It’s a German! No, It’s a Belgian! No, actually, that medium size breed with high energy and three coat varieties is a Dutch Shepherd. This is a breed of dog that you can train to do just about anything.
Whether you need a dog that can track, or a dog for lure coursing and agility, the Dutch Sheepdog can do it all.
While the breed is relatively unknown outside their origin country, the Dutch Shepherd is big among law enforcement and emergency units.
So what makes this breed such a great choice as a pet?
Here is what you need to know about the Dutch Shepherd.
There are certain breeds that have such an enigmatic past, that it’s compelling to tell their story. The Dutch Shepherd has a relatively modest historic run, where extinction was the most suspenseful point in this breed’s plot.
Moreover, hitherto a certain frame in time, the late 19th century, the Dutch Shepherd didn’t even enjoy its own history let alone entry at dog shows. More specifically, fanciers could sign the guestbook using a Dutch Sheepdog as a Belgian or German Shepherd. And vice versa. Between all three breed, there weren’t enough differences for people to take notice and distinguish separate breeds.
Yet the breed is from the Netherlands, more specifically, Holland, and the breed’s main purpose was that of a herding dog. In fact, what really made the Dutch Shepherd its own is their brindle coat color of gold and silver. Around the turn of the 20th century, the breed had six coat types. Bristle, rough, standing long hair, laying long hair, medium long and short coats. Until 1914, the looks of this breed wasn’t very important.
Backing up, the breed was a classic sheepdog, where the Dutch Shepherd would lead sheep to pastures and return them to the barn. The breed could accomplish this with little to no oversight. Additionally, hitherto today, the leading praise for the Dutch Sheepdog is for their independent working ability. This is a true testament to the breed’s persistence and intelligence.
In the Netherlands, farmers sought after a dog that could protect livestock and crops from predators and sheep. While taking the sheep out to graze the pasture was important, protecting the sheep and property was equally significant. Alerting farmers of intrusion was another essential task for the Dutch Sheepdog.
However, as the 20th century came swarming in, the need for sheep and sheepdogs would lessen. as the industrial era would introduce chemical fertilizers and the replanting of forests. Much like other breeds around the Great Wars, the Dutch Shepherd nearly became extinct. But thanks to enthusiasts, and the help of Nederlandse Herdershonden Club, the breed would prevail.
Throughout the 1900’s, the “Hollandse Herder” would pick up the roles of therapy, emergency and search & rescue dog. Today, over 4000 Dutch Shepherds register with the FCI and the breed was given recognition with the UKC in 1995. The American Kennel Club put the breed in the Miscellaneous Class in 2017, five years after introducing them into the foundation stock service.
Furthermore, the breed’s incredible athleticism and ability to follow commands allows them to be productive in mostly all canine sporting competitions.
The American Kennel Club classifies the Dutch Shepherd as a medium size dog. That said, the Dutch Sheepdog should stand between 21.5 to 24.5 inches. Both males and females should weigh between 42 to 75 pounds.
Conversely, the United Kennel Club distinguishes males between 22.5 to 24.5 inches, while females should stand around 21.5 to 23.5 inches. Both males and females need to be height and weight proportionate.
Personality and Temperament
It’s hard to envision the Dutch Shepherd without a purpose. This is especially true since the breed qualifies for so many athletic canine events and can easily handle the chores of a herding dog. This is a breed that is so intelligent, that once you teach them commands, they retain them independently. Moreover, the breed is able to herd sheep anywhere their master needs them to, and return them safely without little to no oversight.
The Dutch Shepherd can be a security dog, where the stern appearance and muscular presence makes them a visible threat. The Dutch Sheepdog is active, alert, and able to communicate threats to their master before it happens. Whether you want the Dutch Shepherd working alone or with a pack, they can fulfill either role.
Aside from being an excellent working and herding dog, the breed takes its talents as a service pet. This is where companionship and obedience serves them well. This is a breed that needs a task. They need to feel as if they are helping or living for a cause. They don’t do well with boredom and need plenty of exercise.
If taught at a young age, the Dutch Shepherd loves small children and other pets. Again, they can work with other dogs, which means they get along fine. Socialization is crucial for mostly any breed. You can always count on the Hollandse Herder to do the right thing. This is a loyal breed, that is reliable and watchful for family.
At times, the breed can be somewhat aloof. They may be a little wary, but they shouldn’t be violent towards strangers.
In summary, with the right hand, the Dutch Shepherd can perform any task or role you need from them. They are great with kids, fine with strangers and loyal to their master. Pets have no issues with this breed.
Breeds like the English Bulldog, which is a popular breed, come with their saddle of health issues. If that’s not your thing, then the Dutch Shepherd is a dog for you. According to the American Dutch Shepherd Association, this is a healthy breed with very few issues. Most of the issues are of minor consequence.
However, that doesn’t mean your dog will never suffer certain health complications. You can, however, reduce the chances of an unhealthy dog, when you buy from only reputable breeders. They should be able to provide you with the proper documentation you need for health clearances. Couple that with regular visits to the veterinarian, and your dog should do just fine.
Hip Dysplasia isn’t much of a concern for this breed, but if your dog suffers from this hip malformation, it can be incredibly painful. Hip Dysplasia is one of the most serious orthopedic diseases, and is common with medium and large breeds. The Dutch Shepherd ranks 126th, a spot ahead of the Australian Kelpie at an 8.6 dysplastic rate. Bulldogs, Pugs, Napoleon Mastiffs and Clumber Spaniels are the most susceptible breeds for this complication.
Elbow Dysplasia is another concern for most large breeds like Labs, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds and Rottweilers. This abnormal growth in the dog’s elbow which causes irregular cell, tissue, and bone growth is the most common form of elbow pain and lameness. The causes can be genetic, developmental or even nutritional. The Chow Chow has the highest rate for Elbow Dysplasia. This is something to keep your eye out for since the breed is so active.
Goniodysplaisa is an eye abnormality, where fluid builds up and doesn’t properly drain. That’s due to some form of obstruction, where there is an inadequate or small drainage openings. This can affect both eyes. This eye complication is also seen in breeds like Basset Hound, Bouvier Des Flandres, Siberians, and American Cocker Spaniel.
The Dutch Shepherd may be sensitive to certain anesthesia. You may want to consult your veterinarian prior to a dog’s surgery if you think they are vulnerable to anesthesia. Cryptochidism, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Myositis, Pannus and allergies are all health issues on this breed’s radar.
If you live a lifestyle of inclusivity, then the Dutch Shepherd isn’t quite the breed for you. However, if you love the outdoors or lead an active lifestyle, the Dutch Shepherd will be there side by side. This is an active dog. First and foremost, the breed requires a bit of exercise in the sense of 45 to 60 minutes per day. Plenty of open space for the dog to run around with little to no confinement. Probably not the best fit for an apartment dweller. This isn’t a dog you want to leave alone for long periods of time, but they aren’t known for destroying property due to boredom.
That said, you will need to keep this breed busy with an active role in your family. You should include them with most if not all family endeavors. This is a breed that needs a consistent and firm hand. They need to know who the boss of the pack is. You need to be firm with them, but fair, by giving them and showing them different tasks to learn. A role or job will do this breed wonders.
Early socialization is a must to allow the Dutch Shepherd confidence and interaction with other breeds. With it, this is a friendly dog, that gets along well and even works wonderfully with other dogs. With it, this is a friend to all of the family, not a foe to certain members. Of course, without it, the breed may be aloof and standoffish at times.
Trim their nails monthly, check their ears routinely, and bathe their coat as you deem necessary.
Breeds with a flare for excitement need top quality food to replenish what they burn off throughout the day. The Dutch Shepherd is no exception. Meat should be the first ingredient. You should stick with the proper groups of food and adhere to the labels. If this is a medium size breed, find the Dutch Shepherd a medium size dog food. A high energy dog will require a bit of calories. For a moderate working Dutch Shepherd, between 42 and 75 pounds, you will need to replenish up to 1918 to 2963 calories per day. Likewise, for a breed of the same weight groups but with typical energy(companion dog) then a total of 1150 to 1800 calories per day will suffice.
2 to 3 cups of high quality food will do the trick with this breed. You should look for the proper nutrients such as omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids to help with their coat health and strengthen their joints. Fruits and veggies are certainly fine. Chicken, beef, venison, and fish are all great items for their diet. If you need a more specific diet, consult with your veterinarian on appropriate choices.
As always, you should provide your Dutch Shepherd with the most important source of nutrients, and that is fresh drinking water.
You’ll need to do some weekly grooming with the Dutch Shepherd as they do shed seasonally. Two or three times per week should suffice their grooming requirements.
As said, the breed comes with three coat types. Their double coats can be short, long, and rough. Each type pertains to a wooly undercoat. The short coat should lie close over the body, but should be smooth yet hard. The long coat should be long and straight, but also close to the body. And the rough coat will be rough and harsh.
You may see a patch or slight white markings on the breed’s coat. The color should be brindle or dark streaks mostly gold or silver base.
Fun Dutch Shepherd Facts
- The first breed standard was written in 1898. The breed’s standard would change several times throughout the 20th century, mostly with the color and reducing the amount of coat types.
- The Dutch Shepherd participates in weight pulls, dog sport, tracking, flyball, lure coursing, dock jumping, obedience, nose work and other important exercises.
The Dutch Shepherd may not be the best known shepherd out there today, but one thing about this breed is true, they are just as much of a talent if not more. This is a breed that can quite literally do it all. As previously written above, the Dutch Shepherd loves all types of canine sports and events.
Competing and working is the staple of this breed’s core. Yet, when they come home from a long days of herding, tracking, hunting or whatever it is—this is a breed that will love and be as loyal of a companion that anyone could ask for.