The Dutch shepherd isn’t a dog you see in the U.S. very often, but when you get a chance to meet one, it makes a strong impression. With its wolf-like features, alert eyes and erect ears, this medium-size dog is ready for action. Its brindle markings and striking coat make the dog as attractive as it is companionable. Here is everything you need to know about this rare dog breed.
History, Origins and Popularity
Where does the Dutch shepherd originate from?
The Dutch shepherd is a working dog with origins in the rural areas of what is now the Netherlands. This highly intelligent canine worked independently to herd sheep; reportedly, Dutch shepherds were trusted to lead the sheep out to graze and then to bring them back to their shelter each evening, with no oversight needed from a human being. The dog’s work still wasn’t finished at nighttime because they were relied on to guard the family and farm overnight. The Dutch shepherd is considered a rare dog breed. In fact, they nearly disappeared by the 1950s. Farming techniques were modernized, and people didn’t need dogs to herd their sheep anymore, so there was no reason to continue breeding dogs specifically for their herding skills. That, combined with the general halt to dog breeding that occurred during WWII, caused the Dutch shepherd population to shrink to near-extinction. However, the Dutch Breed Club in the Netherlands worked to bring the dog, also known as the Hollander or Dutchie, back as a successful, if still relatively rare, breed.
How popular is the Dutch shepherd in the US?
This breed isn’t widely known in the United States, but there are organizations, including the American Dutch Shepherd Organization, that are dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the breed in the U.S. The Dutch shepherd breed isn’t yet officially AKC-registered, but it was added to the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service in 2012. The FSS provides a way for rare dog breeders to maintain and share records of purebred pedigrees and names of dog owners. Breeds that have fewer than 300 registered dogs with three-generation pedigrees are considered rare. Enlisting in the FSS is a stepping stone toward gaining an AKC listing, and it looks like the Dutch shepherd breed is well on its way to that.
|Purpose||Family Dog, Herding, Guarding, Tracking|
|Suitable For||Active individuals and families|
|Size||21.5-24.5 inches height at shoulders|
|Weight||42 – 75 lbs|
|Lifespan||11 to 14 years of age|
|Color Variations||Gold brindle, silver brindle, yellow|
|Temperament||Intelligent, independent, athletic, lively and loyal|
|Daily Exercise||Very high – preferably 90 – 120 minutes each day|
|Daily Calories Consumption||1050 to 1875 calories|
|Known Health Issues||Overall a healthy breed; dysplasia, goniodysplasia (rough coats only), thyroid issues (long coats only), anesthesia sensitivity|
Personality, Temperament & Socialization
The Dutch shepherd is a very active dog that is capable of running around all day since it’s been selectively bred to herd sheep and cows in the day and guard the family at night. They’re alert, intelligent and loyal. If you’re looking for a buddy for your active lifestyle, a Dutch shepard is an excellent choice. When it comes to barking, Dutch shepherds are quiet dogs compared to some other breeds; they don’t bark very often.
Are Dutch shepherds aggressive?
Dutch shepard dogs are naturally protective of their families, but they are not aggressive. However, any dog that isn’t properly socialized could develop problem behaviors that include aggression. Dutch shepherd puppies need to be handled frequently by many different people and socialized before the age of 20 weeks. Otherwise, they could grow up to be fearful, which creates unwanted behaviors. Good Dutch shepherd breeders are sure to take the time and effort to socialize their pups properly. They also strive to breed dogs that don’t display aggressive temperaments.
Suitable home environments for a Dutch shepherd
At home, the Dutch shepherd will be calm and peaceful, so the size of your house doesn’t matter. However, it’s important that the dog has access to the outdoors to burn off some of its ample energy every day. These intelligent canines need an experienced dog owner who knows how to be the pack leader; otherwise, the Dutch shepherd might attempt to rule the roost. A dog that’s trying to lead its pack can act in ways that humans don’t appreciate. Also, being in the leadership role places undue stress on a dog.
Are Dutch shepherds good with children?
Yes! Dutch shepherds love children and will take on the role of watchful babysitter and protector, perhaps because of their natural ability to keep a flock of sheep together. However, because of their high energy level, the dogs should be supervised when they’re spending time around small children.
Are Dutch shepherds good family dogs?
Dutch sheperds are excellent family dogs. They love to spend time with a group and will have a blast providing companionship for every member of the family. Since these dogs were farm pets raised to watch over and guard rather than to hunt, they also tend to get along well with other house pets, including cats.
Genetics of the Dutch shepherd
The Dutch shepherd has undergone changes since it was first registered as an official breed in Europe in 1898. Most recently, the breed standard was set so that only the brindle Dutch shepherd is acceptable for classification as a purebred Dutchie. The brindle colorations look a little bit like tiger stripes.
Are Dutch shepherds purebred?
Yes. While the Dutch shepherd is the result of strategic interbreeding, today, the Dutch shepherd is classified as a purebred dog.
Variations of Dutch shepherds
Dutch shepherds have a brindle coloration that looks a little bit like a calico cat’s colors. They typically have dark stripes in black or brown and the lighter brindle markings are in gold or silver. It’s very rare to find a blue Dutch shepherd. There are three Dutch shepherd variations, and they all have to do with the dog’s coat:
- Short hair: Short, close-fitting fur all over the body and head
- Long hair: Loose, straight hair without any curl or wave
- Rough hair: This is a type of long haired Dutch shepherd, but the fur looks wavy and tousled. The dog should have what looks like a beard as well as two well-defined eyebrows. The brindle pattern is hard to see on this variation because of the tousled fur
Differences between Dutch shepherd and the standard GSD
The Dutch shepherd is a herding dog like the German shepherd, but are you wondering how else the two breeds compare? Keep reading for a basic Dutch shepherd vs German shepherd comparison.
What’s the same?
Besides both dogs being herding dogs, the Dutch sheperd and the German shepherd are also very active, loyal and intelligent canines. Both make great family dogs that also work well in the military, on police forces and as guide dogs. Their grooming needs are about the same (weekly brushing, more or less), but the GSD tends to shed more than the DSD. They have similar alert and responsive temperaments.
German shepherds are larger than Dutch shepherds, weighing about 20 pounds more, and GSDs have shorter life spans. Dutch sheppard dogs have even higher energy levels than German shepherds and need lots of exercise and activity. The German shepherd is a little bit easier to train because it’s more eager to please than the independently minded Dutch shepherd. Finally, they don’t have the same health concerns; German shepherds have been extensively overbred and are notorious for hip dysplasia. While the Dutch shepherd is not immune to health issues, it is not as prone to genetic problems as the GSD.
Do Dutch shepherds change color?
Dutch shepherds don’t change color. However, a rough-coated Dutch shepherd loses its brindle appearance when its fur grows out. When the long fur is removed during the shedding season, the brindle appearance will return until the coat grows out again.
Care & Grooming
Dutch shepherds are fairly low-maintenance, only needing baths occasionally. As with all dogs, you should brush their teeth a few times a week, and check their ears for cleanliness and any signs of problems on a regular basis.
Do Dutch shepherds shed?
All three coat types of Dutch shepherd dog shed in the spring and fall. During this twice-yearly shedding season, you should brush them every day. Otherwise, the short-haired Dutch sheperd only needs occasional brushing. Dogs with long hair need brushing about once a week. A rough-haired Dutch shephard need combing about once a month, and its coat should be hand-stripped two times a year. The best brush for German shepherd hand-stripping also works for Dutch shepherds, and it resembles a rake. This process helps wiry-coated dogs shed their fur and keeps it from growing too long.
Are Dutch shepherds prone to ticks?
The Dutch sheppard is a very active breed of dog, and all that time it spends exploring the outdoors exposes it to ticks and fleas. It’s important to check over your dog’s entire body after it’s spent time outside. Your vet can recommend the best tick-control product for your pet and the area where you live. Lyme-disease vaccinations can help to protect your dog against that tick-borne disease.
How often do you have to cut nails?
Dutch shepherd dogs have black nails, and not all of these dogs have dewclaws. You should check your Dutch shepherd’s nails at least once a month to see if they need to be ground down or trimmed. If your dog has them, don’t forget to check the dewclaws. These resemble a thumb on each leg; they don’t get worn down as much as the other claws because of their locations.
How much does a Dutch shepherd eat on average?
You should give an adult Dutch shepherd dog the equivalent of 2% to 3% of its body weight every day. Dutch shepherds weigh from 45 to 75 pounds, so you could give him less than 1 pound of food per day to as much as 2.25 pounds each day, depending on your Dutchie’s size and activity level. That works out to about 1,050 to 1,875 calories per day. The best dog food for German shepherd is also a good choice for the Dutch shepherd. It should be made with high-quality ingredients and contain mostly meat.
Exercise & Training
How often do you have to exercise a Dutch shepherd?
Dutch shepherds are bred to be highly active. On a scale of one to five, with five being the breeds that need the most exercise, the Dutch shepherd is a five-plus! They need lots of activity each day and are happiest when they have a job to do. Taking up a dog sport with your Dutch shepherd, like dog agility training, is a great idea. Try to provide them with puzzle-type toys and games to keep their minds stimulated. Also, your Dutchie will love to tag along with you wherever you go instead of being left at home.
Is a Dutch shepherd easy to train?
Dutch shepherds are extremely smart and learn quickly, making them a pleasure to train. The challenge with training them is that they are bred to make their own decisions as working dogs, and so their independent thinking can get in the way of obedience compared to other dog breeds that are more eager to please. If you are new to dog ownership, it’s a smart idea to enroll your dog in obedience training so that both you and the dog can start off on the right paw. Your Dutch shepherd needs to learn early on that you are the pack leader, not him!
Known Health Issues
Since Dutch shepherds are rare, they haven’t been overbred as some popular breeds have, like the standard German shepherd. As a result, they are generally considered hardy and not prone to genetic health problems that can happen when dogs are bred too much and too carelessly. However, there are a few issues to be aware of. Many breeders test their Dutch shepherd pups and their parents for the presence of these issues.
Hip dysplasia is a potentially crippling condition that is genetic in nature, although diet and lifestyle factors can influence its progression. Breeding stock should be screened for hip dysplasia, which occurs when the thigh bone doesn’t fit into the hip socket correctly. Dutch shepherds don’t suffer from this issue as much as other shepherd breeds, such as the German shepherd, but it’s still something to be aware of.
Are Dutch shepherds prone to bandworms?
Dutch shepherds can pick up bandworms and other internal parasites just as easily as any other breed. They can pick them up if they ingest soil, feces from another infected animal or fleas that carry the worms. You can sometimes see the worms in the dog’s waste. Fortunately, bandworms and other parasites can be detected by a veterinarian and treated with medication.
Are there other diseases Dutch shepherds are prone to?
- Elbow dysplasia: A condition that affects the dog’s elbow sockets and can be painful and crippling, similar to hip dysplasia.
- Goniodysplasia: Dutch shepherds with rough coats can be prone to this eye disorder. Fluid does not drain from the eye properly, potentially leading to blindness.
- Thyroid issues: The long-haired variation seems to be more prone to thyroid issues than the other variations of this breed. It’s a good idea to ask your vet to check your dog for thyroid imbalances if you have a long-haired Dutchie.
- Anesthesia sensitivity: It’s been noted that Dutch shepherds tend to be sensitive to anesthesia. A guideline in the Netherlands, where this breed is most common, is to only administer half the usual dose of anesthesia to Dutch shepherd dogs.
Where to Get a Dutch Shepherd
You’ll usually have to look far and wide to find a Dutch shepherd for sale in the U.S. since they’re so rare here. Don’t worry, though; with a little patience, you can find the dog you’re dreaming of at a breeder or through a rescue organization.
Prices: How much is a Dutch shepherd puppy?
The price for a Dutch shepherd puppy can vary widely based on the breeder. However, you’ll typically find Dutch shepherd puppies for sale for $1,200 to $2,500 each from a quality breeder. That price tag covers what the breeder had to spend in time and money for the whelping (birthing), daily care and medical care of the puppy. If money is a concern, you could get a Dutch shepherd mix for less. One popular mix is the Dutch German shepherd. Finding a dog through a rescue organization is another thriftier option that can be beneficial for both you and the Dutchie that needs a loving home.
Where to find Dutch shepherd puppies
If you’re looking for Dutch shepherd pups for sale, you can start by checking with the various breeders. The American Kennel Club‘s website is a great resource you can use for connecting with registered Dutchie breeders and seeing who is expecting litters in the near future. Because this is a rare breed in the U.S., there’s a good chance that you’ll need to travel to visit the breeders who have a Dutch shepherd for sale. If you’ve seen Dutch shepherds in your area and believe there is a local breeder near you, you can ask veterinarians and dog groomers for leads.
Breeders of Dutch shepherds in the US
Cavalier K9 in Chesapeake, Virginia, breeds and trains Dutch shepherds and Belgian Malinois dogs. They’ve been breeding carefully chosen dogs imported from the Netherlands since 2000. If you’ve been wondering about the differences between Dutch shepherd vs Belgian Malinois, these are the people to ask. Coswald Kennel in Ball Ground, Georgia, breeds rough-haired Dutch shepherds. These experienced breeders have been providing therapy animals and service animals since 1990.
Rescued Dutch shepherds
If you’d like to provide a home for a Dutch shepherd in need, check out the North American Dutch Shepherd Rescue. Some of their dogs didn’t pass the test to become police dogs, and now they’re seeking their forever homes in a family of loving civilians. Another place to look for a Dutch shepherd rescue is at the Dutch Shepherd Forum. People post there looking for fosters for Dutchies that need homes. They also share info about Dutch shepherd dogs that are up for permanent adoption. Check back often to see what’s new if you have room in your home and heart for an amazing dog that’s down on its luck.