Dutch Shepherd vs German Shepherd: Breed Battle

Categorized as German Shepherd Types and Mixes
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Hello there! Have you been thinking of adding a loyal and hardworking canine companion to your family? If you’re trying to decide between a Dutch Shepherd or German Shepherd, then keep reading for an in-depth comparison between the two breeds.

As you start to research different herding breeds like these, you’ll quickly notice these pups have more similarities than differences. However, understanding those subtle contrasts can help steer you toward your ideal dog.

In this guide, you’ll learn all about their history, physical traits, temperaments, activity requirements, unique quirks, and more between Dutchies and German Shepherds.

Let’s jump in!

Here’s a quick comparison:

Although they share a history of herding work, Dutch Shepherds differ from German Shepherds in their smaller size, brindle-only coat colors, longer lifespan, higher energy, and rarity in the U.S. However, both intelligent breeds make wonderful active companions if provided proper mental and physical exercise. Overall, subtle differences come down to personal preferences.

A Brief History of Dutch Shepherds and German Shepherds

First, how did these European farm dogs originate in the first place?

Dutch Shepherds’ ancestors arrived in the Netherlands alongside Dutch farmers in the early 1800s. Their agile herding abilities proved an indispensable asset, and they were honed over generations into the attentive, versatile Dutchies we know today.

German Shepherds date back to 1899 in Germany. A German cavalry captain sought to breed the ultimate herding and guard dog. He was quite successful since German Shepherds remain one of the most recognizable working breeds around.

Both breeds later transitioned into police, military, search/rescue, guide roles, along with being loyal family guardians.

Vital Stats: Size, Weight, Lifespan

Let’s discuss some vital statistics between these two breeds. This gives you a better sense of their overall size and scale.

In regards to height, Dutch Shepherds measure 21-25 inches at the shoulder when full grown. German Shepherds stand around 22-26 inches tall.

For weight, Dutchies land in the range of 42-75 pounds normally. Shepherds are stockier, weighing between 50-90 pounds on average.

When it comes to lifespan, both breeds fall into the average range for dogs their size. However, Dutchies typically enjoy being a pet parent’s companion slightly longer at 11-15 years. Shepherds average 10-13 years.

Coat Colors and Grooming Needs

You might be familiar with the signature black and tan saddle coat on German Shepherds. But did you know that GSD colors include:

  • Black
  • Cream
  • Red
  • Silver
  • Blue
  • Grey
  • Liver
  • Sable
  • White
  • Bi-color

That wide range of colors comes from German Shepherd breeding focusing more on herding ability rather than looks.

By contrast, the two allowed colors for a Dutch Shepherd’s coat are brindle: either gold brindle or silver brindle.

In terms of shedding and grooming, German Shepherds will generally need daily brushing year-round with extra attention when their thick double coats blow out seasonally. Even as a short-haired breed, Dutchies benefit from weekly brushing to reduce loose fur around your home.

Personality: Comparing Drives and Temperaments

As the saying goes, “When you’ve met one ______, you’ve met one _______!” This is doubly true for both Dutch Shepherds and German Shepherds since every dog has their own personality.

However, general breed tendencies give you clues into whether Dutch and German Shepherds’ traits match your lifestyle.

Both breeds boast impressive intelligence, trainability, and athleticism inherited from generations of sheepherding work. They’re independent thinkers yet intensely bonded with their owners.

Dutch Shepherds do skew slightly more energetic, excitable, and demanding of attention compared to the generally calmer German Shepherd temperament. Without proper physical and mental stimulation, Dutchies are more prone to destructive or hyper behavior like chewing and barking.

The Perfect Home: Space Requirements

Neither Dutch nor German Shepherds thrive living crated for 8+ hours alone or left outside by themselves. This leads to boredom that transforms into digging, nuisance barking, escaped attempts, shredded furniture, and more.

As working breeds, they yearn for lot space over apartment living but can adapt if their exercise needs are met daily. Expect to commit at least 60-90 minutes of walks, runs, playtime, or a stimulating activity like agility or nose work.

A safely fenced yard is a major bonus yet not mandatory if you pledge plenty of activity bonding time together. Either way, the ideal home has room for this energetic breed to roam around.

Trainability and Intelligence: Eager to Learn

As highly intelligent breeds bred to closely follow shepherd instructions for move cattle and protect flocks, both Dutchies and German Shepherds shine at training.

In fact, these pups often master basic cues like sit and down within days thanks to their exceptional willingness to please their beloved owner combined with above-average smarts.

They similarly excel at canine roles requiring acute concentration like competitive obedience, scent detection work, agility courses, and other demanding physical and mental challenges.

If you prize training and sports as an integral component of your relationship with your pup, either working breed will enthusiastically participate right by your side.

Just remember to start socialization early, utilize reward-based motivation fit their drive, and ensure all interactions are positive to nurture their confidence.

Service Dog Potential

With the right early socialization and training foundations nurturing their unwavering loyalty and high perceptiveness to commands and body language, both Dutch and German Shepherds prove superb service dogs.

You’ll often spot German Shepherds working as:

  • Guide Dogs for the Blind
  • Medical Alert Assistance Dogs
  • Psychiatric Service Animals for PTSD, anxiety
  • Mobility Support Dogs

Meanwhile, the rarer Dutch Shepherd also serves admirably in roles like:

  • Diabetic Alert Dogs
  • Hearing Dogs
  • Seizure Response Dogs
  • Autism Support Dogs

Bottom line: Their versatile talent, athleticism, trainability, and determination to master new tasks transitions beautifully into enhancing and protecting their handler’s life.

Grooming Needs: Shedding Management

While German Shepherds boast lush, double-layered coats prone to heavy seasonal shedding twice yearly, Dutch Shepherds’ shedding degrees vary depending on coat length.

The short hair Dutch Shepherd sheds moderately year-round while the long hair Dutch Shepherd experiences heavier shedding cycles. Long hair Dutchies require frequent thorough brushing to prevent mats and tangles.

For German Shepherds, investing in deshedding tools like undercoat rakes makes grooming much easier to keep up with.

Common Health Issues

While overbreeding causes some genetic conditions, responsible Dutch Shepherd and German Shepherd breeders conduct tests for issues like:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Eye disease like cataracts
  • Bloat
  • Allergies
  • Digestive troubles

Researching the breeder’s focus on health testing ensures your future puppy enters your life with the best chances of living a long, vibrant life by your side.


As one of America’s favorite dog breeds ranking consistently high year after year on the American Kennel Club’s annual most popular breeds list, German Shepherds enjoy definite mainstream fame.

Conversely, Dutch Shepherds remain a rarer sight. But those lucky few who share their life with a Dutchie will fervently sing their praises!

Both breeds make outstanding canine companions thanks to their loving loyalty and high intelligence. Yet the Dutch Shepherd’s slightly more energetic, mischievous streak seals the deal for owners seeking a lively adventure buddy.

So which breed’s pros sound more appealing for your household? Keep reading for a quick comparison chart highlighting their key differences and similarities:

Dutch ShepherdGerman Shepherd
Size21-25 inches tall, 42-75 lbs22-26 inches tall, 50-90 lbs
CoatShort, long or rough in brindle colors onlyMedium-length, wide variety of colors
Lifespan11-15 years10-13 years
PersonalityEnergetic, demands lots of activity/attentionCalmer compared to the Dutchie
TrainabilityEager, fast learnerEager, fast learner
Activity LevelHigh, minimum 60-90 minutes dailyModerate-High, minimum 60 minutes
PopularityRare in the U.S.Extremely popular

While they share numerous comparable qualities thanks to their shared heritage as hardworking sheepherding farm dogs, minor differences in personality, trainability, energy level and appearance helps match you to your perfect fit.

Shelter Pup or Breeder? Where to Adopt

Thanks to their popularity near the top of American Kennel Club registrations yearly, German Shepherds occupy cages in rescues and shelters everywhere if you pursue adoption.

You’ll discover lots of mixed breed dogs displaying the friendly temperament and athletic talents of a German Shepherd yet landing in a shelter through little fault of their own.

With Dutch Shepherds rarely seen outside of their native Netherlands, tracking down a Dutchie rescue proves far tougher. Going through a respected breeder who genetically and health tests breeding stock remains the surest route to welcome one of these extraordinary pups home.

Either way, consult references and veterinary records to confirm responsible breeding or foster/adoption group practices for the happiest, healthiest dog possible!

Final Thoughts

After learning more in-depth details about similarities and differences between Dutch and German Shepherds, are you leaning more toward one breed over the other?

Hopefully breaking down their histories, appearance, personalities, exercise requirements, trainability and health offers clarity regarding which dog suits your home best!

Both represent amazing breeds exhibiting unwavering loyalty, high perceptiveness guiding their ability to tackle demanding work and obedience tasks, with strong protective instincts.

Minor variances like energy levels and coat qualities simply come down to individual preference. You honestly can’t go wrong sharing your heart and home with either a Dutch or German Shepherd!


1. Which is better, a Dutch or German Shepherd?

There is no definitive “better” breed. Subtle differences in size, energy level, coat, and rarity suit different owners’ lifestyles and preferences.

2. Are Dutch Shepherds aggressive?

While protective, Dutch Shepherds are devoted family dogs. With proper socialization and training, aggression issues can be avoided.

3. Do Dutch Shepherds bark a lot?

Their higher energy means more potential for nuisance barking. However, providing sufficient physical/mental exercise prevents boredom barking.

4. What health issues do German Shepherds have?

Hip and elbow dysplasia, eye disease, digestive troubles, and allergies are common. Research responsible breeders who screen breeding dogs.

5. Why are Dutch Shepherds rare?

As a breed originating in the Netherlands, Dutch Shepherds remain scarcely bred outside their homeland. Their recent entrance into dog sports is slowly increasing U.S. popularity.

By Andrew Garf

Andrew Garf has loved dogs, especially German Shepherds, since he was 10 years old. Though he also loves burgers, training dogs is his real passion. That's why he created the website TrainYourGSD.com - to help dog owners learn how to properly train, care for, and bond with their German Shepherd dogs.