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Belgian Shepherd Tervuren

The Tervuren (sometimes spelled Tervueren), is a member of the Belgian Shepherd Dog family of dog breeds. Its classification varies, being classified under some breed standards as a breed in its own right, and in others as one of several acceptable varations of the Belgian. It is usually listed within breed standards under one or other, or a combination, of these names.

In the United States, the AKC recognizes it under the name Belgian Tervuren. In Canada, the Canadian Kennel Club recognizes the Tervuren as a variety of the Belgian Shepherd Dog (prior to 2005, Belgian Shepherd Dogs were called Belgian Sheepdogs).

Appearance
Like all Belgian Shepherds, the Tervuren is a medium-sized, square-proportioned dog in the sheepdog family. Males stand between 24 and 26 inches, and weigh approximately 65 lb. Females are finer and smaller. It is recognized by its thick double coat, generally mahogany with varying degrees of black overlay, including a black mask. A small patch of white on the chest is permissible, as well as white tips on toes. The Tervuren may also be sable or grey, but this may be penalized in the show ring in some countries according to the standard of the registering body.

Temperament
Tervurens are highly energetic, intelligent dogs who require a job to keep them occupied. This can be herding, obedience, agility, flyball, tracking, or protection work. They are also found working as Search and Rescue (SAR) dogs, finding missing persons and avalanche victims.

As companion animals, Tervurens are loyal and form strong bonds with their family, leading some to be aloof with strangers. They are good watch dogs, being very observant and attentive to the slightest change in their environment. Some can be nervous, depending on breeding and early experiences, so care must be taken to adequately socialize Tervuren puppies to a wide variety of people and situations.

As with all the Belgian Shepherd Dogs, Tervuerens are not generally recommended to first-time dog owners due to their high maintenance level.

Adult males are distinctly masculine and females are likewise feminine. Their appearance projects alertness and elegance. The breed is known for its loyalty and versatility. Those who own them are report being charmed by their intelligence, trainability, and, perhaps most of all, their sense of humor. They excel in many kinds of activities. Today the breed is still relatively rare in the United States, but it is well-established.

Health
There have been few health surveys of the individual Belgian Shepherd varieties. The UK Kennel Club conducted a 2004 health survey of all Belgian Shepherd varieties combined. The Belgian Sheepdog (Groenendael) Club of America Health Committee has a health registry questionnaire, but it is not clear whether or when results will be reported. The American Belgian Tervuren Club conducted health surveys in 1998 and 2003.

 

Belgian TervurenOther names: Belgian Tervuren, Chien de Berger Belge
Country of origin: Belgium

Mortality
Median longevity of Belgian Shepherds (all varieties combined) in the 2004 UK survey, was 12.5 years, which is on the high side, both for purebred dogs in general and for breeds similar in size. The longest-lived of 113 deceased Belgians in the UK survey was 18.2 years. Leading causes of death were cancer (23%), cerebral vascular, i.e., stroke (13%), and old age (13%).

Average longevity of Belgian Tervurens in the 2003 American Belgian Tervuren Club survey was lower, at 10.6 years, than in the UK survey. The difference in surveys does not necessarily mean Belgian Tervurens live shorter lives than other varieties of Belgian Shepherds. Breed longevities in USA/Canada surveys are usually shorter than those in UK surveys.[7] Leading causes of death in the 2003 American Belgian Tervuren Club survey were cancer (35%), old age (23%), and organ failure (heart, kidney, liver) (13%).

Morbidity
Belgian Shepherds are afflicted with the most common dog health issues (reproductive, musculoskeletal, and dermatological) at rates similar to breeds in general. They differ most notably from other breeds in the high incidence of seizures and/or epilepsy. In the UK survey of Belgian Shepherds and both the 1998 and 2003 ABTC survey of Belgian Tervurens, about 9% of dogs had seizures or epilepsy. Other studies have reported rates of epilepsy in Belgian Tervurens as high as 17%, or about one in six dogs.[8] For comparison, the incidence of epilepsy/seizures in the general dog population is estimated at between 0.5% and 5.7%. See Epilepsy in animals for more information on symptoms and treatments.

Grooming
The Tervuren has a thick, double coat similar to the Groenendael. Regular brushing is necessary to remove loose undercoat, but in general, the fur is not prone to matting. A properly textured Tervuren coat is slightly hard, laying flat against the body (unlike, for instance, the Samoyed's off-standing fur). It naturally sheds dirt and debris, but burrs and seeds may stick to the feathering on the legs.

The Tervuren is shown in a natural state, with minimal trimming and cosmetic products. Bathing, brushing, and trimming the fur on the feet with scissors to emphasize their tight, cat-footed shape is the extent of most exhibitors' grooming routines. Products that alter the coloration of the coat are not allowed in the ring.