Breed Spotlight: Dutch Shepherd

Learn more about the Dutch Shepherd dog breed!

Misc Dog Breeds

Dutch Shepherd Stats:

  • Temperament: Intelligent, Lively, Athletic
  • Height: 21.5-24.5 inches
  • Weight: 42-75 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 11-14 years
Did you know...the Dutch Shepherd, as you might imagine, started out as a shepherd's working dog?

Dutch Shepherds were used for all kinds of tasks on farms in the Dutch countryside. Not only were they capable of herding sheep and other livestock, but they also kept chickens out of the gardens, pulled carts, and acted as watchdogs. Originally, there was very little to distinguish Dutch Shepherds from German Shepherds or Belgian Shepherds other than coat color, although the breeds have diverged a bit more in the past 100 years and have their own breed standards. The Dutch Shepherd has become more rare in modern times.

The development of modern farming techniques made these dogs unnecessary for herding and other farm work, and during World War II, breeding in the Netherlands stopped. Many dogs died of starvation, and some were taken by the German military because they were highly trainable for work in the armed forces. After the war, breeders continued the effort of breeding Dutch Shepherds and mixed in dogs of unknown origin. Though the breed is still rare today, Dutch Shepherds are used for police work, search and rescue, and as guide dogs because they are so highly trainable. They also compete in dog sports and have retained their herding abilities from their days on the farms.


Dutch Shepherds are known for their intelligence and all-around competency in just about everything, including agility, acting as watchdogs, search and rescue, herding, field training, police work, guide dog duty, and just being a family companion. They are highly trainable and eager to please, soaking up new commands like a sponge. This breed requires a confident trainer who can set boundaries, keep dogs interested in learning, and build a trusting relationship. Early socialization training is important and will help them stay calm around new people and pets. The Dutch Shepherd is an excellent watchdog and usually barks when a stranger enters their territory. This can be beneficial, but it is also important for dogs to learn to interact with guests appropriately. Dutch Shepherds are great with family, even children and other pets, and they are very affectionate and obedient. They will, however, need plenty of exercise, both mentally and physically, to keep from becoming bored and destructive.


Originally bred as an all-purpose farm dog, the Dutch Shepherd has also excelled as a police and military dog. As such, it has been bred for hard work, and plenty of it. Driven to do its chosen work, this dog will differentiate between work, play, and chill time, adjusting its energy level accordingly. This breed does not want to be a pet left at home; they want to be your partner in life. Provided with proper mental and physical exercise, this dog makes a great pet for an active family familiar with dogs.


The Dutch Shepherd’s coat can be a gold brindle or a silver brindle. There are also three coat types: short-hair, long-hair and rough-hair. The short-hair types will only need occasional brushing. Switch to daily brushing during the seasonal shedding periods in the Spring and Fall. The longhaired dogs will need to be groomed about once per week, or more often than that if their work level and environment requires it. The rough-hair types require a combing once per month and the coat is hand-stripped twice per year.

Bathing can be done as-needed. Their nails can be trimmed, if necessary, with a nail clipper or grinder to avoid overgrowth, splitting and cracking. Their ears should be checked regularly to avoid a buildup of wax and debris which can result in an infection. Teeth should be brushed.


Naturally athletic, this breed should be fed high-quality food, the quantity of which should reflect their individual activity level. Many dog food companies have breed-specific formulas for small, medium, large and extra-large breeds. Dutch Shepherds are a medium-large breed and may have a lifespan ranging from 11 to 14 years. What you feed your dog is an individual choice, but working with your veterinarian and/or breeder will be the best way to determine frequency of meals as a puppy and the best adult diet to increase his longevity. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times. 


Being a lesser known breed and because of Dutch breeding rules, the Dutch Shepherd is generally a healthy breed. As with any breed, there are sometimes occurrences of other diseases. Current testing is underway to determine if there is a need for other required tests. Breeders should screen for hip dysplasia in all coat types. The long-haired types should also be screened for thyroid issues, and the rough-haired for angiodysplasia.

Recommended Health Tests From Parent Club 

  • OFA Hips and Elbows
  • Thyroid (For the long-haired)
  • Gonio Dysplasia (For the rough-haired)

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