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Dutch Shepherd vs. German Shepherd: What’s The Difference?

Thinking of welcoming a Dutch Shepherd or a German Shepherd into your home, but aren't sure which one to pick? Read on to find out more about both breeds!

Emma Braby

Last Updated: September 24, 2020 | 9 min read

Dutch Shepherd and German Shepherd Outdoors

Thinking of welcoming a Shepherd into your home, but aren’t sure which one to get? Many future Shepherd owners compare the German Shepherd vs. the Dutch Shepherd when considering the right dog for their family. Many similar characteristics unite the Dutch Shepherd and the German Shepherd, but thankfully, some differences separate them too.

They are both Shepherds, and they both come from Europe, and just by looking at them, you can tell that they are related. Everyone knows that the German Shepherd is the most popular breed out of the two (unless you live in the Netherlands, of course), but not many people know the differences between them.

Before committing to either breed, it’s important to understand how they are similar, but how they are different. There are variances in puppy costs, temperaments, and more – all of which may impact which breed is a better fit for your household. So, let’s get to it and round up all the doggy details.

Breed Comparison Chart

 
Dutch Shepherd
German Shepherd
Height
21.5 - 24.5 Inches (M & F)
22 – 26 inches (M & F)
Weight
40 – 75 pounds (M & F)
50 – 90 pounds (M & F)
Temperament
Intelligent, Lively, Athletic
Confident, Courageous, Smart
Energy
Intense
Intense
Health
Above Average
Average
Grooming
Weekly
Weekly
Lifespan
11-14 years
7-10 years
Price
$1,500+
$1,000+

History Comparison

The history of a dog breed is super important in understanding what they are like today. Many dogs are bred with a purpose in mind. And it is this purpose that will shape their personality and physical traits and needs tremendously. Both the Dutch Shepherd and the German Shepherd have some differences in how the breeds originated, as well as how they were bred over time. Let’s learn a little bit more about each breed.

Dutch Shepherd

Dutch Shepherd Laying in Grass
The Dutch Shepherd originates from the Netherlands.

The Dutch Shepherd hails from the Netherlands and came to be in the 19th century. Farmers were on the lookout for a versatile dog that could assist them with everything. From herding the cows to pulling heavily laden dairy carts to the markets. And keeping the chickens from the veg patch and looking after the kids at night. This guy is a jack of all trades, and he did it all.

With the era of industrialization nearly came the end of the Dutch Shepherd, but thankfully, a few breed lovers saved the day. Although he is still very rare in America, he is popular in Europe as a farmhand. Being so versatile, he is also found in the military, search and rescue, and as an assistance dog. He is so rare in America that he is still in the Foundation Stock Group with the American Kennel Club (AKC). 

German Shepherd

German Shepherd outside in Grass
German Shepherds originated in Germany, and are now one of the most popular breeds across the globe.

The German Shepherd breed was created at the turn of the 19th century. A German officer wanted to create the ultimate herding breed, and he took the finest specimens from the different districts in Germany. His owners soon realized just how good he was, and he is now thought of as one of the hardest working all-around canines. This guy is also a jack of all trades.

According to the AKC, the German Shepherd is, in 2020, ranked as the second most popular dog breed in America. And this is a similar story across the globe. He first came to America at the turn of the 20th century. He suffered slightly due to the hatred caused by the War Worlds and all things German, but he quickly recovered after starring in a few Hollywood roles. Because of their popularity, German Shepherds have been embraced across the world as a loyal family pet, and have become the parents of many popular crossbreeds.

Appearance

German Shepherd and Dutch Shepherd Jumping a Log
The German Shepherd and Dutch Shepherd are very similar in appearance.

The Dutch Shepherd and the German Shepherd are similar in appearance to the untrained eye. But once you know what the differences are, you can see the distinction. The German Shepherd is the largest of the two breeds. He is stockier and squarer in his overall appearance compared to his Dutch cousin. Many describe the Dutch Shepherd as having a wedge-shaped head. Dutch Shepherds are often mistaken for both the German Shepherd or the Belgian Malinois, because of their similar good looks.

Their coat is their most significant difference. The Dutch Shepherd has the option of three jackets, which is a short coat, wire coat, and a long coat. The wire coat is curly and rough to the touch. The Dutch Shepherd has the option of one coat color, which is brindle, either with a gold or silver undertone. Breed lovers changed the breed standard so that he only had a brindle coat. Just so that he was distinctly different from other Shepherds in Europe.

The German Shepherd has two options, which is a short coat and a long coat. The German Shepherd has his typical black and tan colorings. With the choice of solid color coats such as the White German Shepherd, Black German Shepherd, or even the Blue German Shepherd.

Temperament

Playful German Shepherd and Dutch Shepherd
Both Shepherds have similar temperaments.

The Dutch Shepherd and the German Shepherd are more similar in their temperament than their appearance. They are both original working dogs used on the farm as herders, estate protectors, and various other jobs. Their working backgrounds mean that they are both workaholics. And they are much happier with either a job to do or when they get lots of exercise.

The German Shepherd is the more protective of the two, which is why he earned his fantastic guarding reputation a long time ago. If you are after a protective dog, the German Shepherd is the best choice for you. Thankfully, as they are both wary of strangers, they both make excellent watchdogs and will let you know when there is someone untoward about. German Shepherds have picked up an unfairly aggressive reputation, but this is largely due to the sheer quantity of the number of German Sheperds owned as family pets.

The German Shepherd is usually more protective than the Dutch Shepherd because of he bonds with one particular master more than the Dutch. However, they are both affectionate and loving with their family. The Dutch will share his cuddles with the whole family, whereas the German more than likely reserve his cuddles for his primary caregiver when they are there.

They are both fantastic with children, and as long as they are socialized well, they will both get along with other family pets too. Both breeds would both prefer a larger home, and access to a secure yard is a must. They will both go stir-crazy if they are cooped up in an apartment for any length of time.

Exercise

German Shepherd and Dutch Shepherd exercising outdoors
German Shepherds and Dutch Shepherds have similar exercise needs.

Their working energy means that their family needs to be able to either work or exercise them. And without it, they will become extremely agitated and problematic. That doesn’t bode well for either you or your furniture. So, if you aren’t an active family, neither of these guys are for you. They both need at least 60 minutes of exercise every day.

With that being said, there is one breed that is more energetic than the other, and that is the Dutch Shepherd. The Dutch Shepherd is bred more as a working dog than a family companion. Compared to the German Shepherd, who is now bred to be a family companion just as much. This means that they are more accustomed to a calmer home life, relaxing the afternoon away.

As such, many Dutch Shepherd owners believe that the Dutch Shepherd has more intense energy. The Dutch Shepherd needs to be worked harder for sure. Other than their appearance, this is a significant factor when choosing between the two breeds.

Training

German Shepherd and Dutch Shepherd training
Both the German Shepherd and Dutch Shepherd will need regular and intense training.

Both the Dutch Shepherd and the German Shepherd are very loyal and intelligent, meaning they are relatively easy to train. But, the German Shepherd is the better option for those who have never had a dog before. This is because the German Shepherd is so eager to please his master, he will always be ready to learn and obey your commands. And although he is intense, it makes your life much easier when it comes to training. Both pups are toy motivated, and can do well with doggy toys made for active or Shepherd breeds.

On the other hand, the Dutch Shepherd is more independent than the German Shepherd. This is because back in the day, his master expected him to herd the flocks, escort them into the fields in the morning, and back into their barns at night. All on his own. This independent streak makes him a little bit stubborn, and he’ll have days where he has something better to do.

Socialization is vital for both of these guys. Not only because it is an essential doggy skill anyway, but also because they are naturally protective. And it’s crucial that they do not become too overprotective. They also both do well when their master utilizes the positive reinforcement training method.

Health

Healthy Shepherds Outdoors
The Dutch Shepherd is generally slightly healthier than the German Shepherd.

The Dutch Shepherd is a much healthier breed than the German Shepherd, which is clear from his longer lifespan. On average, the Dutch Shepherd enjoys four years longer than his German cousin.

The Dutch and the German Shepherd are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia. If you are thinking about welcoming either of these breeds, you need to get his parent’s hips scores for sure. The long-haired Dutch is prone to thyroid conditions, and the wire-haired Dutch is prone to goniodysplasia. Apart from these concerns, there aren’t many other common conditions. 

Many German Shepherds have a sloping back, which has a detrimental effect on his hips. This is more common in the American lines of German Shepherds compared to the European lines. This is something to discuss with your breeder. He is also more at risk of degenerative myelopathy, which is a progressive disease of the spinal cord.

Although this is not a health concern, it is worth knowing that the Dutch Shepherd is very sensitive to anesthesia. He is a rare breed, so when you visit your vet for surgery, it’s worth reminding them of this.

Nutrition

Hungry Shepherds in Fields
Both the German Shepherd and the Dutch Shepherd have similar nutrition needs.

Both the Dutch Shepherd and the German Shepherd are identical when it comes to their nutrition. They both need a high-quality shepherd formula kibble that will keep them sustained throughout the day. And one that is designed for large breed dogs that cater to their unique needs. This is particularly important during puppyhood.

They will consume approximately three to four cups of kibble a day, depending on their age, size, and energy levels. This will be more if they are a working dog. They are both at risk of gastric torsion, also known as bloat, so do not feed them immediately before or after exercise.

Grooming

Dutch Shepherd vs German Shepherd in field
The grooming needs of both pups will depend on the type of coat they carry.

The differences between their grooming schedules all depend on their coat type. The German Shepherd can have a longer coat, or a shorter coat. Dutch Shepherds are the same. If they both have short hair, they both only require brushing once a week. If they have long hair, they both need brushing most days to keep matting at bay. For both of these coat types, we would suggest investing in a de-shedding tool as they are both heavy shedders come the shedding season.

The wire-coated Dutch Shepherd is the odd one out here. His coat is short to medium in length, but it is rough to the touch. He sometimes looks like a Poodle who is in desperate need of a groom! He will need either a pin brush or a comb running through his coat twice a week. wire-coated Dutch Shepherds sheds less than the other coats, but he’ll need a thorough clipping a few times a year.

When it comes to everything else, such as dental brushing, ear cleaning, and nail clipping, they are both the same as every other dog. Again, the only difference here is the wire-coated Dutch. Because he suffers from goniodysplasia, he will need his eyes cleaning once or twice a week. This is to ensure that they are kept clean and to prevent bacteria from building up.

Price

Dutch and German Puppies Outside
Expect to pay roughly the same amount for each type of Shepherd, depending on the breeder.

Price is another significant factor to consider because, in America, a Dutch Shepherd puppy is priced higher than a German Shepherd puppy. This is just because he is much rarer and harder to get. The German Shepherd is the second most popular dog in America, so there are many reputable breeders available. But you can expect to travel and be put onto a waiting list when it comes to the Dutch Shepherd puppy.

They are both at risk of being targeted by puppy mills and backstreet breeders. Be sure to work with a reputable breeder. Ask to see their health clearances (particularly their hip scores) and always meet the puppies and their parents in person. A reputable breeder will not pressure you into passing money over until you are happy, but a backstreet breeder will. 

Final Thoughts

The Dutch Shepherd and the German Shepherd are very similar, but there are many more differences than meets the eye. The German Shepherd is much more people-oriented, and although this makes him a more intense doggy, he is easier to train. The Dutch Shepherd is more independent and more work-oriented, meaning he is better suited to an experienced dog owner.

The Dutch Shepherd is more expensive to purchase because he is much rarer, but he is also much healthier than the German Shepherd breed. Their grooming schedules are relatively equal, depending on what type of coat you choose for either. The German Shepherd is the more protective pup out of the two, but they both make excellent watchdogs.

Whoever you decide to pick, make sure that you can tick their boxes, otherwise, they can both be problematic. But if you can, know that you are in for many years of fun, love, and loyalty.

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