BELGIAN TERVUREN Q&A
horses up before any tragedy occurred. The dogs knew that wasn’t where the horses were supposed to be! The funniest experience I’ve ever shared with a Tervuren in or out of the ring? This is tough because Tervuren have a great sense of humor and the bitches especially are always trying things out. (Young Tervuren get into everything they can.) Having a Tervuren ensures humility and a sense of humor! However, one memorable experience was at an out-of-state show weekend where there was also a herding trial 20 minutes away. I was showing a bitch special and the timing looked good to do both. After going BOB, I hur- riedly changed clothes and we drove off to herding. Things took longer than expected, not least because these sheep had only seen one breed before and it certainly wasn’t an upright dog! However, we finished our started title, got a placement and raced back just in time for our Group ring. Her correct coat looked great, so I just changed clothes again and ran for the ring. As I was stacking her I looked down and saw there was some mud on her toenails from the herding arena! As the judge was walking past the dogs ahead of me, I just got my spit shine of her nails finished—it was a close call! But worth it to have such a versatile breed. Is there anything else I’d like to share about the breed? Feet! As a herding dog, feet are essential and it is not inconsequential that the standard calls for “toes curved close together, well-padded, strong nails.” Correct Belgian Tervuren feet have toes [that are tight] and their pads are very thick. Dogs with thin pads and/or loose toes often need their feet booted or wrapped to work stock—this should not be necessary. Correct feet are beautifully suited for all jobs the Tervuren can do and will allow them to do so well, for long periods of time, with no injury or precautions. Always keep feet in mind when breeding, choosing a puppy, competing in dog sports, or judging this breed. Tervuren can also be a long-lived breed—average is 12-14 years. I have owned several that have lived to 15 or 16 and bred one that lived to be 17 years old. I have seen a couple at age 18 years! For their size, this is rather unusual. They typically age well and do not have a long stage of debilitation. My dogs usually retire from agility at 12-13 years of age, but continue things like scent work as they love to stay active and work. I fell hard for this breed and have owned no other since my first one. The outside is clearly striking and beautiful and what [first] attracted me, but the heart and the mind of the Belgian Tervu- ren are what I love above all else. These dogs are so intelligent and owner-directed that it is a true blessing to be their partner. This breed also brought me so many wonderful, longtime friendships that I value dearly that I cannot imagine my life without these dogs or these friends. If someone wants a dog to be a central part of their life, do a lot with, and develop a deep relationship, this could be it. If they want a dog to go for a walk once a day and an occasional hike, there are far better choices. As one of my puppy people stated, “This is not a pet, it is a lifestyle.” Of course, it can be both, with the right person. VICKI HAVICON I live near the St. Louis, Missouri, area on a pecan grove. For years, I was a professional groomer. I spent most of my time in the company of my dogs. I have had Belgian Tervuren since 1988 and, prior to that, I owned Staffordshire Terriers. Do I have any interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? While we occasionally take float trips with a dog or two, my lifestyle is engulfed with the Belgian Tervuren. I am a current member and past board member of the Spirit of the Heartland Kennel Club, member of the American Belgian Tervuren Club, and founding member/president of the Heartland Belgian Tervuren Club.
What made me interested in the Belgian Tervuren? They are a beautiful breed with their russet mahogany coat and black overlay, yet their temperament was what I found appealing. They are highly intelligent, willing to work on the farm or train for a dog sport, yet happy to take an afternoon nap. I especially value their devotion. In what ways does the breed differ from its Belgian cousins? There are now four AKC-recognized Belgian breeds: Belgian Ter- vuren, Belgian Sheepdog, Belgian Malinois and Belgian Laekenois. Each breed has its own breed standard and those standards are not identical in their description of ideal type and temperament for each breed. Can I describe the breed’s coat color in detail? Referencing the AKC breed standard: “Body rich fawn to russet mahogany with black overlay is ideal and preferred. Predominate color that is pale washed-out cream or gray is a fault. That coat is characteristically double pigmented whereby the tips of fawn hairs are blackened.” With some dogs, the blackening starts to appear around six to eight months of age and reach full blackening around three or four years of age. How important are carriage and proportion in the Tervuren? Belgian Tervuren are originally a tending breed, so carriage and balance are critically important to the overall form and function. To borrow from the AKC standard for Belgian Tervuren, the gait should be: “Lively and graceful, covering the maximum ground with minimum effort…he shows ease of movement without hard- driving action. He single tracks at a fast gait, the legs both front and rear converging toward the center line of gravity of the dog.” “Viewed from the side, he exhibits full extension of both fore and hindquarter. Backline should remain firm.” Given the ideal movement as described above, the structural proportions must be correct in order for the dog to move properly. We are seeing more structural faults, such as forward fronts, straight shoulders and short-upper arms, all of which restrict front move- ment. This isn’t correct and affects the exhibit’s herding ability. What should judges look for in the Tervuren’s movement. The description from the AKC standard regarding movement (above) cannot be stressed enough. Movement faults such as paddling, crab- bing, weaving, hackneying, etc. must be penalized. The Belgian Tervuren is a Herding dog, and movement faults that negatively affect the exhibit’s ability to work are to be penalized. Is the Tervuren a “busy” breed? I believe that, to the novice Ter- vuren owner, the breed could be considered very busy. My Tervuren are, as the standard calls for, usually moving about doing some- thing. Yet, the breed should settle and relax. Temperament for a Herding dog is very important, so shy, nervous or fearful is not cor- rect. This breed absolutely needs something to do and will always choose the company of its owner as a partner. Would I consider the breed to be possessive of its people and property? I believe that to isolate the word “possessive” without putting it into context, opens the door to wider interpretation of a correct temperament. Therefore, the correct temperament as cited by the AKC standard states: “In his relationship with humans he is observant and vigilant with strangers, but not apprehensive. He does not show fear or shyness. He does not show viciousness by unwar- ranted or unprovoked attack. He must be approachable, standing his ground and showing confidence to meet overtures without him- self making them. With those he knows well, he is most affectionate and friendly, zealous for their attention and very possessive.” It is critical for the breed that breeders and judges consider the entire Belgian Tervuren during evaluation, as the AKC standard contains the blueprint for the perfect Belgian Tervuren which has yet to be whelped. Above all, when evaluating my breed, it is impor- tant to remember their original purpose as a herding dog. >
SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JULY 2020 | 223
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