Belgian Tervuren Health Problems

Belgian Tervuren Health Problems

The Belgian Tervuren, another look-alike to the German shepherd, is also a herding dog, first bred in the 1800s in Belgium.

They didn’t truly become their own breed until about 1893 because, before that, all Belgian sheepdog breeds were lumped into one category.

In 1891, these dogs were named as four separate types of sheepdogs, the Belgian Laekenois, the Groenendael, also known as the Belgian sheepdog, the Belgian Malinois, and the Belgian Tervuren.

The Belgian Tervuren was extremely popular in Europe but didn’t become well known in the United States until 1953.

This breed is very intelligent, learns quickly and today can be found as service dogs, military and police dogs, herders, of course, and show dogs as well as loving and loyal family pets.

You may be wondering if the Belgian Tervuren is a healthy breed when considering adding one to your family.

In this post, we will cover Belgian Tervuren health problems symptoms and Belgian Tervuren common health problems.

Belgian Tervuren Health Problems
Image by SnottyBoggins from Pixabay

For your dog’s vitamin supplement, foods, toys, or other dogs product please visit the Health Extension website.

Belgian Tervuren Health Problems and Symptoms

The Belgian Tervuren’s lifespan is ten to twelve years. Any dog can acquire a vast array of diseases and often there is no rhyme or reason.

Some conditions are hereditary and others may come from their environment. Some breeds may be more predisposed than others but this still doesn’t mean that the particular dog you choose will develop any health problems it is good to be aware of various diseases and conditions that can plague them.

Below are some health problems and their symptoms that have been found in the Belgian Tervuren breed.


Your Belgian Tervuren’s eyes are not that dissimilar from your own eyes, although a dog’s vision is not as good as ours or as sharp.

It can be stated that their eyes are not as good as “some” of ours as humans can be nearsighted just as dogs are.

We wear glasses to correct our vision but I’ve never seen a dog with glasses! As far as the make-up of your Belgian Tervuren’s eyes, they have similar eye anatomy. We can develop cataracts and so can they.

Cataracts in your Belgian Tervuren can be passed down or hereditary, they can be congenital cataracts, meaning that they may be born with them.

Cataracts can be caused by diabetes, if your dog suffers from this or they can simply develop in old age, as a senior dog.

Symptoms of Cataracts

Symptoms of cataracts are a filmy, cloudy appearance to the eyes. Light is prevented from getting to the retina causing gradual vision loss.

If cataracts completely cover the lens of the eye, this can result in total blindness. Treatment can be eye drops to slow the progression and surgery when cataracts affect vision in a poor way, with cataract removal allowing them to regain vision.

Preventing diabetes with a healthy diet, exercise, and not overfeeding can often prevent cataracts.

To check your Belgian Tervuren health status or their DNA, please visit the Embark vet website for all other help you may need.

Belgian Tervuren Health Problems and Symptoms

Persistent Pupillary Membrane (PPM)

PPM or persistent pupillary membrane is a hereditary disease that begins in the womb. When the iris of the eye develops, it is just solid tissue, known as the pupillary membrane.

Normally this tissue dissolves, leaving the pupil. In PPM, puppies are born with this tissue still undissolved or partially, with strands still in place.

If after 2 months of age, it is still present it is considered a birth defect. This defect can be minimal and still may clear or it may not. Symptoms of PPM are:

Symptoms of Persistent Pupillary Membrane

  • Vision problems
  • Trouble finding water, food, toys, etc.
  • Not as playful as other puppies
  • Sleepy
  • Easily startled
  • Clumsy
  • Bumps into furniture or walls
  • Confused
  • Disoriented in the dark

There really is no treatment for PPM. This can be mild with slight cloudiness and no loss of vision or severe with eye damage and vision loss. Prevention can only be accomplished by not breeding dogs who suffer from this.


Hemangiosarcoma is a cancer found in the blood vessels and affects dogs more than other animal species. It is malignant, deadly, and very aggressive.

This type of cancer is only curable if it is found on the skin as a tumor and completely removed surgically.

On the skin, this is believed to be caused by sun exposure. Other sites it can be found in are the liver, heart, and spleen.

Breeds most often afflicted are Doberman pinschers, Labrador and golden retrievers, and German shepherds. Hemangiosarcoma has been found in Belgian Tervurens but is not as common as other breeds.

Hemangiosarcoma Symptoms are:

  • Weakness
  • Rapid breathing and heart rate
  • Pale gums
  • Collapse
  • Sudden and significant internal bleeding

Unfortunately, signs and symptoms often occur when cancer has already become widespread.

Treatment may involve removing a skin tumor, removal of the spleen, blood transfusions, or chemotherapy.

If hemangiosarcoma is internal, it will most likely spread and many pet owners opt for euthanasia.

Common Belgian Tervuren Health Problems

Listed below are more common health problems and conditions that can be found in the Belgian Tervuren.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Both hip and elbow dysplasia are genetic in nature. Hip and elbow dysplasia are caused when there are defects causing ball joints to fit improperly into sockets.

In hip dysplasia, it is the ball of the femur and the hip socket that doesn’t mesh while with elbow dysplasia it is the humerus in the front of the front upper forelimb that is malformed and fits irregularly into the radius and ulna.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia Symptoms

Symptoms can be the same in both hip and elbow dysplasia with the only difference being the location as hip dysplasia is in the hind legs and elbow dysplasia presents in the elbow/forelegs.

  • Limping
  • Hopping
  • Lameness
  • Cracking or grating noises from joint
  • Difficulty standing, sitting, rising, climbing stairs, getting onto furniture or into cars
  • Reluctance for play or walks
  • Pain

Dogs can begin to show signs as puppies or in senior dogs. Both types of dysplasia will show on x-rays but your Belgian Tervuren may show no symptoms.

Some dogs suffer from crippling osteoarthritis, which both generally lead to. Puppies that grow too quickly or participate in an exercise that is too strenuous can make hip or elbow dysplasia progress more rapidly and obesity can also negatively affect joints as well.

Common Belgian Tervuren Health Problems

Treatments for Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

  • NSAID’s
  • Steroids
  • Joint supplements or food for healthy joints
  • Physical therapy
  • Water therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Surgery
  • Managing weight


Epilepsy is very worrisome and frightening, especially for pet parents. This has been found in all four breeds of Belgian sheepdogs but is more common in the Tervuren.

In dogs, there are three types of seizures: primary, secondary, and reactive. Primary occurs when no medical reason can be found and is called idiopathic epilepsy which is inherited.

The secondary is due to a condition such as trauma, stroke, or brain tumor which causes seizures.

Reactive seizures develop from ingesting a poison, an underlying problem like low blood sugar, or when organs begin to fail.

Symptoms of a seizure are:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Twitching
  • Shaking
  • Agitation
  • Falling down
  • Drooling
  • Trying to bite or snap
  • Staring
  • Loss of control of bladder or bowels
  • Unconsciousness

Treating any underlying medical conditions can eliminate seizures. With idiopathic epilepsy, medication such as phenobarbital, Keppra, or potassium bromide may be used to control seizures. CBD oil has also shown some promise in treating and managing seizures.


Vitiligo is somewhat of a rare condition, but one that Belgian Tervurens are prone to. This is also a hereditary condition.

Vitiligo develops when your pup’s body is unable to produce melanin and they begin to lose pigment in fur and skin and contract white patches of fur in different areas on their body. It can even occur around their eyes.

Vitiligo does not have any ill effects except the change in fur and skin color and there are no treatments.

There is no guarantee of good health for us or our dogs. You can prevent getting a Belgian Tervuren or any breed with hereditary health issues by using a reputable breeder and one that participates in genetic testing on breeding dogs and keeps records that future breed owners can view.

While raising your Belgian Tervuren, you need to provide them with good nutrition, plenty of exercise, grooming, training, and necessary wellness visits with vaccinations from their veterinarian.

These are all of the best ways to ensure your Belgian Tervuren will have a long, healthy, and robust life as part of your family.