The Dutch Shepherd is one of the dog breeds in the Northern European Shepherds group that originates in the Netherlands. It is a medium to large breed of dog that was originally kept as herding dogs by farmers and shepherds who needed a dog that was easy to train and capable of living in harsh environments. While this is a breed that has a long history, it is one that people often know very little about. Here are ten interesting facts about the Dutch Shepherd.
1. They Were First Bred in the 19th Century
Although the exact date that this breed was first bred is unknown, there is evidence to suggest that they have been around in the Netherlands since the early 19th-century. Originally, they were classified as part of the Northern European Shepherds group before being defined by their own breed standards in 1898.
2. They Once Faced Extinction
During the 1940s and 1950s, the Dutch Shepherd faced extinction. One factor that caused this was the increased use of machinery in modern farming that led to a lack of demand for this breed as a working dog. World War II also slowed down breeding programs that were taking place in the Netherlands at that time. Another factor that contributed to the near extinction was many dogs died due to lack of food. Following the war, a breeding program was put in place in an attempt to increase numbers of this breed.
3. The Dutch Shepherd Remains a Rare Breed
Although the numbers of this breed have increased, the Dutch Shepherd remains a rare breed of dog. There are still measures being put in place to turn things around for the Dutch Shepherd and to increase their numbers. One step that the Dutch Breed Club has taken is to request all owners of a Dutch Shepherd to breed their dog, providing the dog meets the minimum conformation standards. The Club has also produced standards for breeding so that they can increase numbers and also widen the gene pool of the breed.
4. They Are Registered with the UKC
The Dutch Shepherd is registered as a breed by the United Kennel Club (UKC) in the United States. The American Kennel Club has them listed only in the miscellaneous class of their Foundation Stock Service, which is for breeds that are not yet registered with the organization. This breed is also recognized by the FCI, the Australian National Kennel Club and the New Zealand Kennel Club.
5. They Sometimes Work as Police Dogs
Although this breed originally worked on farms, their intelligence and other traits made them perfect for many other roles. They are now most commonly associated with working alongside the police force. Since 1907, Dutch Shepherds have been trained by the Royal Dutch Police Dog Association.
6. They Compete in Many Canine Sporting Events
The Dutch Shepherd is highly intelligent, easy to train, and very agile. This makes them the perfect breed to compete in many canine sporting events. Some of the activities in which the Dutch Shepherd is involved include dog agility, flyball, dock jumping, obedience, tracking, weight pulling, nose work, rally obedience, disc dog, and Schutzhund.
7. There Are Three Coat Variations of This Breed
While some dog breeds have just one type of coat, the Dutch Shepherd has three coat variations. These are short-haired, long-haired, and rough-haired Dutch Shepherds.
8. There Are Some Genetic Conditions Associated with This Breed
Generally, the Dutch Shepherd is a healthy breed of dog and has a life expectancy of between 13 and 15 years. However, there are some genetic conditions that are associated with this breed. These include allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, pannus, masticatory myositis, and cryptorchidism.
9. All Dutch Shepherds Are Brindle
When the breed standards were first written, any color of Dutch Shepherd was allowed. However, they then decided that brindle was what defined the Dutch Shepherd from similar breeds. The options are usually silver brindle or golden brindle and too much black is undesirable.
10. They Need Exercise and Grooming
The Dutch Shepherd takes quite a lot of care as they need grooming at least twice a week and need daily exercise. They are best-suited to houses with large gardens for them to enjoy outdoor activity and they are not suited to apartment living.