You are never given the dog you want, but the dog you need.

Breed All About It- The Dutch Shepherd Dog

Welcome back for our usual Thursday series, ‘Breed All About It’! We have a breed that is relatively new to me, so I had a bit of fun researching it and learning more about the breed as a whole. This week, we’re switching back to a bigger dog, although I do hope to start covering more of the little guys in the upcoming weeks! For our chosen breed this time, we have the elusive and rare Dutch Shepherd, so get ready to learn a bit about this wonderful dog!

A pair of long haired Dutch Shepherd Dogs


The Dutch Shepherd Dog is a herding breed of Dutch origin. They were used by shepherds and farmers who needed a versatile dog, a jack-of-all-trades, with few demands and able to adapt to a harsh and meager existence. The Dutch Shepherds and the Belgian Shepherds actually share a very similar standard. Differences are slight in size and proportion requirements, as well as, obviously, coat color. Like the Belgians, their origins lie in the same gene pool of continental herding dogs that also created the German Shepherd around the same time as the Belgian and Dutch Shepherd were created.

The Dutch Shepherds and the Belgian Shepherds are judged by the same standard requirements except for color. While the related Belgian Shepherds have become well known in the United States and Europe, the Dutch Shepherd has not attracted a large following yet. Even in the Netherlands, the numbers of Dutch Shepherds are limited and dangerously low for the wire-haired variety.

Almost unknown outside Holland, the Dutch Shepherd is valued there for its ability as a herder and for its quick reflexes. Originally an all-purpose farm guard, herder, cart-puller, guard, police and security dog, this breed, in its various coat textures, evolved in the early 1800s in the southern part of the Netherlands, especially the province of Brabant, and in neighboring Belgium, which was then part of the Netherlands. Division by coat texture occurred when dog shows began 100 years ago.

Rarely, non-brindle fawn dogs can be found in all coat varieties, and while they are Dutch Shepherds, they have an undesirable coat color and are marked as such on their pedigrees. Any departure from the ideal standard should be considered a fault, but the seriousness with which a fault should be regarded should be in proportion with its degree and its effect on the functional health and welfare of the dog.


The Dutch Shepherd is a medium-sized, medium weight, well-proportioned, well-muscled dog of powerful, well-balanced structure, with intelligent expression and lively temperament. Starting at the head and working our way down and back, the muzzle is slightly longer than the flat forehead and the teeth are strong and have a scissor bite. The eyes are dark, almond shaped, and slightly slanting and the medium-sized ears are carried high and erect. The chest is deep and the belly slightly tucked up. The feet are oval with well-knit arched toes, black nails and dark pads. The tail is slightly curved upwards and appearance depends on the coat type.

The Dutch Shepherd comes in three varieties: longhaired (long, straight, flat and harsh), shorthaired (quite hard and not too short) and wire-haired (medium length, think of dense, harsh, and tousled- more curly-coated than wire-coated in reality). Heavy white markings on chest and feet are not desirable in the show ring. Although the coat types vary, the color possibilities remain the same for each: various brindles in all shades of gold and silver and brindle with dark stripes. Blue brindle is also listed under the rough coated variety. The short hair is most common in Holland, while the long hair is less common and the wire haired variety currently has a dangerously low population.

There is some confusion as to whether or not the Dutch Shepherd has dewclaws. A lot of sources say it does not, but they do indeed have dewclaws in the front. They do not have dewclaws on their hindquarters, however. We’ve got a bit of a language lesson here for a moment: When discussing the hind legs, the Dutch breed standard says “Hubertusklauwen: niet aanwezig” which translates to: “Dewclaws: none present.” That same word “hubertusklauw” does not, however, refer to the front dewclaws. The most common notation for that would be “duim” or possibly “bijklauw.” There is no separate word for the front dewclaws in the English language, and that is what can lead to the confusion, but the breed does sport dewclaws in the front. And here you thought you were just learning about a breed of dog and nothing more and I surprise you with a language lesson!


Dutch Shepherds are known as being loyal and reliable, always alert, watchful, active, and independent. They are gifted with persistence, intelligence, prepared to be obedient and exceptional in their display of the true shepherding temperament. They work willingly together with their owners and deal independently with any task they are assigned. They should be seen as neither aggressive nor shy.

This breed does have a strong character and independence that is passed down from their herding ancestry. Dutch Shepherds have the combination of a “nice housedog” and “afraid of nothing and nobody” kind of mentality, and therefore owners need to be strong and fair leaders while working and training them. While there is a potential for doing police work, it should be noted that great care should be taken that it is not the sole purpose of the dog, as this type of work tends to overshadow its overall character.

While there is no perfect dog for everybody, the Dutch Shepherd needs an active life and an owner willing to make a commitment of proper socialization and training.


The Dutch Shepherd is a breed that needs to be kept both physically and mentally exercised. They need to be walked or jogged daily, as do most dogs that have been featured here so far. I promise I’ll be covering some of the more apartment friendly and less active pups here soon!. Because this breed is one that always wants to work, one way to keep them engaged both mentally and physically would be to run them through a regular drill of obedience, agility, rally, or the like, at least twice per week. They make great jogging companions and will pace with you for as long as you can stand to go. This is a dog that will run beside a bicycle, hike into the woods, or explore the open countryside where it can run to its heart’s content.

Health and Life Expectancy:

As far as larger dog breeds go, this breed is fairly long lived and generally healthy. The Dutch Shepherd can live to be 12-15 years of age, although as in any case, there have been dogs that have exceeded these ages and lived to even greater ripe old ages.

Regarding health, the Dutch Breed Club initiated a hotline in 2008 for reporting health and behavioral problems in order to record and monitor any recurring illnesses or hereditary issues that may crop up as the breed is revived. Their current statement on health is that the breed has no serious physical or mental hereditary illnesses. However, they still recommend, but do not require, screening for hip dysplasia.

Within the rough-hair population, care should be taken to screen for goniodysplasia before breeding. This is a condition where the outflow of fluid from the eye is restricted and under certain circumstances can cause blindness. The link between genetics and goniodysplasia is uncertain. Two dogs who have a risk of goniodysplasia can still have puppies who are not at risk. The Dutch Breed Club regulations requires the testing for GD for rough-hairs.

Short haired variety of Dutch Shepherds

That about wraps it up for this week’s ‘Breed All About It’ series! Thanks for dropping by and learning about our new breed of the week! We hope that you enjoyed your visit and that we will see your smiling faces back from our future ‘Breed All About It’ breeds. Drop us a line in the comments below if there is a country that you would like us to pick the next week’s breed from and we’ll be happy to add it to the hat!

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