This breed combines elegance and strength. Belgian Tervurens are square-proportioned and of medium bone. They are noteworthy for their exceedingly proud carriage. Their movement is lively, graceful, and seemingly tireless, exhibiting an easy, effortless gait rather than a hard-driving action. These dogs have a natural tendency to move in a circle rather than a straight line. They combine a dense undercoat with an outer coat consisting of abundant guard hairs that are long, well-fitting, straight and of medium harshness. Their expression is intelligent and questioning.
The Belgian Tervuren is one of four Belgian shepherd breeds, all sharing the same origins but distinguished by different coat types and colors. They are the wire-haired Laekenois, the shorthaired Malinois, the long black-haired Groenendael, and the long anything-but-black-haired Tervuren. All these herding– guard breeds were interbred before and after their recognition as one breed (the Belgian, or Continental, Shepherd) in 1891.
The Tervuren was named after the village of Tervuren, where one of the breed’s earliest proponents lived. Tervurens lagged behind the other shepherd breeds in popularity, perhaps hindered by their less flashy color and disagreements over exactly what colors were desirable. The first Terv was registered in America in 1918, but the breed’s numbers remained so low that they died out by the Depression. The Tervuren had to be almost recreated after World War II from long-haired offspring of Malinois parents.
In 1959 the Belgian Shepherd was divided into three breeds, and Tervurens were on their own. These dogs have since captured many eyes because they are the most elegant of the three breeds. They now enjoy moderate popularity. Belgian Tervurens are versatile dogs and are used less in guard work, but more in herding, than are their Belgian Shepherd counterparts.
Alert, watchful, and energetic, the Tervuren is an active and dependable companion that functions best when given daily mental and physical exercise. Tervurens enjoy playing and running outside, and can be well-mannered companions inside as long as they are given sufficient exercise. They are smart and obedient, but independent. They are aloof with strangers and can be protective of their family. They may nip at the heels of children in an attempt to herd them.
The Terv needs strenuous activity, either a long walk or jog or an invigorating play or work session every day. This breed especially enjoys herding, which is the ideal exercise. The double coat needs brushing and combing twice weekly, more often when shedding.