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Dutch Shepherd

Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021
The Dutch Shepherd is a herding dog from the Netherlands bred to work with farmers and shepherds and able to adapt to a difficult and lean working life. It is an intelligent, large dog with a life span of 12 to 15 years and is good for being a watchdog, guard dog, farm dog, and family companion. As the latter it is affectionate, loyal, and lively. The better known Belgian and German Shepherds are its cousins and you are more likely to see one of them than this rare breed. There are three types of Dutch Shepherd, also called the Hollandse Herder, Hollandse Herdershond or Dutchie, and those are the short hair, long hair and wire hair.
The Dutch Shepherd at a Glance
Name Dutch Shepherd
Other names Hollandse Herder, Hollandse Herdershond
Nicknames Dutchie
Origin Netherlands
Average size Large
Average weight 50 to 88 pounds
Average height 22 to 25 inches
Life span 12 to 15 years
Coat type Short, long and rough types
Hypoallergenic No
Color Golden, silver, brindle
Popularity Not yet a fully registered member of the AKC
Intelligence Excellent – one of the most intelligent dogs
Tolerance to heat Moderate to good
Tolerance to cold Very good to excellent
Shedding Can depend on coat type, average in general so some hair around the home and can increase to heavier during seasonal times
Drooling Moderate to average
Obesity Average – make sure its food is measured and it gets enough exercise
Grooming/brushing Average – brush a couple of times a week, more when the shedding is heavier or for longer coats that tangle easily
Barking Occasional – some barking but not constant
Exercise needs Very active – needs active owners
Trainability Easy to train
Friendliness Very good to excellent
Good first dog Good – does best with experienced owners but can be a first dog if prepared to do some work
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Very good with socialization
Good with other dogs Very good with socialization
Good with other pets Very good with socialization
Good with strangers Good with socialization but wary at first
Good apartment dog Low to moderate – needs a home with space and a yard
Handles alone time well Low – does not like being alone for long periods
Health issues Quite a healthy breed some issues include allergies, hip dysplasia, ear infections and eye problems
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $270 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $565 a year for grooming, license, toys, miscellaneous items and basic training
Average annual expenses $1320 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1,200
Rescue organizations North American Dutch Shepherd Rescue (NADSR), Malinois and Dutch Shepherd Rescue, rehome and adoption
Biting Statistics None reported

The Dutch Shepherd’s Beginnings

The Dutch Shepherd was bred in the early 19th century in a region covering southern Netherlands and part of Belgium. It was developed to work with flocks of sheep in the country side, acting to guard them, patrol the borders between the fields and the roads and accompany the sheep when they were moved to port, markets or other fields. It was also a great all rounder also used by farmers to pull milk carts, herd cows, keep the chickens from the vegetables in the garden and give a bark to alert people in the home to strangers coming.

For almost a hundred years it was valued in this role and in 1898 a first breed standard was written which allowed for any color but then in 1914 that was changed to brindle only to try and make it stand out from its cousins the Belgian and German Shepherds. But then by the turn of the 20th century flocks of sheep were less common in the Netherlands and there was less need for the Dutch Shepherd. As a result the numbers dwindled and then again when modern farming techniques became more popular and then with the second world war when breeding came to a halt. Dogs got taken to Germany or died from starvation and by the 1950s the breed was almost extinct.

New Lease on Life

Breeders began to work on saving the breed in the 1950s using at first the Malinois and then in 1959 that switched to the Laekenois. After a while the breed became more well known and some numbers spread to other countries though it is still fairly rare. The Dutch Breed Club ties to encourage all owners to meet the standards for breeding and to diversify the gene pool. Even in the Netherlands the breed is rare and the wire haired is dangerously so. It is now being used in roles other than as a farm dog, including a guide dog, search and tracking and police dog. In 1995 it was recognized in the US with the UKC and at the moment is not fully recognized by the AKC.

Dutch Shepherd Dog

The Dog You See Today

The Dutch is a large dog weighing 50 to 70 pounds and standing 22 to 25 inches tall. It is a muscular strong dog with a deep chest, a tucked up belly and a tail that hangs with a curve when at rest. Its feet are oval and the toes arched with black nails. Its head is wedge shaped, it has erect medium sized ears and dark almond shaped eyes. As mentioned there are three types, the short hair, the long hair and the wire or rough haired. The long haired coat is straight, harsh to the touch, with a wooly under coat, bushy tail and some feathering. The short haired coat (the most common) is close fitting, has a wooly under coat, hard with a tail plume and a ruff. The rough or wiry haired is tousled looking, harsh, dense and has a wooly dense under coat. It can have a whiskers and beard and longer eye brows. Common colors include gold, silver, with some some black and white markings, brindle and often a black mask.

The Inner Dutch Shepherd


The Dutch Shepherd is an intelligent breed who is intuitive, watchful and alert and makes a good watchdog and a good guard dog. It will bark to alert you to a stranger coming and it will act to defend you and its home and family should there be a real threat. It is reliable and loyal even though it has an independent side to it, it is wary of strangers but with socialization should know not to over react to them. With its family it is a happy and affectionate dog, it loves to get lots of attention and though it was bred to work independently it prefers not to be left alone for long periods of time now.

The Dutch is an active dog and is happiest with experienced, confident and active owners. With them it is obedient, hard working and should not be shy or aggressive. It has a strong personality and tends to be calm indoors and then high energy outside. It loves friends coming over to visit and will want to be included in family activities. It will greet them enthusiastically and its zest for life is quite infectious, with this devoted friend at your side it is hard not to smile each and every day.

Living with a Dutch Shepherd

What will training look like?

This is an intelligent dog and despite the fact that it can have an independent and stubborn side to it, with the right approach it is easy to train and can easily be taken beyond just basic obedience training. It does well in areas like obedience competitions, field trailing, herding and agility. Early socialization and training are important though, get it when it is eager to please and eager to learn and things go a lot quicker. Make sure you establish yourself as the boss very clearly and consistently, be firm, and be fair. Use positive training methods, encourage it, reward it, motivate it with things like treats. From a young age introduce it to different people, animals, places, sounds and situations so it learns what responses are appropriate and becomes a more confident and trustworthy dog.

Dutch Shepherd Dog

How active is the Dutch Shepherd?

Dutch Shepherds are very active dogs and will need very active owners to keep them happy, exercised well and mentally stimulated. It does well in a lot of different doggy sports including flyball, agility, rally, tracking, weight pulling, search and rescue and Schutzhund to name just a few. In the Netherlands it is also still kept as a traditional working dog, a herder and all round farm dog. It needs something to do, and it needs space and a yard. It will need two long walks a day, vigorous play each day, time to run off leash somewhere safe several times a week. If it is not a working dog you should consider taking up one of the doggy sports it can be great at. It can join you while you cycle or jog or hike and if it is not exercised well enough it is destructive, hyper, sometimes snappy and hard to live with.

Caring for the Dutch Shepherd

Grooming needs

Grooming varies a little depending on the type of Dutch Shepherd it is. The more common short coated are easy to groom, brushing can be done once or twice a week and shedding is average apart from the heavier seasonal times. The rarer long coated may need more brushing as tangling is more likely to be a problem. The very rare wire-coated can be combed with a coarse comb once or twice a week, sheds less but will need professionally stripping a couple of times a year. All should only be bathed as needed to avoid damaging its natural oils, and should only have proper dog shampoos used when it is that time again.

All three also need to have their ears checked for infection and then cleaned using a damp cloth or cotton pad with dog ear cleanser solution. Just wipe the parts you can reach, do not push anything into its ears as that could hurt it and cause real damage. Their nails should be clipped when they get too long taking care not to cut into the quick of the nail where the blood vessels and nerves are, as that again will hurt the dog and cause bleeding. Then the teeth should be brushed, two to three times a week if possible for good oral hygiene.

Feeding Time

The Dutch will eat about 2¾ to 4 cups of a good quality dry dog food a day split into at least two meals. It also needs to be able to access water at any time, which should be kept fresh. The amount of food varies from one Dutch to another because of differences in size, health, metabolism rate, activity level and age.

How is the Dutch Shepherd with children and other animals?

With good socialization and especially if raised with them the Dutch Shepherd is great with children, it plays with them, is affectionate and loving towards them and will protect them from danger. You need to show the children as they grow not just how to touch and play in an acceptable way but also how to make it clear they are above the dog in the pack order. It can also get on fine with other dogs in the home and other non-canine pets.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Dutch Shepherd has a life span of about 12 to 15 years and is fairly healthy. A few issues include eye problems, allergies, IBD, hip dysplasia, ear infections and cryptorchidism.

Biting Statistics

Reports that cover dog attacks against people that have caused bodily harm over the last 35 years in Canada and the US do not mention the Dutch Shepherd as being involved. It is not a common dog though in these countries so its appearance on such reports would be unlikely. Still the dog is not known for being people aggressive, it is protective though so would react to a threat. Dogs can have off days and they can be drawn into things they would usually manage to ignore. Make sure you socialize, train, exercise, stimulate and give it the attention it needs and you are giving it the tools it needs to help it avoid incidents most of the time. No dog is ever 100% safe all the time though.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Dutch Shepherd puppy will cost about $1200 from a decent and trustworthy breeder, perhaps even more than that if you are looking at top breeders of show dogs. Being rare means those breeders that are good will likely have waiting lists so be prepared to have to wait. Do not be tempted into rushing it by using disreputable breeders like puppy mill breeders, backyard breeders or pet stores even. Another option is to find a rescue that needs a new home, and if you cannot find a purebred please do consider regular local shelters where so many mixed dogs need a new home. If you do not need a show dog purebred, mixed dogs have just as much love and companionship to offer for an adoption fee of just $50 to $400.

Where ever you decide to get your dog from you will need to get some things for it. A crate, carrier, toys, collar and leash, bowls and such will cost you about $240. It should also be taken for an exam and some tests at a veterinarians as soon as possible. That will cost about $290 for a physical exam, shots, spaying or neutering, blood tests, deworming, chipping and such.

There are also continuing costs when you own a pet. It will need at least basic health care like flea and tick prevention, shots, check ups and pet insurance at a cost of about $485 a year. Feeding it will cost another $270 or so a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats. Then there are miscellaneous items it will need, basic training costs, potential grooming costs, licensing and toys which can add up to $565 a year. This gives a starting figure yearly cost of $1320.


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The Dutch Shepherd is not at all as popular as the German or Belgian but it has a lot to offer, is just as smart and trainable and can be a great family dog. With good socialization and training it gets along will with people, dogs and other animals. It does need active owners though, as with its cousins it has high energy and needs lots of mental stimulation too. It does very well in a large number of working roles and is loyal, confident and affectionate too.

Featured Image Credit: baerle97, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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