AKC Miscellaneous Class
The Netherlands’ native herding dog, the “Hollandse Herder” was originally developed as an all-purpose farm dog in the late 1800s. The dogs guarded farms and livestock, drove stock, pulled small carts, and served as loyal family companions. With the advent of industrialization, sheep farming became less common and the need for herding dogs became less pressing. Concerned that the breed might die out, a group of aficionados in the Netherlands founded the Nederlandse Herdershonden Club (NHC) in June 1898, and also created the first standard for the breed.
Today, this medium-sized herding dog is valued as both a companion and working dog―one that can be used in obedience, herding, search and rescue, police work, and agility, among other activities. Lauded for their intelligence, loyalty, and expressiveness, they are popular in Europe but relatively rare in the United States. The Dutch Shepherd was recorded in the Foundation Stock Service in 2012 and has been designated as a Herding breed. It entered AKC’s Miscellaneous Class in January 2017.
The Dutch Shepherd has a relaxed carriage and an intelligent, lively expression. The head is wedge shaped; the skull is flat. The stop is moderate and distinct. The eyes are dark colored, medium sized, and almond shaped. The medium-sized ears are erect. The jaws are strong and powerful, with a scissors bite. The nose is black; the lips are tight and black.
The neck flows gradually into the body and then transitions gently into the top line. The withers are slightly higher than the back, which is level and firm. The chest is deep and long. There is a slight tuck up. The croup slopes slightly. The tail hangs straight down or with a slight curve at rest. It is carried gracefully upwards when the dog is in motion.
The forelegs are straight, powerful and of good length, with solid bone. The hind legs are also powerful and not too angulated. The feet are oval with arched toes, black nails, and dark pads. Dewclaws are acceptable on the forefeet but not the hind.
The breed has three coat varieties. The short hair coat is hard, close fitting, with a woolly undercoat. The long hair coat is long, straight (no curls or waves), and harsh to the touch, also with a woolly undercoat. The head, ears, feet, and hind legs below the hocks have short, dense hair. The rough hair coat is dense but softer than the other two coat types, with a woolly undercoat. The coat is tousled and this variety also sports a beard and distinct rough eyebrows. In all varieties, the color of the coat is either golden or silver brindle. A small amount of white is allowed on the chest and toes, and a black mask is desirable.
The Dutch Shepherd’s gait should be free, smooth, and supple.
- Height: 22.5 to 24.5 in. (male); 21.5 to 23.5 in. (female)
- Size: Medium
- Weight: 45 to 65 lbs.
- Availability: Difficult to find
- Talents: Jogging, service, tracking, herding, watchdog, police, search and rescue, guiding, agility, lure, obedience, Schutzhund, and performing tricks.
The long hair variety needs to be groomed at least once a week. The short hair variety needs less grooming, except during heavy shedding seasons, when it needs to be groomed once a day. The rough hair variety needs to be brushed once a week and hand stripped (or plucked) twice a year, but doesn’t shed as much as the other two varieties. Short hair dogs tend to need more exercise than the rough or long hair Dutchies. Parent dogs should be screened for goniodysplasia, an eye condition that can cause blindness. There is a low rate of hip dysplasia. The breed can be sensitive to anesthesia.
Loyal, alert, expressive, and obedient, the Dutch Shepherd is an excellent working dog and companion. Although intensely loyal to their families, Dutch Shepherds are not needy and tend to be very capable of working independently. Natural intelligence and liveliness make them a joy to train and work with. Their herding heritage also makes them naturally protective.
- Children: Good with children
- Friendliness: Reserved with strangers
- Trainability: Very easy to train
- Independence: Fairly independent
- Dominance: High (dominant)
- Other Pets: Good with pets if raised with them from puppyhood
- Combativeness: Not generally dog aggressive
- Noise: Not a barker
- Indoors: Relatively inactive indoors
- Owner: Not recommended for novice owners
- Grooming: Regular grooming needed
- Trimming and Stripping: No trimming or stripping needed (Short- and Longhaired); Moderate trimming or stripping of the coat needed (Rough)
- Coat: Short (Shorthaired), medium-long (Rough), long (Longhaired)
- Shedding: Seasonally heavy shedder
- Exercise: Moderate exercise needed
- Jogging: An excellent jogging companion
- Apartments: Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
- Outdoor Space: Best with at least an average-size yard
- Climate: Does well in most climates
- Longevity: Average (10 to 12 years)