Breed standards

Dutch Shepherd Dog

Breed standards are the official guidelines that describe the ideal characteristics, temperament, and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function with soundness essential.

Last Updated: 07 Aug 2013
Group 5 (Working Dogs)

Originally the main function of the Dutch Shepherd Dog was that of a shepherd’s dog in the countryside. From early times, the Dutch had an arable culture that was, among other things, maintained by flocks of sheep. The dogs had to keep the flocks away from crops, which they did by patrolling the borders of the road and the fields. They also accompanied the flocks on their way to the common meadows, markets and ports.

At the farm, they kept the hens from the kitchen garden; they herded the cows together for milking and pulled the milk carts. They also alerted the farmers if strangers entered the farmyard. Around 1900, sheep flocks had for the greater part disappeared in the Netherlands. The versatile skills of the Dutch Shepherd Dog made him suitable for dog training, which was then starting to become popular. Thus he started on a new career as a police dog, as a search and tracking dog and as a guide dog for the blind. He is however, still capable of herding sheep. The breed’s first standard dates from 12 June 1898.


A medium sized, middle weighted, well-muscled dog of powerful and well-balanced structure. A dog with lots of endurance, a lively temperament and an intelligent expression. Depending on the coat the breed is distinguished in the following varieties; short, long and wire haired.

Important proportions: The length of the body (from point of shoulder to point of buttock) exceeds the height at the withers at a ratio of 10.9 as suits a trotting dog.

The proportion of the length of the skull to the muzzle is 1.1


Very loyal and reliable, always alert, watchful, active, independent, with persistence, intelligence, prepared to be obedient and gifted with true shepherding temperament, The Dutch Shepherd Dog works willingly together with its owner and deals independently with any task which is assigned to him.

When herding larger flocks he must have the capacity to work together with several other dogs.

Head And Skull:

In good proportion to the body. Seen from above and in profile it is wedge-shaped. Its shape is rather elongated, without wrinkles; dry, with flat cheeks and no pronounced cheekbones. Because of the coat, the head of the wirehaired variety appears to be more square, but this is an illusion.

Skull: Flat.

Stop: Slight, though clearly present.

Nose: Black.

Muzzle: Slightly longer than the flat forehead. Bridge of the muzzle straight and parallel to the top line of the cranial region.

Lips: Tight and well pigmented.


Dark coloured and medium sized. The eyes are almond shaped and slightly oblique. The eyes should not be set too wide and should not protrude.


Medium sized. When the dog is alert, the ears are carried high and erect.


Scissor bite, strong, regular and complete.


Not too short, dry, without folds and gradually flowing into the body.


The forelegs are powerful, of good length, well muscled. The bone is solid but not heavy. Always generally showing a straight line, but with sufficient suppleness of pastern.

Shoulders: Shoulder-blades well joined to the body and well sloping.

Upper arm: Approximately equal length to the shoulder blades and well angulated with the connecting bones.

Elbow: Well attached.


Firm but not coarse.

Top line: There is a smooth, gentle transition from the neck to the top line of the body, in which head and neck are carried in natural pose.

Back: Straight and firm.

Loin: Firm, neither long nor narrow.

Croup: Slightly sloping, not short.

Underline and belly: Slight tuck up.

Chest: Deep and long enough, not narrow, ribs slightly sprung.

Fore chest: Fairly well developed.


The hind legs are powerful and well muscled. The bone is solid but never heavy. Not excessively angulated.

Thigh and lower thigh: Of approximately equal length.

Hock: Perpendicular below the point of buttock.

Dewclaws: None present


Oval. Well knit, toes arched. Black nails and elastic dark pads.


At rest, hanging straight down or with a slight curve. Reaches to the hock. In action, carried gracefully upwards, never curled or carried sideways.


The Dutch Shepherd Dog is a trotter with free, smooth and supple movement, without exaggerated drive or stride.


Short Hair: All over the body, quite hard, close-fitting, not too short coat, with woolly undercoat. Ruff, breeches and tail plume are clearly visible.

Long Hair: All over the body, long, straight well fitting, harsh to touch, without curl or waves and with a woolly undercoat. Distinct ruff and breeches. Tail abundantly coated. Head, ears and feet and also the hind legs below the hocks are short and densely coated. The backsides of the forelegs show a strongly developed coat, shortening in length towards the feet, the so called feathering. No fringes at the ears.

Wire Hair: Dense, harsh tousled coat and a woolly, dense undercoat all over the body except for the head.
The coat should be close.  Upper and lower lip should be well-covered with hair, the whiskers and beard, and two well defined, coarse rough eyebrows that are distinct but not exaggerated. Furnishings are not soft. The hair on the skull and on the cheeks is less strongly developed. In profile it seems as if the head has a more square appearance. Strongly developed breeches are desirable. Tail is covered all round with hair. The brindle colour may be less pronounced because of the tousled coat. The wire hair coat should be hand plucked on an average twice a year.


Brindle: The basic colour is golden or silver. Golden can vary from light sand-coloured to chestnut red, The brindle is clearly present all over the body, in the ruff, breeches and tail. Too much black is undesirable. A black mask is preferable.

Heavy white markings on chest or feet is not desirable.


Height at the withers;
Dogs: 57-62 cm
Bitches: 55-60 cm


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the functional health and welfare of the dog.

• Aggressive or overly shy.
• Lack of breed type
• Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified


Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.