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Belgian Tervuren: Dog Breed Info, Pictures, Facts, Traits & History

Written by: Chris Dinesen Rogers

Last Updated on March 20, 2024 by Nicole Cosgrove

Belgian Tervuren dog standing on the road

Belgian Tervuren: Dog Breed Info, Pictures, Facts, Traits & History

The Belgian Tervuren is the fawn, long-haired variant of the Belgian Sheepdog, one of four similar breeds. The coat distinguishes them: the Laekenois (wire-haired), Malinois (short-haired), and Groenendael (original black, long-haired dog). The American Kennel Club recognized the other pups in 1959 and 2020, with the Belgian Sheepdog getting this recognition in 1912. Let’s learn even more about this intelligent dog down below.

Breed Overview


22–26 inches


45–75 pounds


12–14 years


Fawn, mahogany, black, brindle, white, cream, liver

Suitable for:

Active families with the time to spend with an intelligent dog


Loyal, intelligent, energetic, courageous

The Belgian Tervuren has a wolf-like appearance, which provided inspiration for the 1984 film, The Company of Wolves. These pups are highly intelligent and quick learners. That made them useful as all-around farm dogs and guardians of livestock. These traits also influence the animal’s temperament as a pet. They are cold-tolerant, and they do not like being alone.

While these pups don’t do much herding these days, they are well-suited for other jobs requiring an intelligent animal. They have found a home with search-and-rescue, the military, and law enforcement. The Belgian Tervuren also makes an excellent watchdog.

Belgian Tervuren Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Belgian Tervuren Puppies

Belgian Tervuren puppy in the moor
Image Credit: Three Dogs photography, Shutterstock

The Belgian Tervuren ranks 104th on AKC’s list of the most popular breeds.1 They are handsome dogs but need a devoted owner to train and socialize them, starting at an early age. Finding a pup may be challenging, but you’ll likely succeed with patience.

We recommend only buying from sellers who conduct pre-breeding screening to ensure the health and well-being of their puppies. Their welfare should be paramount. As tempting as it may be, you should wait until the pup is over 8 weeks, preferably 12 weeks old, before you bring them home. Research has shown dogs leaving their mother and littermates too soon are more likely to develop behavioral issues.2

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Belgian Tervuren 🧠

Understanding your commitment as a pet owner is critical. The Belgian Tervuren requires an engaged owner to ensure the animal is properly socialized. They are intelligent animals that need mental stimulation for their well-being. Remember that enthusiasts selectively breed this pup to be a working dog. They are happiest when they have a job, although herding trials and agility competitions can fill that void.

The Belgian Tervuren traditionally served as a guardian of livestock. This trait carries over with the breed’s protective nature. They are often wary of strangers while keeping a watchful eye on their family. Unlike other herding dogs, this pooch doesn’t have the willful streak you may see in other canines. They prefer being with their tribe and don’t like being left alone.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

The Belgian Tervuren can make an excellent family pet with early training. This dog has a moderate tendency for nippiness that you should curb soon after bringing home your puppy. They are kid-friendly, but you should teach your children how to behave around your pet. While they are playful, they can take the games seriously. We recommend supervising playtime with the little ones.

two Belgian Tervuren dogs running on a pathway
Image Credit: Angelique van Heertum, Shutterstock

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽

The Belgian Tervuren may display the same wariness with other dogs as they do with strangers. That makes early socialization imperative if you have other pets in the household. The breed doesn’t have a strong prey drive, but they are naturally protective. Supervision is necessary to reduce the chances of a conflict or chase.

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Things to Know When Owning a Belgian Tervuren

The Belgian Tervuren is somewhat adaptable to city life. However, this dog is happiest when they can run. While they are easy to train and eager to please, it takes a devoted novice pet owner to manage this pooch. This dog will fit in well with an active household with plenty of activity. This breed isn’t a good choice for single people who work out of the home or travel a lot.

Boredom and intelligence are a bad combination for a dog left alone, leading to destructive behavior or separation anxiety. We recommend carefully considering whether this pup will fit in with your lifestyle.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

A high-quality commercial diet is the foundation of good health for the Belgian Tervuren or any dog. You should offer your pet food that is appropriate for the animal’s size and life stage. Three or four meals daily for puppies will ensure your pet has enough fuel to keep up with their boundless energy, as stamina is one of the breed’s hallmark traits.

Puppies and adults differ in their nutritional needs. For example, the former should get a minimum of 22.5% protein and 8.5% fat by dry weight. The latter needs 18.0% and 5.5%, respectively. Manufacturers must provide this information on the product’s label. We suggest looking for one that meets the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutritional profiles.

You should cut back to two meals daily for an adult Belgian Tervuren. Make sure your pet always has fresh water available. We recommend sticking to a schedule instead of free-feeding your dog so that you can monitor their intake. Luckily, this breed isn’t prone to weight gain.

Belgian Tervuren dog leaning on a log in the forest
Image Credit: Koen Adriaenssen, Shutterstock

Exercise 🐕

The Belgian Tervuren needs daily exercise to work off their excessive energy. It’ll provide welcome mental stimulation and an opportunity to hone your pet’s canine manners. It can also prevent boredom and the destructive behavior that can accompany it. You can take your pet to the dog park if you’ve socialized your pup early to accept other dogs.

Training 🎾

You couldn’t ask for a dog that is easier to train and quick to pick up new tricks. This breed thrives with the chance to show their eagerness for learning. It can also forge a strong bond with your pet. Strive for consistent training. Be prepared to keep it engaging for your pooch. Remember that they are smart animals. We recommend reserving treats as training aids to add additional motivation for lessons.

The Belgian Tervuren is surprisingly sensitive. This pup doesn’t respond well to harsh words or punishment. Instead, positive reinforcement is the best approach for building trust and nurturing the animal’s loyalty. It’s worth noting that this pooch will eagerly accept your praise as readily as treats as a reward for a job well done.

Belgian Tervuren dog running on grass
Image Credit: Angelique van Heertum, Shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

The Belgian Tervuren has a thick double coat that sheds at least yearly. You’ll find that regular brushing will cut down on the hair and provide additional bonding time. You should check your dog’s ears for any signs of an infection, which they are prone to. Inspect your dog’s nails to see if they need trimming.

Health and Conditions 🏥

The Belgian Tervuren is a relatively healthy breed, with few issues other than those seen in other large dogs. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) recommends health screenings for the most serious conditions we’ve listed. A responsible breeder will ensure they are completed and registered with the OFA.

Minor Conditions
  • Skin issues
  • Ear infections
  • Dental disease
Serious Conditions

Male vs. Female

The size difference between male and female Belgian Tervurens is noticeable, with the former sometimes nearly twice as big. That can make handling the animal a deciding factor for some individuals. Otherwise, either sex will make a delightful pet with the proper training and socialization. The environment and rearing influence much of a dog’s personality.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Belgian Tervuren

1. The Belgian Tervuren’s Temperament Is a Vital Factor in the Breed’s Standard

The AKC breed standard for the Belgian Tervuren references the animal’s devotion and courage, calling them “a natural dog” with “…no need for excessive posing.”

2. Four Coat Variations Are Accepted by the AKC, but Only One Is Accepted by the FCI

Belgian enthusiasts took the development of the Belgian Sheepdog seriously in the late 1800s. Much squabbling ensued to decide on coat variations. While the AKC recognizes the four variants as separate breeds, the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) has one standard that covers the various coats.

3. They Go by Another Name

While they are known to many as the Belgian Tervuren, in Belgium, these dogs are actually called the Chien de Berger Belge.

Belgian Tervuren in a dog show
Image Credit: Richard L. Paul, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

The Belgian Tervuren isn’t a dog for everyone. This pup requires an engaged owner willing and able to devote the necessary time for training and socialization. They also need a person who understands their personality and the importance of positive reinforcement. In return, you’ll get a loyal pet who will protect you and your family with loyalty and show you abundant affection.

Featured Image Credit: S.M, Shutterstock

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