Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
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The Tervoodle is a hybrid dog, which is a mix between the Belgian Tervuren (the “Terv”) and the Poodle. This dog is an active all-rounder with brains, energy, and athleticism inherited from two highly intelligent breeds. This makes for a dog that’s a dream to train and the physical capability to take obedience or agility to competitive levels.

A medium to large dog, the Tervoodle has a dense coat, especially if they inherit the Terv’s thick woolly undercoat. They have a strong herding instinct and are liable to bark when challenged. Indeed, they bond strongly to their owner but can be nervous around strangers. The Tervoodle can be prone to joint problems, so it is advisable to source a pup from screened parents found to be free of hip and elbow dysplasia.

About & History

As a new hybrid, the story of the Tervoodle belongs to that of their parent breeds.

The Tervuren Dog

The Tervuren dog is a variety of Belgian Shepherd dog that originates from the municipality of Tervuren, Belgium. The breed was first described in their present form, in the late 1800s by a Belgian Professor with a passion for Belgian Shepherd dogs. It seems likely the Tervuren itself was founded on a lineage originated from two dogs, called Poes and Tom.

The Tervuren became popular due to their ability as general all-rounders. This was a dog that could turn their paw to many useful roles, such as herding and pulling carts. More recently, in the 20th century, the breed has used their skills as sniffer dogs and for search and rescue work.

The Poodle

Most people associate the Poodle with France, largely due to their popularity with French aristocrats in the early 18th century. However, the word poodle is likely to be a derivation of a German word ‘pudel’, meaning puddle, reflecting their love of water.

Those early Poodles were very much a working dog, hence the thick nature of their curly, woolly coats. The latter helped protect the dogs from thorns as they went about their work retrieving water fowl and sniffing for truffles. Indeed, the fancy clips associated with Poodles, have an origin in practicality when the body was clipped short but more protection left over the joints and extremities.


The Tervoodle is a medium to large dog, comparable in size to a small German Shepherd. As a hybrid dog, the Tervoodle can vary in appearance depending on which parent they lean towards. However, both the Tervuren and Poodle share certain features, such as a long muzzle, deep chest, tucked up waist, and well-proportioned legs. This gifts the Tervoodle a long nose, with slightly pricked or drop ears, and bright intelligent eyes.

The Tervoodle may appear somewhat shaggy or even scruffy, with a long curly coat and thick woolly undercoat. Common coat colours include fawn, tan, or grey, often with a black ‘saddle’ area over their back, and some may have a black mask and ears. They have a long tail, which may have a distinctive up-tick at the end. All that coat makes it difficult to appreciate their body shape, but this should always be lean, well-muscled, and with a deep chest.

Character & Temperament

The Tervoodle puts their energy into getting to know their owner and can be nervous or even stand-offish around strangers. They are apt to bark at people they don’t recognise intrude on their territory. Whilst on a farm this is a great trait for a guard dog, but not so welcome in city living.

The Tervoodle is a good-natured dog but doesn’t suffer fools. They want a firm but fair owner, and may take control if they perceive a lack of leadership. Hence, they are best matched to an owner with some experience with dogs. Also, their strong urge to herd can be problematic without an appropriate outlet. This can lead to the Tervoodle chasing after cyclists or joggers, rounding up the family cat or even children. However, when given plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, this is a hugely rewarding breed to welcome into your life.


In a dog Olympics the Tervoodle would get a gold medal to obedience training. Their brains are hard-wired to receiving and acting upon instructions, with an apparently disobedient Tervoodle more likely being the result of a poor direction from their owner rather any fault of their own.

This willingness to learn comes with a downside, in that if the dog doesn’t feel mentally fulfilled or becomes bored, they are likely to misbehave. This often means barking incessantly, but also destructive behaviour.


As a new and relatively rare hybrid there is little data on the diseases most likely to affect the Tervoodle. However, it is not unreasonable to look at the parent breeds, since health problems prevalent in these dogs may well be inherited by their off-spring.

Sebaceous Adenitis

This is a skin condition that results in heavy scale and crusting deposits on the skin’s surface. These crusts then peel away leaving bald patches. This is an unsightly condition, but is limited to the skin and doesn’t make the dog unwell in themselves.

There is no cure for sebaceous adenitis, but cases can improve with intensive medical therapy, such as the use of medicated baths, immune-suppressant medications, and supplements of essential fatty acids and vitamins.

Hip & Elbow Dysplasia

Joint dysplasia is the Tervoodle’s ‘Achilles Heel’. There are many factors at play in the development of joint dysplasia (poorly formed joints) of which some are hereditary, along with inappropriate amounts of exercise and a poor diet.

Sadly, affected dogs become lame and may develop early arthritis. In the worst cases this can make movement extremely painful, which is distressing especially in such an active breed as the Tervoodle. Mild cases can be controlled with the use of joint supplements and pain relief, but the severest will need surgery, possibly even joint replacement surgery, in order to have a reasonable quality of life.

Cushing’s Disease

This is a condition of middle aged to older dogs, which develops slowly over time and is sometimes mistaken for old age. It is a disorder whereby the body produces too much natural steroid hormone, and in the long term steroid causes certain typical changes. The symptoms include increased thirst, soiling in the house, a pot belly, thin skin, and a poor hair coat.

In a high percentage of cases a medication, containing trilostane, reduces steroid production and helps the dog return to normal. However, this medication is expensive and regular monitoring is required to ensure the dog is not overdosed.

Von Willebrand’s Disease

Von Willebrand’s disease is a blood clotting disorder, due to a deficiency of a blood factor required for stable clots to form. Minor injuries can result in prolonged bleeding, which in some cases can become life-threatening unless a blood transfusion is available.

A drug, DDAVP, can be given ahead of essential surgery, with the aim of reducing excessive bleeding. However, dogs that inherit Von Willebrand’s remain at increased risk of haemorrhage.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Tervoodle’s working heritage means it’s no surprise these dogs need plenty of exercise. An appropriate daily amount is one to two hours of vigorous, off-leash work , preferably giving them a purpose such as playing fetch or following a scent trail.

It is not sufficient to give brief walks around the block, or to leave the dog to exercise themselves in a yard. This is most likely to result in them digging and escape tunnel in order to find their own amusement.


The Tervoodle’s coat takes a moderate amount of care. Those dogs taking after the Poodle parent may need six-weekly trips to the parlour to keep those curly locks clipped and tidy. The dense undercoat is best brushed through, several times a week to prevent matting and capture shed hair on the brush. Likewise, at the end of each day their coat should be checked over and any twigs, leaves, or indeed ticks, and removed safely before they do harm.

An important, but often overlooked, part of grooming is dental care. Like all dogs, the Tervoodle should have their teeth brushed every day, in order to remove plaque before it hardens into tartar.

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