- Height: 21-24 inches
- Weight: 50-70 lb
- Lifespan: 13-15 years
- Group: AKC Foundation Stock Service
- Best Suited For: Families with children, farms/rural areas, watchdog, guard duty, houses with yards
- Temperament: Affectionate, loyal, energetic, enthusiastic worker
- Comparable Breeds: German Shepherd, Belgian Shepherd
Dutch Shepherd Basics
There are so many Shepherds out there to choose from: Dutch, German, Belgian, Dax, and more. All of them have special qualities. While you may be better acquainted with its cousins, the German Shepherd and the Belgian Shepherd, the Dutch Shepherd is an all-around amazing dog that is a great fit for any active family (this pup will tucker you all out!). With three types to choose from (longhair, shorthair and wirehair), the Dutch Shepherd is a rare sight at the dog park. Thankfully, fanciers are working hard to increase its numbers. And it’s a good thing they are: this is a super intelligent dog that owns the ring when it comes to obedience competitions, guard duty, and field/agility trailing. While the Dutch might not be the most popular Shepherd yet, that will change. People are only just starting to realize what a special pooch this guy truly is!
Even though the Dutch Shepherd made its debut on the farm, this breed now makes a wonderful companion for your family. Obedient and smart, this dog is a pleasure to train and will watch over your family. And because he’s loving and playful, kids will always have a pal to play with. He will fit in well to just about every home, provided that you have the space and energy necessary to keep him happy! If you have been considering bringing a Dutch Shepherd into your home, you’ve come to the right place! Keep your eyes on this page. We’re about to break down everything that you need to now about this special doggo.
Even though the Dutch Shepherd made its debut on the farm, this breed now makes a wonderful companion for your family.
Hailing from The Netherlands, the Dutch Shepherd was traditionally used as a shepherd’s dog in the countryside. They would watch over flocks of sheep, keeping them in line and warding off any potential threats.. Not only did they have to guard them, these dogs also had to keep the sheep away from crops by patrolling the borders of the road and the fields. On top of all of that, Dutch Shepherds accompanied sheep as they made their way to common meadows, markets, and ports. These were highly trained (and highly useful) working dogs that proved to be quite popular for obvious reasons.
The Dutch Shepherd was a jack-of-all-trades on the farm, which made him indispensable to farmers. They would keep the hens away from the kitchen garden, herd cows for milking, and pull the milk carts. This breed remains an excellent watch and guard dog to this day, as they alerted farmers to strangers for generations. By the 1900s, sheep flocks had all but disappeared in The Netherlands, so the Dutch Shepherd was no longer needed on the farm. However, this breed is now being used as a police dog, as a search and tracking dog, and as a guide dog for the blind. This is a highly trainable pooch who loves to serve.
Sadly, the breed’s numbers have dwindled and it is not as popular as the Belgian Shepherd or German Shepherd in North America. Even in The Netherlands, the Dutch Shepherds are rare and the wire-haired variety is few and far between. Hopefully this will change because these are remarkable animals who deserve more happy homes.
Sharing a similar standard to Belgian and German Shepherds, the Dutch Shepherd’s origin can be traced to the same continental herding dogs. This breed evolved in the early 1800s in the southern part of the Netherlands and Belgium. Slowly they expanded throughout the world, but not with the same pup-ularity of their Shepherd brethren.
Food / Diet
These energetic and large dogs need a well-balanced, nutritious diet to support their overall health. A specific ratio of meat-based protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs is the magic formula, especially when fortified with essential minerals and vitamins. In most cases, all of these nutrients can be found in high-quality dry food for dogs. The Dutch Shepherd will do well on a diet of premium kibble, as long as it is made from high-grade materials and meets their unique needs. In other words, choose kibble that is suitable for their age (puppy, adult, or senior) and their size and activity level. High-quality dry food for large and athletic dogs is usually a good match.
To prevent bloat, split their recommended daily serving of kibble into two separate meals. As always, if you are ever uncertain about your Dutch Shepard’s diet, you should consult a veterinarian. Dog food manufacturers can only provide general guidelines and since every pooch is different, these guidelines aren’t always perfect. Only your vet can judge the best possible diet for your specific pooch. So feel free to ask them about this at your next check up. That’s why you have a vet after all. Don’t be afraid to use them!
The Dutch Shepherd is a pleasure to train.
The Dutch Shepherd is a pleasure to train. This breed is intelligent and naturally trainable. In fact, it is believed to be the most competent of all shepherd dogs, especially when it comes to agility, obedience competitions, guard duty, herding, and field trailing. This also makes the breed a great choice for service duty, police work, and search and rescue training. The Dutch Shepherd might not be the most popular Shepherd out there, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t the best!
Because this breed is so smart, it’s important to establish your role as the pack leader. With dogs that are this intelligent, a stubborn streak is a common occurrence. However, a little patience and the right training approach should ensure that this won’t be an issue. Your Dutch Shepherd must learn his place within the family unit. Of course, taking a stance as the pack leader doesn’t mean you have to be harsh or cruel- simply maintain a confident and firm attitude. Rely on positive reinforcement tactics instead of aversive methods (which are closer to abuse than training) and you’ll be set for success. Using rewards to motivate a smart dog always works, and once your Dutchie figures out that doing something gets them a treat and praise, you can count on them wanting to what they’re told. Stick with it and you’ll be amazed what you can train your Dutch Shepherd to do. These doggos live to work and please their owners. You will have so much funny discovering what they are capable of, along with your entire family.
The Dutch Shepherd weighs between 50 and 70 pounds.
Temperament / Behavior
Reliable, alert, intelligent, and intuitive, the Dutch Shepherd is loyal to his family. Their devotion to their owners, as well as their alertness, are what makes these dogs such great watchdogs and guard dogs. The Dutch Shepherd will protect what is his and make sure you know if someone is intruding (especially if your pup is specially trained to behave like this). Yet, while they do excel as guard dogs (and working dogs in a variety of roles), these shepherds also make fantastic family pets. You’ll find this dog to be affectionate, happy and obedient (if trained, of course). That’s a wonderful combination to have in any dog and they will light up any home. As soon as they’re done with adventuring for the day, your Dutch Shepherd will happily curl up under your feet or ask to get some ear scratches and cuddles. If there are older children in the home, they’ll love playing with their new pet. As long as they’re big enough not to be knocked over and respectful towards dogs, the Dutch Shepherd will love to be their playmate. This is a pup who will bond with his fam for life and you’ll quickly feel the same way about him too!
One of the most impressive traits of these shepherds is their human-like intelligence. In fact, some experts claim that they’re among the smartest shepherd breeds. Considering the prestigious canine competition, that’s saying a lot. To be happy, the Dutch Shepherd needs plenty of physical and mental stimulation. This is an independent breed, so the Dutch Shepherd can have a will of its own. But most of all, this dog loves attention and loves to learn. As long as you keep your Dutch Shepherd stimulated, he will keep your whole family happy.
Common Health Problems
The Dutch Shepherd boasts no serious physical or mental hereditary illnesses.There have been some reports of hip dysplasia, but these instances are quite low.
Buying a puppy from OFA certified parents (both hips and elbows) greatly diminishes the risk of dysplasia. OFA results for certified dysplasia-free Dutch Shepherds can viewed at the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals website.
As always, it’s important to maintain regular checkups with your vet to ensure that any health issues can be spotted and treated early and effectively.
The Dutch Shepherd has an average lifespan of 13 to 15 years.
An excellent all-round utility dog, the Dutch Shepherd excels at agility, obedience competitions, guard work, herding, and field trailing. You need to be active to keep up with this dog. Daily exercise is a necessity. Make sure to take your dog out for lots of walks, runs, hikes, or bike rides. You should have a yard, so your dog can run around on his own. This is not an animal that will do well in an apartment building. He needs plenty of space, fresh air, and exercise to live his best and happiest life. If your Dutch Shepherd doesn’t get the activity he needs, he will find his own amusement. This includes destroying your possessions. He needs to work, both mentally and physically. Otherwise, things could get ugly. You’ve been warned!
Reliable, alert, intelligent, and intuitive, the Dutch Shepherd is loyal to his family.
The American Kennel Club advanced this breed from their Foundation Stock Service program to Miscellaneous Class, as their numbers and popularity in the United States note significant growth. However, they’re still not officially recognized by this canine club- that’s the next step, and hopefully one that the organization will take soon.
The AKC, however, holds this breed in high esteem- here’s what they have to say about these Netherland natives: “ The Dutch Shepherd is a lively, athletic, alert and intelligent breed, and has retained its herding instinct for which it was originally developed. Having an independent nature, it can be slightly obstinate and have a mind of its own.”
There are three different types of Dutch Shepherd coats. These are shorthair (quite hard, not too short); wirehair (curly, medium length hair that’s dense harsh and tousled); and longhair (long, straight, flat and harsh). With all coat types, the color remains the same: various brindles in all shades of gold and silver. Golden can vary from light sand to chestnut red.
Socialization should start at an early age for the Dutch Shepherd. As well, obedience training should start as soon as possible to establish your role as the pack leader. While the Dutch Shepard is renowned as a working dog and beloved as a pet, they still need to be raised right. Training and socializing your pup early is absolutely vital to ensure a long and loving relationship. So don’t delay at training your Dutch Shepard or at least sign them up for training classes.
Photo credit: Larry Pickett; Carole Field/Dutch Shepherd Dog Club of America