Belgian Tervuren

Published Jan. 22, 2024
two belgian tervuren dogs sitting in grass

In This Article

General Care

The Belgian Tervuren is a smart, energetic, and confident dog. When appropriately socialized and trained, they make faithful pets with a desire to please.

The Terv, as the breed is often called, was developed in Belgium in the late 19th century as a herding and guardian dog, according to the American Belgian Tervuren Club (ABTC). Belgian Tervuren weigh 45–75 pounds and stand 22–26 inches tall. They have an average lifespan of 12–14 years.

Caring for a Belgian Tervuren

The Belgian Tervuren is a confident herding dog that forms close bonds with their family. And as their family, you need to provide your Terv with a lot of physical activity and mental stimulation. This breed is intelligent, high-energy, and eager to work and please. According to the ABTC, Belgian Tervuren have worked as guide dogs, search-and-rescue dogs, and wartime sentries and couriers.

Though devoted to the people they love, these Belgian dogs can be reserved around new people. This makes socializing your Belgian Tervuren puppy a vital part of their care. You’ll also need to set aside time to brush their beautiful, long double coat every week.

Belgian Tervuren Health Issues

The Belgian Tervuren is a mostly healthy breed, although they are susceptible to a few health conditions pet parents should look out for.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease that causes the hip joint to fit together abnormally. This is also influenced by growth rate, hormones, diet, and exercise. 

Hip dysplasia happens when the hip joint is too loose, causing the cartilage to wear down. As the body attempts to stabilize the joint, degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis may develop. Arthritis then leads to pain, limping, and difficulty rising.

Maintaining a lean body condition is important for preventing arthritis in Belgian Tervuren. Many vets recommend low-intensity exercise and supplements of omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin for dogs diagnosed with hip dysplasia.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a group of diseases that causes the breakdown of the rods and cones on the retina. The dog may have difficulty seeing in the dark initially, but the condition will eventually result in complete blindness. PRA is an inherited disease in most cases, and there’s currently no treatment.


Hypothyroidism is a condition that causes the thyroid gland, which controls a dog’s metabolism, to be underactive. In hypothyroidism, the body either attacks its own glands or the gland is replaced with fat.

Hypothyroidism is diagnosed through blood work. It’s treatable with levothyroxine, a lifelong thyroid hormone replacement medication.

Von Willebrand Disease

Von Willebrand Disease (vWD) is a genetic blood disorder often seen in Belgian Tervuren. The condition prevents a dog’s blood from clotting, which makes bleeding dangerous.

Take your dog to the vet if you notice any unusual bruising, blood in their urine, bleeding from the gums, or nosebleeds. The condition can be detected through a blood test, and though there isn’t a cure, the condition can be successfully managed.

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)

A severe form of bloat in dogs, life-threatening gastric dilatation-volvulus requires immediate veterinary intervention. GDV happens when the stomach fills up with food or gas, causing expansion and increased pressure. The stomach can then rotate, causing inadequate blood supply to the spleen and stomach. Shock, tissue damage, and death can occur if the dog isn’t treated quickly.

To prevent GDV, a prophylactic gastropexy can be performed to secure the stomach and prevent twisting. This is often done at the same time as a dog’s spay or neuter surgery.

What To Feed a Belgian Tervuren

belgian tervuren puppy sitting on a wooden bridge
Photo credit: Adobe/Eliška

Feeding commercial kibble or wet food that is compliant with the standards of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a good way to make sure your Belgian Tervuren receives a complete and balanced diet.

How To Feed a Belgian Tervuren

Belgian Tervuren should be fed a measured amount twice a day: once in the morning and again in the evening. Twice-daily meals (instead of one large meal per day) can help prevent bloat and GDV. Belgian Tervuren puppies need to eat more frequently: three or four meals every day.

Do not feed your Terv with an elevated food bowl, as this can increase the risk of bloat. Instead, use a slow feeder bowl to help slow your dog down when they eat.

How Much Should You Feed a Belgian Tervuren?

Recommended caloric intake varies from dog to dog due to differences in size, metabolism, activity levels, and spay/neuter status. The best way to determine how much to feed your Belgian Tervuren is to talk with your veterinarian and consult the feeding guide labels on your chosen dog food.

Maintaining a lean body and healthy weight are very important for protecting a Terv’s joints, especially since the breed is susceptible to hip dysplasia.

Nutritional Tips for Belgian Tervuren

When your Terv eats a well-balanced dog food that meets AAFCO standards, they shouldn’t need nutritional supplementation unless your vet recommends it.

That said, Belgian Tervuren can sometimes benefit from the addition of omega-3 fatty acids (DHA/EPA) into their diets. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in skin and joint supplements; fish oil; and in some specially formulated dog foods. These fatty acids act as natural anti-inflammatories that support the skin, coat, kidneys, joints, and heart.

Behavior and Training Tips for Belgian Tervuren

Belgian Tervuren Personality and Temperament

While every dog is an individual (breed only accounts for about 9% of a dog’s temperament and behavior), Belgian Tervuren tend to be lively and alert companions that are deeply devoted to their family.

Tervs may be hesitant around new people, emphasizing the need for early and consistent socialization. This may be accomplished with puppy classes, where age-appropriate vaccinations are required.

Belgian Tervuren Behavior

Belgian Tervuren are a high-energy breed that benefits from consistent training. Tervs were bred as working dogs and have nearly inexhaustible energy, and they do best with structured activities such as herding, agility, and other dog sports.

As a herding breed, the Belgian Tervuren may try to “herd” children and smaller animals such as cats. Patient and positive training can help correct this behavior, and you can work with a professional trainer for guidance. Keeping your dog well-exercised and stimulated can also help stop unwanted behaviors.

Because of their intelligence and energetic nature, the Belgian Tervuren does best in a home with active, experienced pet parents who meet the breed’s need for exercise and mental stimulation.

Belgian Tervuren Training

As one of the smartest dog breeds, Belgian Tervuren can be fast and eager learners. Consistent expectations, along with positive reinforcement, are the best ways to successfully train them. Socialization must be prioritized when your Terv is a puppy so they grow into a well-adjusted dog that’s comfortable around new people and situations. 

Fun Activities for Belgian Tervuren

Belgian Tervuren Grooming Guide

The Belgian Tervuren has a beautiful and dense double coat. But while they have a lot of hair and require weekly grooming, their fur doesn’t require excessive care. In fact, keeping this dog well-groomed might be easier than you’d think.

That said, Tervs shed heavily in the spring and fall, and you may need to increase your grooming routine to near-daily brushing during this time.

Skin Care

The Belgian Tervuren will benefit from a bath every four to six weeks. Take care not to over-bathe them, as bathing more than twice a month can strip the skin of its natural oils. 

Coat Care

Weekly brushing will prevent tangles, and keep your Terv’s coat shiny and free from tangles and matting. Coat conditioners or detangling sprays may help make brushing easier. During periods of heavy shedding, brushing may take 20–30 minutes.

Eye Care

The Belgian Tervuren does not have special eye-related grooming needs. However, because Tervs are prone to PRA, stay alert for changes in your dog’s eyes or vision, and take them to the vet if need be. 

Ear Care

Cleaning your Terv’s ears every one or two weeks helps prevent ear infections and keeps the canals clean. Redness, odor, and debris in the ears are signs an infection may be present. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian.

Considerations for Pet Parents

belgian tervuren dog running through an agility course
Photo credit: Adobe/Fizzone Photo

Because of their intelligence and energetic nature, the Belgian Tervuren does best in a home with active, experienced pet parents who meet the breed’s needs for exercise and mental stimulation.

Tervs are working dogs that need to be kept occupied. Bored Tervs may get into trouble or develop undesirable behaviors to keep themselves entertained. Pet parents must also prioritize early socialization when their Terv is a puppy so they learn how to appropriately interact with other people and animals.

Belgian Tervuren FAQs

Are Belgian Tervuren good pets?

The Terv can make a wonderful pet for the experienced pet parent who is dedicated to meeting the breed’s need for exercise and mental stimulation.

What’s the difference between a Belgian Malinois and a Belgian Tervuren?

The Belgian Malinois and Belgian Tervuren are both considered Belgian shepherds and have similar body types, intelligence, and energy levels. The main difference between the two breeds is their coat: The Terv has a long, silky double coat while the Malinois has shorter fur.

Are Belgian Tervuren easy to train?

Belgian Tervuren are smart dogs that are eager to please their pet parent, so training can be easy. Training should begin early for the Tervuren, and should consist of positive reinforcement and play-based training.

Featured Image: Adobe/Eric

Virginia LaMon, DVM


Virginia LaMon, DVM


Dr. Virginia LaMon graduated from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. She completed her clinical year at Auburn...

Help us make PetMD better

Was this article helpful?

Get Instant Vet Help Via Chat or Video. Connect with a Vet. Chewy Health