A Versatile Farming Dog: Dutch Shepherd

Pet Type


May 5, 2020

It can generally go without saying that there are many, many different breeds of dogs out there that you can choose from. There are endless mutts and mixed breeds in adoption centers, but there are also hundreds of different purebred dogs that were bred for a certain purpose.

Some dogs were bred to be guardian dogs that could fight off the local wildlife if it got too close to farmland. Other dogs were bred to be vermin hunters, catching mice, foxes, and other small animals that could disrupt home life. There are even some dogs that were bred to help out on the farms, specifically with making sure that livestock was being herded where it needed to go. Whether you want a dog that is intelligent and athletic to liven up your day-to-day life, or you want some assistance herding the animals on your farm, one of the most versatile dog breeds that you can consider is the Dutch shepherd.

As with most shepherding dogs, the Dutch shepherd was bred to help out on the farm. This includes guarding farmland and crops, herding the livestock where it needs to go, and keeping the livestock safe from local predators. These dogs can make an excellent addition to any farm that is in need of assistance, but they can also make enjoyable companions. Do keep in mind that these dogs do not do well in multi-pet households or in apartments due to their nature as herding dogs that need a lot of space to roam.

What Is the History of the Dutch Shepherd?

As you might be able to imagine, the Dutch shepherd’s origins start out in the Netherlands. When this breed was first starting out, it was barely distinguishable from its cousins, who were the German shepherd and the Belgian shepherd.

However, over the past century, selective breeding has set the Dutch shepherd far enough apart from its cousins that it is its own distinguishable breed. Originally, this breed of dog was put to work on the farm. Of course, it helped to herd livestock around, but it also ensured that the chickens and hens stayed where they should, pulled carts for the farmhands, and took their place as watchdogs throughout the nights.

Unfortunately, as time passed and modern agriculture practices took place after World War II, the Dutch shepherd quickly began to dwindle. Breeding in the Netherlands stopped completely, for a time, and many of the dogs began to die of starvation. Most of the dogs that remained were taken in to become German guard dogs for the armed forces. Thanks to enthusiastic and dedicated breeders, the Dutch shepherd was brought back from the brink, although a few other bloodlines were mixed into the breed during the process. While it is not as rare as it was once before, this dog is still pretty rare, especially outside of the Netherlands.

What Does the Dutch Shepherd Look Like?

The Dutch shepherd has a build that closely resembles its shepherd cousins: the German shepherd and the Belgian shepherd. This dog is moderately tall, standing between 21 and 25 inches tall. It has a lean, yet muscular build that weighs between 40 and 75 pounds. As with many dog breeds, the females of this breed tend to be shorter and lighter than the males. As a naturally athletic breed, this dog has a sturdy core, powerful legs, and a triangular face. Many people mention that its overall build greatly resembles a wolf’s build, showing the connection between this dog’s heritage long ago.

As for its coat, these dogs have a fairly long coat to help them out with just about any climate and condition weather-wise. Do keep in mind that there are some variations of the Dutch shepherd that have a shorter coat, as this will often be easier for you to groom. Other dogs will have a rougher coat of fur that falls between the short and long-haired variants. These coats are often a combination of black and several shades of brown, giving the dog a mottled appearance. It has tall, triangular ears that should stick straight up. It also has wide, alert eyes to watch your farm with. The dog’s tail is generally long and fluffy.

How Does the Dutch Shepherd Behave?

The Dutch shepherd has a curious combination of an independent, yet loyal personality. These dogs can, and will, bond very closely with you and the rest of your family as it is a very loyal dog by nature. Being relatively smart dogs, this does mean that your dog will get anxious if it is left alone for too long, and this can end up causing destruction all across your home.

These dogs will usually be interested in friends that come over, although they may not warm up to them completely, as they are a very protective dog as well. They would easily give their life up to protect you, although this can mean trouble for some dogs as some of them have issues differentiating threatening situations and non-threatening situations.

These dogs love to move around and they love to play. This is part of their nature as herding dogs, as they have very high energy reserves. This means that if you are not putting your dog to work on a farm, then you should focus on another exhausting activity that your dog can partake in. This could be agility courses, being a guard dog, and taking long hikes alongside you.

Do keep in mind that these dogs, while very loyal and protective over you, are generally independent. This means that they will appreciate some of the attention and treats you give them, they are not going to be lap dogs or particularly affectionate. They would prefer to simply sit in the same room as you and share your company, rather than physically express that care. This can sometimes be hard for younger children to understand, meaning that this may not be the best choice for a family dog if you have extremely young children.

Generally, they are okay with animals that they are familiar with. This can include livestock and other pets of a similar size. If you have cats, rabbits, or any type of rodent in the house, there’s a good chance that the Dutch shepherd’s natural prey drive will kick in and your dog will try to hunt down the animals. These dogs aren’t aggressive by nature, so this will be more akin to an unwelcome game of chase that can traumatize smaller animals. This is something you will need to be mindful of if you have other pets and are looking for a dog to adopt.

How Do You Care for the Dutch Shepherd?

The type of care that your Dutch shepherd’s coat needs will depend entirely on the type of coat your dog has. There are three different coat types: long-haired, short-haired, and rough-haired. Longer coats are going to require more grooming and more bathing to keep clean and untangled. Shorter coats can get away with less of this, depending on just how short the coat is. The rough-haired coat is generally one of the easiest coats to take care of. For long-haired coats, you will need to brush them on at least a twice-weekly basis. Other coats can get away with a once-weekly brushing session. All coats will need to be cared for a lot more during shedding season, which happens bi-annually.

As for exercise, these dogs are very high energy. They need at least an hour outside every day, alongside a good source of mental stimulation. It is also heavily recommended that you consider obedience training for the Dutch shepherd, as they can become high strung without it. As long as you make sure your dog has a considerable amount of time to play, you can rest assured that your dog will be happy.

How Is the Dutch Shepherd’s Health?

These dogs are generally pretty healthy dogs, with very few hereditary illnesses that they are prone to. Some people have reported hip dysplasia, although it seems that these instances are somewhat rare compared to other dogs.

You should always talk to your breeder about the health history and genetics of the parents before you purchase a dog. Any responsible breeder would be willing to discuss this with you, and if your breeder doesn’t, then you should walk away and find a better breeder. Aside from that, you can expect your dog to live between 12 and 15 years.