Type: Herding dog
Weight: Male – 25-30gk
Female – 20-25kg
Height: Male – 24-26in / 61-66cm
Female – 22-24in / 56-61cm
Appearance: Tervurens are medium sized dogs with a squareshaped body. They have a mahogany double coat with black overlay (in some cases sable or grey). The undercoat is dense and protects the animals from temperature variations, the outer coat is of long straight hair (longer on the tail, legs and chest) Belgian Shepherds have pointy erect ears, small to medium dark eyes and long tails.
Temperament: The Tervuren is a highly intelligent and energetic dog that demands its owners time and affection. They’re alert and devoted and can be trained, but only by an owner they trust and respect. These are strong and confident animals but also sensitive, and their temperament can be easily damaged by harsh treatment.
Skills: Belgian sheepdogs love to work so will do well in herding, obedience and agility competitions, flyball or tracking. They also make great guard dogs and many work as police dogs, and search and rescue dogs especially in the mountains where they’re used in avalanche rescue.
Behaviour Toward Other Animals and Kids: Belgian Shepherd dogs don’t trust strangers, when it comes to other animals they can get along well, but mainly if they were raised together. They are devoted to their family but if you’re considering the Tervuren as your first dog, you should consider if you really want to start with such a strongwilled animal. They behave well with children but prefer the company of adults.
Common Health Problems: Issues that are most likely to occur are hip and elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, progressive retinal atrophy, gastric problems, some eye and skin problems.
Lifespan: Average 10-12 years.
Crate Training a Belgian Tervuren Puppy
A crate should be introduced as a secure and comfortable place where the puppy will get a rest and feel safe during car trips or when his owners are away. It is recommended that owners introduce one or two crates in the house and a separate one for travelling. Crates have to be big enough for the dog to be able to stand, lie down, and turn around. The crate is never to be used for punishment or as a “puppy jail” – it is the dog’s safe place and he needs to feel at ease in his crate. Puppies should be introduced gradually to the crate – initially with the door open and a few treats inside that will get the dog interested. Once the dog is inside and stays calm with the door closed, he should be praised and rewarded. With his water and food bowls inside, the pup will get used to the crate as a place for rest during training.
Socialising a Belgian Tervuren Puppy
Early socialisation has to take place before the age of 16 weeks. This is the time when puppies start shaping into adults and they need to be socialised with other dogs, animals, and people in order to grow into confident and friendly adult dogs. This is also the time for establishing bonds of trust with members of the family and getting introduced to new surroundings, so that puppies can develop a good understanding of their environment. Car rides, visits to the vet, walks in the park are all experiences that will expose the pup to different circumstances and help him develop skills to adapt to new people and situations.
Correcting Potty Mistakes
Eliminating inside can be the result of over-excitement, separation anxiety, fear, marking territory and sometimes – medical problems. A Tervuren might make some mistakes when first introduced to his new home or when changes in his current household occur. He could also exhibit submissive behaviour and uncontrollable urinating when he sees his owners come back after being away for the day. Owners shouldn’t reciprocate the dog’s excitement, but rather keep their composure and simply take the dog to his relieving area until the problem is diminished. Signs the dog is about to eliminate, such as walking in circles or sniffing the floor, are never to be overlooked. Owners can introduce a word that the dog will learn to associate with going to the bathroom and be able to respond when asked the particular word. When the puppy eliminates in the designated area, he should be praised and rewarded until he establishes clean habits and a reward is no longer necessary. A dog is considered housebroken if he has not had an accident for about 45 days.
Dealing with Running Away or Bolting out the Door
Dogs run out the door for many reasons – it could be an urge to go out and find his pack, or chase after cats and squirrels. It’s a natural instinct that has to be controlled in order to prevent the dog from getting lost of injured. The dog has to go out of the door only on cue after his owner. If the dog stops at an open door and waits for the owner to leave first, he should be praised and rewarded to understand that this is positive behaviour which is expected of him. If the dog doesn’t stop at the door, he has to be brought back in and beckoned to an ajar door – he will stop and wait for the door to be opened. When he stops at the door, he has to be verbally praised and rewarded with a treat.
Dealing with the Tervuren’s Separation Anxiety
A properly socialised Tervuren is less likely to display separation anxiety, but it may occur with any dog, at any age, and for almost any reason. It can result in serious destructive behaviours, such as barking, howling, chewing, digging, scratching, or eliminating. Some dogs may even injure themselves, break their teeth or rip their nails. Dogs associate repeated actions and sounds such as their owners putting on their coats or shaking keys with being left alone, so a break in these patterns is the best way to deal with separation anxiety. Putting on a jacket, turning off the lights and picking up keys without actually leaving the house or leaving for a very short period of time can help make a change in the dog’s subconscious routine. It is a good idea to turn off the lights at least 30 minutes before leaving and give the dog a new toy to play with or chew. Once back inside the house, owners can make the dog feel at ease by remaining calm despite how anxious the dog appears, pretend not to notice his excitement until he’s calm as well, and then give a treat when he’s relaxed. Another way to distract him is with some commands, such as “Fetch” or “Sit”.
Teaching a Tervuren to fetch is a fun and rewarding experience, using the “bait and switch system”. All it takes is two identical toys – throwing one when the dog is on the leash, and releasing him upon the command “Fetch”. The other toy has to remain hidden out of sight for the dog, so when he brings the first one and doesn’t drop it, the second one is thrown and he is prompted to retrieve it with a verbal command again. Different dogs pick up commands at their own pace, so patience and dedication are key in teaching a Tervuren commands.
Training a young or adult Tervuren commands is easy and rewarding due to the breed’s obedience and willingness to please their owners. Training can be conducted when the dog hasn’t been fed for a few hours so that it will be motivated by the treats used as a reward. Teaching commands has to take place in a quiet place, free of distractions at first. Both the owner and the dog have to be in a calm and relaxed disposition. With the dog standing in front of them, owners can offer a treat, waving it over the head towards the tail. When the dog sits, looking for the treat, this behaviour has to be reinforced with a verbal command and rewarded with the treat. Once the dog has learnt to comply with the command in the training place, it can be reinforced in a new situation with other animals, people, and distractions, such as the park or even the pavement. The dog has to learn to sit on cue in different situations as this might be necessary to keep him safe at certain times.
The Belgian Tervuren was developed in the late 1800s in Belgium, where it was known as Chien de Berger Beige. It is one of four varieties of shepherd dogs that were bred for the general purpose of herding and guarding dogs. The Tervuren is distinguished by its coat colour and length as long-haired other than black in comparison to the Groenendael with long black hair, the Malinois with a short coat, and the wirehaired Laekenois.
The breed was developed into medium-sized well-balanced dogs, fit to serve the needs or rural farmers. With the advent of the industrial era, the breed gained value as more than a versatile farm helper, and their beauty and loyalty made them well appreciated as family companions.
There is little historical record about this breed prior to the establishment of the Belgian Shepherd Club in 1891. The first Belgian Shepherd Dog standard, which was written in 1892, recognised three varieties: dogs with long coats, dogs with short coats, and dogs with rough coats. At the first show for Belgian Shepherd dogs, which also took place in 1892 in Cureghem, Belgium, the winner was a Tervuren named Duc II.
By 1901, the Belgian Shepherd Dog, was officially recognised as a breed by the Societe Royale Saint-Hubert. The breed encompassed four varieties, with each variety given their own name by breeders. The Tervuren takes its name from the village of Tervuren, where M. F Corbeel, an early devotee of the breed, lived. Corbeel bred the fawn coloured Tom and Poes, believed to be the founding couple of the breed. They produced the fawn-coloured “Miss” who was bred to the black “Duc de Groenendael” and in turn produced the famous fawn “Milsart” – the first Tervuren champion of 1907. The first Tervuren registration with the AKC was in 1918.
Belgian Shepherds were the first dogs to be used by the Belgian police. They were also used as guard dogs and draught dogs, and during WWI, Belgian Shepherd Dogs served as messenger dogs, ambulance cart dogs and some sources even point to the breed being used as light machine-gun cart dogs.
Throughout the years, the Belgian Tervuren has retained the characteristics of its ancestors used as working dogs. The breed now display their quick intelligence and abiding devotion as therapy dogs and companions to people with disabilities.
Native food supplies for the Tervuren’s working ancestors would have included poultry, mutton, a limited amount of beef, wheat, and beets – the main vegetable crop of the area. A Belgian Tervuren should be fed a diet based on low-fat poultry and beet, complemented with wheat and a small amount of beef. The breed should not be fed fish, soy, corn, or horse meat. The dietary intake can be supplemented with the Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, and D, but not Vitamin C since it can cause kidney and liver failure. Other supplements can include biotin, folic acid, and Calcium bone meal.
The double-layered coat of the Belgian Tervuren requires regular brushing to keep it tangle-free. He needs thorough brushing in sections from head to rump with a pin brush at least once a week. The breed typically needs a bath only when he’s got dirty. The coat has to be completely soaked and thoroughly lathered with specialised dog shampoo that gets all the way to the skin. It has to be completely rinsed, removing all shampoo residue to prevent skin irritation. After towel-drying, the coat can be left to air-dry or blow-dried with a hair dryer on a low-heat setting. Ears have to be regularly cleaned of ear wax and dirt with soft cotton balls and a cleaning solution and checked for signs of infection. In order to prevent mouth infections and bad breath, teeth should be brushed with a veterinary-approved toothpaste at least once a week, and nails need to be trimmed monthly. Dog’s nails have a vein inside and if owners are inexperienced in nail trimming, it is best that a professional groomer or a veterinarian do the trimming.
The athletic Belgian Tervuren needs a lot of exercise to keep him physically and mentally stimulated. Owners should spend at least an hour a day for a game of fetch, or a jog in the park. Bred to herd and protect livestock, Tervurens have a very strong chasing instinct and any off-leash activities should be held in a securely fenced yard or other area.