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Nicole Cosgrove


The Schapendoes is a medium to large breed from the Netherlands that was originally bred to be a farm dog and herding dog but today is more often kept as a companion and sporting dog. It has a life span of 12 to 16 years and canine sports it does well in include agility and flyball. The name Schapendoes means sheepdog and it is related to other similar coated breeds like the Puli, the Bearded Collie and the Polish Lowland Sheepdog. It is a friendly dog that loves to play and has a lot of spirit.

The Schapendoes at a Glance
Name Schapendoes
Other names Dutch Sheepdog, Nederlandse Schapendoes, Dutch Schapendoes, Dutch Sheep Poodle
Nicknames None
Origin Netherlands
Average size Medium to large
Average weight 26 to 55 pounds
Average height 16 to 20 inches
Life span 12 to 16 years
Coat type Long, double, dense, slightly wavy
Hypoallergenic No
Color Any color though commonly black and white and blue grey is favored at the current time
Popularity Not yet recognized by the
Intelligence Quite intelligent
Tolerance to heat Good but needs shade when it gets too hot
Tolerance to cold Excellent
Shedding Low to moderate – a little hair may be around the home but not huge amounts
Drooling Moderate
Obesity Average – measure its food and make sure it is well exercised
Grooming/brushing Average to above average – comb and brush twice a week or more
Barking Occasional – some barking but should not be constant
Exercise needs Quite active – does best with active owners
Trainability Moderately easy to train with a firm hand
Friendliness Very good to excellent
Good first dog Very good
Good family pet Very good to excellent
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 but wary, socialization is important
Good apartment dog Moderate – does best with a yard
Handles alone time well Low – does not like to be left alone for long periods
Health issues Quite a healthy breed but some issues can include ear infections, hip dysplasia and eye problems
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health care and insurance
Food expenses $250 a year for a good quality dry dog food and treats
Miscellaneous expenses $235 a year for toys, license, basic training and miscellaneous items
Average annual expenses $970 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $700
Rescue organizations Schapendoes Club of Canada Rescue, check local rescues and shelters
Biting Statistics None reported

The Schapendoes’ Beginnings

The Schapendoes was for a long time the name farmers in the Netherlands called various breeds who were all the same type, sheepdogs. Local dogs were adapted to different environments and work needs in the Drenthe province especially and also the Veluwe where there were both areas of swamps and forests. In the first dog shows that started in the 1870s they were shown under ‘Domestic herding dog’. Like other dogs it is related to like the Puli, Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Briard, Old English Sheepdog and the Beared Collie it is a small version of mountain type livestock guardian and herding breed.

These dogs were highly valued as they had great endurance and stamina, were hard working and smart. It was definitely a common man’s dog not one that attracted any notice of the Dutch nobility. This means there is not much mention of it in written records, paintings and such. The Schapendoes worked with the larger Dutch Shepherd, the latter would herd the flock and the former would be the drover dog. Unfortunately with the English Border collie being a more popular dog before the war the native Schapendoes was already dropping in numbers. Then as with a lot of dogs especially in Europe, the Schapendoes came close to extinction during World War II when the focus was on survival and food was short.

New Lease on Life

It was a man called Toepoel who really rescued and became the founder of the modern Schapendoes. He along with other breeders he gathered together located the few remaining dogs in rural areas and then went about developing an actual breed from them. In 1947 the breed club was formed for it and it was recognized by the Dutch kennel club, the Raad van Beheer in 1952. Its first standard was drawn up in 1954. The numbers have been slowly built up over the years, as breeders take care not to damage the breed by doing it too quickly. In 1971 it was recognized by the FCI and this lead to more notice from other European countries and from North America. It has been recognized by the UKC in the US and the CKC in Canada, but not yet by the AKC. It is part of its foundation stock service though.

The Dog You See Today

The Schapendoes is a medium to large breed weighing 26 to 55 pounds and standing 16 to 20 inches tall. It has a strong neck and a deep chest and its shape is a little longer than it is tall. Its tail is long and feathered, when it is relaxed it hangs down but when alert and moving it is held quite high and swings a little. The front legs are lightly bones and straight and the back ones are strong and muscled. Its feet are large, oval shaped with thick pads and hair between them. The coat is long ( it can be 7 to 10 cm) and thick and wavy. It can make it look larger than it is. It can be any color but commonly the preferred ones are blue grey to black.

This dog has a skull that is quite broad and almost flat and its ears hang down from being set high up and are covered in long fur. They should not hang close to the head but should swing free. Its brown eyes are round, large and are positioned to the front of the head not the side. It has a lot of facial hair in the form of a bear, mustache, around the ears and a top knot.

The Inner Schapendoes


These dogs are friendly, social, spirited and lively and need a home happy to welcome that kind of energy. It is an affectionate dog and with socialization makes a good companion and family dog. While it is alert and will bark to let you know of an intruder it is not a guard dog. It is intelligent and attentive and is a cheerful presence in the home. To its family it is loyal, affectionate and joyful. It loves to spend time with you and does not like to be left alone for long periods of time.

It loves to play and it should never be skittish or aggressive. It can be fine with a new owner but it is best with people who have a strong will of their own or the Schapendoes will develop bad behavior and could become destructive and hard to live with. It likes to please you but watch out for those natural herding type instincts that may mean it tries to nudge people and pets around with its nose. Training and socialization should help you deal with this.

Living with a Schapendoes

What will training look like?

It is important that your dog is well trained in terms of obedience and that it is well socialized. Dogs that have these good foundations are a lot more trustworthy, happy and confident. Though there can be variations depending on its temperament the Schapendoes is moderately easy to train as long as you stay in control, be firm and make it clear you are the boss. This dog can have an independent side to it and if it thinks it can make its own decisions and ignore you, it will! It is intelligent though and generally eager to please so with consistency and confidence all should go well. Be positive and fair with it, encourage it and reward it. Treats are a good motivator and it helps to keep sessions short and interesting. Early socialization means from a young age getting it used to different people visiting, including children, teaching it appropriate responses and letting its confidence grow. Eventually you can move it up to different places, situations, sounds and other animals too, and also other dogs.

How active is the Schapendoes?

This is a dog that was bred to be a working breed so it has a lot of endurance and stamina and if not a farm dog should get at least an hour a day if not more in physical activity. It also needs lots of mental stimulation along with that to keep its mind active and prevent boredom. Expect to take it out for a couple of good walks a day along with some play time with you. It would also enjoy training and taking part in certain dog sports like flyball. With you it loves to play the usual things like fetch, and it would enjoy socializing with other dogs in a dog park. It is not the best dog for apartment living as it needs a yard really to play in. Make sure it has enough toys to rotate through.

Caring for the Schapendoes

Grooming needs

The Schapendoes sheds a low to moderate amount so there will be a little hair to deal with in the home, but it should not be a huge amount. It does need a certain amount of commitment in terms of combing and coat care though. Using a wide tooth comb the coat is combed to remove tangles and dirt but carefully enough so that you do not comb out the under coat. Have the breeder show you how or contact the breed club about proper grooming needs. It does not though need any shaping or trimming but its more frequent brushing and combing is needed when its coats is changing to the adult coat. It should never be bathed by a schedule too frequently and never use anything but a canine shampoo on it. Baths should always be saved for when it really needs one.

Check its ears once a week that there is no infection, look for a bad smell, swelling or redness, irritation and a wax build up. If they are fine you can then give them their weekly clean by wiping with a damp cloth or with a cotton ball soaked in a dog ear cleaning solution. Never push anything into their ears. The nails will need to be clipped when they are too long being careful not to cut into the quick of the nail where the blood vessels and nerves are. If you even just nick too far down the nail it will bleed and hurt your dog. Then its teeth should be brushed with a dog toothbrush and toothpaste, two to three times a week.

Feeding Time

This is not a big eating dog but will need somewhere between 1 1/2 to 3 cups of a good quality or better dry dog food a day, which should be divided into at least two meals. It should also have access to water at all times. Amounts of food vary from one Schapendoes to another because things affect that amount like activity level, metabolism, size, health and age.

How is the Schapendoes with other animals and children?

With good socialization and especially when raised with them the Schapendoes is a great family dog and gets on very well with children. That playfulness and joy make a great match with children, just watch the nipping at the heels that some do from the herding instincts they still have, and make sure the children are also taught how to touch and play properly with them. It is quite a tolerant dog though in general but still supervising young children is a good idea. With that socialization it should also get on well with other pets and other dogs too.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

These are quite healthy dogs with a good life span of 12 to 16 years. A few issues that can come up though include eye problems, ear infections and hip dysplasia. Some dogs in Canada and in the Netherlands are showing high liver enzymes but these dogs have no other symptoms and are living full, healthy and happy lives. It is possible this is then a natural thing to these dogs, but it is being tracked.

Biting Statistics

When looking at 35 years of data gathered from reports of dog attacks against people causing bodily harm in the US and Canada, there is no column for this breed, it is not mentioned. It is not a common dog though, so that makes it less likely to appear anyway. All breeds have the potential for having a bad day, there is no dog breed that is guaranteed safe no matter the situation or circumstances. Owners can help their dog though by making sure it suits your commitment level, train and socialize it, give it enough attention and make sure it is fed well and exercised enough.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Schapendoes puppy will cost about $700 for a pet quality dog from a decent breeder. If you want a dog to show or perform, or something from a top breeder you will pay more again. Schapendoes are not common and you are more than likely going to be placed on a waiting list for any breeder that has a good reputation. As tempting as it might be do not try to speed that up by using unsavory options like puppy mills, pets stores or backyard breeders. If you are just wanting a great companion there is the option of looking at local rescues or shelters for fees of around $50 to $400.

Once you have your dog you will need to get some items like a crate, carrier, collar and leash, bowls and bedding and such. The estimated cost will be about $220. There are then some procedures and tests to be done by a vet as soon as possible like its shots, blood tests, a physical, spaying or neutering, deworming and a having a micro chip. These costs will be around $290.

There are then ongoing costs for which the following are estimates only. Basic health care like shots, check ups and flea and tick prevention along with canine insurance will cost about $485 a year. $250 a year is for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats. Miscellaneous items, license, toys and basic training will cost you about $235 a year. This means an estimated annual cost of $970.


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The Schapendoes is a lively and athletic dog that has a lot to offer but needs some knowledge and extra commitment in terms of care for its coat, along with lots of physical and mental stimulation. It can be strong willed so needs confident owners that can deal with that. It has strong herding instincts in the form of nipping which must be discouraged. Early socialization is important and it is best in rural areas with active families or singles.

Featured Image Credit: Vanitytheone, Shutterstock

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.