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Is a Tervuren Right for You

We feel the Tervuren is a “special dog”. 

Those of us who own them are completely charmed by their intelligence, trainability, and, perhaps most of all, their sense of humor. 

They are suited to many kinds of activities. Their herding instinct is still intact. In Belgium, they are trained as police dogs. They are well suited to the precision, discipline and animation required for successful obedience and Schutzhund work. We have quite a few CH-UDT’s and our first Obedience Trial Champion was earned within a few months of this title’s initiation by the AKC. We are proud of the number of champions that hold one or more obedience title. The first recorded AKC Herding Champion of any breed was earned by a Tervuren. The breed is known for its loyalty and protectiveness. Their appearance projects alertness and elegance.

The Belgian Tervuren, however, is certainly not a dog for everyone. Temperamentally, they are very possessive of their loved ones and extremely demanding of your attention – they want you to do things with them and love to be taught. Because of this, if they are not given regular time by you, they are apt to invent their own entertainment, which may not be what you would chose them to do. They are an active dog, as the breed standard states: “Always in motion unless under command.” But for those who like to have a dog to do things with, they may well find the Tervuren fits the bill.

The American Belgian Tervuren Club suggests that you try to learn as much about the breed as you can, both through literature as well as talking with owners and seeing a number of dogs. We do not sell dogs or recommend any particular breeders. Search the breeder referral list and breed advisors list for contacts. The people on the breeder referral list have agreed to spend some time talking to those who would like to have a frank discussion about the breed. Contact an area club in your area or attend a local event. Both the breeder referral people and the local club representatives may know of some dogs or puppies that are available. If you contact any of them, we encourage you to do your homework on the breed first so that you are able to make the best judgment of what is right for you.

Much depends on your needs, your desires, your living arrangements, and your plans for the dog.  Although Tervuren are highly adaptable and are individual in the kind of attention they demand, most of them need a lot of time with their people. They can be kennel dogs, if necessary, but they’d much rather be with you. A lot of them think of themselves as over-sized lap dogs!

In the same way, space requirements vary with individual dogs. Some dogs can adjust happily to apartment life, but most Tervuren require a fair amount of exercise, play, and some training to stay happy and healthy. A quick trip out to the curb twice a day  isn’t enough.

Ask yourself a lot of other questions, too. Does the size fit your needs? How about the temperament? How about the coat? Tervuren shed once or twice a year, and are easy to keep groomed – a thorough brushing once or twice a week will generally keep them looking good. If you can’t abide dog hair even occasionally, however, then you shouldn’t be considering a dog of this breed.

If, on the other hand, you’ve searched your soul and still think that the Tervuren sounds like just what you want, then maybe there is one in your future.

Where Do I Buy a Belgian Tervuren?

This is a serious question. The dog you choose will be a member of your family for more than ten years, given a normal life span; that’s a long time to regret a mistake. It is well worth the extra energy and effort to investigate a number of possible choices before you make your final decision.

Consider adding a Rescued Tervuren to your home. There are Tervuren that are in need of a new home.  Submit your Adoption Application to the ABTC Rescue Chairperson.

The ABTC’s Breeder Referral Chairperson, Becky Hansen,  maintains a list of volunteers, both breeders and owners, as well as local club Secretaries who will be willing to assist you. Ask them for the names of people in your area that you can contact. Do not expect the Information Referral Chairperson, volunteers or club Secretaries to recommend specific breeders or to give preference for one breeder over another. The ABTC requires that the chairperson be impartial in sending out information. We will answer your questions, give you breed information, help you meet breeders, and help you ask the right questions. But in the end, you must make your own best informed decision. 

How do you identify a reputable breeder? Here is a checklist of what a reputable breeder does and does not do. Download file to print out.  Once you have names and addresses, think carefully about what you want to know. The more information you can give a breeder, the more likely it is that you will get what you want. Do you want a dog you can show as well as have for a companion, or do you only want a companion? Do you want a male or a female? How old an animal do you want?

You will find that breeders vary in their responses and prices. Some breeders charge more for show prospects than for pets, others charge the same price for both. Some breeders will ask more for a puppy than others. That difference can be based on many factors including the prominence of the breeder, the show record of the sire and dam, the breeding history of either or both dogs, and the like. Remember, however, that price alone is a poor predictor of quality. The highest price may or may not guarantee you the dog of your dreams. Take everything into consideration. Ask for pedigrees, photographs, and information on the parents. Reputable breeders will give you all this and more.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a sample contract of sale which will spell out guarantees and ask about prices and conditions of payment. Ask if the parents of a prospective pup are certified clear of hip dysplasia (a crippling hereditary disease uncommon in our breed) and ask about any other hereditary problems in the line, especially epilepsy and hereditary eye problems. Try to find out how much individual attention and socialization the pups are getting. This is important in the development of proper temperament. More information of these subjects may be found on the Canine Health Foundation’s website.

Finally, put all your information together and make a choice. Pick the breeder who gives you the best information and answers and whose dogs seem to be producing what you are seeking. If you are careful and choose wisely, the Tervuren who comes to join your life will be all you ever hoped for.

For more information about the Belgian Tervuren 

AKC Gazette carries a bimonthly column about the Belgian Tervuren  – Current column 

“A Simple Formula for Judging the Belgian Tervuren” by Sharon Redmer in Showsight, 6/17/2023

Image courtesy Karyn Cowdrey