Dutch Schapendoes (Nederlandse Schapendoes)
The Dutch Schapendoes (Dutch Sheepdog) is a long-haired herding breed, which was developed in the Netherlands, in particular in the provinces of Drent and Gelderland. This dog is well-known for its appealing look as well as for its vivacious and docile temperament. Until 50s of the XX century the vast majority of breed’s members served as working animals but today it’s primarily kept for companionship.
For numerous centuries the Dutch Schapendoes was utilised by poor illiterate Dutch farmers as a multifunctional herding dog. No wonder that its origin can’t be traced back with any amount of certainty. Nonetheless there are several assumptions as far as it concerns early stages of development of this breed. Some propose that its forebears were ancient Roman dogs, which found their way to the Netherlands through Belgium. Others put forward a theory that this breed descended from a long-haired sheepdog of the Germanic tribes (now-extinct Schafpudel), which inhabited these lands centuries ago.
It’s also believed that the Dutch Schapendoes is a more recent invention and was bred from English herding dogs, which were imported to this region by Dutch wool merchants who actively traded with their English colleges. Although the full truth will never be recovered it’s rather safe to suggest that the breed appeared as the result of repetitive crossings of various herding dogs from across Europe, like the Polish Lowland Sheepdog, the Puli, and the Bergamasco.
However the Dutch Schapendoes was originally produced, it quickly spread across its native Netherlands as a sheepherding dog. Local farmers trusted this dog with wide range of tasks and most of them involved handling sheep. With its thick waterproof coat it was perfectly adapted to wet and chilly conditions of its homeland. Moreover it had a biddable, extremely intelligent and responsive personality, which it owed to meticulous selective breeding of local breeders.
The breed thrived in the Netherlands until early XX century when it was partially supplanted by such more fashionable breed as the Border Collie. However its number remained fairly stable until the Second World War. Wartime was marked with significant drop in its population. Fortunately Nazi occupation aroused national patriotism across the Netherlands and the Dutch Schapendoes became one of the symbols of Dutch uniqueness. After the war the breed was finally granted formal recognition by Dutch Kennel Club in 1952. It was accepted as a distinct breed by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in 1971.
In the most recent history the charming shaggy appearance and sweet nature of the Dutch Schapendoes earned it significant following across Europe. More specifically, it’s now well-established in Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. In 2005 it entered the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service (AKC-FSS). In 2006 the United Kennel Club (UKC) gave its official recognition to the Dutch Schapendoes. Over the years the breed evolved into a fabulous family companion and very few of its members serve today as sheep herders.
Until recently the Dutch Schapendoes quite successfully combined its herding duties with the role of a family dog. Nowadays it works almost exclusively as a sweet-natured, even-tempered and devoted household pet. This dog establishes tight bonds with every family member and feels separation with them very strongly. It usually becomes especially attached to children if it has been exhibited to their presence in an early age. It’s equally important to teach family children not to pull on the dog’s long hair.
The Dutch Schapendoes has never operated as a flock guardian so it’s virtually deprived of aggressive inclination. This purports that it will be polite and respectful in communication with strange people. Actually without proper training the dog can develop into an inappropriate greeter. Some of its specimens can be tasked with responsibilities of watchdogs and they will reliably warn their masters about the approach of an unfamiliar person. The breed is endowed with too sociably and amicable disposition to make a good guard dog.
The Dutch Schapendoes possesses much less dominative personality than the majority of Continental herding breeds. It enjoys spending time in the company of other dogs and will be happy to have a constant canine companion. Despite its good-naturedness it’s imperative to use proper caution when introducing two strange dogs to each other. Strong aggression toward non-canine animals can be rarely met in this breed as it has rather weak hunting instinct. It will definitely get along with a household cat or other pet if they have grown together. Anyway moderate amount of socialisation is a must for this dog if you plan to introduce it into the household with other pre-existing animal.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· eye problems;
· chronic ear infections;
· canine hip dysplasia;
· elbow dysplasia.
The Dutch Schapendoes requires sizable investment of efforts in its grooming. Its lavish long hair should be brushed every two to three days and this kind of regular routines will consume minimum 15 to 20 minutes of your time. Otherwise its hair will matt and tangle in such a way that it will be impossible to work them out without the assistance of scissors.
The dog can experience discomfort because of its thick coat in a summer so it would be wise to have it professionally groomed in these periods. The amount of shedding varies from dog to dog but it’s usually described as an average shedder.
The Dutch Schapendoes’s training commonly offers minimal difficulty because of its sharp mind and eagerness to pleasure. This dog has already acquired the reputation of a highly successful participant of various dogs’ sports including agility, competitive obedience, and fly ball. In the hand of a competent and confident handler it can learn extremely sophisticated commands and even sequences of commands.
At the same time some individual dogs can have a certain stubborn streak so their training may be quite time-consuming. Anyway, the Dutch Schapendoes learns at optimal speed if your training methods include mild encouragement in the forms of verbal praise and plentiful tasty treats.
The Dutch Schapendoes got used to very hard and prolonged work in the field so it needs significant physical stimulation to stay fully satisfied and properly fit. It should receive at least 45 minutes of strenuous physical activity every single day. Naturally this dog would rather prefer to run and play freely in some spacious but securely fenced yard.
It’s worth to emphasise though that this breed is noticeably less work-driven and active than many other herding dogs so averagely committed family will easily meet its exercise need. However the dog, which is deprived of essential outlets for its excessive energy, will most likely become nervous, hyperactive and disobedient indoors.