Dutch shepherds are quite popular these days and people often compare them with the Malinois breed. But if you have your heart set on a Dutch shepherd, then this guide is for you. Note that this is a relatively rare dog breed in the United States, so be prepared for a fairly long wait time when bringing your Dutch shepherd puppy home.
Facts about the Dutch Shepherd
- Dutch shepherd dogs are also known as Hollandse Herdershond. The literal translation of this Dutch term is ‘sheep/guard dog from Holland’.
- Since the Dutch shepherd comes from the southern part of the Netherlands, and especially from the province of Brabant near the Belgian border, it is closely related to both the Belgian and the German shepherd breeds. We also cannot forget the fact that Belgium was a part of Holland until 1839 so the comparison between Dutch shepherd and the Belgian Malinois is justified.
- Thanks to the breed’s excellent guarding ability, agility, and superior intelligence, they have been used as police dogs, protection dogs, and even in military work.
- This is a one-owner dog which means they are known to attach to one dog handler and are extremely loyal and protective towards them.
- The Dutch shepherd, fondly known as the Dutchie, is a brindled color dog with a base color that can range from golden to light fawn, to dark red, to silvery white. Dutch shepherd dogs with salt and pepper coloring are much in demand and also an accepted coat color.
- They are medium-sized, strong and muscular dogs with a keen and alert expression. Small, upright, triangular ears are set high on a small wedge-shaped head.
- Dutchies come in three coat varieties based on the coat structure namely, the shorthaired, wirehaired and rough or long-haired Dutch shepherd dogs. The rough-coated variety had almost disappeared in the 1930s but has made a comeback recently.
- Dutch shepherd size: The desired height for male dogs is between 57 to 62 cm or 22.4 to 24.4 inches. For bitches, it is 55 to 60 cm.
Dutch Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois
Many are inclined to think that the Belgian Malinois and the Dutch shepherd are the same breeds and some proponents have even gone as far as suggesting that both dogs be renamed as the Continental shepherd. The Belgian Malinois is an ancestor of the Dutchie and that is the main reason behind the comparison.
Both the dog breeds, the Belgian Malinois and the Dutch shepherd, are affectionate, playful, loyal, hard-working, active, and energetic dogs. They are gifted with stamina, strength, and true shepherd temperament.
Compared to the Belgian, the Dutchie is ‘quieter’ in temperament and also more stable. Both dogs have the ability to anticipate what comes next, especially during training. Both breeds are dedicated and devoted to their handlers.
As puppies, the Belgian and Dutchies look almost the same; but as they grow, there are subtle differences in sizes. Belgian Malinois height is about 65 cm or 25 inches while that of the Dutchie is 60 cm or about 23 inches. The biggest difference lies in the coat; the Dutchie has a brindled coat whereas the Belgian always comes in a solid coat. The Dutchie also comes in three different coat varieties while the Belgian always has a short coat.
Belgian Malinois is one of the four Belgian shepherd varieties. You can read about the Belgian breeds here. Malinois and Dutch shepherd breeds are frequently crossed together. The resulting pups that are born with fawn or single color coats are marked as Malinois pups whereas those with brindled coats are marked as unregistered Dutch shepherds.
Where to find a Dutch Shepherd
If you have decided that a Dutch shepherd puppy is right for your home, then go ahead and contact reputed Dutchie breeders near you. The DSDCA club of America can guide you to breeders on the East Coast or West coast, based on your location. You can also contact shelters near you to find Dutch shepherd dog rescues. The cost of a purebred Dutch shepherd is between $1000 and $3000 based on its breeder, color, and pedigree.
Temperament and personality
Like the Malinois and German shepherd breeds, Dutchies are used extensively in police work. They are hardworking dogs that are easy to train provided they have an experienced handler. Dutchies are affectionate, obedient, reliable, alert, and docile dogs. They are always watchful so you can rest assured that you and your property are safe with a Dutchie around.
This real ‘shepherd’ breed is highly talented and can ‘think ahead’. They can anticipate their handler/owner’s mood. They are great family pets and get along very well with children. However, you should always supervise dog-child interactions, especially if you haven’t socialized your puppy to children from early puppyhood.
This is an incorruptible dog that loves his family and is greatly devoted to them. He is wary of strangers and distrusting of them. They are naturally watchful and make excellent guard dogs. The rough-coated Dutchie is more sensitive than the other two varieties and hence less suited for protection training.
Training a Dutchie
With proper training and upbringing, this cheerful dog can bring great joy to your family.
Early, gentle, and consistent training will help your Dutch shepherd dog become an obedient and well-mannered companion. If possible, enroll your dog in puppy obedience classes nearby. In the age of 0 to 7 weeks, puppies learn to interact with other dogs. That is why it is important to keep a puppy with its littermates for at least the first 8 weeks of his life. This will help them learn appropriate puppy behaviors.
Between 7 to 14 weeks, get your pet to interact with people, places, and animals in non-threatening and safe environments. In the period between 8 weeks to 10 weeks, avoid frightening your puppy as it could leave lasting fears in him. Between 13-16 weeks, provide your pet with plenty of chew toys as he is teething and you do not want him to bite you or your furniture.
Between 4 to 8 months, continue with positive reinforcement training. Use plenty of treats and praise when training your Dutchie. You can teach him basic commands like stay, heel, and so on. Always keep training sessions short and end them in plenty of fun and play. Use the same ‘command word’ each time you train your pup.
Get your dog neutered/spayed when the time is right as otherwise, his/her hormones can lead to ‘pushy’ behaviors.
This is an active dog breed. S/he needs to expend energy on a daily basis. Exercise is important for physical as well as mental stimulation of your pet. Without exercise, a Dutchie could indulge in bad behaviors like chewing furniture, excess barking, digging, etc. Walk or jog with your pet twice a day. You can also take him swimming which is a much gentler form of exercise on the joints.
Grooming your Dutch Shepherd
Your Dutchie or Hollandse herder does not need too much grooming other than regular brushing. The rough-coated and wirehaired varieties need more brushing than the short-haired Dutchie. Dutch shepherd dogs shedding or blowing of the coat is a biannual phenomenon, during which you need to brush your pet more than usual. Don’t forget to check your dog’s teeth, ears, and eyes from time to time.
Health issues and lifespan
The Hollandse herder is a hardy dog breed and is known to live between 12-15 years. Common health issues seen in the breed include dermatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, hip and elbow dysplasia, and certain cancers.