If you want a strong dog breed that’s smart, trainable, athletic, and family-loving, then you can’t go wrong with the Dutch Shepherd. Originally bred to watch over cattle and sheep, this dog is remarkably independent, incredibly loyal, and a great all-around dog that’s eager to please. In this ultimate guide, we discuss all you need to know about the Dutch Shepherd.
What is a Dutch Shepherd?
Hailing from the Northern areas of the Netherlands, Dutch Shepherds were originally trained for farm work thanks to their high intelligence and amiable nature. They bare a striking resemblance to both German Shepherds and Belgian Shepherds because they are cousin breeds that only diverged in ancestry over 100 years ago. However, Dutch Shepherds are rarer compared to the other breeds of Shepherds as a result of WWII.
Even so, they are among the easiest dogs to train and are also known for their good health. Today, they are given high-intensity jobs such as service animals and police dogs, while keeping homes safe and happy as loving companions.
Dutch Shepherd History
Just like the Shepherds before them, Dutch Shepherds were created to fill jobs. Originating from the rural Dutch areas of the 18th century — now referred to as the Netherlands — this breed was known for helping farmers and shepherds with various tasks. A big job for them was to herd livestock independently without the help of their owners.
Because of their versatility, it was no surprise that they attracted the attention of dog enthusiasts and even the military. Their reputation as jack-of-all-trades dogs would help them adapt to any condition, and many found the limelight at dog shows throughout the late 1800s. This would lead to the development of the first breed standard for Dutch Shepherds on June 12, 1898.
Before WWII, the Dutch Shepherd was used as a service dog for the Dutch Army which paved the way for their participation during the war. Despite becoming a popular breed during the years 1898 up until the 1940s, the Dutch Shepherd is rare today as a result of coming close to extinction for their efforts in WWII. Many of them succumbed to famine, some died in combat, while other bloodlines simply stopped when they were no longer bred.
Fortunately, the Netherlands’ Dutch Shepherd Breed Club has been hard at work to bring this amazing breed back from the brink of extinction. Moreover, the American Kennel Club has accepted the Dutch Shepherd to be recorded for its Foundation Stock Service as of 2012. Since January 2017, the Dutch Shepherd has also been approved for competing in the Miscellaneous Class.
Dutch Shepherd Characteristics
You’ll love the Dutch Shepherd and all that it offers; its highly flexible nature allows it to withstand a wide range of environments and conditions. But it’s no surprise considering the way it’s been built — with legs proportionate to their bodies, padded paws, and almond-shaped eyes, the Dutch Shepherd is a healthy and lively dog with plenty to love. Below are quick facts on the Dutch Shepherd’s traits and characteristics.
How Big Do Dutch Shepherds Get?
A male Dutch Shepherd will be slightly bigger compared to females, which stand between 22 to 25 inches, while females should be around 21 to 24 inches when measured by the withers. The length of a Dutch Shepherd should be measured from the breastbone to the buttock of the dog, and when compared to its height, it should come out to a 10 to 9 ratio. Their weight range will also differ for males and females, where females are slightly lighter at 45 to 55 lbs, while males come in at 55 to 65 lbs.
These are considered to be the standard sizes, but some individuals may be slightly smaller or bigger; the largest Dutch Shepherds have been recorded to reach 70 lbs. Their bone structure should be solid and have a moderate weight that’s in proportion to their height. They should have a well-balanced appearance and shouldn’t be too heavy or too light to keep them healthy.
How Long Does Dutch Shepherd Live?
Provided that it’s well taken care of, the Dutch Shepherd will live between 12 to 15 years. Because it’s already a healthy breed, with the right dietary plan and good healthcare it should live a normal life, and you may even be able to extend its lifespan.
Dutch Shepherd Temperament/Personality
Known for their competence, intelligence, and good nature, you can teach a Dutch Shepherd just about anything. This includes herding, acting watchdogs, field training, search and rescue operations, guide dog duty, police work, and a family pet. Because they’re so eager to please, they can be trained easily and will act like a sponge to soak up new commands.
However, this dog will need a confident leader that will train it with boundaries, keep it interested to learn and establish a relationship built on trust. Early socialization is a must for this breed — this will help them keep calm around other pets and people. When raised right, the Dutch Shepherd will get along well with everyone, even other pets, and children as an obedient and affectionate member of the family.
Caring for Your Dutch Shepherd
Just like with any dog, you’ll need to give your undivided attention when caring for your Dutch Shepherd. Here are a few tips to get you started on the right foot.
Dutch Shepherd Nutrition
Thankfully, the Dutch Shepherd comes with a healthy digestive tract and a big appetite, so they aren’t picky when it comes to food. Their diet should be developed to support a mid-size to a large dog with high levels of energy. Ask a professional nutritionist or your veterinarian for advice on the best foods to give along with the size portions to serve specifically for your dog.
It’s also a great idea to ask about fish oil supplements to include in their diet, which will keep their skin healthy and their coat shiny. We discuss a few food options further below that should help to give your pup all the nutrients it needs. Keep in mind that the average feeding dose for adult dogs should be between 2 to 3 cups each day.
Dutch Shepherd Grooming
You can choose from three different varieties of the Dutch Shepherd — short hair, long hair, and rough hair, each of which will have different grooming requirements. Dogs with short hair will come with a wooly undercoat; those with rough hair will be similar but with a more coarse and dense appearance. The long hair dogs will have straight hair that’s slightly harsh to the touch.
But no matter which variant you choose, all of their coats will keep this pooch comfortable in all kinds of weather. Their coats will come in various shades of silver and gold — some will have a sandy and light color while others can have a hint of red. However, having too much white or black in their coat will usually be seen as a fault in the breed.
Both the short and long-haired variants will need brushing a few times a week to remove loose hairs from the undercoat. The rough-haired dogs will need professional grooming twice a year and shouldn’t be brushed — instead, you can comb it every now and then. Unless your dog is dirty, it will only need a bath once a month at the most, since this can remove your pup’s natural oils. You may also trim their nails once a week or once every two weeks to prevent them from cracking, breaking, or getting injured.
Dutch Shepherd Activity Levels
Because they were originally bred for farm life, Dutch Shepherd dogs have a high level of energy, making them suitable for work as military and police dogs. Luckily, these dogs are driven to complete the tasks given to them and can differentiate between playing, working, and relaxing, and will adjust the amount of energy needed according to your needs. It’s important to remember that your dog won’t be happy being left alone at home and wants to be part of your everyday life; take them with you as much as possible to keep them happy.
Training Your Dutch Shepherd
This clever breed loves to take on challenges and is prepared to be an obedient learner. They will do well with short training sessions with a bit of repetition and will become more driven as their job stimulates their mental faculties. Without any training, they will become highly independent and will begin making their own decisions so it is highly recommended.
Dutch Shepherd Health
In general, the Dutch Shepherd is a healthy breed without too many health concerns due to its relatively pure-blooded heritage. But just like other breeds that herd for a living, they may have a sensitivity to anesthesia which you should tell your vet before performing any kind of procedure that involves anesthesia. While this dog hasn’t changed much since its creation which is why it enjoys great health, it’s still best to test for the following conditions:
- Degenerative myelopathy
- OFA Elbows and Hips
- OFA Spine (for short hairs)
- Spongy Cerebellar Degeneration 1 & 2 (For short hairs)
- Gonio dysplasia (for rough hairs)
- Thyroid for breeding yearly (for long hairs)
- Von Willebrand Type I (For long hairs)
Best Food and Accessories for Dutch Shepherds
Now that you know all the basics when it comes to owning and raising a Dutch Shepherd, here are our recommendations for the right food and accessories to buy for your new pooch.
- Made with real salmon that delivers high protein
- With fish oil that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids
- Has antioxidants that help promote a healthy immune system
- Contains oatmeal that’s easy on the digestive system
With the Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dog Food, you can keep your Dutch Shepherd feeling and looking good! With Salmon as its main ingredient, this high-protein meal contains no artificial flavors or colors and delivers plenty of fish oil for your partner to support its joints. It also contains sunflower oil to boost your dog’s skin, coat, and immune system, while the natural probiotics in oatmeal promote good gut health.
- Made with quality ingredients in the USA
- Contains pasture-raised lambs as its primary ingredient
- Carefully made with balanced levels of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals
- Without any artificial flavors, colors, wheat, or corn
Your Dutch Shepherd puppy will love the nutrition it gets from the Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food. Enhanced with probiotics and superfoods, it offers the perfect meal to support your growing pup’s overall health and development. With real lamb, fruits, and veggies, it will provide the right balance of minerals, proteins, and omega fatty acids for a complete and balanced diet!
- Your fur baby will love having its own space for relaxation
- The sliding door makes the crate fit into tight spots easily
- Comes with a removable leak-proof pan at the bottom that’s easy to clean
- With a durable and sturdy rust-resistant wire construction
Any Dutch Shepherd will surely appreciate having its own space with the Lucky Dog Sliding Double Door Dog Crate. Whether you’re at home or on the road, your dog will always be safe — designed for optimal use, it comes equipped with corner stabilizers so you won’t have to worry about it rattling. It also has rubber feet and a leak-proof pan so you can clean after your dog quickly and easily while it rests comfortably at all times.
- Designed specifically for nesters, this plush bed is perfect for Dutch Shepherds
- Uses 100% recycled filling that insulates the entire bed
- With a stretchy interior that provides maximum comfort and flexibility
- Its liner is washable, refillable, and zippered, so it will last a long time
No amount of money will ever buy your pup’s guaranteed comfort, but the FurHaven Plush Ball dog bed comes close! This snuggle-worthy and cozy bed is made from a plush faux cover that’s been designed for dogs such as your Dutch Shepherd. Generously stuffed with recycled fillings, your pal is sure to love its new den and will be happy to nest in this comfortable and durable pillow dog bed.
- With a dual clip attachment located at the front and back for leashes
- Designed to be comfortable rather than restrictive for natural shoulder movement
- A weather-proof and premium dog harness that reduces neck strain
- Made with adjustable straps and quick-release buckles for ease of use
When you want to take your Dutch Shepherd out for an adventure, don’t forget to take its Mighty Paw Padded Sports Dog Harness with you. Because walking can be such a delight for our dogs, this harness was designed to help you make every moment a joy. With a dual clip attachment, a no-pull feature, a weather-proof design, and premium materials, this durable and comfortable harness is the perfect companion for you and your furry friend.
Just like with any dog, your Dutch Shepherd will need to have regular visits to the vet, even if they’re one of the healthiest dog breeds out there. Make sure that you take care of all of their basic needs as suggested by your vet and always follow their instructions for your dog’s dietary, activity, and grooming needs. Remember that leaving your pooch neglected and failing to challenge them mentally and physically may result in them getting anxious, bored, and destructive.
As a responsible dog owner, it’s up to you to keep your Dutch Shepherd healthy, active and well-cared for. When you’re able to do these things for your dog, you can be sure that they will pay you in kind with hugs, kisses, loyalty, and companionship for life.