Complete Guide To Dutch Shepherds: Care, Exercise, Feeding and More

While you may be familiar with a German Shepherd or a Belgian Shepherd, not many people know their cousin, the Dutch Shepherd. This dog is the rarest of the shepherd breeds but is easily one of the most attractive. Between its high energy, extreme intelligence, and loyal and loving demeanor, the Dutch Shepherd is an endearing dog breed to add to an experienced family familiar with high-energy dogs.

In my 20 years as a veterinarian, I have run across only a handful of Dutch Shepherds. Each one was intelligent, confident, and healthy. I’m sure as time goes by I will run across one with some issues but I haven’t so far.

How Big Can A Dutch Shepherd Get?

Compared to other shepherd breeds, the Dutch Shepherd is comparable in size and weight. Usually, male and female shepherds are about the same size. Adult Dutch Shepherds will reach between 21.5 and 24.5 inches at the shoulder. A healthy Dutch Shepherd will weigh between 42 and 75 pounds, with females usually lighter. 

What Are The Coat Variations Of A Dutch Shepherd? 

The coat of the Dutch Shepherd is a remarkable feature and offers plenty of variety. Traditionally, the coat is brindle but can be any combination of a gold or silver brindle. If the Dutch Shepherd has patches of white or too much black mixed into the fur, it is considered a fault with the breed.

The Dutch Shepherd comes in three different coat types, including a short-haired, long-haired, and wire-haired coat. Short-haired Dutch Shepherds have been traditionally used for herding work and police work, while wire-haired Dutch Shepherds are somewhat rare and difficult to find.  

What Is The Personality of a Dutch Shepherd?

Loyal and eager to please, the Dutch Shepherd is a beautiful dog to invite into any family. This dog was bred to be a shepherd, tending flocks as a working dog, and regularly considers all family members part of his herd. This dog is loyal to a fault and will do anything to please its owner.

For this reason, the Dutch Shepherd is incredibly easy to train. His willingness to please, coupled with his high intelligence, makes him well suited for several working applications. This dog is commonly used for police work, as well as therapy work. The dog can just as easily track and detect a bomb or illegal substance as it can work as a Seeing Eye Dog. The dog responds well to new training and behaviors but requires short and repetitive training sessions. This dog will get bored quickly if the training persists too long. Always use consistent yet positive training techniques when working with the Dutch Shepherd and offer plenty of praise and rewards.  

The Dutch Shepherd makes an excellent family dog and is well suited to living with adults and children alike. The dog can live comfortably in an urban apartment setting if the dog is properly exercised every day. Remember that exercise must be both physical as well as mental for this brilliant dog. If the dog is not properly exercised, he could quickly become destructive or develop nuisance behaviors and actions. If keeping this dog in an apartment, he will need several walks throughout the day to satisfy his high energy level. 

How Long Do Dutch Shepherds Live?

11-14 years old based on information gathered by the American Kennel Club (AKC)

What Health Concerns Do Dutch Shepherds Have?

This is a newer breed who is currently in the Miscellaneous class of the AKC. As time goes by and the breeding population matures and grows, more information will become available. However, as they are shepherds, I would place their most likely health condition to be:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism (for the longer haired version)

What Kind Of Dog Food Is Best For Dutch Shepherds?

For Dutch Shepherd puppies, you will need to make sure you don’t feed them too much too fast. It’s easy because they are usually chow hounds, but you want to control their growth. Growing too fast can cause some early bone and joint problems that are easily avoided.

Best Puppy Food For Dutch Shepherds

Best Adult Food For Dutch Shepherds:

Please don’t listen to the folks at the pet store trying to convince you to buy a grain-free diet for your dog. There’s zero science behind that and vets are actually seeing diseases now related to feeding grain-free foods.

What Are The Grooming Needs Of A Dutch Shepherd?

Usually, the short-haired Dutch Shepherds will be easier to groom than the long-haired or wire-haired varieties. Be sure to brush your Dutch Shepherd about once per week. This grooming will help reduce the amount of shedding, and it will help pull the healthy and natural oils from the skin to his fur’s ends. The Dutch Shepherd is a prolific shedder and will go through two heavy shedding sessions each year, usually in the spring and the fall. For the wire-haired Dutch Shepherd, the fur should be stripped by a professional groomer twice per year.  

Make sure to keep this dog bathed, as needed. The dog is generally clean but will need to be bathed if it has been romping through the forest. Keep the nails trimmed short, especially if they are not naturally worn short from walking or playing on a rough surface. The ears should be cleaned monthly to avoid painful ear infections, and the teeth should be kept clean. Keep the teeth professionally cleaned by the veterinarian once per year.  

How Much Exercise Does A Dutch Shepherd Need?

The Dutch Shepherd is an extremely high-energy dog and was bred to be active and engaged. This dog is used to working as a farm dog, protecting his herd over acres of land. To keep the Dutch Shepherd happy, you must regularly exercise this dog. Consider long walks, hikes, or jogs. The dog loves to romp and play and will enjoy playing with other dogs in a fenced-in area or play yard. If your dog is living in an apartment, be sure to give your dog multiple long walks each day. 

Of course, the Dutch Shepherd also needs to stay engaged mentally as well. This breed is a highly intelligent dog that will quickly become bored if he is tasked with performing the same jobs, behaviors, and routines day in and day out. Be sure to always engage this dog by learning new behaviors or tricks, and readily give the dog puzzles to solve. The Dutch Shepherd is happy to perform service work, therapy work, or dog agility competitions such as flyball and obedience competitions.  

Because of this dog’s high energy requirements and high intelligence, only experienced dog owners should consider adopting a Dutch Shepherd. This dog must have a firm owner who is willing to commit to a rigorous exercise routine and strong training routine. The dog should always be included in family activities and will not do well if left alone for long periods during the day.  

Where Can I Find a Dutch Shepherd?

If you are passionate about owning this loyal and intelligent breed, it is a good idea to start with the Dutch Shepherd Dog Club of America. You will be able to find valuable information, as well as resources to find a trusted and reputable breeder. When finding a breeder, be sure to ask plenty of questions about the puppies’ health, information about the breed, and any health checks or certifications conducted. You will want to meet the entire litter of puppies if possible and select a puppy that is brave, confident, and outgoing.  

Adopting a Dutch Shepherd from a rescue is also a wonderful option. By rescuing a dog, you can help a dog in need of a home, and you can find a purebred Dutch Shepherd dog. There are several Dutch Shepherd rescues throughout the United States. Consider beginning your search with the North American Dutch Shepherd Rescue to start your adoption process today.  

Where To Find Out More Information About Dutch Shepherds?

AKC Breed Page

Dutch Shepherd Dog Club of America

Dutch Shepherd Dog Complete Owners Manual

Fun Facts About The Dutch Shepherd

The Dutch Shepherd is a natural herder and lives to work on large acres of land, protecting his flock. The Dutch Shepherd was first found in the Netherlands working as a farm guard, livestock guard, and drover in the rural areas.  

This dog breed was almost pushed to extinction after WWII. Breeding programs were completely shut down in the Netherlands, and many of the available dogs were taken by the German military to work in the war. Luckily, with selective breeding and protective measures, the Dutch Shepherd is a widely available dog breed today. 

Dutch Shepherds are closely related to German Shepherds and Belgian Shepherds and are primarily considered their distant cousins. However, compared to other shepherd breeds, the Dutch Shepherd has fewer health conditions, lives longer, and is much easier to train.