The Dutch Shepherd is a smart and adaptable dog that is well-suited for active families and has a history of military service. It is attractive, diligent, and has a strong work ethic. With three types – longhair, shorthair, and wirehair – the breed is not frequently seen at dog parks, but efforts are being made to increase its numbers. The Dutch Shepherd excels in obedience competitions, guard duty, and field/agility trailing. While not as popular as the German and Belgian Shepherds, people are starting to appreciate its special qualities. It should be noted that it is different from the German Shepherd due to its unique brindle coats and natural inclination towards work. These dogs are filled with vitality and are always eager to embark on new adventures with their human companions. They are clever, athletic, easily trainable, and can serve as reliable farm assistants or devoted family pets.
Dutch Shepherd Appearance
The Dutch Shepherd is a medium-sized, athletic dog known for its well-balanced and muscular body. They have smooth and graceful movements, as well as an intelligent expression. Males typically stand between 22.5-24.5 inches tall, while females range from 21.5-23.5 inches. Both genders weigh around 42-75 pounds. Their coats come in gold or silver brindle and can be short, long, or rough with a woolly undercoat. Dutch Shepherds have a playful and friendly nature, evident in their wide smiles. Their ears are large and pointed, usually standing upright on their wedge-shaped heads. Their almond-shaped eyes are typically brown or gold, and they have long muzzles with black noses. The Dutch Shepherd’s tail is long and hangs down with a slight curve in a relaxed state but arcs upwards when they are active.
Dutch Shepherd History
Originally from the Netherlands, the Dutch Shepherd was traditionally a loyal companion to shepherds in rural areas. Their responsibilities included protecting sheep, maintaining order within the flock, and guarding crops. They would even accompany sheep during their travels. In the 19th century, breeders began introducing new genes to enhance the dog’s physical traits while retaining its intelligence and independence. By 1914, Dutch Shepherds became uniformly brindle.
However, the breed faced challenges in the 20th century due to industrialization and the decline of large sheep herds. World War II also hindered breeding efforts, pushing the Dutch Shepherd towards extinction in the 1950s. Fortunately, in the latter half of the century, they experienced a revival. Dutch Shepherds are now popular as family pets and have found new roles as service dogs in search and rescue, police K-9 units, and guide dogs. They still retain their herding abilities.
Dutch Shepherds are known for their loyalty, dependability, attentiveness, vigilance, and liveliness. They are intelligent and intuitive, making them excellent at tasks that require obedience and discipline. They have a natural shepherding temperament, allowing them to cooperate with their owners without aggression or timidity. While they are focused and dedicated, they can also be friendly, faithful, and playful, making them good with children but wary of strangers. They thrive when they are part of the family and dislike being left alone for too long.
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To effectively train them, short and varied sessions with positive reinforcement and problem-solving are recommended. It is important to provide mental stimulation and physical exercise to prevent behavioral issues. Punishment should be avoided as it can harm the bond between the dog and the owner. Dutch Shepherds excel in learning tricks, participating in competitions, and working as police or military dogs due to their intelligence and trainability.
The grooming needs of Dutch Shepherds depend on their coat type. Short-coated ones only need occasional brushing, while long-coated ones should be brushed weekly. During shedding seasons, both coats need more frequent brushing to reduce hair loss. Rough-coated Dutch Shepherds can be combed monthly but require hand-stripping during shedding.
Baths are only necessary every 4-6 weeks unless the dog gets dirty often. Regular ear and teeth checks are important, as redness or swelling in the ears might indicate infection. Cleaning with ear wipes can help. Brushing their teeth three times a week is usually enough, with an annual professional dental cleaning recommended. Nails should be clipped monthly to avoid discomfort. Consistent grooming practices contribute to a Dutch Shepherd’s cleanliness and appearance.
The Dutch Shepherd is an easy breed to train due to its intelligence and natural trainability. It is considered the most competent among shepherd dogs in various areas such as agility, obedience competitions, guard duty, herding, and field trailing. The breed is also well-suited for service duty, police work, and search and rescue training. Despite not being the most popular shepherd breed, the Dutch Shepherd is highly capable.
Establishing themselves as the pack leader is crucial for owners, as these intelligent dogs may display a tendency towards stubbornness. Patience and a proper training approach are necessary for success. Positive reinforcement through rewards is effective in motivating a Dutch Shepherd to follow commands. With consistent training, owners will be amazed by what their Dutch Shepherd can learn and enjoy the experience along with their family.
The Dutch Shepherd is an ideal companion for active individuals who enjoy outdoor activities. With their endurance and speed, they can easily keep up with their owners on long journeys. However, they are not suited for apartment living and require a spacious yard to roam freely. Regular exercise, fresh air, and mental stimulation are vital for their contentment.
To challenge their intelligent minds, engaging toy puzzles are recommended. Their energy should be burned off through activities like long walks or participating in dog sports. Without proper stimulation, they may display destructive behavior. This breed is known for its dependability, attentiveness, cleverness, and loyalty to its family.
Food & Nutrition
Working breeds like the Dutch Shepherd rely heavily on their diet to stay healthy and energized. They require a well-balanced, nutritious diet consisting of meat-based protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs, fortified with essential minerals and vitamins. High-quality dry food for dogs is typically suitable for Dutch Shepherds as long as it is made from high-grade materials and meets their specific needs based on age, size, and activity level.
It is important to choose a food with real meat as the first ingredient and avoid cheap fillers, artificial additives, and unhealthy ingredients. To prevent bloat, divide their daily serving into two meals and use a slow feeder if necessary. It is also important to manage portion sizes to prevent obesity-related health issues. If uncertain, consult a veterinarian for personalized dietary advice.
Health Issues of Dutch Shepherd
The Dutch Shepherd generally experiences fewer health issues when compared to other breeds. However, it is important to be vigilant about the various conditions that may affect this breed.
Hip dysplasia is a less common problem in Dutch Shepherds compared to German Shepherds. It causes chronic osteoarthritis in older animals and can be detected through X-rays. Affected Dutch Shepherds should not be used for breeding, as approximately 5-8% of them are believed to be affected.
The medical condition known as elbow dysplasia encompasses various abnormalities that can occur while the elbow is developing. Dogs affected by this condition typically exhibit signs of discomfort and may experience lameness in their front limbs. The use of imaging techniques can be employed to successfully diagnose the problem, and in certain instances, surgical intervention may prove beneficial. It is estimated that approximately 3% of the population is affected by elbow dysplasia.
Atopic Skin Disease
Allergic skin disease is frequently observed in veterinary clinics as a major reason for seeking pet treatment. Dogs with this condition often experience recurring episodes of varying severity that significantly affect their quality of life. Itchy skin, rashes, and watery eyes are commonly reported symptoms. There are multiple medications on the market, with varying degrees of effectiveness in managing the disease.
When the muscles near the mouth become inflamed, it can cause jaw pain and make it difficult to open the mouth. The condition can be confirmed through biopsies, and with proper treatment, the prognosis is favorable.
The presence of a greyish-pink coating over one or both eyes characterizes chronic superficial keratitis, known as the medical term for this condition. If left unattended, it could result in a loss of vision. Typically, lifelong medical intervention is necessary to manage this condition effectively.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
In cases where inflammatory cells invade the gastrointestinal system, dogs may encounter difficulties in properly digesting food, which may lead to manifestations such as vomiting, diarrhea, and a reduction in weight. Diagnosing this condition can be challenging, and determining an effective treatment plan often requires a significant amount of time. Typically, lifelong medications and dietary adjustments will be necessary as part of the treatment approach.
There is a highly uncommon ailment that has been documented in the wire-haired Dutch Shepherd population. The source of this condition is still unknown in terms of genetic factors, but it is recommended to conduct screening tests on breeding animals. The accumulation of fluid in the eye caused by this condition can potentially result in vision loss.
The Dutch Shepherd is an intelligent and adaptable dog that is well-suited for active families and has a history of military service. They come in three coat types – longhair, shorthair, and wirehair – and are not commonly seen at dog parks, but efforts are being made to increase their numbers. They excel in obedience competitions, guard duty, and field/agility trailing.
Although not as popular as German and Belgian Shepherds, the Dutch Shepherd is gaining recognition for its special qualities. They are energetic, athletic, easily trainable, and make excellent farm assistants or family pets. In terms of appearance, they have a well-balanced and muscular body, with a medium-sized frame and a variety of brindle coat colors.
They have a playful and friendly nature, are loyal and vigilant, and thrive when they are part of the family. Regular exercise, mental stimulation, and proper grooming are necessary for their well-being. It is important to be aware of potential health issues such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, atopic skin disease, and others.