Dutch Shepherd

dutch shepherd Image courtesy of baerle97

Welcome to our article on the Dutch Shepherd! If you’re looking for a versatile and intelligent breed, then you’ve come to the right place. Originating from the Netherlands, the Dutch Shepherd is a remarkable working dog with a rich history and a range of impressive abilities. From their size and appearance to their temperament and trainability, we will explore all aspects of this breed, including their exercise needs, grooming requirements, health issues, and even some notable dogs from this breed. So, whether you’re considering adding a Dutch Shepherd to your family or simply want to learn more about these incredible dogs, read on to discover everything you need to know about this remarkable breed.

History and Origins of the Breed

The Dutch Shepherd has a captivating history that dates back several centuries. This breed originated in the Netherlands and was primarily developed for herding and guarding livestock. Let’s delve into the fascinating origins of the Dutch Shepherd.

1. Early Beginnings

The Dutch Shepherd’s roots can be traced back to the rural areas of the Netherlands, where farmers and shepherds needed a capable and versatile dog to help them with their daily tasks. These early Dutch Shepherds were bred for their intelligence, agility, and strong work ethic.

2. Herding and Guarding Duties

Initially, the Dutch Shepherd excelled as a herding dog, assisting farmers in driving and protecting their flocks of sheep. Their sharp instincts, keen sense of awareness, and ability to control livestock made them indispensable on the farms.

3. Police and Military Work

As time went on, the Dutch Shepherd’s versatility caught the attention of law enforcement and military agencies. Their intelligence, loyalty, and protective nature made them well-suited for various tasks, such as search and rescue, tracking, and apprehending suspects. Today, the Dutch Shepherd continues to serve in these roles around the world.

4. Near Extinction and Breed Preservation

During the late 19th century, the Dutch Shepherd faced a decline in numbers due to industrialization and the shift in farming practices. However, dedicated breed enthusiasts emerged, determined to preserve this exceptional breed. Through careful breeding programs and the establishment of breed clubs, the Dutch Shepherd made a remarkable comeback and regained its popularity.

5. Recognition and Breed Standard

In 1898, the Dutch Shepherd was officially recognized as a breed by the Raad van Beheer, the Dutch Kennel Club. A breed standard was established, outlining the desired characteristics and physical attributes that make a Dutch Shepherd distinct. Today, the Dutch Shepherd is recognized by various kennel clubs and organizations worldwide.

The history of the Dutch Shepherd is a testament to their exceptional abilities and adaptability. From humble beginnings as a herding dog to their crucial roles in law enforcement and military work, the Dutch Shepherd has proven to be a breed of remarkable intelligence and versatility.

Size and Appearance Characteristics

The Dutch Shepherd is a medium-sized breed with a distinctive and athletic appearance. In this section, we will explore their size, physical features, and coat types.

1. Size

The Dutch Shepherd falls into the medium-sized category. Males typically stand between 22 to 24 inches (56 to 61 cm) at the shoulder, while females range from 21 to 23 inches (53 to 58 cm). The breed generally weighs between 50 to 70 pounds (23 to 32 kg), with males tending to be slightly larger and heavier than females.

2. Physical Features

The Dutch Shepherd has a well-balanced and muscular build. They have a strong, rectangular-shaped body with a deep chest and straight back. Their limbs are sturdy and well-developed, allowing for agile and efficient movement. The breed’s head is proportional to their body, with a well-defined stop and a strong jaw. Their eyes are medium-sized and almond-shaped, expressing a sense of intelligence and alertness. Dutch Shepherds have triangular-shaped ears that stand erect and provide them with excellent hearing capabilities.

3. Coat Types

Dutch Shepherds have three distinct coat types: short-haired, long-haired, and rough-haired. Each variety has its own unique characteristics.

  • Short-Haired: The short-haired Dutch Shepherd has a dense, straight coat that lies close to the body. This coat type requires minimal grooming and is well-suited for various weather conditions.
  • Long-Haired: The long-haired Dutch Shepherd features a longer and slightly wavy coat. They have feathering on their legs, tail, and ears, giving them an elegant and striking appearance. This coat type requires regular brushing to prevent matting and tangling.
  • Rough-Haired: The rough-haired Dutch Shepherd has a harsh and dense coat that provides excellent protection against the elements. Their coat is longer and rougher than the short-haired variety, with a distinctive mane around the neck and feathering on the tail and legs. Regular brushing is necessary to maintain the coat’s appearance and prevent matting.

The Dutch Shepherd’s size, athletic build, and distinct coat types contribute to their striking appearance. Whether short-haired, long-haired, or rough-haired, these dogs possess a unique charm that sets them apart from other breeds.


dutch shepherd
Image courtesy of petrahagedorn


Life Expectancy

When considering adding a Dutch Shepherd to your family, it’s essential to understand their life expectancy. In this section, we will discuss the average lifespan of a Dutch Shepherd and factors that can influence their longevity.

1. Average Lifespan

On average, the Dutch Shepherd has a lifespan of 10 to 14 years. However, it’s important to note that individual dogs may vary, and several factors can influence their life expectancy.

2. Genetics and Health

Genetics play a significant role in determining a Dutch Shepherd’s lifespan. Responsible breeders carefully select breeding pairs to minimize the risk of genetic health issues that can impact longevity. Regular health screenings, such as hip and elbow evaluations, can help identify potential health concerns and promote a longer lifespan.

3. Nutrition and Exercise

Proper nutrition and regular exercise are crucial for maintaining a Dutch Shepherd’s overall health and extending their lifespan. A balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs, combined with regular exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated, can contribute to a healthier and longer life.

4. Preventative Care

Routine veterinary check-ups, vaccinations, and preventive treatments for parasites are essential for maintaining a Dutch Shepherd’s health and detecting any potential issues early on. Regular dental care, such as brushing their teeth and professional cleanings, can also contribute to overall well-being and longevity.

5. Lifestyle and Environment

A Dutch Shepherd’s lifespan can be influenced by their lifestyle and environment. Providing a safe and stimulating environment, along with positive socialization experiences, can contribute to their overall well-being and happiness. Additionally, minimizing exposure to harmful substances, such as toxins and pollutants, can help promote a longer and healthier life.

By understanding the average lifespan of a Dutch Shepherd and taking proactive measures to promote their health and well-being, you can ensure that your furry companion enjoys a long and fulfilling life by your side.


The Dutch Shepherd is known for its intelligent, alert, and versatile temperament. In this section, we will explore the typical temperament traits of this breed, including their behavior with family members, strangers, and other animals.

1. Loyalty and Protective Instincts

Dutch Shepherds are renowned for their loyalty and strong protective instincts. They form deep bonds with their family members and are highly devoted to their loved ones. This breed is known to be watchful and vigilant, making them excellent guard dogs who will alert their owners to any potential threats.

2. Alertness and Vigilance

With their natural alertness and sharp senses, Dutch Shepherds make excellent watchdogs. They are always aware of their surroundings and will quickly respond to any unusual sights or sounds. Their keen sense of awareness makes them an effective deterrent against intruders.

3. Intelligence and Trainability

Dutch Shepherds are highly intelligent dogs that thrive on mental stimulation and challenges. They are quick learners and have a strong desire to please their owners. With consistent and positive training methods, Dutch Shepherds can excel in various activities, including obedience, agility, and even advanced tasks such as search and rescue or police work.

4. Energy and Drive

This breed possesses a high level of energy and drive. Dutch Shepherds require regular physical exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior. Engaging in activities such as long walks, runs, or interactive play sessions will help satisfy their need for both physical and mental stimulation.

5. Socialization and Compatibility

Proper socialization from a young age is essential for Dutch Shepherds. They can be naturally reserved or aloof with strangers but can become friendly and accepting with proper exposure and positive experiences. Early socialization will also help ensure that they get along well with other animals and pets in the household.

While Dutch Shepherds are known for their loyalty, alertness, and protective nature, it’s important to remember that individual personalities can vary. Early and consistent training, along with providing them with appropriate outlets for their energy and drive, will help shape a well-rounded and balanced Dutch Shepherd with an excellent temperament.

Trainability and Adaptability

The Dutch Shepherd is a highly trainable and adaptable breed. In this section, we will explore their trainability, adaptability to different environments, and their suitability for various lifestyles.

1. Trainability

The Dutch Shepherd’s intelligence and willingness to please make them highly trainable. They are quick learners and have a strong work ethic, making them suitable for various training activities, including obedience, agility, and advanced tasks. Consistent and positive training methods, such as reward-based training and positive reinforcement, are highly effective with this breed.

2. Socialization

Proper socialization is crucial for Dutch Shepherds to develop into well-rounded and adaptable dogs. Early and positive exposure to various people, animals, and environments will help them become confident and comfortable in different situations. Socialization also helps prevent any potential behavioral issues, such as fear or aggression.

3. Adaptability to Living Environments

Dutch Shepherds are known for their adaptability to different living environments, but they thrive best in homes with ample space and access to outdoor areas. They are active dogs that require regular exercise and mental stimulation. While they can adapt to apartment living with sufficient exercise, a house with a securely fenced yard is ideal for them to roam and play.

4. Family Compatibility

Dutch Shepherds can make excellent family companions when properly socialized and trained. They are generally good with children, but early socialization and supervision are essential to ensure a positive and safe interaction. Their protective nature can make them excellent watchdogs, but it’s important to teach them appropriate boundaries and socialize them around strangers.

5. Working and Sporting Opportunities

Due to their intelligence and drive, Dutch Shepherds excel in various working and sporting activities. They are often utilized in roles such as search and rescue, police work, herding, and agility competitions. Their versatility and adaptability make them well-suited for these tasks, and engaging in such activities can provide them with both mental and physical stimulation.

The Dutch Shepherd’s trainability and adaptability make them a versatile breed suitable for various lifestyles and environments. With proper training, socialization, and a stimulating environment, they can thrive as loyal and well-behaved companions, as well as excel in various working roles.


dutch shepherd
Image courtesy of Zachtleven


Exercise Requirements and Energy Level

The Dutch Shepherd is an energetic and active breed that requires regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being. In this section, we will discuss their exercise needs and energy levels.

1. Daily Exercise Needs

Dutch Shepherds are high-energy dogs that require a significant amount of exercise each day. They thrive in an environment where they can engage in physical activities that challenge them mentally and physically. A minimum of 60 to 90 minutes of exercise per day is recommended to keep them happy and healthy.

2. Physical Activities

Various physical activities can help meet the exercise needs of a Dutch Shepherd. Long walks, jogging, hiking, and running are excellent ways to burn off their energy. Engaging them in activities such as playing fetch, agility training, or participating in dog sports like flyball or dock diving can provide both mental stimulation and physical exercise.

3. Mental Stimulation

In addition to physical exercise, Dutch Shepherds require mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior. Providing them with interactive toys, puzzle games, and training sessions that challenge their intelligence will help keep their minds sharp and satisfied.

4. Adaptability to Different Activities

Dutch Shepherds are adaptable and versatile when it comes to physical activities. They excel in various sports and working roles, such as obedience, agility, herding, and even search and rescue. Their intelligence and drive make them eager participants in these activities, providing them with both physical and mental outlets.

5. Considerations for Exercise in Different Environments

While Dutch Shepherds can adapt to different living environments, it’s important to consider their exercise needs when choosing a home. A securely fenced yard where they can safely run and play is ideal. However, if living in an apartment or urban area, providing them with ample daily exercise through walks, runs, and visits to dog parks is essential.

Understanding the exercise requirements and energy level of a Dutch Shepherd is crucial to ensure their overall well-being. Regular exercise and mental stimulation not only keep them physically fit but also contribute to their mental and emotional happiness. By providing them with the necessary outlets for their energy and drive, you can help them lead a fulfilling and balanced life.

Grooming Requirements

The Dutch Shepherd has a moderate grooming requirement that includes regular brushing, bathing, nail trimming, and other basic care. In this section, we will discuss their grooming needs and how to keep their coat and overall appearance in top condition.

1. Coat Maintenance

The grooming needs of a Dutch Shepherd depend on their coat type: short-haired, long-haired, or rough-haired. Regardless of the variety, regular brushing helps remove loose hair, distribute natural oils, and prevent matting or tangling. For short-haired Dutch Shepherds, weekly brushing is usually sufficient, while long-haired and rough-haired varieties may require more frequent brushing to keep their coats in good condition.

2. Bathing

Dutch Shepherds generally have a clean and odorless coat, thanks to their natural grooming habits. Bathing should be done on an as-needed basis, typically every 2 to 3 months or when they become dirty or smelly. Use a mild dog shampoo and ensure thorough rinsing to avoid any residue on their coat.

3. Nail Care

Regular nail trimming is important to prevent overgrowth and discomfort for your Dutch Shepherd. Trim their nails every 2 to 4 weeks, or as needed, using a dog nail clipper or grinder. Be cautious not to cut too close to the quick, which can cause bleeding and pain. If you’re unsure, consult a professional groomer or veterinarian for assistance.

4. Ear and Dental Care

Check your Dutch Shepherd’s ears on a regular basis for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or a foul odor. Clean their ears using a dog-specific ear cleaner and cotton balls or pads. Additionally, maintain their dental hygiene by brushing their teeth regularly with a dog-friendly toothpaste to prevent dental diseases.

5. Professional Grooming

While Dutch Shepherds do not require extensive professional grooming, some owners opt for occasional visits to a professional groomer for services such as nail trimming, ear cleaning, and assistance with coat maintenance. A professional groomer can also provide guidance on breed-specific grooming techniques and ensure your Dutch Shepherd looks and feels their best.

By following a regular grooming routine and providing basic care, you can keep your Dutch Shepherd’s coat healthy, clean, and looking its best. Regular grooming not only promotes their physical well-being but also strengthens the bond between you and your beloved companion.


dutch shepherd
Image courtesy of Noel Wangler looking right


Health Issues

Like any breed, the Dutch Shepherd may be prone to certain health issues. In this section, we will discuss common health conditions that can affect this breed and the steps you can take to promote their overall health and well-being.

1. Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a common orthopedic condition that affects many dog breeds, including the Dutch Shepherd. It is characterized by abnormal development of the hip joint, leading to joint instability and eventual arthritis. Responsible breeders perform hip evaluations, and selecting a puppy from parents with good hip scores can help reduce the risk of hip dysplasia.

2. Elbow Dysplasia

Similar to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is an orthopedic condition that affects the elbow joint. It is caused by abnormal development of the elbow joint, resulting in joint laxity and degenerative changes. Regular veterinary check-ups and early detection through elbow evaluations can help manage and treat this condition effectively.

3. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy is an inherited eye disorder that causes progressive degeneration of the retina, leading to vision loss and eventual blindness. Regular eye examinations by a veterinary ophthalmologist can help identify this condition early on, allowing for appropriate management and care.

4. Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. While the exact cause of epilepsy in dogs is often unknown, it is believed to have a genetic component. If you suspect your Dutch Shepherd is experiencing seizures, it is important to seek veterinary care to properly diagnose and manage the condition.

5. Bloat (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus)

Bloat is a potentially life-threatening condition that affects deep-chested breeds, including the Dutch Shepherd. It occurs when the stomach fills with gas and can twist on itself, leading to restricted blood flow and potential tissue damage. Feeding multiple smaller meals throughout the day, avoiding exercise immediately after meals, and using elevated feeding bowls can help reduce the risk of bloat.

6. Other Health Concerns

While the Dutch Shepherd is generally a healthy breed, they may also be susceptible to other health issues such as allergies, skin conditions, and certain types of cancers. Regular veterinary check-ups, maintaining a healthy diet, proper exercise, and providing a safe and clean environment are essential in promoting their overall health and detecting any potential health concerns early on.

It’s important to note that not all Dutch Shepherds will experience these health issues, and responsible breeding practices can help minimize the risk. Regular veterinary care, a balanced diet, exercise, and providing a loving and supportive environment will contribute to a healthy and happy Dutch Shepherd throughout their life.

Comparable Breeds

While the Dutch Shepherd is a unique and remarkable breed, there are several other breeds that share similar characteristics or traits. In this section, we will explore some comparable breeds to the Dutch Shepherd.

1. Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois is often considered a close relative of the Dutch Shepherd. Both breeds share similar origins and were developed for herding and working purposes. They are highly intelligent, energetic, and excel in various roles such as police work, search and rescue, and competitive sports.

2. German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is another breed known for its intelligence, versatility, and working abilities. Like the Dutch Shepherd, German Shepherds are commonly used in law enforcement, search and rescue, and as service dogs. They are loyal, trainable, and make excellent family companions.

3. Belgian Tervuren

The Belgian Tervuren is one of the four Belgian Shepherd varieties and shares many traits with the Dutch Shepherd. They are both intelligent, highly trainable, and possess a strong work drive. Belgian Tervurens are often used in herding, obedience, and agility competitions.

4. Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd is a herding breed that shares some similarities with the Dutch Shepherd. They are intelligent, active, and thrive on mental and physical stimulation. Australian Shepherds excel in various dog sports and are known for their versatility and adaptability.

5. Border Collie

The Border Collie is another herding breed that shares certain traits with the Dutch Shepherd. They are highly intelligent, energetic, and require plenty of mental and physical exercise. Border Collies are known for their herding abilities and excel in obedience, agility, and other dog sports.

While these breeds share some similarities with the Dutch Shepherd, it’s important to note that each breed has its own unique characteristics and temperaments. Understanding the specific needs and traits of each breed is crucial when considering which breed is the best fit for your lifestyle and preferences.

Notable Dogs from This Breed

Throughout history, there have been several notable Dutch Shepherds that have made their mark in various fields. In this section, we will highlight some of the most notable dogs from this remarkable breed.

1. Vos

Vos, also known as “K-9 Vos,” was a Dutch Shepherd who served as a police dog in the Netherlands. He gained international recognition for his heroic actions during a hostage situation, where he apprehended an armed suspect and helped save lives. Vos became a symbol of courage and dedication for police dogs worldwide.

2. Rico

Rico, a Dutch Shepherd from the United States, gained fame for his incredible search and rescue abilities. He successfully located missing persons in challenging terrains and disaster-stricken areas. Rico’s exceptional scent detection skills and unwavering determination made him a valuable asset in search and rescue operations.

3. Fado

Fado, often referred to as “Fado the Police Dog,” was a Dutch Shepherd who served with the KNPV (Royal Dutch Police Dog Association). He achieved remarkable success in various police dog competitions, showcasing his exceptional obedience, tracking, and bite work skills. Fado’s achievements have made him a respected figure in the world of working dogs.

4. Spike

Spike, a Dutch Shepherd from Belgium, made headlines for his role in detecting explosives. He was trained to detect the scent of explosives and played a vital role in ensuring public safety during major events and high-risk situations. Spike’s keen sense of smell and focused work ethic made him an invaluable asset to his handlers and the community.

5. Chico

Chico, a Dutch Shepherd from the Netherlands, gained recognition for his exceptional agility skills. He competed in numerous agility competitions and consistently placed at the top, showcasing his speed, precision, and athleticism. Chico’s agility prowess made him a crowd favorite and an inspiration for agility enthusiasts.

These notable Dutch Shepherds have not only showcased the breed’s intelligence, versatility, and working abilities but also exemplified their unwavering loyalty, courage, and dedication. Their achievements serve as a testament to the Dutch Shepherd’s exceptional capabilities and their valuable contributions in various fields.

The Dutch Shepherd originated in the Netherlands and was primarily developed for herding and guarding livestock.

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