The Dutch Shepherd Dog breed is native to the southern region of the Netherlands. He is also known as Dutch Herder, Dutchie, and Hollandse Herdershond. Originally bred in the 1800s, this medium- to large-size dog was dubbed as the “Jack of All Trades.”
Although the Dutch Herder Dog mainly worked as a shepherd dog herding flocks of sheep, he could also perform other tasks. He guarded the kitchen garden against hens, pulled carts of milk or produce to the market, and watched over children and his owner's property.
The first Dutch Shepherd Dog breed standard was established on the 12th of June 1898. However, in 1914, changes were made, stating that the breed should only sport a brindle coat.
This is to make the Dutch Herder Dog distinguishable from similar breeds, namely the German Shepherd and the Belgian Shepherd.
The need for shepherd dogs in the Netherlands dwindled during the 1900s. Around this time, industrialisation was growing, and reclamation of lands for alternate uses became very common.
The Dutch Shepherd Dog lost his original purpose as a herding breed. Fortunately, he is a highly versatile dog, and people found plenty of uses for him.
The Dutch Shepherd Dog breed transitioned from driving livestock to carrying out military and police work. Tragedy struck on the breed in the 1940s to 1950s as they were nearly wiped out.
World War II halted Dutch Shepherd Dog breeding in the Netherlands. Countless dogs were neglected and died due to starvation. Some were sent to Germany for military use.
The Dutch Breed Club tried to save the Dutch Shepherd Dog after the war. This dog breed was rescued from imminent extinction, but he still remains a rare breed.
Large numbers of Dutch Herders can be found in the province of Brabant in the Netherlands. However, outside their native country, these hardworking and versatile dogs are barely known.
Despite the Dutch Shepherd Dog breed's rarity, he is slowly becoming acknowledged by major kennel clubs. In 1995, this working dog was officially recognised by the United Kennel Club and was classified under the Herding Group.
This was followed by the American Kennel Club, which welcomed the Dutch Shepherd Dog breed into its Miscellaneous Class Group.
This dog breed's club in the US is called the American Dutch Shepherd Association, which was established in 2010. This dog breed is yet to be recognised by the Kennel Club.
Today, Dutch Shepherds still retain their herding skills and are still used for this purpose. However, they are also very skilled in other canine jobs and excel in police and military work. They are also skilled as search and rescue dogs and guide dogs for the blind.
What breeds make a Dutch Shepherd?
The ancestry of the Dutch Shepherd is mostly unclear. But it is known that they are naturally occurring shepherd dogs.
It is speculated that the Dutch Herder Dog is a descendant of continental herding dogs that contributed to the creation of Belgian Shepherds and German Shepherds.
During the Dutch Breed Club's breeding programme, they also used Malinois to restore the almost-extinct herding breed.