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A Dutch shepherd in a grass field.

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Miscellaneous
  • Height — 21-25 inches
  • Weight — 42-75 pounds
  • Coat length & texture — Short, long or wiry coat varieties
  • Coat color — Brindled with silver and gold hues.
  • Exercise needs — High
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — When necessary
  • Life span — 11-14 years
  • Temperament — Active, intelligent, independent
  • Hypoallergenic — No
  • Origin —  Netherlands

Dutch shepherd temperament and characteristics 

Similar to the German shepherd, the Dutch shepherd is also a herding breed but is  lighter both in color and size. Their gold brindle coat distinguishes them from solid and bi-colored shepherd dogs such as the Belgian shepherd. They also always have golden or silver fur instead of black or red colors outlined in the German shepherd breed standard. At 42 to 75 pounds, the medium-large Dutch shepherd weighs anywhere from 10 to 50 pounds less than the German Shepherd.

Dutch shepherds have a natural inclination to herd animals, which is why they were heavily sought after for farming during the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, they make great family pets as long as you’re willing to accommodate their bounds of energy and high exercise requirements. Depending on their coat type, your grooming duties may range from brushing once a week to brushing several times a week or even hand stripping loose fur.


The Dutch Shepherd is known for its distinct coat color. The coat is short and thick, with longer hairs on the back of the legs and the muzzle. This breed, as described by the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard, should have a golden or silver base color. Golden can vary from light sand color to chestnut red. The brindle may be black or dark brown and is present all over the body and in the ruff, breeches, and tail. A small amount of white on the chest or toes is permitted. We teamed up with FidoTabby Alert, and according to their database, a common coat color for the Dutch Shepherd is (76%) black.  

Dutch shepherd fun facts

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male Dutch Shepherds Loki; Duke is the 2nd most popular male name. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Dutch Shepherds love Luna, then Stella equally.

  • The first Dutch shepherd breed club was founded in the Netherlands in 1898. They existed in the Netherlands for over a century before being recognized by the American Kennel Club.
  • The Dutch shepherd was only recently recognized as a breed by the AKC in 2012. In 2017, they transitioned from the foundation stock program into the miscellaneous group.
  • Their brindled pattern distinguishes them from the similar German shepherd and Belgian Malinois. These dog breeds only have solid colors or sable patterns.
A Dutch shepherd on a walk in the fall.

Common Dutch shepherd health problems

Since they’re a relatively new breed in the US, there isn’t much information yet about breed-specific illnesses. Here are a few health issues that might impact the Dutch shepherd:

  • Hip dysplasia. As with all large dogs, Dutch shepherds might be predisposed to hip dysplasia, a condition where the femur doesn’t line up with the hip socket. Responsible breeders should screen their stock with genetic testing before they commit to a litter. However, there’s no guarantee a dog won’t develop the issue later in life since many factors play a part.
  • Bloat. Deep-chested dogs such as the Dutch shepherd are more predisposed to bloat, a condition where a dog’s stomach fills with gas. Unfortunately, bloat can sometimes result in the stomach twisting, which is also known as gastric torsion. This condition can turn fatal quickly without immediate medical care.
  • Gonio dysplasia. Rough haired dogs are more genetically susceptible to goniodysgenesis, a type of glaucoma that usually affects young canines.
  • Degenerative myelopathy. Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for this devastating disease, which slowly erodes the nervous system. Although degenerative myelopathy usually affects senior canines, it’s an inherited issue that should be screened for before breeding.

Cost of caring for Dutch shepherds

Dutch shepherds are relatively healthy, but even strong pups get sick sometimes. Securing a pet health insurance plan may be a way to reduce out-of-pocket expenses when emergencies or illnesses arise. Instead of tackling the entire bill on your credit card statement, you’ll pay the upfront cost on the day of the treatment, and then file a claim with your insurance company. You’re usually reimbursed within a couple of weeks, which gives you plenty of time to pay your bills.

Pet insurance provides the greatest benefits to pet owners who sign up their pets early. Some companies may restrict benefits for dogs who were enrolled past a certain age, since they’re more likely to need treatment for issues such as hip dysplasia in the near future.  If you don’t want to commit to paying a monthly fee and annual deductible, you might want to consider budgeting for a pet savings account.

A Dutch shepherd in the snow.

History of the Dutch shepherd

Back in the days when sheep roamed the rolling hills of the Netherlands, farmers noticed that a wild dog possessed a natural tendency to herd their flocks. The Dutch shepherd, as they came to be called, was quickly used as a working dog to independently bring the flocks of sheep to the fields in the morning and round them up every night. As a “jack of all trades,” they were adept at multiple tasks, such as corralling chickens and keeping watch over farms as guard dogs. The first breed standard was introduced by a Dutch shepherd breed club in the Netherlands in 1898.

As the Industrial Revolution urbanized Europe, the Dutch shepherd lost their job as a farm hand. In the early 1900s, they went to work in the city with the Royal Dutch Police Dog Association. In Europe, they’re still employed for military and police work today. They’re also occasionally trained as rescue or service dogs.

During WWII, Dutch shepherds were taken for military service. Many lost their lives in battle, and the breed numbers declined almost to extinction. Thankfully, dog fanciers brought the breed back, though they remain a relatively rare breed compared to their German and Belgian cousins. The United Kennel Club officially recognized the Dutch Shepherd as a herding dog in 1995. More recently, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recently recognized the Dutch shepherd as a breed in 2012, and they are quickly finding their way into our homes as pets. Although they’re still listed in the miscellaneous category for now, they’ll eventually be reassigned to the herding group as their numbers grow.

Caring for your Dutch shepherd

Puppies require extra medical expenses on top of the upfront adoption cost. After you adopt your Dutch shepherd, you’ll need to take them to their first visit to the vet and make sure they’re up to date on their vaccinations. As your young dog grows, you’ll want to check out ways to puppy-proof your home and prepare for teething. While we hope your new puppy never goes missing, FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag so you’re prepared in the event of an emergency. Here are some other basics to consider:


This herding dog is accustomed to driving cattle all day—and they’ll drive you crazy if they don’t receive enough exercise. Due to their high energy levels, the Dutch shepherd needs at least an hour of daily exercise. Walks, runs, hikes, or jogs should do the trick. The Dutch shepherd really benefits from a large backyard where they can run freely, but they’ll tolerate smaller living spaces as long as they stay active. This athletic breed is also a pro at dog sports such as agility courses, so you might consider building them an obstacle course to practice with or finding a dog park that has one nearby.

A Dutch shepherd running outside with a ball.


All Dutch shepherds shed. Some shed differently than others, however, since there are three types of coats. Short-hair or single coated dogs only shed a moderate amount since they predominantly have guard hairs. You’ll only need to brush them once a week throughout the year, and a little more during the peak shedding seasons. Long hair Dutch shepherds require the most extensive grooming regimen. They shed a lot year-round, but really send the fur flying during the late spring and fall when they “blow” their coat to prepare for the next season. The rough-haired Dutch shepherd has tight, wiry curls similar to a Schnauzer. While they only need to be combed once a month, you’ll need to hand strip their coat twice a year to remove the dead hair.

Daily teeth brushing coupled with routine dental cleanings help prevent periodontal disease, and you should also keep their nails trimmed to avoid injury. You can bathe your Dutch shepherd as necessary, but preferably no more than once a month to keep their coat shiny. When it’s time for a spa day, choose a gentle dog-friendly shampoo that’s free from harsh cleansing agents such as sulfates.

Diet and nutrition

As a medium-large dog, Dutch shepherds eat between 2 and 3 cups of food every day. The exact amount depends on the quality of the kibble and your pup’s life stage. In general, Dutch shepherds thrive on a high-protein diet since they’re an active breed.  Your veterinarian is a great source for finding the right recipe for your dog. They’re knowledgeable about their individual health concerns, as well as conditions to watch out for in the breed as a whole.

Training your Dutch shepherd

This herding dog is highly intelligent but possesses a stubborn streak due to their independent nature. Early obedience training is always best to help your dog start life on the right paw. Since they’re smarter than the average pup, Dutch shepherds benefit from brief, frequent training sessions without much repetition. Positive reinforcement is always the way to go, so be sure to bring the treat bag as a tasty incentive! Remember to be patient. This breed has the ability to serve as guide dogs, so they’ll definitely master something as basic as potty-training in no time.

A Dutch shepherd in a field of flowers.

Breeds similar to the Dutch shepherd

Not quite sure that a Dutch shepherd  is right for you? Here are a few similar breeds that you might also want to consider as you make your decision:

  • German shepherd. If a larger herding dog is more up your alley, you might prefer the closely related German shepherd. These dogs are more popular in the United States, which means they’re cheaper and easier to find.
  • Belgian Malinois. The red-gold Belgian Malinois doesn’t have a brindle pattern in their breed standard, setting them apart from the Dutch shepherd. Otherwise, they have similar temperaments and characteristics.
  • Siberian husky. The iconic Siberian husky has a thick double coat like the Dutch shepherd and is similarly sized. Both breeds have an excellent tolerance for cold climates, but don’t weather hot temperatures very well.

Frequently asked questions

Is a Dutch shepherd a good family dog?

This breed fits best with active families who like to spend time outdoors. Formerly used as a working dog who herded sheep, the Dutch shepherd is capable of running all day long. You should plan on spending at least an hour every day exercising your Dutch shepherd to prevent them from becoming bored.

What two dogs make a Dutch shepherd?

The Dutch shepherd was first recognized in the Netherlands as a distinct breed in 1898. It’s believed that they descended from German shepherds and Belgian Malinoises, but we don’t know for certain since there isn’t much written history about them. Their early days were spent working on farms, and they only caught the attention of dog fanciers in the last century. World War II nearly decimated the Dutch shepherd, but dog breeders are bringing them back. The AKC welcomed the Dutch shepherd into their foundation stock program in 2012 and allowed them in the miscellaneous class in 2017. However, they haven’t yet been received into their proper herding group category since their numbers remain small.

What is the difference between a Belgian Malinois and a Dutch shepherd?

According to the breed standard, the Belgian Malinois possesses a solid or sabled coat in red or fawn colors. By contrast, the Dutch shepherd is always brindled. Silver and gold are the only acceptable coat colors.

What is the difference between a German shepherd and a Dutch shepherd?

The German shepherd stands a couple inches taller and weighs anywhere from 10 to 50 pounds more than the Dutch shepherd. Their coat may also have a variety of colors, as opposed to the strictly brindled pattern seen in the Dutch shepherd. Both herding dogs are closely related. In fact, it’s believed that the Dutch shepherd descended directly from the German shepherd and the Belgian Malinois.