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The Long Haired Belgian Malinois

When people first see a long haired Belgian Malinois they often gaze at the long coat, alert and erect head. However, what most don’t realize is that it is likely a different breed altogether. 

Long haired malinois are actually usually the Belgian tervuren. The Belgian tervuren is one of four Belgian herding breeds that includes the Belgian sheepdog, malinois, laekenois, and tervuren.

This article will delve into the specifics of the Belgian tervuren exploring their stunning appearance, unique characteristics, and why they are garnering increasing attention from dog enthusiasts worldwide.

Belgian Tervuren standing erect on gravel path.
Photo credit: YayImages.

History of the long haired malinois

The Belgian tervuren (also referred to as tervs) was bred as a herding and guard dog in the late 19th century. At the time, Belgian breeders decided to name each distinct Belgian Shepherd after a village in Belgium.

They are named from a village centrally located in Belgium called Tervuren. M. Corbeel, a brewer who resided in Tervuren is credited with naming the breed after breeding his two long haired fawn Belgian shepherds, Tom and Poe.

In Mara Lee Jiles paper on the history of Belgian shepherd dogs, she remarked on the versatility of the breed stating Tom, would pull his owner’s beer cart during the day and guard the brewery at night.

During World War I and World War II, the Belgian tervuren’s exceptional abilities were showcased as they served as messenger dogs, Red Cross search-and-rescue dogs, and guards for military installations.

They also served as ambulance and light machine gun cart dogs. Their intelligence, loyalty, and adaptability further solidified their reputation as an exceptional working breed.

In the post-war era, the tervuren’s popularity grew internationally, spreading to North America and beyond. With their striking appearance and unmatched versatility, they found success in various canine sports and activities, including obedience, agility, and tracking.

The tervuren was officially recognized by the AKC in 1959 although they had arrived well before that, classified as a Belgian sheepdog.

Today, the Belgian tervuren continues to thrive as a beloved companion, a vigilant guardian, and a skilled working partner. Their rich history as diligent herders and wartime heroes endows them with a strong sense of purpose and an unwavering loyalty to their human families.

Two long haired Belgian Malinois Tervuren's running on grass with a ball in its mouth.
Photo credit: YayImages.

Appearance and temperament

The Belgian tervuren is a breed renowned for its versatility and intelligence, excelling in various roles from working alongside law enforcement as bomb sniffing or drug sniffing dogs to being a loyal family companion.

The breed has also been known to star in television shows including the BBC soap opera, Eastenders.

This breed is very similar to the Belgian malinois in both temperament and history. They are working dogs which means they are highly active and require rigorous exercise.

Their coat is dense and weather-resistant, providing an extra layer of protection against the elements. Their hair is shorter on the head, ears, and front parts of the legs and longer around the neck, forming a collarette.

Similar to the coloring of the Belgian malinois, Belgian tervurens coloring can vary from a rich fawn to russet mahogany with black overlay on their bodies. Their coat is doubly pigmented with black on the tips of their fawn hairs. The AKC breed standard thoroughly outlines how the breed should appear.

The hair on their chests is black but can also be a mixture of black and gray, while the underparts of their bodies, including the breeches, are cream, gray, or light beige. This plush, flowing coat requires regular grooming to keep it clean and tangle-free, ensuring their striking appearance remains in top condition. Some of the best vacuums for cat litter are also great for dealing with long-haired dog clean-up.

Tervurens can be very prey driven and “nippy” if not properly trained and socialized so knowing your dog and being cautious around children is imperative as they can be very unexpectedly excitable.

Training and exercise

Similar to the malinois, the tervuren requires both mental and physical stimulation. Training should begin as soon as they arrive home and if you do not have time to work with such an active breed, it’s probably not the best choice for you.

As with most dogs positive reinforcement utilizing a conditioned reinforcer such as a clicker can lead to a happy and well behaved terv.

Tervurens enjoy hunting and chasing so a game of fetch into a high grass area is both physically and mentally enjoyable to the breed. Expect to dedicate a minimum of thirty minutes of exercise a day to your companion to ensure they don’t develop destructive habits.

If you are interested in personal protection, this breed can certainly do the job. The bite force of the Tervuren is practically identical to the Malinois. However, keep in mind each dog has its own individual personality so if that’s your goal, selecting your dog will be important. Find an experienced protection trainer that can assist you with testing a puppy or young dog.

Black and mahogany Belgian Tervuren standing on wooden table.
Photo credit: YayImages.

Nutrition and life span

One thing we will never debate is dog food. Find what works best for your lifestyle. If you have time to feed a raw diet, great. If that is inconvenient and you wish to feed a commercially available kibble, that’s fine too. As an active breed, this dog may require a food geared towards performance breeds. Especially if they’re used for working purposes.

You may have to experiment a bit with different formulas to find what works best for your particular dog. Don’t forget some dogs have food allergies which can manifest as unusual health issues.

A healthy and happy tervuren can live on average between 12-14 years.

Is a Terv or long haired Belgian malinois for you?

Depending on your lifestyle this may be the perfect companion for you and your family. This breed was the first AKC herding champion so open space or a large area to run and have fun is preferable for the tervuren.

If you are active outdoors and looking for a partner to join your adventures this could be a match made in heaven.