure that they’re well taken care of.

It would mean that the seller cares for their breeding stock, and it’s highly likely that you’re bringing home a well-bred Tervuren puppy.

Belgian Tervuren for adoption

If you prefer to adopt, either because you prefer an adult dog or it’s less pricey, it will make a fur angel happy to have a new family and home.

You can check out the Belgian Tervuren Rescue Inc and Belgian Tervuren Rescue.

Curious about Belgian Tervuren mixes? 

The Belgian Tervuren is an intelligent and playful breed known for being courageous and alert.

If you think it doesn’t get any better than this, take a look at the beloved Tervuren mixed with another popular breed.

Belgian Tervuren German Shepherd dog mix

A Tervard looking up while sitting on a roadside
Source: @christina5255 / IG

Also known as the Tervard, this working dog resembles a long-haired German Shepherd and is equally alert, intelligent, and easily trained.

However, this crossbreed also has a stubborn streak. With early socialization, Terverds can make excellent family dogs.

Belgian Tervuren Poodle mix

A curly Tervoodle happily enjoying the outdoors

Endearingly called Tervoodle. Intelligent and alert, this highly active canine makes an excellent watchdog.

He also loves to be a part of his family’s lifestyle and does well participating in police work or as a therapy dog.

Who should get a Belgian Tervuren?

A Belgian Tervuren happily laying with her ball
Source: @reppuu_happy11 / IG

The Belgian Tervuren is generally better suited for experienced owners who can handle its high energy levels and sensitive nature.

They need regular grooming and ample exercise to keep them healthy and happy, and they‘ll reward you with their loyalty and hardworking nature.

Protective and affectionate, they’re perfect for a family with kids, as long as you socialize them from an early age.

Their ability to adapt to different climates means they’ll be ready to follow their loved ones wherever they are in the world.

Clever and bold, it’s easy to see what makes the Belgian Tervuren the most elegant of the four Belgian Shepherd breeds.

If you have any memorable experiences with the Terv, feel free to share them in the comments.

Further reading: similar breeds to the Belgian Tervuren


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