The Belgian Tervuren is known in its country of origin as the Chien de Berger Beige. This variety is distinguished by its coat color and length as long-haired other than black in comparison to the Groenendael with long black hair, the Malinois with a short coat, and the wirehaired Laekenois.
The variety designation, Tervuren, owes its name to the Belgian village of Tervuren, the home of M. F Corbeel, an early devotee of the breed. Mr. Corbeel bred the fawn colored "Tom"and "Poes" commonly considered the foundation couple of the breed, to produce the fawn-colored "Miss" In turn, Miss was bred to the black "Duc de Groenendael" to produce the famous fawn "Milsart", who in 1907 became the first Tervuren champion.
Prior to the Industrial Age, the rural farmers of Belgium had a great need for a general purpose herding and guard dog. The protective instinct of these dogs provided security for the farm and the family, and their herding abilities assisted with the daily maintenance of the stock.
The mental development of the breed as a versatile helper and attentive companion paralleled the physical evolution of a medium-sized, well-balanced animal with strength and stamina. With industrialization, the rural farm dog became less important, but the beauty and loyalty of the breed made them well appreciated as family companions.
Very little written information is available on the origins of the breed before the establishment of the Belgian Shepherd Club in 1891. Professor Adolphe Reul's documentation of the exhibitions held to determine breed type, leading to the first written standard in 1893, and the breed's recognition by the Societe Royale Saint-Hubert in 1901, are considered the important historical landmarks in the development of the Belgian Shepherd. In May of 1892, the first Belgian Shepherd Specialty was held in Cureghem, Belgium, and was won by a registered Tervuren, Duc II, owned by Arthur Meul. This same Duc, a brown-brindle born in 1890, served as the model for the Belgian Tervuren in the famous painting done by A. Clarys in 1910.
From the establishment of the Belgian Shepherd breed, there were only a few breeders dedicated to the production of the Tervuren, and breeding continued on a modest scale until after World War LI. The outstanding reproducers of the 1900s were "General" a direct descendant of Milsart, as well as Minox and Colette ex Folette, who were from Malinois parents, and who produced "Jinox","Noisette", and "Lakme".These dogs figure heavily in the ancestry of the Belgian Shepherds of the 1940s and 1950s who brought about the revival of the Tervuren as we know it today.
The first Tervuren was registered with the AKC in 1918. Registrations at this time were sparse and by the time of the Depression the variety had disappeared from the AKC Stud Book.
It was not until 1953 that the blackened fawn long-haired dogs were again imported, through the efforts of Rudy Robinson, Robert and Barbara Krohn, and Marge Coyle. Prior to 1959, these dogs were registered and shown as Belgian Sheepdogs. In that year, the AKC granted the separate breed classification designating the Belgian Tervuren as a distinct breed.
The Belgian Tervuren has retained the characteristics of their working ancestors that made them so valued in times past - qualities that make them equally important to their owners today by virtue of the quick intelligence and unwavering devotion they are precious personal companions. Their versatility is still highly appreciated on a par with their graceful elegance and eye-catching appearance. They have remained useful in herding and are now exhibiting their talents as therapy dogs and companions to the disabled.
It is not at all unusual for them to compete equally in the breed, obedience and agility rings, and many breed champions also have earned obedience and agility titles. They have been trained in sports as diverse as schutzhund and sledding. Truly, they have earned our respect for their adaptability, their exuberant personalities, and distinctive beauty, and they have captivated our hearts with their love.