Belgian Tervuren

Amy Tokic
by Amy Tokic
fast facts

About Belgian Tervuren

40-70 lb
10-12 years
AKC Herding
Best Suited For
Families with children, active singles and seniors, houses with yards, farms/rural areas, watchdog
Athletic, hard working, loyal, loving
Comparable Breeds
Belgian Malinois, Belgian Laekenois
21-26.5 inches
Belgian Tervuren Basics

With his expressive eyes and gorgeous long coat, one would think that the Belgian Tervuren is simply just a beautiful dog that would lie around the house looking pretty. Nothing is further from the truth. Although he does enjoy relaxing on the couch with his family, the Belgian Tervuren is athletic, agile and has an undying work ethic. He is brave and protective of his family, making him a great candidate for being a watchdog as well as a companion.

Known to enthusiasts as the Terv, this breed is one of the Belgian dogs bred to heard and protect sheep. Because of their intense herding instincts, Belgian Tervurens might very well help you round up your children. To learn more about this beautiful and loyal breed, read on.

The Belgian Tervuren is athletic, agile and has an undying work ethic.


Originating in the farming village of Tervuren in Belgium, the Belgian Tervuren swiftly became the all-purpose dog that villagers had longed to have. In the 1800s, his keen herding skills and protective nature proved to make him a great asset to the farmers and their families.


One of the most mysterious breeds of dog, the Belgian Tervuren’s ancestry is unknown until the 1890s. The establishing farmers were not at all concerned about producing dogs for their rich pedigrees; they merely wanted dogs that would perform a job. During the World Wars, the Terv nearly became extinct however; some breeders continued to work on its development. The Tervs that we know today have longhaired Belgian Malinois and Groenendael blood behind them.


Because the Belgian Tervuren is an active dog, he needs to be fed a high-quality diet specifically formulated for his activity level. Dry food is best as it will prevent oral health problems such as gum disease, caries and bad breath that are associated with feeding wet foods. Of course, the amount of food the Terv needs will depend upon the level of his activities.


Belgian Tervurens are highly intelligent however; they can be stubborn and have minds of their own. Tervs love showing off how smart they are and do very well in obedience, herding and agility trials as well as in the breed ring. These dogs are truly versatile and can go from looking gorgeous in the breed ring, to being brilliant in obedience classes, to being a supreme athlete on the agility course and then sporting their skills in herding trials without batting an eye. It is obvious that Belgian Tervurens enjoy training sessions, so long as their trainer is kind, assertive and carries lots of yummy treats.


The Belgian Tervuren weighs between 40 and 70 pounds and stands between 21 and 26 ½ inches tall at the withers.

Belgian Tervurens are highly intelligent however; they can be stubborn and have minds of their own.


Loving, intelligent and loyal companions, Belgian Tervurens bond closely with their families and will protect them fiercely. Provided they get lots of exercise, they can be quite calm and relaxed in the home. Without proper exercise, they can begin herding kids and adults as well as nip at them.

Chasing people, bicycles, cars and other animals is inherent in the breed so it is essential that Tervs be kept on a leash unless they are in a secured area. Boredom can cause the Belgian Tervuren to chew up belongings, bark incessantly and even chew on himself. These are signs of separation anxiety so for the most part; they should not be left alone for long periods of time.

Common Health Problems

Elbow and hip dysplasia are the two most common afflictions within the breed. Although breeders do all that they can to cut down on the incidences of them, they are still problematic. Environmental factors can exacerbate any potential elbow or hip problem. Keeping puppies off slippery floors, limiting their exercise and keeping them from jumping on and off the furniture can decrease the risk of development. Other issues can be PRA or progressive retinal apathy and epilepsy.

Life Expectancy

The average Belgian Tervuren lives to be between 10 and 12 years of age.

Exercise Requirements

Being that the Belgian Tervuren was bred to herd and protect livestock, this dog is athletic and needs lots of exercise. An hour or so of playing with the kids, fetching a ball or jogging through the park will keep the average Terv in tip-top condition both physically and mentally. Because of their tremendous chase instinct, this breed should only be exercised on a leash or in a securely fenced area.

Loving, intelligent and loyal companions, Belgian Tervurens bond closely with their families and will protect them fiercely.


The American Kennel Club writes: “Prior to the Industrial Age, the rural farmers of Belgium had a great need for a general purpose herding and guard dog. The protective instinct of these dogs provided security for the farm and the family, and their herding abilities assisted with the daily maintenance of the stock. With industrialization, the rural farm dog became less important, but the Terv continued to be cherished as a family companion.” The Belgian Tervuren was recognized by the AKC in 1959.


The long and thick topcoat of the Terv might look like it would be soft but it is actually a bit harsh to the touch. The thick and downy undercoat keeps the dogs protected from the cold. They have a small mane and sport some hair tufts on their eyes. Tervs have a black mask but the rest of their bodies can range in color from fawn to mahogany. The fur is tipped with black as are the tails and ears.

This breed has a double coat and they constantly shed, all the year through. Bathing is only needed once each season of the year, unless the dog gets into something malodorous. It’s best to brush a Belgian Tervuren daily but if you haven’t the time to do that, twice weekly thorough brushing sessions will help to keep his coat looking great and his skin feeling healthy.


Belgian Tervuren puppies are incredibly sweet and handsome but they are also bundles of energy. They will need enough activity to keep him fit and happy but not so much to potentially damage his hips and elbows. Early training and socialization is very important as they are strong-willed and can become aggressive toward strangers when they become adults.

Amy Tokic
Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic, Editor of, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).

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