Tireless, do-it-all dog: Belgian Tervuren

Where do you live? What is your occupation? How many years in dogs?
Do you have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs?
What first made you interested in the Belgian Tervuren?
In what ways does the breed differ from its Belgian cousins?
How important are carriage and proportion in the Tervuren?
Can you describe the breed’s coat color in detail?
What should judges look for in the Tervuren’s movement?
Is the Tervuren a “busy” breed? Does it like to have a job to do?
Would you consider the breed to be possessive of its people and property?
What’s the funniest experience you’ve ever shared with a Tervuren in or out of the ring?
Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate.

Janina Laurin

Janina Laurin is an AKC judge of BIS, the Herding Group and multiple Working breeds, and a second generation dog fancier. She has judged the national specialties of all three Belgian breeds and Newfoundlands. She has been honored to judge the breed twice at Westminster, at the AKC show, and will be judging the AKC/Royal Canin Bred-by Group 2020. Janina will also be judging the Tervuren national for the fourth time in 2021. In October 2020, she will be judging the first Belgian Lakenois national. In 2002, Janina accepted the inaugural AKC Herding Breeder of the Year award on behalf of Chateau Blanc Kennels (Edeltraud, Janina and Darlene). Chateau Blanc has produced over 250 champions, Best In Show, National Specialty and Specialty winners, Dual champions, herding and tracking champions, multiple HIT winners in all performance events in the States and Canada, including Schutzhund events, on a limited breeding program. Janina and her sister are actively showing in conformation, herding, obedience and tracking with their current dogs and continuing to breed Belgian Tervuren. She has served as the parent club’s AKC Delegate for over 20 years, Showchair/Co-Chair Putnam Kennel Club, founding member and past President Berkshire Belgian Tevuren Club, past President of the American Belgian Tervuren Club, and member of Saw Mill Kennel Club. Janina is a founding member of the parent club’s Education Committee and has served on it since the mid 1980s.

I live on a rural road surrounded by woods and hayfields about 10 miles from the UCONN campus. I’m recently retired now, but worked in the financial industry mostly. I’ve been attending shows and dog events since I was a child.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? My big hobby right now is renovating the family homestead while trying to keep to the two-year plan.

What first made me interested in the Belgian Tervuren? It’s the family passion. I’m second generation with my sister, Darlene, and my mother, Edeltraud—it’s Chateau Blanc kennels.

In what ways does the breed differ from its Belgian cousins? All four standards have a variation in coat color, height, bite and nuanced differences in measurements.

How important are carriage and proportion in the Tervuren? Incredibly important. It is a distinguishing characteristic that gives the breed its beautiful elegant silhouette and unbroken harmonious lines. There should be no question when you see a Belgian Tervuren that it is its own breed and not a bad mix of GSD/Collie cross or a common mutt-looking street dog.

Can I describe the breed’s coat color in detail? It can be breath-taking, from rich fawn to mahogany, with a black overlay as if caressed in soot, and black masking on the head. The males will carry a bit more abundant coat and overlay than the females. It is double-coated with the outer coat being straight and harsh. It is natural in every aspect. The coat should require minimal grooming, and be clean and appropriate for either sex. It is and should be mostly a wash-and-wear coat as would be needed if the dogs were working.

What should judges look for in the Tervuren’s movement? Clean, single tracking, with free full extension, reach and drive for a square dog. Anything that would make the dog unable to do its historical job as a working herding/farm dog should be penalized as, for example: minced steps, cowhocks, lack of upper arm. As a whole, the breed has a large group that still uses their dogs on working farms or in herding competitions.

Is the Tervuren a “busy” breed? Does it like to have a job to do? Yes. They are, but not obnoxiously so in its behavior. It is more alert and ready to go. A job may look very different these days. It may take the shape of games and tasks. A confident, biddable dog is mostly preferred.

Would I consider the breed to be possessive of its people and property? It does love its people and, consequently, is very devoted. Hence, its reputation as more of an owner-handled breed or with those who know the dog individually well. They are excellent watch dogs and will alert you to a threat whether it is perceived or real. It is naturally aloof with those it doesn’t know well. This doesn’t mean shy. They should stand their ground. It just means they will not be overzealous if you aren’t in their circle of friends.

The funniest experience I’ve ever shared with a Tervuren in or out of the ring? The day my now 15-1/2-year-old girl, Jessie, would not leave the side of a steward on the Figure 8 in Novice Obedience and started pawing her pant leg. I was mortified, but when the judge asked [the steward] if she had food in her pocket, I praised [Jessie] for her good nose. She had found remnants of a hot dog. The judge qualified us with substantial points off.

I’d also like to share about the breed to judge the whole, study the silhouette, and penalize where appropriate according to the standard. This is a moderate, elegant, square, well-moving, confident dog. Enjoy them, be patient in allowing them to excel in the conformation, companion or performance rings.

Anita Aborn

Anita Aborn has been involved with Belgian Tervuren for more than 30 years. She has had the good fortune to attend many national specialties within the US and abroad, meet with the pillars of the breed in Belgium and France, and learn from the top breeders in the US. She has bred Group-winning dogs and is active in > conformation, obedience, herding, tracking, rally, agility, and scent work. She has been privileged to serve the Tervuren community in her local club at all levels, the American Belgian Tervuren Club as health education chair, and at nationals including the honor of judging sweepstakes.

I live in Northern California and have had Belgian Tervuren since 1989.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? Travel and gardening.

What first made me interested in the Belgian Tervuren? Their beauty, their versatility, their intelligence, and the fact they are a herding breed, important for assisting me with my sheep.

In what ways does the breed differ from its Belgian cousins? All of the Belgian Shepherd dogs are so very talented.

How important are carriage and proportion in the Tervuren? The Tervuren breed is an elegant breed characterized by its outline of a beautiful head sweeping into its neck and its square silhouette. To my eye, the breed can be identified just by its outline, so carriage and proportion are extremely important. They are always alert and present themselves with an air that demands one look at them. On the other hand, they can be silly and exuberant.

Can I describe the breed’s coat color in detail? That would take a book.

What should judges look for in the Tervuren’s movement? A smooth, easy, fluid side gait—it is not a big ground-covering gait with huge reach and drive, but rather a balanced, moderate gait with front and rear showing full extension. Coming and going the legs should converge in the center to single track, ideally.

Is the Tervuren a “busy” breed? Does it like to have a job to do? Tervuren need a job to do. They need their mind exercised as much as their body.

Would I consider the breed to be possessive of its people and property? Yes.

The funniest experience I’ve ever shared with a Tervuren in or out of the ring? The time my girl opened the refrigerator by tugging on the dishcloth hanging on the handle, selecting and removing a single yogurt container, taking said yogurt container to her bed, carefully removing the plastic top, peeling off the foil covering in one piece, and then studiously licking out every last molecule of yogurt from the carton.

Lynn Brandenburg

I currently reside in South Carolina, but relocated from the Northeast. I’ve been actively showing dogs for over 30 years, but have had Belgians for over 40 years. I love traveling and have been fortunate to have attended many Belgian specialties (all four Belgian breeds/varieties are shown together) in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, the UK, and more. I’ve exhibited in several of them as well, with one of my dogs having Dutch and French titles. There’s nothing more educational than seeing the breed in its country of origin and learning from the longtime breeders and exhibitors there.

What first made me interested in the Belgian Tervuren? The intelligence, beauty, grace, and athleticism of the breed.

In what ways does the breed differ from its Belgian cousins? The only real difference is cosmetic. The Tervuren is one of four Belgian breeds in the US (AKC). Everywhere else in the world, the four are considered one breed with four varieties, differentiated only by its coat: color, length, and texture. The Belgian Sheepdog being black; the Malinois being short-haired and similar in color to the Tervuren; and the Laekenois, similarly colored with a wavy/curly coat.

How important are carriage and proportion in the Tervuren? Extremely important to have balance—moderately angled front and rear along with the proud carriage of a square dog, standing four-square, alert and inquisitive, ready for action. There should be a lovely arch of neck, flowing into the withers; head not stuck on the shoulder or ewe-necked.

Can I describe the breed’s coat color in detail? There is an array of acceptable coat color ranging from a light, warm fawn to a rich mahogany. The coat should also have some black tipping, with the males generally having a bit more blackening than the females. There should also be a black mask, minimally to above the eye.

What should judges look for in the Tervuren’s movement? A light, easy, graceful gait—not a hard, driving gait, nor an extended reach and drive viewed from the side. Coming and going they should tend to converge towards the center. The topline should be level on the move with the tail an extension, not held high
or hooked.

Is the Tervuren a “busy” breed? Does it like to have a job to do? Yes, they are busy, especially pups. They are an active, intelligent breed that like to interact with their person. With proper exercise and training (herding, agility, tracking, etc.), they are wonderful companions and thrive on the interaction.

Would I consider the breed to be possessive of its people and property? Yes. They are protective and possessive of their people. They often appear aloof to strangers until they deem
you trustworthy!

Joni L. Freshman
DVM MS DACVIM CVA

Dr. Freshman earned her DVM from CSU in 1984, her MS in 1988 and her DACVIM in 1990. She managed reproduction centers in California, Texas and Colorado prior to turning to consulting in that area (laboratory, writing, online, speaking, expert witness). She also has a house call practice limited to acupuncture, laser therapy, and bodywork.

Joni brought home her first Belgian Tervuren puppy in 1986 and never looked back. She bred her first litter in 1990 and has bred sparingly since that time. She has bred and handled a Group Winner; multiple Group Placers; HIT in herding, obedience, and agility; and Eukanuba award winners. She bred and handled the 2013 number one O-HS Belgian Tervuren (also a NW HIT dog and the second Tervuren to earn the NACSW Elite Champion title) and the 2015 OFA Champion of Health Tervuren, who herself was invited to the Eukanuba [AKC National Championship] Invitational as a youngster, and as the number one preferred Agility Belgian Tervuren as a nearly 12-year-old dog.

Joni had also been active in local breed clubs and the American Belgian Tervuren club in both officer and longtime columnist positions (multiple DWAA Award finalist). She also is an AKC licensed judge of all four Belgian breeds, has judged many regional specialties and the 2015 ABTC National Specialty.

I live in Peyton, Colorado, which is in a rural area about 20 miles east of Colorado Springs. For over 36 years I have been a veterinarian, board certified in internal medicine with special dedication to small animal reproduction and neonatology, in which I currently consult, but no longer see patients. I also have a house-call acupuncture, laser therapy and bodywork practice. >

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? I train and compete in a variety of dog sports besides conformation, including agility, scent work, obedience, rally, herding, and coursing (CAT, FASTCAT) and barn hunt. I also enjoy gardening on my organic ten acres and creating a healthy environment for native shortgrass prairie, birds, and pollinators along with my dogs and myself.

What first made me interested in the Belgian Tervuren? I loved dogs as a child, but did not come from a dog loving family and we only had a dog (stray German Shepherd Dog) for my last four years at home. Reading a dog breed book at age 12, I saw a photo of the Belgian Tervuren and it really appealed to me. When I read about how smart and athletic they were, I knew I would someday have one, although I didn’t see one in person until 1981! That day came 14 years later, during my residency, when I finally brought my first Belgian Tervuren puppy home.

In what ways does the breed differ from its Belgian cousins? There are several differences in the standards which are clearly noted and easily located when reading the standards side-by-side—the height is the most controlled, both above and below, of all the Belgian breeds. Also, the location of where the square is measured differs in the Tervuren, being from the point of shoulder to the point of hip, rather than from prosternum to hip as in the other Belgian breeds. Of course, coat and color differ, as do penalties for missing teeth. The most important characteristics of the Belgian Tervuren are called out in these two sentences, not found in the other standards: “The Belgian Tervuren is a herding dog and versatile worker. The highest value is to be placed on qualities that maintain these abilities, specifically, correct temperament, gait, bite and coat.”
The American Belgian Tervuren Club has, since its inception, stressed the importance of a dog with titles on both ends.

How important are carriage and proportion in the Tervuren? They are important, as noted in the standard. Tervuren have an “exceedingly proud carriage of head and neck” and are a square dog from point of shoulder to point of hip (extra length allowed in bitches per standard). The terms “moderate” or “medium” appear numerous times in the standard. They should be completely in proportion, with no extremes catching the eye.

Can I describe the breed’s coat color in detail? The correct coat base color is a rich fawn to a russet mahogany, with a black overlay. Colors that are washed-out, like beige, cream, yellow, or grey are faulted. Our standard prior to the last revision called for each hair to be tipped in black. This appeared to confuse many breeders and judges and so that was changed. This has resulted, in my opinion, in many who do not feel bitches should have much blackening. That is not what the standard says. “The coat is characteristically double pigmented whereby the tips of fawn hairs are blackened. Belgian Tervuren characteristically become darker with age.” This means that we expect to see blackening over the fawn to mahogany. Because the standard also says: “Although allowance should be made for females and young males, absence of blackening in mature dogs is a serious fault,” this means as long as we can find some blackened hairs on puppies and bitches, that is acceptable. It does not mean that bitches with a full overlay are incorrect—they are quite correct by the standard.

If I can, I would like to mention something I find much more important about coat than color. Coat texture truly is a working dog feature. Having done herding with both a soft-coated dog and many with the coat called for in the standard, I can tell you why the standard says, “Texture is of medium harshness, not silky or wiry. Wavy or curly hair is a fault.” Dogs with correct coat can work in the rain and manure from several species of stock for hours, hop in the car and by the time you get home, all that has fallen off and the coat looks and smells pristine. It’s an easy coat to keep as it does not mat and it partially repels grass awns. This coat shows great in rain and is rarely as long as the silky, wavy coats that require a lot of work to manage and show.

What should judges look for in the Tervuren’s movement? Tervuren movement came from their initial job (herding) and so is an essential part of breed type. This is a flowing, easy trot with full extension of front and rear that can go all day, rather than a hard-driving extended trot, or a restricted gait that requires multiple steps to cover a short amount of ground. The triangles made from front and rear extension should match. I strongly encourage judges to watch Tervuren herd as it will help you see why they need the movement described in the standard: “Covering the maximum ground with minimum effort.” When I am judging and watching dogs go around, I picture them out on my trainer’s 280 acres—if the sheep took off, could this dog catch them up and bring them back, or [would] we be headed to the section fence?

Is the Tervuren a “busy” breed? Does it like to have a job to do? I would call them active and goal-oriented. Tervuren were bred to work stock and guard the farm, stock and shepherd. They quickly branched out to police and military work. These are jobs with a lot to do, a lot to think about, and a lot of hours of work. Tervuren without work for mind and body are unhappy dogs with unhappy owners. They are not busy for no reason (mine have invented a lot of games on their own). If they have sufficient mental and physical exercise most of them are able to settle down nicely when you do. But as soon as you get up they are ready—and hopeful—to go again. I find them unique in dogdom, in my experience, in that with training, there is essentially nothing they cannot do. I have had owners teach them field work, water rescue, and other non-herding dog skills easily. What they don’t do well is do nothing! Awake Tervuren puppies are very active sponges. Owners need to be giving them plenty of on-purpose training/play/work so that everyone is happy. While this can be in one, or many, organized dog sports, I had one clever pet owner who taught her puppy bitch to put socks in an open hamper. When they left the house, they hid dozens (later hundreds) of socks all over the house. This pup would sniff them out, take them to the hamper and put them in. That’s the kind of owner who can handle the mental needs of this breed.

Would I consider the breed to be possessive of its people and property? Yes, they are. That was one of the things for which they were bred. It should be to an appropriate extent—if you, their owner, tell them someone is okay, they should believe you unless they are given a reason to think otherwise. This doesn’t always happen unless the owner manages the dog appropriately. From puppyhood through social maturity this breed needs well-managed, positive socialization to understand what normal is so they don’t protect against things they shouldn’t. That said, my first Tervuren saved my life twice. She had no protection training and was great with children, but when I was attacked, once by two men and once by four men, the only blood shed was theirs—not hers and not mine. I always feel safe when traveling with my Tervuren. In a motel, one lays against the door to the hall. If I have two, the other one lays on the (covered) bed and faces the door, etc.—this is innate, not trained behavior. Mine (apart from the couple that were uncomfortable around children) have also been very protective of children, keeping them away from danger.

They are also very observant of what goes on around their home and unless trained not to, will bark when someone comes on the property or approaches a car in which they are crated. They also know when something is just not right. One day my crew raised a huge ruckus—both the two dogs that were out exercising and the rest in the house. My neighbor’s 12 horses, which my dogs ignore through our mutual fence, were out running on the 55 MPH street, with rush hour and sundown upon us. Thanks to their alerting me, I was able to call my neighbors and we all rushed out and got the horses up before any tragedy occurred. The dogs knew that wasn’t where the horses were supposed to be!

The funniest experience I’ve ever shared with a Tervuren in or out of the ring? This is tough because Tervuren have a great sense of humor and the bitches especially are always trying things out. (Young Tervuren get into everything they can.) Having a Tervuren ensures humility and a sense of humor! However, one memorable experience was at an out-of-state show weekend where there was also a herding trial 20 minutes away. I was showing a bitch special and the timing looked good to do both. After going BOB, I hurriedly changed clothes and we drove off to herding. Things took longer than expected, not least because these sheep had only seen one breed before and it certainly wasn’t an upright dog! However, we finished our started title, got a placement and raced back just in time for our Group ring. Her correct coat looked great, so I just changed clothes again and ran for the ring. As I was stacking her I looked down and saw there was some mud on her toenails from the herding arena! As the judge was walking past the dogs ahead of me, I just got my spit shine of her nails finished—it was a close call! But worth it to have such a versatile breed.

Is there anything else I’d like to share about the breed? Feet! As a herding dog, feet are essential and it is not inconsequential that the standard calls for “toes curved close together, well-padded, strong nails.” Correct Belgian Tervuren feet have toes [that are tight] and their pads are very thick. Dogs with thin pads and/or loose toes often need their feet booted or wrapped to work stock—this should not be necessary. Correct feet are beautifully suited for all jobs the Tervuren can do and will allow them to do so well, for long periods of time, with no injury or precautions. Always keep feet in mind when breeding, choosing a puppy, competing in dog sports, or judging this breed.

Tervuren can also be a long-lived breed—average is 12-14 years. I have owned several that have lived to 15 or 16 and bred one that lived to be 17 years old. I have seen a couple at age 18 years! For their size, this is rather unusual. They typically age well and do not have a long stage of debilitation. My dogs usually retire from agility at 12-13 years of age, but continue things like scent work as they love to stay active and work.

I fell hard for this breed and have owned no other since my first one. The outside is clearly striking and beautiful and what [first] attracted me, but the heart and the mind of the Belgian Tervuren are what I love above all else. These dogs are so intelligent and owner-directed that it is a true blessing to be their partner. This breed also brought me so many wonderful, longtime friendships that I value dearly that I cannot imagine my life without these dogs or these friends.

If someone wants a dog to be a central part of their life, do a lot with, and develop a deep relationship, this could be it. If they want a dog to go for a walk once a day and an occasional hike, there are far better choices. As one of my puppy people stated, “This is not a pet, it is a lifestyle.” Of course, it can be both, with the right person.

Vicki Havicon

I live near the St. Louis, Missouri, area on a pecan grove. For years, I was a professional groomer. I spent most of my time in the company of my dogs. I have had Belgian Tervuren since 1988 and, prior to that, I owned Staffordshire Terriers.

Do I have any interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? While we occasionally take float trips with a dog or two, my lifestyle is engulfed with the Belgian Tervuren. I am a current member and past board member of the Spirit of the Heartland Kennel Club, member of the American Belgian Tervuren Club, and founding member/president of the Heartland Belgian Tervuren Club.

What made me interested in the Belgian Tervuren? They are a beautiful breed with their russet mahogany coat and black overlay, yet their temperament was what I found appealing. They are highly intelligent, willing to work on the farm or train for a dog sport, yet happy to take an afternoon nap. I especially value their devotion.

In what ways does the breed differ from its Belgian cousins? There are now four AKC-recognized Belgian breeds: Belgian Tervuren, Belgian Sheepdog, Belgian Malinois and Belgian Laekenois. Each breed has its own breed standard and those standards are not identical in their description of ideal type and temperament for each breed.

Can I describe the breed’s coat color in detail? Referencing the AKC breed standard: “Body rich fawn to russet mahogany with black overlay is ideal and preferred. Predominate color that is pale washed-out cream or gray is a fault. That coat is characteristically double pigmented whereby the tips of fawn hairs are blackened.” With some dogs, the blackening starts to appear around six to eight months of age and reach full blackening around three or four years of age.

How important are carriage and proportion in the Tervuren? Belgian Tervuren are originally a tending breed, so carriage and balance are critically important to the overall form and function. To borrow from the AKC standard for Belgian Tervuren, the gait should be: “Lively and graceful, covering the maximum ground with minimum effort…he shows ease of movement without hard-driving action. He single tracks at a fast gait, the legs both front and rear converging toward the center line of gravity of the dog.”

“Viewed from the side, he exhibits full extension of both fore and hindquarter. Backline should remain firm.”

Given the ideal movement as described above, the structural proportions must be correct in order for the dog to move properly. We are seeing more structural faults, such as forward fronts, straight shoulders and short-upper arms, all of which restrict front movement. This isn’t correct and affects the exhibit’s herding ability.

What should judges look for in the Tervuren’s movement. The description from the AKC standard regarding movement (above) cannot be stressed enough. Movement faults such as paddling, crabbing, weaving, hackneying, etc. must be penalized. The Belgian Tervuren is a Herding dog, and movement faults that negatively affect the exhibit’s ability to work are to be penalized.

Is the Tervuren a “busy” breed? I believe that, to the novice Tervuren owner, the breed could be considered very busy. My Tervuren are, as the standard calls for, usually moving about doing something. Yet, the breed should settle and relax. Temperament for a Herding dog is very important, so shy, nervous or fearful is not correct. This breed absolutely needs something to do and will always choose the company of its owner as a partner.

Would I consider the breed to be possessive of its people and property? I believe that to isolate the word “possessive” without putting it into context, opens the door to wider interpretation of a correct temperament. Therefore, the correct temperament as cited by the AKC standard states: “In his relationship with humans he is observant and vigilant with strangers, but not apprehensive. He does not show fear or shyness. He does not show viciousness by unwarranted or unprovoked attack. He must be approachable, standing his ground and showing confidence to meet overtures without himself making them. With those he knows well, he is most affectionate and friendly, zealous for their attention and very possessive.”

It is critical for the breed that breeders and judges consider the entire Belgian Tervuren during evaluation, as the AKC standard contains the blueprint for the perfect Belgian Tervuren which has yet to be whelped. Above all, when evaluating my breed, it is important to remember their original purpose as a herding dog. >

“The Belgian Tervuren is a herding dog and versatile worker. The highest value is to be placed on qualities that maintain these abilities, specifically, correct temperament, gait, bite and coat.”

The funniest experience I’ve ever shared with a Tervuren in or out of the ring? Oh my! At an outdoor show in the rain I was showing my National Specialty winning boy, Luke. He was a rather prissy dog that didn’t like getting his feet muddy. We were doing the down and back. He was trying to avoid the mud. On the way back, I was attempting to distract him from the mud and focus forward instead of down at the muddy ground. I had a piece of bait in my hand and made the hand motion as if I was going to throw the bait. The second time I made the hand motion, the wet bait flew out of my hand and just happened to hit the judge, Mr. Don Rogers, in the chest. The bait slid down the front of him and landed at his feet. Almost simultaneously, Luke pounced on the piece of bait splashing mud onto Mr. Rogers’ trousers. Of course, I’m completely embarrassed and apologizing. Mr. Rogers looked at his trouser legs, looked at me, and simply stated, “I believe you owe me a dry cleaning bill.” Luke won the Group that day.

EveLynn McGuinness

I live in the high desert near Lancaster, California. I am a psychologist with a ph.d. in psychology/neuroscience; I retired last year. I have been involved with purebred dogs for 35 years, initially with Belgian Sheepdogs, but switched to Belgian Tervuren.

I rode and showed horses all my life. Gradually, the dogs competed more and the horses became pets. I am also a big opera fan and get season tickets to LA Opera every year.

What first made me interested in the Belgian Tervuren? I wanted a dog to take out to the stable with me and liked the temperament of herding dogs. Like a good academic, I read a lot about the breeds and when I went out to look at dogs, I fell in love with the intelligence and beautiful movement of the Belgians. A Belgian Tervuren breeder, Becky Steiner, helped me with handling my first Belgian Sheepdog in the show ring and we became close friends. I got my first Tervs from her in the late 1980s and stayed with Tervuren ever since.

In what ways does the breed differ from its Belgian cousins? The Malinois are a more intense dog and have been bred for protection, police, and military work far more than the Tervuren or the Sheepdogs. I think, historically, the Tervuren club, ABTC, has emphasized breeding dogs with titles on both ends more than the other breed clubs.

How important are carriage and proportion in the Tervuren? Carriage and proportion are important, when you look at a Terv it should be recognizable as a Belgian Tervuren. It is a Herding breed, and structure and movement are extremely important. The dog has to have correct structure to work. If a dog cannot cover ground effortlessly it is not a good example of the breed, no matter how pretty it may look standing still.

Can I describe the breed’s coat color in detail? The breed standard is very explicit on color. “Body rich fawn to russet mahogany with black overlay is ideal and preferred. Predominate color that is pale, washed out, cream or gray is a fault. The coat is characteristically double pigmented whereby the tips of fawn hairs are blackened.” Males typically have more black tipping than bitches, but both sexes tend to get more black tipping with age and the head should have a black mask. Absence of the mask is a serious fault. I personally prefer the red mahogany; love to see the coat glow in the sun.

What should judges look for in the Tervuren’s movement? I do herding with my dogs, mainly tending style herding, and they need to be able to cover ground effortlessly for longs periods of time without tiring. Short, choppy strides are not correct and interfere with the dog doing the job it was bred to do.

Is the Tervuren a “busy” breed? Does it like to have a job to do? Most definitely they are a busy breed, although they can relax in the house. If they don’t have a job they tend to become self-employed, not usually for the good. They do best if stimulated mentally as well as physically.

Would I consider the breed to be possessive of its people and property? Most Belgian Tervuren are protective of their people and, to a lesser extent, of their property. I have a ranch with people coming out to herd a lot, so my dogs are much more tolerant of people in and out of the property or even my house than they were when I had fewer people visiting. Mine are bonded to me, but not especially possessive, and are very welcoming to any of the people who regularly work their dogs here.

I’d also like to share that I like to see my dogs get DCs (conformation championship and herding championship), but Tervuren excel at a variety of performance sports. I find their combination of athleticism and beauty hard to beat!

Kathryn Wagner

I started showing German Shepherds around 1988 and became a member of the Greater Clarksburg K.C. While teaching Conformation Class in 1991, one of our members came into my class and told me that they had a Tervuren in Obedience and that maybe I should go meet him. I stopped my class so I could approach this person about her Tervuren. I did offer to buy him, for I knew this was not a good home. One year later, she called me and said she could not handle the dog, so I went and picked him up. This was my start with a wonderful dog by the name of Bach. Two years later, I acquired my foundation bitch (Tessa). With these two my breeding program began.

I feel lucky, and fortunate, to have produced the 1998 National Specialty BOS CH Shumaker Hill’s Bedtime Story C-Bar, her daughter, 2009 National Specialty BOS CH Shumaker Hill’s Turn the Paige C-Bar, and Paige’s daughter, WB and BOW GCH Shumaker Hill’s Never Ending Story. (Also that year, Paige’s son, GCH Shumaker Hill’s In Kase You Missed Me, won Best of Opposite in Puppy Sweeps.) Our puppy owners have achieved the following: BIS, multiple BISS, and titles that include obedience, agility, herding, flyball, lure coursing, tracking and dock diving.

I have been a show chair, mother to a junior, conformation instructor, professional steward, and a member of ABTC since 2003. In 2008, I became an AKC judge of the three Belgians and Junior Showmanship. This year I have added our newest addition to the Belgians, the Laekenois.

I was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We moved to Buckhannon, a small town in rural West Virginia, nearly 40 years ago. I own and run a dog boarding facility. This year marks 40 years for owning dogs and 31 years of showing.

Do I have any hobbies? I really don’t have any hobbies other than judging, showing and breeding dogs, although my husband and I love to travel, especially in the winter months to one of the islands in the Caribbean.

What first made me interested in the Belgian Tervuren? Actually, a friend of mine was teaching me about GSD. (This is what I owned at the time.) She invited me over to look at a couple of books she had. While flipping through, I dead stopped at this beautiful picture of a Tervuren. I promptly told her that was going to be my breed someday.

In what ways does the breed differ from its cousins? It does not differ a whole lot from the other four. Of course, coat, color, length and texture are different. Also, the AKC standard for each of
the—now four—[breeds] slightly differs. These differences can be found mostly in the disqualifications section of each breed standard to include height, bite, areas of white and temperament.

How important are carriage and proportion in the Tervuren? When the Tervuren is standing they should be square and alert with elegant carriage of head and neck. This is very important to the breed. It shows they are full of life, intelligent and ready to work for you. Proportion in height and length should be equal, with exception to our females which can be slightly longer. The Tervuren should never be slight and spindly, nor large and bulky,
but “medium.”

Can I describe the breed’s coat color in detail? Tervuren’s are a double-coated breed. The outer guard hairs range in color from a rich mahogany to a light blonde and gray, (color that is pale, washed out, cream or gray is a fault)—these colors should be tipped in black. The undercoat is most generally a light cream color. The head has varying degrees of black: from just the muzzle; a mask; to full black. A head that lacks any black is a serious fault. The ears are mostly black. The chest (collarette) will have a mixture of black and grey hair. Tail usually has a black spot in the middle and also on the tip. White is permissible on the chest (not to reach the neck) and the tips of their toes. Frosting is normal around the muzzle. As this breed matures, their color always darkens.

What should judges look for in the Tervuren’s movement? This is a square dog. They should be light on their feet and the front and rear movement viewed from the side should be equal. Topline should remain flat and firm from head to tail. When going away from you they should single track (legs converge towards a center line); when coming towards you the same applies. They do have a tendency to move in circles. Without proper movement they cannot do their job as a Herding dog.

Is the Tervuren a busy breed? Does it like to have a job to do? Yes, to say the least. They are very much busybodies, almost always in motion when not resting. They much prefer a life with a job or some type of activity, including herding, agility, tracking, flyball, dock diving, and the list goes on. They will do what is asked of them and be happy.

Would I consider the breed to be possessive of its people and property?Again, yes, this is just in their nature. Not only are they possessive, but they are also jealous for attention.

The funniest experience I’ve ever shared with a Tervuren in or out of the ring? I’ve shared this story many times. I was showing my CH Shumaker Hill’s Bedtime Story (Tory) at an outside show. We entered the Group ring, the judge did his exam, and we went up and back. As the judge raised his hand to say, “Go around the ring,” the leash slipped out of my hand over Tory’s back and she proceeded to do her job, which was to do the go around. I just followed her foot for foot. She stopped perfect and looked at me like, “I did good right?” She was so ring wise. The judge asked me later if that was a trick. Nope, just a smart show dog!

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my thoughts on this wonderful breed. Hoping that we get back to those normal days of showing. Please stay safe and healthy in these times.

Lynne Wetherell

I own Bilgay Belgian Tervuren Kennels in Green Cove Springs, Florida. I am retired from being a business OR manager at Baptist Hospital in Jacksonville. I now teach and compete in conformation, obedience, rally, dock diving and agility. I have always owned dogs, but became active in the world of dogs in 1988. I served as vice-president of the American Belgian Tervuren Club for eight years and I am currently president of the Sunshine Belgian Tervuren Club.

I have no hobbies or interests that are not dog related. There are just not enough hours in the day.

What first made me interested in the Belgian Tervuren? I met Gail Cooper and her Belgian Tervurens when I moved to Jacksonville in 1988. I fell in love with her dogs, and the saga began. Not only were they the most beautiful dogs I had ever seen, they were beyond versatile with what you could do with them. I got my first Terv and began my story in conformation and obedience. The AKC then started offering agility and I was hooked.

In what ways does the breed differ from its Belgian cousins? Of course, coat length and color are the most obvious differences between the Belgian breeds. I have only owned Malinois and Tervurens, so I can only speak of those when I am comparing the Belgian breeds. Mals have short hair, and Tervs have long hair. In my experience, the Malinois is “more” dog. Meaning that they have more drive and are busier. Don’t mistake me, the Tervurens have plenty of “go,” but they are easier to have control over and have a better “off” switch. Neither are couch potatoes and they need a job. They are willing participants in anything the owner wants to do.

How important are carriage and proportion in the Tervuren? Carriage and proportion are very important in the Belgian Tervuren breed. They are a square, elegant breed that carry themselves beautifully. An observer always stops and looks when they see a Tervuren.

Can I describe the breed’s coat color in detail? The Tervuren has a double coat; a thick undercoat and then a base coat. The base color is very rich with a black overlay. The standard has been changed from only accepting mahogany and black to accepting gray and fawn base coats. The males usually have more overlay than the bitches.

What should judges look for in the Tervuren’s movement? The Tervuren gait is smooth, not rushed. They single track. Their front movement should not be hackneyed. The judge should be looking for the dog that can continue that movement all day. Front and back legs should move in full extension. The topline is level and the dog should not roll as it moves.

Is the Tervuren a “busy” breed? Does it like to have a job to do? The Tervuren is a busy breed. They need both mental and physical exercise on a daily basis. If this is done, the dog will relax at home and be content to be at rest. They are ready for any adventure that the owner proposes and then cuddle on the couch when the adventure is over.

Would I consider the breed to be possessive of its people and property? Tervurens are aloof with strangers, but love their families and their friends. If properly socialized as puppies, they are not possessive of their property or family. That being said, they can step up to the task of being a protector if need be.

My funniest experience with one of my Tervs happened not in the show ring, but in the herding field. There was a large, stuffed whale sitting on a post in the field. When sent to gather the sheep, he grabbed the whale and continued to run around the sheep with the whale in his mouth.

THE
belgian tervuren

  • Show Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *

You May Also Like

Great Pyrenees Questions Answered

We asked the following questions to our friends in the Great Pyrenees community. Here ...

The Brussels Griffon Survey

From the January 2020 issue of ShowSight. Click to subscribe. On the photo (from top left ...

Gun Dogs with “Human” Eyes

Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs? In popularity, The ...

GBGV The Hound that Hunts

Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs? In popularity, GBGVs ...