American Belgian Tervuren Club

sculpture by M. Fath, France, 1953sculpture by M. Fath, France, 1953The Tervuren is a well-balanced square dog with medium bone structure. He has a nice neckline that is proudly carried over the wither which is slightly accentuated. The shoulders are laid back with forelegs set under the dog's chest. The rear angulation is balanced to the front, the hocks are vertical and the hind feet set comfortably below the point of the dog's rump - the dog stands squarely. The chest is deep, but not broad, with a smooth ascendant underline to the loin.

Size and Substance

Our standard describes a medium sized dog capable of being large enough to fulfill the role of guardian of property, but not so large as to limit its great athleticism and agility in its herding tasks.

"The ideal male is 24 to 26 inches in height and female 22 to 24 inches in height measured at the withers. Dogs are to be penalized in accordance to the degree they deviate from the ideal. Males under 23 inches or over 26.5 inches or females under 21 inches or over 24.5 inches are to be disqualified." ---From the AKC Belgian Tervuren Standard

A judge should consider all dogs within the ideal ranges equally. Do not leave your best dog out of the winners circle because you are uncertain whether the size is acceptable - always measure if you are in doubt. It is your responsibility to put up the dog that you feel is the best in your ring, as well as to disqualify a dog that measures out. 


"The body is square; the length measured from the point of shoulder to the point of the rump approximates the height. Females may be somewhat longer in body." ---From the AKC Belgian Tervuren Standard

where to measureThe Tervuren's square body definitely contributes to the picture of breed type. The measurement in determining square is horizontally from the front point of the shoulder to the rear point of rump, and vertically from the top of the wither to the ground. This is not a dog of rectangular proportions.

"Bone structure is medium in proportion to height, so that he is well-balanced throughout and neither spindly or leggy nor cumbersome and bulky." ---From the AKC Belgian Tervuren Standard 

Neck and withers

"Neck round, muscular, rather long and elegant, slightly arched and tapered from head to body. Skin well-fitting with no loose folds. Withers accentuated." ---From the AKC Belgian Tervuren Standard

The Tervuren has a medium long, slightly arched neck that blends over the wither.The arch is more apparent on a dog in full coat, particularly males with full collarette. The proud carriage of the head and neck is an important characteristic of breed type.


Topline, croup, ribs, and loin

"Topline level, straight and firm from withers to croup. Croup medium long, sloping gradually to the base of the tail. Ribs well-sprung but flat on the sides. Loin section viewed from above is relatively short, broad, and strong, but blending smoothly into the back."  ---From the AKC Belgian Tervuren Standard

 Note: the withers are accentuated, followed by a strong, short and level back.


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 Chest and abdomen

"Chest not broad without being narrow, but deep; the lowest point of the brisket reaching the elbow, forming a smooth ascendant curve to the abdomen. Abdomen moderately developed, neither tucked up nor paunchy." ---From the AKC Belgian Tervuren Standard

The forechest is apparent just to the extent that it is not hidden behind the shoulders. The Tervuren has good depth of chest, however the chest is not broad. The underbody should form a smooth, ascendant curve.


"Tail strong at base, the last vertebra to reach at least to the hock. At rest the dog holds it low, the tip bent back level with the hock. When in action, he may raise it to a point level with the topline giving it a slight curve, but not a hook. Tail is not carried above the backline nor turned to one side. A cropped or stump tail is a disqualification." ---From the AKC Belgian Tervuren Standard

In motion the tail is carried as a smooth extension from the backline. It is often lifted when the dog is in motion, but should not be carried above the backline. Never should it be tucked between the legs. Both standing and in motion, there should be no strong hook in the tail, nor should it be carried off center at any point.

Shoulders and hindquarters

"Shoulders long, laid back 45 degrees, flat against the body, forming a right angle with the upper arm." ---From the AKC Belgian Tervuren Standard

The forelegs should be set under the dog's chest; the shoulder assembly should not be placed forward.

"Thighs broad and heavily muscled. Stifles clearly defined, with upper shank at right angles to hipbones. Hocks moderatley bent. Metatarsi short, perpendicular to the ground, parallel to each other when viewed from the rear." ---From the AKC Belgian Tervuren Standard

The dog stands naturally and squarely - a line that drops straight down from the point of buttocks should touch the hind feet. 


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"Straight and parallel, perpendicular to the ground. Bone oval rather than round. Forearms long and well muscled." ---From the AKC Belgian Tervuren Standard

Hind legs powerful without heaviness.

Feet and pasterns

feet femaleThe feet are well padded with toes curved and tightly closed together. The nails are strong. The front feet are catfooted and the rear feet, while tightly closed, are slightly elongated.

"Pasterns short and strong, slightly sloped." ---From the AKC Belgian Tervuren Standard

The pasterns are short and strong, with a slight slope to allow for flexibility in movement and to absorb the shock that the shoulders would otherwise have to bear. Straight or too soft pasterns will cause serious functional problems in a working environment. 


The Tervuren is bred for ease of movement, quick footwork, strength, intelligence and sensibility. Applying correct structure basics within the realm of a balanced, square dog with elegant carriage will further encourage breeders to strive to produce a dog capable of doing whet it is designed to do. People who get Belgians expect them to be able to do all sorts of dog sports and some also perform serious useful tasks as well. We ask that judges keep this in mind when judging.