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Dutch Shepherd Vs German Shepherd

Dutch Shepherd vs. German Shepherd

Most people are familiar with the German Shepherd with their large, alert ears and commonly black & tan coats.  However, not many are aware of their similar yet incredibly unique cousin, the Dutch Shepherd. Although German Shepherds and Dutch Shepherds are often mistaken for each other, they do have some distinct differences.

This article will examine the Dutch Shepherd vs German Shepherd so you can learn more about the differences between the breeds.

Why Compare German Shepherds and Dutch Shepherds?

Dutch Shepherds are much less common than their German counterparts. However, these dogs might also be suitable companions for people interested in the German Shepherd as a breed.

If you’re interested in an intelligent and energetic dog, both these breeds might be a good option for you.

It’s essential to compare the two in order to determine whether the Dutch Shepherd or the German Shepherd is better suited for your lifestyle and preferences.

Dutch Shepherd vs. German Shepherd: Points of Comparison

To the unfamiliar, the Dutch Shepherd might seem like a working line or sable German Shepherd. Although they share many traits, they also have critical differences that might affect your decision to choose one over the other.

Here are the most critical factors to consider:

Dutch Shepherd vs. German Shepherd: Size

The Dutch Shepherd’s frame is smaller than that of the German Shepherd’s. Here’s how the two breeds compare in terms of size and weight:

German Shepherd24 – 26 in.22 – 24 in.65 – 90 lbs.50 – 70 lbs.
Dutch Shepherd21.5 – 24.5 in.42 – 75 lbs.

Dutch Shepherd vs. German Shepherd: Appearance

Despite the size difference, the general appearance of the Dutch Shepherd is very similar to that of the German Shepherd. Their most recognizable features are their large pointed ears. They both have fairly bushy tails that hang straight down or slightly curved and reach up to the hock.

Both the Dutch and German Shepherds come in different coat types. While the GSD can have short, medium, or long coats, the Dutch Shepherd can be short-haired, long-haired, or rough-haired.

Dutch Shepherd tilting its head

Where the two breeds differ is in their coat colors. The standard colors of the Dutch Shepherd include Silver Brindle or Gold Brindle. Although some have yellow coats, the American Kennel Club does not recognize them as part of the breed standard.

GSD vs Dutch Shepherd: Strength & Speed

German Shepherds are valued as working dogs not just because of their intelligence but also their strength and speed. They can run at speeds of 30 mph (48 kph) and have a bite strength of 238 psi.

Because Dutch Shepherds are fairly uncommon, there’s not a lot of information about their strength and speed. However, because of their smaller build, it’s likely that they’re not as strong but are much more agile than the average GSD.

German Shepherd and Dutch Shepherd Health Issues

Because Dutch Shepherd breeders are still few, it’s been much easier to uphold responsible breeding practices. Consequently, they’re generally healthy and hardy, and require few vet visits over their lifetime.

Like many other larger breeds, both the German and Dutch Shepherds are genetically prone to elbow and hip dysplasia. However, breed stocks are typically evaluated for this condition before they are bred. So, getting a dog from a reputable breeder significantly lowers the risk for this painful disease.

Apart from hip and elbow dysplasia, Dutch Shepherds should also be screened for goniodysplasia and thyroid imbalances.

Goniodysplasia is a severe disease of the eye and is most commonly seen in the rough-coated variants. On the other hand, thyroid issues are more common among long-haired shepherds.

For German Shepherds, concerns other than those of bones and joints include the sensitivity of the digestive system. GSDs are prone to bloat and can also suffer from severe pancreatitis.

German Shepherd vs Dutch Shepherd: Lifespan

Continuous improvement on the breeding practices of the standard German Shepherd has definitely paid off. While the American Kennel Club used to list the GSD’s lifespan as 7-10 years, it has recently been lengthened to 12-14 years.

That goes to show how a collective effort to uphold the breed standard can affect a breed’s health and longevity.

The life expectancy of the Dutch Shepherd is similar at 11-14 years.


The Dutch and German Shepherds are technically both working dogs. They have deep roots as herders but now assist humans in various types of work.

Both are known to have a strong work drive and are able to work confidently and independently. They are also known to be protective and so are excellent for personal and property protection.

Loyalty and obedience are traits that are apparent to these two shepherds. Although they both make excellent family dogs, the Dutch is known to be more affectionate towards all family members while the GSD tends to bond most with their primary handler.

Nevertheless, they are both very loving breeds that can be fantastic around young children and other pets like cats, as long as they are trained properly and socialized early on.


The German Shepherd is recognized as the 3rd most intelligent breed in the world, ranking after the Border Collie and the Poodle. Given this fact, German Shepherds are very easy to train.

At these intelligence levels, GSDs are expected to learn new tricks in fewer than 5 exposures. Additionally, they are so obedient that they will only fail to obey a command 5% of the time.

Although the Dutch Shepherd was not a popular enough breed to be included in the study, these dogs are generally regarded as equally smart and highly trainable. Additionally, their drive for work makes them ideal for all sorts of working situations.

Exercise Requirements

As expected from any shepherd breed, both the German Shepherd and their Dutch counterparts need lots of rigorous physical exercise—at least an hour a day. Additionally, they need plenty of mental stimulation in the form of work, training, or brain games.

Also, these dogs thrive in homes with large spaces that they can roam independently. This enables them to develop their confidence and support their curious nature. Without all these opportunities to expend their energy and use their natural abilities, these dogs will likely develop behavioral issues.

Although a larger home and outdoor space are ideal, both of these breeds can live in apartments or condos as long as you as devoted to providing them enough outdoor exercise and attention.


Both the German Shepherd and the Dutch Shepherd are double-coated breeds. They shed year-round as their hairs continually falls out.

Twice a year, however, they will blow their undercoats and will shed heavily in preparation for a change in season. This typically happens in the spring and the fall. Of course, the longer the coat, the more shedding you should expect.

The best way to manage the shedding is to brush thoroughly and regularly. It helps to brush once a day and use a de-shedding tool when they’re shedding. Otherwise, twice a week should be fine.

The rest of the grooming requirements of the two breeds are generally the same. Their nails should be clipped regularly if their walking surfaces don’t help keep them short. Additionally, their teeth should be brushed frequently to keep from developing dental diseases.

AKC Recognition

The German Shepherd is one of the American Kennel Club’s most active breeds. In fact, the GSD is the 2nd most popular dog breed among the 197 breeds recognized by the organization. Although humans now rely on the GSD to do varied types of work, AKC still categorizes the breed as part of the Herding Group.

In contrast, the Dutch Shepherd is currently classified under the AKC’s Miscellaneous Class. That means it is currently under the organization’s Foundation Stock Service (FSS) where breeds are maintained until they are given regular status.

Until then, dogs of this breed cannot be registered with the AKC but are typically allowed to participate in AKC Companion Events. Regardless of their recognition status, mere participation in the FSS means that the AKC considers it as a pure breed.

Breed Restrictions

Dutch shepherds are not often named in breed-specific restrictions simply because they are not very common. It’s safe to assume, though, that where the German Shepherd is banned, so, too is the Dutch Shepherd.

German Shepherds are either restricted or banned entirely in several cities in Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio, and Tennessee.

Even if you don’t live in these states, however, you should still double-check on whether you can own either of these two breeds. Specifically, check with your landlord and insurance provider.

Dutch Shepherd vs. German Shepherd: Costs

The cost to purchase a German Shepherd can range from $450 to $1,900 for a single puppy. The price is influenced by several factors, including its lineage, reputation of its breeder, and individual conformation. Whether a puppy has been screened for severe health issues or has received any training will also affect the price.

Dutch Shepherd puppies are typically sold between $1,000 and $1,200. Reputable breeders are few in the United States, so prices are pretty stable.

Although getting a puppy from a well-known breeder might be ideal, you might also want to consider getting a dog from rescue and adoption centers.

Since these dogs require an experienced or otherwise dedicated handler and also because they’re often the subject of breed-specific legislation, there’s always one looking for a new home. Rescues can range between $50 to $500, depending on the training and medical rehabilitation services it has received to be adoption-ready.

Which Breed is Best for You?

The German Shepherd and the Dutch Shepherd are so similar that you can really chose either one.  If you want full AKC recognition and participation in all events, however, the GSD is your best option.

If you want to show off a unique breed and enjoy a marginally smaller dog with a slightly more affectionate nature, the Dutch Shepherd is your best choice. If you live in an apartment that restricts the German Shepherd, the Dutch Shepherd may be a better choice if they aren’t restricted as well.

Although these breed generalizations help in making informed decisions, a lot will ride on the temperament and nature of the specific dog you choose.

Training and socialization will also make a big difference in making sure you have a happy, well-rounded dog no matter which breed you select.

Final Thoughts

All in all, if you like the Shepherds’ breed and temperament, either the German Shepherd or the Dutch Shepherd is an excellent choice. The decision will be a personal one based off what you are looking for in your dog.

If you love the Shepherds’ temperament but still aren’t convinced that the Dutch Shepherd or the German Shepherd is the best option for you, check out how the Australian Shepherd compares. You might also want to check out the Doberman if you’d rather not deal with all that fur.

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