The origin of the Dutch Shepherd can be found in the Dutch Countryside. It’s image could be found back in the 19th century as it graced many a painting, postcard or drawing. In earlier times there was a need for a strong versatile dog that had little to no demand and that was well suited to the hard life of those times. The Dutch Shepherd belongs to the guarding shepherds. The dog would be seen guarding the sheep in the field and at a lower level herding them, this so the sheep could graze in relative comfort and without interruption. His primary task was to keep the flock in a certain area, as designated by the herder of the flock, by creating a boundary of sorts and then patrolling this boundary to ensure nothing could sneak into the flock, or out of it. The Dutch Shepherd was first and foremost a guarding dog with herding abilities. They were also used as farm dogs, guarding geese, chickens, ducks, children and other small farmyard animals. They were also know to at times help the farmer bring the cows back to stable or move them from pasture to pasture. They would accompany the farmer and his livestock to transport them to market or to the harbour. They were also used for pulling carts in those days. It was not uncommon to see a Milk Cart pulled by a Dutch Shepherd in those days although their pulling skills were not secluded to milk alone. Whatever fit the cart would be pulled by the Dutch Shepherd without fail. They would alert the farmer to strangers that entered the farm. They were then, and still are today, the guardians of the field and farm. This background in turn explains the origin of the characteristics of the Dutch Shepherd that still today have remained unchanged. In the early 1900’s when sheep farming was on its return the Dutch Shepherd became the dog of choice for training due to his versatility and character. He started a new career as Police dog, Scent dog or Seeing eye dog. The original breed standard for the Dutch Shepherd dates from June 12th 1898. Around the 1930’s the long haired Dutch Shepherd was almost extinct so in order to preserve this variety search was made in the countryside to locate any existing longhairs. For the rough and shorthaired varieties people had to return to the countryside as well in order to keep the numbers up. The purebred book of Dutch Shepherds was closed on February 1st, 1971. The Dutch Shepherd is listed as a rare dog breed and the count in 2009 gave the following numbers.
- Short haired – 1500 dogs
- Long Haired – 600 dogs
- Rough Haired – 400 dogs
Interest from outside the Netherlands has peaked over the last decade and numbers are very slowly rising again although there is no certainty that this is due to purebred Dutch Shepherds, or their closely related Cross bred Dutch Shepherds.
Loyal and dependable, attentive, active, guarding, independent, persistent, intelligent. The Dutch Shepherd is a true Shepherd in nature. They are willing to obey and have a strong need for leadership and order. They are not the dog for just any person. They need guidance and leadership, are extremely quick learners and are quick to show signs of boredom. The breed is extremely well suited for many sports like KNPV, IPO, Obedience, Flyball, Dock Diving, Tracking and many more but they are mostly used for Police dogs, Search and Rescue, Narcotics dogs, Explosive dogs and Seeing eye dogs.
The first official breed description for the Dutch Shepherd was set in 1875. The first original breed standard dates from June 12th 1898, when the Dutch Shepherd club was formed. At that time there were still 6 coat varieties.
- short haired
- middle haired
- long haired with hair standing
- long haired with hair flat
- bristle haired
- rough haired
In 1906 the coat varieties were cut back to the 3 varieties that we know today.
- short haired
- long haired
- rough haired
The colours vary from silver to golden brindle.
A medium sized, medium weight, well muscled dog with a strong and powerful build. A dog with a high endurance, a lively temperament and an intelligent expression. The Dutch Shepherd is separated in 3 different coats. The longhaired Dutch Shepherd, the Rough Haired Dutch Shepherd and the Short Haired Dutch Shepherd.
Height and Weight.
Males: 57 to 62 cm – Approximately 28 Kilos
Females: 55 to 60 cm – Approximately 23 Kilos
Raising your Dutch Shepherd
Due to his characteristics the Dutch Shepherd needs a consistent upbringing, this to ensure that their character traits develop towards the right directions. He does not need a hard hand but a firm hand none the less. They can be handler sensitive and can easily pick up moods and respond to them accordingly. They are quick to learn, this means they learn the good things just as quickly as they learn the bad things. They need stimulation, physical and mental. A bored Dutch Shepherd will remind you to keep him occupied in ways you can not imagine. Keep him occupied, worked, busy, stimulated… If you do not ensure that he has what he needs, he will find a way to find it for himself and will occupy himself with things you do not want him to occupy himself with. Rule of thumb: A Happy Dutch Shepherd is a Tired Dutch Shepherd.
Regards, Alice Mackenzie.