Showsight Presents The Belgian Tervuren

BELGIAN TERVUREN Q&A

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, herd- ing, and coursing (CAT, FASTCAT) and barn hunt. I also enjoy gardening on my organic ten acres and creating a healthy environ- ment 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 not- ed and easily located when reading the standards side-by-side—the height is the most controlled, both above and below, of all the Bel- gian breeds. Also, the location of where the square is measured dif- fers 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 stan- dards: “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 pro- portion, 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 char- acteristically 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? Ter- vuren 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 mul- tiple 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 physi- cal 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 own- er, 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 uncom- fortable 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

222 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JULY 2020

Powered by