Workingline tervueren

Translation from Finnish
November 5th, 2000

Many people ask amazed what are working line Tervuerens as these dogs are not yet very familiar in Finland at the moment. Below a short summary of subject, in which we have aimed to answer to the most typical questions.

The Belgian Shepherd Dog: History and Variations

At the end of 1800's people started to develop a breed called Belgian Shepherd Dog from Belgian dogs that were used to sheep sheperding. As a breed, it is different from all the others because it consist of four different variations. At the early days there were even more breed variations, whose length of coat, texture and colour varied a lot. Different breed variations were often crossbred with each other. Gradually, at the beginning of 1900's different variations were reduced, and in 1921 Belgian breed association accepted approximately those variations that exist today.

Even after that in Belgium, France and the Netherlands and in some other countries variations have been strengthened with crossbreeding, when needed, although nowadays an exceptional permit of a national breed association is demanded. So, Belgian Shepherd Dog is one breed and its' variations are separated from each other on the grounds of coat length, texture and colour - not on the grounds of a pedigree. Short coat is a dominant character, as well as black colour. Malinois can carry a gene of long coat being short-coated himself, or Groenendael reddish brown colour despite the fact that is black himself. It is because of these factors that tervueren puppies are occasionally born out of Malinois and Groenendael litters. These puppies are registered as tervuerens and they can be used for further breeding with tervuerens.

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Kuonokopalla varustettu belgialainen poliisikoira (ns. "rekel"
belgianpaimenkoirien keski-ajan esi-isiä) vuodelta 1786.

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Groenendael Dianen kanssa poliisikoirakouluttaja M. Michollin. Kuva
1900-luvun vaihteesta (ruuasta kieltäytyminen omaisuutta vartioitaessa).

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Belgianpaimenkoiria virkakoirina Belgiassa
1900-luvun vaihteessa.

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Groenendaeleja poliisikoirina Belgiassa, kuva vuodelta
1903 (poliisikoiranäytös).

All photos on this page are courtesy of Belgian Shepherd homeland (Belgium).

Working Lines and Show Lines

In addition to being divided into different variations Belgian Shepherd Dog has also been divided into working lines and show lines within a breed. This is due to the fact that other breeders and dog fanciers appreciate and tend the working abilities of the breed and others are in favour of the conformation. At first, a Belgian Shepherd Dog was purely a working dog and breeding choices were made based on dogs' working abilities only. In these working lines a dog's capability to protection sports, like Ring, Campagne and IPO, served as a breeding standard. Show lines started to develop after the breed standard was made and these lines tend to emphasize dog's conformation and show success. Both lines have been systematically developed in its' own direction and they have not been mixed. Some people tend to regard this bisection as problematic, others think that this has made it possible for our breed to develop to the top in both lines.

The only Belgian Shepherd Dog variation in which pure working line breeding has been exercised since the beginning of a breed history until this day is Malinois. Already at the beginning of the century Malinois was in its' home country a versatile working dog that both the army and the police used. Also, among tervuerens and Groenendaels there were separate lines in which working abilities were emphasized but in due time they, because of their longer coat and prettier looks, ended up to those people who appreciate these qualities and so, in the 1900's, the breeding of these variations have clearly been guided by conformation only. Working line Malinois repsesent a considerable part of a whole Belgian Shepherd Dog proportion, especially in Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, as well as in many other Central European countries. In Scandinavian countries Belgian Shepherd Dog hobby has been concentrated more on show lines.

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Groenendael "Jules" ylittämässä 2.8m korkeaa palisaadia 1900-luvun alussa. Jules voitti kymmeniä aikansa koirien tottelevaisuuskokeita ja neljästi Pariisin kansainvälisen mestaruuskilpailun (vuosina 1908-1911).

Working line dog sport activists have traditionally appreciated mainly Malinois variation, and those tervuerens born from Malinois litters were either killed or were registered as Malinois despite of their long coat. At the end of 1900's people started using tervuerens, borne out of working Malinois litters, to breeding so that they were further bred with other tervuerens borne from working Malinois litters. When some of these tervuerens and their offspring accomplished excellent results in protection championships working line tervuerens became popular in many countries. Some of these tervuerens with excellent success could be mentioned here: Bayard who won the Ring championship in France in 1993; Kay von Roten Platte who won the IPO breed championship in Austria in 1996; Jago von der Roten Platte who won the IPO breed championship in Switzerland in 1997; Harley du Colombophile who won the IPO championship in France in 2000, as well as, Lewis who was placed third in the Ring championship in France in 2000.

At the moment, there are, in many countries, several breeders who are interested in breeding working line tervuerens. It is most common in France, Switzerland and the Netherlands but these enthusiastic pioneers can also be found elsewhere. Also, working line Malinois breeders take up a more positive attitude towards tervueren puppies born out of their Malinois litters because they are aware that there are already some dog sport activists who are interested in them.

At the end of 1900's, as far as breeding is concerned, some important Malinois whose offspring consist of both excellent Malinois as well as tervuerens are e.g. Cartouche, Cuik du Clos Saint Michel, G'bibber, Atos, Elgos du Chemin des Plaines, G'bang de la Virginie, Stoned van de Duvetorre, Arco Perle de Tourbiere, and Dusty du Clos de Savoie.

Regardingly, as far as breeding working tervuerens are concerned, some important tervuerens are, for instance Bayard, Fidgy vom Kirchof, Duke du Lac de Lezert, Cerdan des Garrigues de la Madeleine, Iyankee du Domaine du Titisee, Depper von der Roten Platte and Dick von Löwenfels.

Typical Characteristics of the Working Line Dogs

Typical characteristics of the working line dogs are good nerve structure, working ability, ability to work under pressure and strong insticts. They are well-balanced dogs who take up an open attitude towards other dogs and strange people. All and all, they are excellent working dogs because they have, in addition, lively temperament and performance speed, typical of Belgian Shepherd Dog. Naturally, each and every working line dog is not an excellent individual, as far as all qualities are concerned, but in our opinion, these above mentioned characteristics are quite established to these lines.

As far as health is concerned, we think that working line dogs are very healthy. Because very tough and demanding protection sports have acted as a breeding standard the whole dog population has remained good and healthy, as far as structure is concerned. Dogs who are not healthy have been discarded from breeding. However, there exist, to some extent, same hereditary faults and illnesses as in show lines. The most typical faults and illnesses are e.g. disturbances of growth in the joints, testicle defects, dental shortages and occlusion defects.

As far as conformation is concerned, working line Belgian Shepherd Dogs have often faults which prevent them to get awarded a first prize in a dog show. The most typical faults include big size, strong structure and skull, long body and big ears. Because these faults do not disturb the dog in its' duties and tasks they are ignored in breeding. Working line dogs remind a lot of Belgian Shepherd Dogs at the turn of the century.

Working Line Tervuerens in Finland

Up to november 2000 three working line tervuerens have been imported to Finland. The first import was Turco van de Duvetorre "Rudi", whom we got acquainted with and fell in love at its' breeder Johan Wechuyzen in Belgium in 1995. We considered having it to ourselves but concluded that we could not have a third dog with us. After our hint "Rudi" found home at Mirja and Harri Gröhn in Tampere (see kennel Cäsarborg's page of Turco). After that "Rudi" has made a name in Finland as an excellent protection dog. Among other things, "Rudi" has twice represented Finland in the IPO World Championships for Belgian Shepherd Dogs.

The second working line tervueren brought to Finland in 1996 was the brood bitch of our kennel, Umlaut van de Duvetorre "Uma", who is "Rudi's" full-sister from the following litter. "Uma" has a strong character and is big in size, and has also proved to be an excellent protection dog.

The third working line tervueren came to Finland in 1996, too. We brought Uvitox van de Duvetorre "Unna" as our brood bitch, and placed her at Pekka Haapalainen, who is "Unna's" owner today. "Unna" is in many respects a very fine dog but we decided, however, not to use her breeding because, in our opinion, she is far too soft in character, regarding working dog breeding. Pekka has achieved IPO1 with "Unna".

In addition to these imported dogs there has been one working line tervueren litter born in our kennel (Tarkatan A-litter), and furthermore, two tervuerens have been born in kennel Pois Kottoo working malinois litters. All and all, there are not too many of these dogs yet but an interest has risen, and our assumption is that working line tervueren hobby will expand in the following years. Already at the moment some new imports are been planned so the time will tell what kind of position these working tervuerens will gain in Finland among us Belgian Shepherd Dog enthusiasts.