Other names: Hollandse Herdershond, Berger Hollandais
Affectionate, obedient, intelligent, docile, vigilant, trustworthy and courageous, the Dutch Shepherd is not very demanding or resistant. They are always attentive, active and endowed with a true shepherd dog nature. They are very friendly with their masters and have difficulties being alone. Their great sensitivity sometimes leads them to become aggressive towards strangers. They are excellent guardians.
Key facts about the Dutch Shepherd
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Origins and history
This dog’s origins are rather vague, some refer to a cross between the German Shepherd and other Dutch shepherds while others speak of a descent from the Belgian Shepherds, to whom this dog resembles (including the three varieties of hair). Originally from the Netherlands, this shepherd dog was (and still is) the ideal partner for Dutch shepherds. Indeed, their versatility as herding and guard dogs make them very well-rounded working dogs. It is only since the 20th century that this dog has become part of the home as a lively and sporty companion dog. Their intelligence and docility even led them to join police and army brigade ranks.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 1 - Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)
Section 1 : Sheepdogs
Physical characteristics of the Dutch Shepherd
Female : Between 22 and 24 in
Male : Between 22 and 24 in
Female : Between 44 and 55 lb
Male : Between 55 and 66 lb
The coat is brindle, with a golden (light sand to brownish red) or silvery background. A black hair dominance is seen as a defect; however, a black muzzle is favoured.
Type of coat
The coat can be short or long, depending on the variety of Dutch Shepherd.
The short-haired variety has a coat with coarse, dense hair and a woolly undercoat; the long-haired variety has straight hair (which is neither curly or wavy), flattened and rough to the touch with a woolly undercoat; The wire-haired variety has a thick, coarse, tousled coat with a dense, woolly undercoat. Their heads have bushy eyebrows, beards and whiskers.
The eyes are dark in colour.
The Dutch Shepherd is a medium-sized and medium-weight dog, with a muscular body and well-proportioned build. Their expression is intelligent and their temperament lively. The eyes are dark, medium sized, almond-shaped, slightly oblique and never round. The ears, small rather than large, are erect and carried forward, set high. The tail, at rest, hangs straight or slightly curved: it reaches the tip of the hock. During movement, it is elegantly raised and never rolled up; never falling back on the dog’s sides. There are three different varieties of Dutch Shepherd: short-haired, long-haired and wire-haired.
Good to know
The most common variety is the long-haired one, but this breed is almost unknown beyond the Dutch borders.
Dutch short-haired shepherd
Dutch long-haired shepherd
Dutch rough-haired shepherd
The Dutch Shepherd is completely devoted to his/her masters, which makes them very good companions on a daily basis. One must be careful, however, as they can at times become too needy, it is therefore recommended to encourage a progressive detachment in order to avoid any over attachment.
This sheepdog loves children, he/she enjoys playing and spending time with them, especially as it allows this dog to keep an eye on them.
This watchdog is very active, and always on alert.
Simultaneously intelligent and sensitive, the Hollandse Herdershond, as they are known in their native country, are excellent shepherd dogs. They are autonomous without being too independent, they know how to show initiative and carry out the tasks entrusted to them with enthusiasm and reliability.
This Dutch dog is a herding dog, a sheepdog, and sometimes even a very good guardian, but under no circumstances a hunter. When they detect other animals, their only instinct will be to group them together or deter them if they feel a threat, no more, no less.
Fearful / wary of strangers
A worthy cousin of the Belgian Shepherd, the Dutch Shepherd is wary of people he/she does not know. Their particularly strong sense of territory can sometimes even lead them to become aggressive if their attempts at deterrence are not enough.
They need time to trust a stranger and it is preferable that their master be present to make proper presentations. If an intruder wishes to enter the property in the absence of this dog’s master, then their reserved nature will turn into strong distrust.
Moreover, the Dutch Shepherd rarely forgets anything, one bad experience with a human can have serious repercussions on their relationship.
Like many sheepdogs, this Dutch dog has eyes only for his/her master and is keen to please and be of use. Indeed, this dog does not enjoy independence, although autonomous in the accomplishment of their missions.
Behaviour of the Dutch Shepherd
Often shown to be very attached to his/her masters, this dog cannot stand to be alone. They are highly devoted to their master and despite their autonomous temperament, when they are left alone without any particular mission, they may quickly turn to deviant behaviour (destruction, excessive barking, etc.).
Easy to train / obedience
Sheepdogs such as the Dutch Shepherd are often considered to be highly intelligent and docile, and this is indeed the case for this dog. However, their training requires discipline, consistency and coherence in order for them to reach their full potential.
It is not uncommon to see behavioural troubles amongst sheepdogs due to their owners simply not being aware of the work involved in training the highly obedient sheepdog we imagine.
In fact, the Dutch Shepherd will only be cooperative if their master's attitude is one of respect and consistency. If they perceive a fault, then they will no longer feel safe with their master, and as a result of this the relationship between dog and master will suffer greatly.
The Hollandse Herdershond make extensive use of their vocal cords, particularly as part of their guard duty, to deter intruders, but also to express their suffering when they find themselves alone and isolated without having received sufficient attention.
Tendency to run away
They are very close to their master and have a strong sense of territory, thus the Dutch Shepherd is not a runaway, in fact quite the contrary. They prefer to stay with their family to keep an eye on them but also to benefit from close family moments.
They become restless when their needs are not met, and they are forced to stay locked up, whether indoors, in the house, or in the garden. In addition, their potential over-attachment to their owners can result in damage to objects that carry their scent (cushions, remote control, sofa, etc.).
Greedy / Gluttony
The Dutch Shepherd is not a big eater, nor are they difficult to feed, they are content with little but do of course appreciate good quality treats.
In addition to being an excellent herding dog, they are also highly competent as guard dogs, to such an extent that they are often adopted to be used by law enforcement authorities (the police and the army).
Adopting a sheepdog as your first dog can be a great idea if you are energetic, motivated and have time to devote to your pet. It would not otherwise be recommended to adopt this work-hound if only to leave it in the garden all day and for it to look pretty on the end of your leash on rare walks.
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Dutch Shepherd in a flat
They will always be much happier surrounded by their masters in a house. The ideal for them would be to live in a spacious house with a fenced garden.
Living in an apartment may not be suitable for them, particularly because of their desire for space, freedom and the outdoors. This dog is far more compatible with an outdoor life while still maintaining a fondness for indoor comfort with their owners after having been sufficiently active.
Nevertheless, whatever their living environment, they must be regularly taken on walks as they can otherwise become destructive and unhappy. It is advisable to offer such an active dog at least 1 or 2 hours of walking per day, regardless of whether they have a garden.
Need for exercise / Sporty
The Dutch Shepherd is a work hound, they are not made to stay at home all day. They must be stimulated daily to reach their full potential.
In fact, physical and sporting activities must be offered as regularly as possible, but also activities that stimulate their mental capacities and senses. When it comes to this multi-talented dog, the range of activities is very broad as everything suits them.
Travelling / easy to transport
This medium-sized dog can be transported with no problems, but to achieve this they must have the right training. A high level of socialisation must also have been experienced by the Dutch Shepherd puppy in order for them to adapt easily to different environments and situations.
However, one must be careful, this dog remains a shepherd dog, and this means they are sensitive. Their distrust of strangers and their instinct to guard may, in some cases, affect the easiness/tranquillity of certain situations, such as particularly crowded places, for example.
Dutch Shepherd and cats
It is preferable for the Dutch Shepherd, as it is commonly known, to grow up alongside their adoptive family’s cat in order for them to be able to live peacefully and serenely together.
Dutch Shepherd and dogs
As part of their work as herding dogs, the Dutch Shepherds can get along well with their "colleagues". On the other hand, as highly sensitive dogs, they are not the most confident. As such, a bad experience or the accumulation of several bad encounters can have a heavy impact on them.
It is therefore necessary for this dog to benefit from good quality socialisation, with the possibility of meeting dogs of different sizes and energies, regularly and in a positive and supervised atmosphere.
Dutch Shepherd and children
This sheep dog gets along very well with the children of his/her social group. They become good playmates and watchdogs when with children.
Be careful however, the sensitivity of this dog requires special precautions to prevent children from disrespecting him/her or causing him/her heavy trauma. Even if this dog shows patience, they are not able to take as much as other dogs may, so be vigilant.
Of course, this dog will never become aggressive towards the children of their social group but could turn inwards/introverted if the interactions are not respectful.
Dutch Shepherd and the elderly
As a naturally well-balanced dog that nonetheless requires an almost constant presence with them, the Dutch Shepherd can easily adapt to a life with retired seniors. However, for cohabitation to go well, it is essential for their masters to still be sufficiently active in order to meet this dog’s needs.
The price of a Dutch Shepherd varies according to their origins, age, variety and sex. We do not have enough information to set an average price for a Dutch Shepher.
Concerning the average budget to support a dog of this size, it is necessary to account for approximately £40/month.
The varieties with tough and short hair do not require any particular maintenance; simple, regular brushing is sufficient. On the other hand, maintenance must be more rigorous for the long-haired variety in order to prevent knots from forming.
These regular brushings make it possible to avoid having to wash this dog too often. This is not a dog that needs to be groomed, in fact this could harm the protective quality of their coat.
Hair loss varies according to the Dutch Shepherd variety. However, generally hair loss is moderate, except during moulting periods when brushing must occur daily.
Nutrition of the Dutch Shepherd
The Dutch Shepherd is extremely easy to feed. Everything suits them, whether it is a diet based on high quality kibbles or traditional raw (or cooked rare) meat, vegetables and cereals.
The most important thing when you prepare your dog's meals yourself is to make sure you provide them with all the nutrients they need for their age, weight and especially their daily activities (which can be very intense). Veterinary follow-up is often recommended, only to ensure a proper growth of the puppies.
For this dog a single meal may be enough, but be careful to ensure that one hour before and one hour after their meal the dog remains calm in order to avoid any stomach issues, to which active dogs such as this Dutch Shepherd are particularly predisposed.
Health of the Dutch Shepherd
Life expectancy is estimated at 13 years.
Strong / robust
This dog is a robust, strong and above all very resilient shepherd dog who is not afraid of the weather.
As a tough and passionate dog, they can work even in hot weather. However, it is not recommended to impose intense activities on him/her when temperatures are extreme, one must remain reasonable.
This dog has the physical capabilities to live outside without any problems. However, to maintain relationships and their psychological well-being, it is important to integrate them as much as possible into family life and avoid leaving them outside constantly.
Tendency to put on weight
This work hound must not become large. If their needs are met and they benefit from an appropriate and high-quality diet, there is no reason for them to gain weight in view of their active lifestyle.
The Dutch Shepherd has no particular predispositions to certain diseases. However, like all medium to large dogs, hip dysplasia should be monitored, although modern breeds tend to see a reduction in this condition.