The Belgian Tervuren is one of the four varieties of Belgian Shepherd, though the AKC distinguishes them as their own breed. This active working dog is renowned for its intelligence and drive. If given the opportunity for plenty of physical and mental exercise, the Belgian Tervuren will astound you with its athleticism and versatility.
Illustration courtesy of the Swedish Kennel Club
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The first ever AKC herding champion was a Belgian Tervuren.
About this Breed
Named after the Belgian village of Tervuren, the Belgian Tervuren, or Terv for short, is one of four varieties of Belgian Shepherd developed as versatile herding and guard dogs. In their country of origin and across Europe, the Tervuren is typically considered to be the same breed as the Belgian Malinois, Belgian Sheepdog or Groenendael, and Belgian Laekenois (all grouped under “Belgian Shepherd”), with their main differentiator being coat color, length, and texture. In the United States, each variety is considered a different breed. Because these breeds are separate lines and populations in the US, it’s often possible to genetically distinguish them.
The Tervuren has a long, thick, sable coat that darkens with age. Another hallmark of the breed is their black muzzle, or “melanistic mask” which is shared with their Malinois cousins. They have a “collarette” of fluff around their neck, which tends to be more profuse in males than it is in females. However, all Tervs have an abundant double coat that sheds seasonally. While their undercoat is soft, the top layer tends to be harsh.
All four varieties of Belgian Shepherd excel at multiple tasks, dog sports, and work. This is a breed that needs a job to do. Many Tervs are utilized as herding dogs both in Belgium and around the world; even if an owner doesn’t have their own flock of sheep, this breed often enjoys participating in herding trials. Tervurens also find success in agility, flyball, obedience, protection work, and more. They’re superstar athletes of the dog world! However, this versatility and energy come at a cost — Tervs can get bored quite easily, and their intelligence lends them to causing trouble when they’re not given enough to do. While Tervurens can make excellent (if sometimes mischievous) companions, they really do need owners who understand how to exercise and engage them in multiple ways.
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