A lesser-known relative of the German shepherd, Dutch shepherds, were initially bred as all-purpose farm dogs. Today, many Dutch shepherds are trained as working dogs for search and rescue teams and police forces. They are a loyal, energetic, intelligent breed. While every individual dog is unique in its personality, history, and level of training, Dutch shepherds have some typical characteristics that set them apart as potential companions.
Many pure-bred dogs are at risk of heritable diseases; however, Dutch shepherds tend to be healthy dogs. According to the National Breed Club, owners should ensure their dog is tested for hip and elbow dysplasia. Long-haired Dutch shepherds may be at higher risk for thyroid problems, while rough-haired Dutch shepherds can develop a condition called canine goniodysplasia.
Working dogs are often highly energetic. Dutch shepherds love to play and run, and they may struggle if left inside alone for long periods. Many Dutch shepherds are driven to do the types of activities for which they're trained and need time devoted to work or play. An ideal home for a Dutch shepherd is busy, active, fun-loving, and able to provide daily exercise and mental stimulation.
Highly intelligent dog breeds can be mischievous if they don't receive a proper mental challenge. Experienced dog owners may be better equipped to give Dutch shepherds the intellectual stimulation they need, but anyone who is willing to learn and train their dog can provide a happy home. A Dutch shepherd with lots of mental and physical exercise is a loyal, loving companion.
Dutch shepherds don't need a specific diet, but they do need high-quality food to maintain healthy growth and energy. As an active, medium-large size breed, a Dutch shepherd may need more food than a smaller or less energetic breed. Veterinarians and breeders can offer guidance on the best diet, especially for puppies who may need more frequent meals.
A healthy, well-cared-for Dutch shepherd can live an average of 11 to 14 years. Some individual dogs live even longer. A Dutch shepherd puppy can be the ideal pet for someone seeking a long-term companion. Pet owners can give their Dutch shepherd a longer, healthier life by providing plenty of water, exercise, good quality food, and love.
Because they're so intelligent, Dutch shepherds can be disobedient if not adequately trained. They tend to thrive with obedience training and enjoy a challenge. Short training sessions with little repetition suits their temperament, and Dutch shepherds tend to become more driven as the exercises become more challenging. Dutch shepherd owners may also enjoy training their dog in a skill such as herding, guarding, or scent tracking.
Dutch shepherds have long been trusted to guard children on farms. They can be protective of their human companions. Children have high energy and can be unpredictable, which suits a Dutch shepherd's fun-loving, driven nature. This breed also tends to do well with other pets in the home. While individual dogs differ according to temperament and history, Dutch shepherds have a reputation as a good dog for families.
Dutch shepherds generally have a brindle coat pattern and can be long-hair, short-hair, or rough-hair. Short-hair types require daily brushing during shedding periods in spring and autumn but only need occassional brushing for the rest of the year. Long-hair dogs will need grooming once a week. Rough-hair types require combing once a month. During shedding periods, rough-hair Dutch shepherds will also need someone to hand strip their coats to remove dead hair.
In the past, many Dutch shepherds took sheep out to pasture in the morning and herded them back into barns in the evening. Once they were trained, they could do this job without human supervision. This is why Dutch shepherds today make such excellent working and guide dogs. They are fully capable of completing tasks on their own and are eager to please.
In January of 2017, Dutch shepherds were added to the Miscellaneous Class by the American Kennel Club. If a person wishes to enter their Dutch shepherd into a competition, the dog will need to meet certain breeding standards for coat, temperament, and body structure. They must have a brindle coat pattern, be able to complete tasks for their owner, and be able to handle other dogs nearby, among other qualifications.
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