The Club du Chien de Berge Belge began in 1891 to study Belgiums native Shepherd dogs....
Belgian Shepherd breeders, along with veterinary professor Adolphe Reul, came together to research the various breeds. They found that all four Belgian Shepherds were essentially the same dog, just with different coats. To this day, the United Kennel Club recognizes the Malinois, Laekenois, Groenendael, and Tervuren as one breed the Belgian Shepherd whereas the AKC sees each variety (with the exception of the Laekenois) as an independent breed.
In 1892, Professor Reul wrote the first-ever breed standard for the Belgian Shepherd, but made a side note of the three varieties: long-haired Belgian Shepherds (the Tervuren and Groenendael), the short-coated Belgian Shepherd (Malinois), and the Belgian Shepherd with a wiry, coarse coat (the Laekenois). To this day, the differentiating feature among Belgian Shepherds remains their varying coat colors, lengths, and textures.
In that same year, the Club du Chien de Berge Belge had a special competition just for Belgian Shepherds.Duc II (a Belgian Tervuren) won the inaugural Belgian Shepherd dog show. Early adopters of the Belgian Shepherd recognized that their intelligence and athleticism made them both a fantastic companion and working dog, and the Club du Chien de Berge Belge applied to Belgiums version of the AKC to register the Shepherd as a breed in the late 1800s. The application was rejected multiple times before the breed was officially recognized by the Societe Royale Saint-Hubert in 1901.
Each Belgian Shepherd variety was named by their breeder, and the first Tervuren was named after the hometown of M. F. Corbeel, one of the initial breeders of the Tervueren Shepherd that we recognize today. The first dogs were named Tom and Poes, and its believed that theyre the original ancestors of the Tervuren breed.
Tervs gained in popularity during the first World War, as they made excellent war dogs. Courageous and intelligent, Belgian Shepherds worked in the battlefield as messengers, search and rescue dogs, and ambulance cart dogs. While the Malinois made their way to the USA after World War One, the Tervuren stayed in Europe until 1953. The Belgian Tervuren was eventually imported to America, and the American Kennel Club named it an official breed in 1959.