The Belgian Tervuren, is named after a village in Belgium. Its classification varies, being classified under some breed standards as a breed in its own right, and in others as one of several acceptable variations of the Belgian Shepherd Dog. It is usually listed within breed standards under one or other, or a combination, of these names.
In the United States, since 1959, the AKC recognizes it under the name Belgian Tervuren. Prior to 1959, the Belgium Tervuren was shown as Belgium Sheepdog. In that year, the AKC granted the breed separate status.
Belgian Tervuren Facts: History
The Belgian Tervuren is one of four varieties of shepherd dogs that were developed in Belgium in the late 1800s. The four varieties are the Malinois (fawn-mahogany, short coat with black mask), Belgian Tervuren the Laekenois, and the Groenendael. The American Kennel Club recognizes all but the Laekenois as separate breeds in the U.S., while the United Kennel Club recognizes all four types as one.
The Club du Chien de Berger Belge was formed in September 1891 to determine which of the many different types of dogs was representative only of the shepherd dogs developed in Belgium. In November of that same year, breeders and fanciers met on the outskirts of Brussels to examine shepherd dogs from that area. After much deliberation, veterinary professor Adolphe Reul and a panel of judges concluded that the native shepherd dog of that province were square, medium-size dogs with well-set triangular ears and very dark brown eyes and differed only in the texture, color, and length of hair. Subsequent examinations of dogs in other Belgian provinces resulted in similar findings.
Belgian Tervuren Facts: Temperament
Belgian Tervuren Facts: Health
Belgian Tervuren’s are fairly healthy dogs but do have a few problems:
- Hip Dysplasia: This is a heritable condition in which the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop. X-ray screening for hip dysplasia is done by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHIP). Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred. If you’re buying a puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and are free of problems. Hip dysplasia is hereditary, but it can also be triggered by environmental factors, such as rapid growth from a high-calorie diet or injuries incurred from jumping or falling on slick floors.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This is a degenerative eye disorder that eventually causes blindness from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye. It is not thought to be widespread in Belgian Tervuren. PRA is detectable years before the dog shows any signs of blindness. Fortunately, dogs can use their other senses to compensate for blindness, and a blind dog can live a full and happy life. Just don’t make it a habit to move the furniture around. Reputable breeders have their dogs’ eyes certified annually by a veterinary ophthalmologist and do not breed dogs with this disease. The eye clearance the breeder shows you should be dated within the past year.
- Elbow Dysplasia: This is a heritable condition common to large-breed dogs. It’s thought to be caused by different growth rates of the three bones that make up the dog’s elbow, causing joint laxity. This can lead to painful lameness. Your vet may recommend surgery to correct the problem or medication to control the pain.
- Epilepsy: The Belgian Tervuren can suffer from epilepsy, a disorder that causes mild or severe seizures. Epilepsy can be hereditary; it can be triggered by metabolic disorders, infectious diseases that affect the brain, tumors, exposure to poisons, or severe head injuries; or it can be of unknown cause (referred to as idiopathic epilepsy). Seizures may be exhibited by unusual behavior, such as running frantically as if being chased, staggering, or hiding. Seizures are frightening to watch, but the long-term prognosis for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy is generally very good. Epilepsy can be controlled with medication, but it cannot be cured. A dog can live a full and healthy life with the proper management of this disorder. If your Belgian Tervuren has seizures, take him to the vet right away for a diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
Know the history of the breeder before purchasing a pup to avoid some of these issues.