Dutch Shepherd Overview

Dog Breed:
Dutch Shepherd
Breed Group:
Miscellaneous in the US/Working or Herding in other countries
Intelligent, athletic, alert, loyal, and protective.
21-24 inches
42-75 pounds
Life Span:
11-14 years
Coat Colors:
Area of Origin:
Best For:
Active family/Experienced dog owners/Passionate about training
Adult Food:
Best Dog Food for Dutch Shepherds
Puppy Food:
Best Puppy Food for Dutch Shepherds

Dutch Shepherd Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Dutch Shepherd

  • Intelligent and trainable

  • A breed for committed enthusiasts

  • Not a good choice for most families

This is a breed which is prized for their intelligence and trainable nature. They serve as police dogs, in the military, as guides for the blind, and successful competitors in performance sports.

The Dutch Shepherd is a breed for enthusiasts who will commit their spare time to train and exercise their dogs. In return, they will be able to accompany you everywhere and be involved in all the family activities. Looking for a dog who can come jogging with you or enjoy day-long hikes? The Dutch Shepherd could be a perfect choice.

However, to be clear, without appropriate exercise and mental stimulation, this will be the dog who will destroy your home and cause chaos in the park. Serious thought is needed as to whether you can truly meet all their needs before considering adding one to your family.

Dutch Shepherd Breed History

  • Jack of all trades for Dutch farmers

  • Crossed initially with German and Belgian Shepherds

  • Preliminary recognition with the AKC in 2012


The Dutch Shepherd was a dog who could turn their paw to a whole range of tasks for the farmers of Holland. Not only did they herd sheep and other livestock, but they also pulled carts and took on the role of farm watchdog.

The early dogs had widely differing physical appearance, and that was because the farmers were much more interested in their working ability than how they looked. However, over time, they did begin to establish a more uniformed breed appearance.

By the end of the 19th century, the need for herding dogs began to decline, but afraid of their beloved breed dying out, the Nederlandse Herdershonden Club (NHC) was founded. In the following twenty years, there were many changes made to the standard required for the breed. First of all, coat types were reduced to three, short, long, and rough. Then all coat colors were permitted except for any which were too colorful. For example, restrictions were placed on how much white there could be on the cost.

Then, in 1914, the breed association decided that the Dutch Shepherd should be very different from the German and Belgian Shepherds, So, they increased the minimum height and forbade all white on the coat. The results were disastrous. Suddenly there were very few dogs who met the new strict requirements.

It took fourteen years before further changes were made, with white being permitted once more and then in 1934, allowing some of the older colors within the standard. Sadly, many excellent dogs were excluded by breeders who were keen to meet the requirements of the new breed standard. This then meant there was a shortage of good dogs to breed from, so German Shepherds were introduced into the breed.

After the Second World War and with a shortage of working dogs, the Belgian Malinois and the Belgian Tervueren were then also bred with the Dutch Shepherds.

Within the US, the Dutch Shepherd is still considered to be a rare breed, although they have a growing number of fans within the working dog world. In 2012, the American Kennel Club entered the Dutch Shepherd to their Foundation Stock service, which is the first step towards the breed becoming officially recognized in the US.

Dutch Shepherd Size & Weight

  • Medium-sized who should be well-muscled and powerful

  • 22½ to 24½ inches in height for males

  • 21½ to 23½ inches for females


The Dutch Shepherd is described as a medium-sized, weighted middle dog who should be well-muscled and powerful.

The breed standard is pretty specific as to the height that the breed should be. So that means that males should measure between 22½ to 24½ inches in height and females between 21½ to 23½ inches. The weight range is pretty broad, and that’s from 42 -75 pounds.

Dutch Shepherd Personality & Temperament

  • A working breed who needs a job to do

  • Needs daily mental and physical stimulation

  • Friendly and playful


The Dutch Shepherd is the ultimate working dog. They excel in performance dog sports such as agility and obedience and are becoming a popular choice for guard and protection work. This is a breed that needs a job; they are happiest and easiest to live with when they have work which provides them with both mental and physical stimulation. Without that in place, the Dutch Shepherd will get themselves in deep trouble!

A friendly and playful breed, they have great problem-solving skills and seem to take delight in outsmarting their owners. You should expect them to alert you when a stranger is at the gate but to then greet them politely, once you have given the okay.

The Dutch Shepherd is good with children and will enjoy the opportunity to be involved in family games. However, as with all breeds, they should always be supervised to ensure that games don’t get out of hand and that they are handled gently and with respect.

This is not likely to be a breed suitable for apartment living unless the owner can provide several periods of exercise and work outside every day. The Dutch Shepherd can adjust to being left for short periods during the day. However, full-time workers are unlikely to be able to provide the breed with the time they need.

As far as weather conditions go, the breed can tolerate both hot and cold conditions pretty well. This, of course, assumes that they have shelter and shade available at all times.

Dutch Shepherd Health & Grooming

  • Generally, a healthy breed

  • Some testing which should be undertaken before breeding takes place

  • Minimal grooming needs


The Dutch Shepherd is considered, overall, to be a healthy breed. There are some recommended health tests, but because of the strict Dutch breeding rules, these are minimal compared to other breeds.

  • Hip Dysplasia. This condition causes the ball of the hop to sit incorrectly in the socket resulting in lameness and pain when exercising.
  • Thyroid ( for long-haired types). Dogs can be tested for thyroid hormones, but at present, no genetic test to identify at-risk individuals before breeding. Hypothyroidism can be controlled with lifelong medication.
  • Goniodysplasia (for rough-haired types). This is a condition where the eye struggles to allow fluid to flow and can then result blindness. At the moment, the link between genetics and goniodysplasia is uncertain.

The Dutch Shepherd has three different coat types, smooth-haired, rough-haired, and long-haired.

The short-hair types will only need occasional brushing other than during shedding season when a daily brush will be required. The long-haired dogs need grooming once per week or more if working in muddy or challenging conditions. The rough-hair type meanwhile, needs a thorough combing once a month, and then the coat is hand-stripped twice per year.

Dutch Shepherd Training

  • Training is essential from a young pup

  • The ideal candidate for advanced training and performance sports

  • A reliable recall is vital to keep dogs out of trouble


If you’re passionate about training, then this could be the perfect choice of breed for you. In fact, every owner of a Dutch Shepherd needs to enjoy training and commit to lifelong learning for them and their dog.

Training needs to start as a young pup with enrolment in a puppy training and socialization class. Once the foundation behaviors are in place, then you can progress to performance dog sports such as agility, scent work, and tracking.

With their herding background, there can be the potential for nipping and chasing to appear if not prevented at an early age. A good puppy class will show owners how to train a reliable recall, and that will get the Dutch Shepherd out of all kinds of trouble before it happens!

The breed is not excessively noisy, but when they do bark, it’s generally to let you know something is happening that you need to respond to.

Dutch Shepherd Exercise Requirements

  • Training is essential from a young pup

  • The ideal candidate for advanced training and performance sports

  • A reliable recall is vital to keep dogs out of trouble


This is a breed that needs daily intensive exercise. They excel as a police and military dog and so have been bred for hard work and plenty of it. This means that your Dutch Shepherd needs the opportunity to run free with chase games or go with you for a morning jog.

You will need to plan on a minimum of two hours per day to exercise an adult dog. Care is needed not to over-exercise young dogs, so you should chat with your vet about the length and type of activity that’s suitable for them.

Dutch Shepherd Diet & Feeding

  • Chat to your vet for professional and personalized advice

  • Select a food suitable for your dog's age, size and exercise intensity

  • Look for foods with a high-quality source of protein


Speak to your vet for professional and personalized nutritional advice for your dog. Generally, Dutch Shepherd puppies will be fed a specially formulated puppy food until they’re around 6 months of age. Then they move onto adult food, which should be selected based on your dog’s age, size, and exercise intensity.

For hard-working dogs, high-quality nutrition is essential. Check the nutritional information on the food sack to ensure that a good quality protein is listed as one of the main ingredients.

You may also be interested in:

Dutch Shepherd Rescue Groups

As the Dutch Shepherd is a relatively rare dog in the US, few find their way into rescue. The details of dogs that do need a new home can be found on the website of the North American Dutch Shepherd Rescue – http://www.dutchshepherdrescue.org/

For further information on the breed, take a look a the website for the American Dutch Shepherd Association – https://www.americandutchshepherdassoc.org/.