Dutch Shepherd Vs German Shepherd: A Comparison

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Written by: Celestine Gomez
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German Shepherds and Dutch Shepherds are both great dog breeds for active families. 

What are the differences and similarities between these breeds? Which one should you choose for your family?

In this article, we’ll examine some of the key similarities and differences between German Shepherds and Dutch Shepherds.


The Dutch Shepherd and German Shepherd look similar from a distance. However, there are some key differences between these related breeds.

German Shepherds are larger dogs in general, with a muscular, square build. 

Dutch Shepherds have a “wedge-shaped” head that differs from the square-shaped heads of German Shepherds. 

Maybe the most noticeable difference is in the coats of the two dogs. German Shepherds have a longer coat with a distinctive coloration, while Dutch Shepherds have three different coat styles: short hair, wire, and long hair. They also have a subtle brindle pattern that can be gold or silver. 

Personality and Temperament

Both Dutch and German Shepherds have great personalities and make excellent working dogs and family dogs.

Initially bred to be herders, they are intelligent and eager to please. They love to work and appreciate being given responsibility within a household. 

However, if they don’t undergo some kind of obedience training, both breeds can become willful and independent, so it is important to train and socialize them as puppies.

German Shepherds and Dutch Shepherds both get along well with both children and other pets and are naturally protective of their families.


German Shepherds are slightly easier to train than Dutch Shepherds. They have been bred as police and military working dogs and are extremely intelligent, energetic, and easy to please. They pick up on commands quickly, love the training process, and thrive when using their skills to please their master. 

Dutch Shepherds are also easy to train but may benefit from short training sessions with less repetition. They are more driven when tasks are intellectually demanding.

Toys are excellent motivation for both of these smart breeds.

Exercise Needs

German Shepherds are slightly larger and more muscular than Dutch Shepherds on average, but it is the Dutch Shepherds who require more daily exercise.

Dutch Shepherds were bred as working dogs and herders on farms and they need lots of opportunities to run and get their energy out. German Shepherds are also active dogs, but they are more stimulated by mental exercise and require less daily exercise than Dutch Shepherds.

Both dogs need regular exercise, but Dutch Shepherds require more.

Health Problems

There are known health problems for both breeds, but Dutch Shepherds are genetically healthier and live 4 years longer than German Shepherds on average

Both breeds are vulnerable to elbow and hip dysplasia. If you are buying a puppy from a reputable breeder, ask about the parents’ condition and make sure they haven’t had any major issues.

Thyroid conditions are a possibility for Dutch Shepherds and may develop later in life. 

Dutch Shepherds are more vulnerable than other breeds to anesthesia. If they need surgery, it is important to remind veterinarians of this fact, so that they don’t use too much. 

Both breeds have known health issues, but Dutch Shepherds are healthier and live longer.

The Coat Type

German Shepherds have medium to long hair. They should be brushed a minimum of once a week, and dogs with longer coats or who work in rough environments might need to be brushed daily. 

Dutch Shepherds can have short hair, wiry hair, or long hair. Short-haired Dutch Shepherds don’t need to be brushed much. Rough, or wiry coated Dutch Shepherds need to be combed once a month and hand-stripped once a year. 

On average, Dutch Shepherds have shorter coats than German Shepherds, and there is also more variety in the types of hair and coloration.

Breeding History

Originally, Dutch Shepherds were bred in the Netherlands for farm work. They were selected for their excellent temperament, obedience, and physical working ability.

German Shepherds were bred to be the ultimate herding dogs, but it wasn’t long before these dogs were drafted in to police and military jobs, where they have been thriving ever since. German Shepherds have an exceptional sense of smell and a strong desire to please, which makes them excellent for sniffing out narcotics, or missing persons. 

Choosing Between a German Shepherd and a Dutch Shepherd

German Shepherds are bigger, stronger, and easier to train, with lower exercise requirements than the Dutch Shepherd. However, they do have more health problems and a lower life expectancy.

Dutch Shepherds have more variety in their coat type, are slightly smaller, and require more exercise. They are a little bit harder to train than German Shepherds, but they are also healthier and live longer.

Understanding the differences between these 2 breeds can help you make a more informed choice, and find the right dog for you. 

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Celestine Gomez

I'm Celestine Gomez, worked for 5 years in an animal shelter in Los Angeles, California. Having noticed the inherent passion and zeal in me to care for pets, I took a step further to create a team of I and like-minded individuals to provide an informative resource in order to broaden the knowledge base of a regular pet owners.