American Belgian Tervuren Club

Here are some tips that will help you through an efficient, comprehensive breed-specific evaluation.

  • Look at the profile
  • Do not stare at the dog close-up
  • Be pleasant and expect the dog to be also
  • Check for missing teeth - gently from the sides
  • Check depth of chest, forechest, and shoulder angulation
  • Check placement of shoulder assembly
  • Check tail length
  • And of course, evaluate the many breed-specific and functional qualities that we talked about here!

Consider that the great majority of Tervuren are owner-handled. 

The Approach

There is much that you can do to help put a dog at ease when judging. Keep in mind that Tervuren enjoy interacting with their handlers, and you may be considered a bit of an intrusion to his good time! Approach the dog in a confident, straightforward and gentle manner. If you stare at the dog, particularly from close-up or on approach for the exam, the dog may find this to be rather unsettling. Judges that approach dogs in this manner are more likely to experience problems than those who get on with it in a matter-of-fact manner.

Begin the exam from the front so that the dog sees you coming. Stopping your forward motion, such as to offer a hand, is not usually a good approach as it indicates uncertainly on your part, and encourages the dog to question you. A good approach is to look politely just slightly to the side of the dog's head, or to the handler, saying something pleasant to the owner as you touch the side of the dog's head. It is best to say nothing for the dog. For example, you might ask the handler if they prefer to show the bite. A smile and short word with the handler will go a long way in making the exam a pleasant experience, both for the dog and the handler.

When examining the dog's head, try to avoid staring directly into its eyes for more than a gaze. Tervurens are sensitive to the intent of a stranger and will wonder why the unnatural stare. If you want to take a long hard look at the dog, reserve it for after the physical examination and stand back a bit so the dog can have a comfortable space with its handler.

All of that said, we fully expect the dogs to be approachable and confident in the ring. Do not be afraid to excuse a dog or to keep it out of the points because of poor temperament!


 The Tervuren has a rather long, well-split mouth that is neither wide or having pendulous lips, and it is generally uncomfortable for them to have their mouths pried wide open. You should easily be able to check the teeth from the sides. If the handler elects to show you the teeth, feel free to gently assist as necessary to save yourself valuable time. You should check for dentition. Four or more missing teeth are a serious fault, and undershot without contact of all incisors is a disqualification

Never get on your knees or put your face in front of the dog's head. This is a dangeous position to put yourself into with any strange dog of any breed.

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Body exam

The body exam is rather typical. Check the chest, forechest, shoulders, rib spring, back and loin, hindquarters, etc. Check the tail length as it should reach the hock. As in all dog judging, gentleness and practiced efficiency will help the exam go smoothly and quickly. If you approach the dog as described above, it is unlikely that the dog will be uncomfortable with it.

Comments about handlers in our breed

"The Belgian Tervuren is a natural dog and there is no need for excessive posing in the show ring."

Our breed should be free-stacked to look forward naturally, as a herding dog, not straight down at the floor. Some handlers do this to accentuate the neck, but it is an incorrect and unnatural position for evaluation of a herding dog. 

We feel that the practice of handlers who kneel down with their dogs should be discouraged. We feel this is an unnatural position for handlers to adopt with a breed of our size, not to mention that it slows down the judging process. We encourage judges to ask handlers to stand up when presenting the Tervuren.