Artessa van Diepenalm has become the curse of drug smugglers; Ellaerd Azoer van Hollands Gasthuis was noted for an exemplary performance in the rescue operations in the 1989 Armenia earthquake. These heroic deeds were not done by humans. The search and rescue as well as the narcotics detection was done by a dog… by a Dutch Shepherd Dog.
The Dutch Shepherd dog also known as Hollandse Herdershond is a medium sized dog with well muscled and well balanced structure. This breed that is noted for its intelligence and lively temperament was developed in the 1800s in the Netherlands. This breed has come a long way. Primarily used to tend flocks of sheep and as an all around farm dog, the dog has found other “occupations” in recent years. Among the shepherd dog breeds, the Dutch Shepherd is considered to be one of the most useful. These dogs are passionate workers. Quite a number of this breed still performs its original function, that of herding sheep but other were developed into wonderful home companions. The dog is affectionate and would enthusiastically welcome its family. This friendly behavior though does not extend to strangers. The dog makes an excellent guard dog as it is always alert and known to be wary and suspicious of strangers. Extremely protective, the dog would protect its territory at all cost. The Dutch Shepherd is used as a search and rescue dog too but this intelligent breed is becoming increasingly popular in police service. Because it has an ultra sensitive scenting ability it is used as a sniffing dog that detects narcotics and bombs. A Dutch Shepherd is a common sight in ports and airports. This dog has earned a legendary reputation and has become the popular choice of police K9 handlers as aside from the courageous nature, the dog’s smaller size compared to a German Shepherd Dog makes the dog easier to pick up and carry.
The Dutch Shepherd dogs that has been the able helpers of shepherds in the Netherlands centuries ago is now extensively used in Europe and in United States with the breed’s working abilities and temperament virtually unchanged.
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The Dutch Shepherd, a breed of working dog with a medium sized well proportioned body comes in 3 coat varieties – the short haired, long haired and the wire or rough haired. Short coated dogs have a hard top coat that covers the entire body and a wooly soft undercoat. The dog would have a ruff, trousers and a well feathered tail. Coat color is either gold brindle (brindle on brown ground) or silver brindle (brindle on gray ground). Some dogs may have a black mask. The long coated type has a harsh close lying coat. The hair should be straight never curly or wavy. The head, ears and feet as well as the hind legs are covered with short thick hair. The back of forelegs have well developed coat. The tail too is well feathered. Coat colors are the same as the short coat variety. The wire haired is a variant that is less common. A rough coated Dutch Shepherd has the entire body covered with thick wiry coat that is harsh to the touch. Just like the other two types, the rough coated has a wooly undercoat as well. The dog has a beard and whiskers because the upper and the lower lip are well furnished with off standing hair. The skull, the cheeks and the ears have strongly developed hair. The tail is well furnished too. Coat color is blue gray, silver and gold brindle. The dog is most valued for its working capabilities but it does have an impressive stature too. The head is proportionate to the body. The black nose, the rather small high set ears and the dark almond shaped eyes give the dog an appealing appearance.
The Dutch Shepherd is packed with desirable qualities. The dog is acclaimed for its work ethics. This dog is an enthusiastic worker but it does have a good natured personality as well. This bred forms a strong attachment with its master. These cheerful and affectionate breed makes a wonderful companion of the children as they are forever cheerful and lively. This gentle and calm breed loves to be in the company of its people and to be included in the family activities. A Dutch Shepherd enjoys the company of other dogs. The dog is known to be tolerant of other pets as well.
This breed would be a wise choice for an owner with an active lifestyle. Being medium sized, a Dutch Shepherd would do well in an apartment provided the owners would ensure that the dog is sufficiently exercised. This is an energetic intelligent breed thus it would require extensive mental and physical exercises. Being passionate hunters, these dogs would appreciate to be given a task. Though if it is not possible for a city dweller, jogging or taking the pet on a weekend hiking and camping jaunts would be very beneficial for the dog as in the countryside the dog will be given the opportunity to run to its heart’s content unrestricted by a leash.
The short and long coated Dutch Shepherds would be easy to care for. Regular brushing or combing will remove dead hair. Brushing the long coated dogs 3 to 4 times a week will avoid mats from forming. Regular brushing would be sufficient to maintain the good condition of the coat and the skin as it will promote good blood circulation that aids in the development of new hair. The wire coated variety would require a more extensive grooming routine. These dogs would need professional grooming. Wire coated dogs would need to be plucked or stripped twice a year. Clipping or trimming would destroy the texture and the color of the coat. Brushing is not advisable for the wire haired variety. Comb the coat instead with wide toothed comb so as not to damage the undercoat. A Dutch Shepherd has an all weather coat that should not be frequently bathed. Frequent bathing would dry out the sebaceous substances of the coat.
Shepherd dogs have always been the able helpers of shepherds. In bygone days, Netherlands which is now referred to as Holland was a harsh hostile land. One third of the country consists of sandy soil that nothing would grow much except heather. Every morning a shepherd would take his flock of sheep to the moors to graze on heather. Before night fall the shepherd would take the sheep back to the stables. The purpose of which is to gather the sheep dung that is used to fertilize the soil. A dog would be needed to help the shepherd herd the flock and to help keep the sheep from wandering to private yards and to lands planted with crops. The dogs also guard and protect the sheep from predators. As such, the dog has to be hardy, obedient and should have strong work ethics. To be an able helper of the shepherd, the dog has to be reliable and able to work independently with the least supervision from the shepherd. These outstanding dogs were the progenitors of the Dutch Shepherd.
Origin of the Dutch Shepherd is really unknown although it was believed that this breed was developed in the early part of the 1800s. The Dutch Shepherd closely resembles the Belgian Shepherd and the German Shepherd although this breed that hails from the Netherlands is believed to have more German Shepherd blood. Some people would even say that these dogs belong to the same breed. It was speculated that these dogs share the same ancestors. Belgian Shepherds are native to the northern provinces of Belgium that borders the Nord-Brabant province of the Netherlands It is most likely that both dogs crossed the borders thus cross breeding is inevitable.
The Dutch Shepherd is a versatile breed. When “off-duty” from tending the flocks of sheep, the dog was used as a draft dog. A Dutch Shepherd pulling carts filled with farm produce is a common sight. Poaching was fairly common during that time. These brave dogs have accompanied their masters in this quite dangerous manner of hunting. However, as the name suggests, the main occupation of this breed is to tend the sheep. The dogs then were valued for their workability rather than for their appearance. At this time it was estimated that about 800,000 sheep were worked by about 6,000 different breeds of shepherd dogs. Industrialization brought changes to the dog’s existence. When chemical fertilizers were used and the forest was claimed for planting, the need for shepherd dogs slowly dwindled. In the middle of 19th century the Dutch Shepherd as well as other breeds of shepherd dogs started to disappear. Fortunately for this breed, the Nederlandse Herdershonden Club (Dutch Shepherd Dog Club) was formed in 1898.The usability of this breed somewhat waned as the need for working dogs diminished. Loyal fans though keep the breed for its desirable personality. The Hollander, as the breed is affectionately called was now developed for conformation shows. This breed that is relatively unknown outside Holland has evolved into a wonderful home companion and guard dogs, has excelled in agility competitions and is now utilized as a police and security dog.