Dutch Shepherd vs. German Shepherd: What Is The Difference?

The German Shepherd is amongst the most popular dogs in the United States and worldwide. Many other less popular Shepherd dog breeds are mistaken for it.

One of these is the Dutch Shepherd, a herding dog from the Netherlands. 

When compared, the Dutch Shepherd vs. German Shepherd has a lot in common, just like the German Shepherd does with other lookalike breeds such as the Belgian Malinois.

That said, one can’t deny that they are two separate breeds, at least after close observation.

They each have their traits, and while both can fit in many homes, you might find one more suitable for your lifestyle.

Let’s look into more facts, similarities, and differences to help you decide between a Dutch Shepherd or a German Shepherd. 

Dutch Shepherd vs. German Shepherd Comparison

FactsDutch ShepherdGerman Shepherd
Height21 to 25 Inches22 to 26 Inches
Weight50 to 70 Pounds75 to 95 Pounds
Coat TypeShort, Wire, LongDouble, Wiry, Soft
Coat ColorsBrindle, Gold, SilverBlack, Black and tan, Black and Cream
TemperamentIntelligent, Lively, AthleticConfident, Courageous, Smart
EnergyVery HighVery High
TrainabilityVery HighVery High
HealthAbove AverageAverage
Lifespan11 to 15 years10 to 14 years
Puppy Price$1,000 to $2,000$1,500 to $3,000

Dutch Shepherd Dog Breed

Close Up Dutch Shepherd Dog Outdoors


As the name implies, the Dutch Shepherd is a native of the Netherlands.

There isn’t much known about the development of this breed, but the apparent reason for its creation was to get a versatile farm dog.

It was a success because the Dutch Shepherd started like that. It herded cows, pulled carts, kept the farmers’ families company, and was a watchdog. 

At the early stage, the only noticeable difference between the Dutch Shepherd, the German Shepherd, and the Belgian Malinois was the coat color. Now, however, more distinctions popped up.

The Dutch Shepherd had a rough moment in history in the industrialization era. The need for Shepherd dogs lessened, and breeders stopped breeding them. As a result, their number dwindled.

These dogs also died out of starvation during the second world war, and some were drafted into the army.

After the war, they would have gone extinct if breeders hadn’t started breeding them again.

It got popular in Europe but remained rare in the United States. It is in the Miscellaneous Group of the American Kennel Club. 


The Dutch Shepherd is a medium to big-sized breed, with a weight that falls between 50 and 70 pounds and a height of 21 to 25 inches.

It has three main coats: wire hair, short hair, and long hair. Each of these has its distinct factors. The common colors are brindle, gold, and silver. 

Besides looking like other Shepherd dogs, this dog breed also has a little resemblance to the wolf.

Its pointed ears and feral expression give it a wild dog appearance, along with its almond-shaped eyes and curved tails. The head is often wedge-shaped, and its frame is muscular and athletic. 


The Dutch Shepherd is intelligent and carries its versatility from the past into the modern world.

It is a police dog, a guide for the blind, an active participant in search and rescue missions, and a dutiful companion. In addition to being intelligent, Dutch Shepherds are also highly trainable. 

In a household, this breed is loyal and devoted to its family. It can serve as a watchdog, sure to alert you to any intruder. It can also be a guard dog and is just as protective as many other herder dogs. 

The active Dutch Shepherd thrives in a home with a lot of activity for it.

Idleness is a nightmare for this breed, and when bored, it can react negatively by getting destructive. It needs a lot of exercise and mental activities. 

German Shepherd Dog Breed

Purebred German Shepherd Dog Laying on Grass Outdoors


The German Shepherd hails from Germany, where it started as a herder. Its development was made possible thanks to a military officer named Captain Max von Stephanitz. 

After a successful career in the army, Max von Stephanitz dedicated his retirement years to breeding.

His goal was to get a unique herding breed, as there was none yet in pastoral Germany. Through a wolflike dog named Horand von Grafeth, Max began breeding. 

The industrial era also impacted the use of herding dogs in Germany, but unlike the Dutch Shepherd, German Shepherds didn’t suffer a huge loss.

Instead, Max von Stephanitz got them into the German army, and they participated in the 1st World War as rescue dogs, Red Cross, etc. 

Their work in the war impressed the Allied forces, and some German Shepherds got to America with the soldiers.

The American Kennel Club recognized the German Shepherd in 1908 before the war, but it was after the war that its popularity kicked off. 

After the war, Germany became notorious, and all things coming from Germany were stigmatized.

Both the American Kennel Club and the British Kennel Club changed their name to prevent that from getting to the German Shepherd.

The AKC opted for Shepherd Dog, while the British Kennel Club went for the Alsatian Wolf Dog. 


The German Shepherd weighs between 75 and 95 pounds with a height that falls between 22 and 26 inches.

The common coat type of the German Shepherd is double and medium length, but some German Shepherds are long-haired. 

The common color is black and tan, but there are a lot of others like solid black, black and cream, black and silver, blue, gray and white.

However, white isn’t considered a standard color by the American Kennel Club. 

The German Shepherd has a strong, athletic body with well-built muscles that help it with its activities.

It has pointed ears and a protruding snout that’s often painted black. Their eyes are dark and almond-shaped, giving this breed a serious look. 


Don’t expect a typical German Shepherd to be friendly with everyone. This is a serious, aloof, and protective breed that’s wary of strangers and won’t hesitate to defend its family if it senses a threat.

The challenge here is that anyone can be a threat without proper socialization. The advantage is that the German Shepherd makes a good guard dog

It is loyal to its family and also very affectionate. This breed remains devoted to those it loves.

It may not always show its affection with so much enthusiasm, but best believe it keeps its family close to its heart.

This breed can even suffer from separation anxiety when away from its family. 

That being said, the German Shepherd isn’t just a household pet. This breed is a worker, and one reason it assumes the responsibility of guarding the household is that it loves having a job to do.

Physical and mental activities are important for this breed’s well-being.

What is the Difference Between Dutch Shepherd and German Shepherd?


The German Shepherd trumps the Dutch Shepherd in size, but only by a few pounds and inches.

German Shepherds weigh between 75 and 95 pounds and reach 22 to 26 inches in height, while the Dutch Shepherd falls short at 50 to 70 pounds and tends to be shorter by an inch.

The weight range can make a difference for some people. Those who want a medium-sized dog weighing around 50 pounds will fare better with the Dutch.

However, if having a big guard dog is your plan, the German might be a better fit. 


Dutch Shepherd and German Shepherd Dogs Running Outdoors
While the Dutch Shepherd and German Shepherd are very similar in appearance, the major difference between both breeds is the coat color.

As stated above, the main physical difference between the German Shepherd and the Dutch Shepherd is the color.

Someone not conversant with the standard colors of both breeds will assume they’re the same. They both have almond-shaped eyes, upright ears, a protruding snout, and athletic bodies. 

There are some other differences besides the color, though. Because the German Shepherd weighs more than the Dutch Shepherd, it tends to be stockier and squarer. The Dutch’s head also looks slightly different. 


The German Shepherd and Dutch Shepherd are both highly energetic, just as you would expect from herding dogs.

As working dogs, they need a lot of exercises to be at their best. These breeds should not be left idle, nor should you neglect their exercise needs.

They can both adapt to apartment living if you give them the constant exercise they need. 

The German Shepherd needs at least 90 minutes of exercise, and some can go even more. The main target is to exercise this breed till it releases all the pent-up energy.

You can spread the exercise time throughout the day and fill it with activities like walking, jogging, running, and playing. 

The Dutch Shepherd needs lesser exercise, at least 30 to 60 minutes. Physical and mental exercise should be combined to make this breed calmer after.

The Dutch enjoys similar physical activities compared to the German. 


There are a lot of similarities in the temperament of the German Shepherd and the Dutch Shepherd, much more than the similarities in their appearance.

Both breeds are loyal to their owners, devoted, and wary of strangers. They both make good watchdogs and guard dogs, though the German Shepherd is often considered more protective. 

They are versatile too, both in centuries past and now. As active dogs, both breeds love having a job to do.

They also enjoy being around their loved families, but the German Shepherd is likelier to play favorites.

The German Shepherd has a notorious reputation for being aggressive among both breeds because they are more popular than the Dutch Shepherd; hence, they have figured in many bite statistics.


Both breeds are trainable. Because they love to work and are intelligent, they learn commands easily. They also enjoy pleasing their masters because of their loyalty, another asset for training. 

They are not often considered ideal for new pet parents, but active first-timers can handle the German Shepherd better than the Dutch Shepherd. 

For both breeds, obedience training and socializing are important. Obedience training enables them to understand and obey commands, an attribute that can always come in handy.

Start with basic commands like Sit, Come, and Stay. You should also socialize with them because of their wariness with strangers. Left without socialization, both breeds can become aggressive. 

As with other breeds, training should start early. It is easier to shape up a puppy than it is to train an adult.

If you plan on adopting an adult German Shepherd or Dutch Shepherd, make provision for a professional trainer. 

Health and lifespan

The German Shepherd and the Dutch Shepherd are both healthy breeds, but the Dutch Shepherd is considered healthier. The latter has lesser health problems than many other Shepherd dogs.

Not surprisingly, the Dutch Shepherd has a longer lifespan. While the German Shepherd lives up to 14 years, the Dutch Shepherd gets to 15 years. 

These breeds are both prone to hip dysplasia, so you should get your German Shepherd, or Dutch Shepherd pup checked for hip dysplasia before bringing it to your home.

Hip dysplasia is common amongst big dogs (though some small dogs are vulnerable to it too).

This joint-related problem occurs when the hip joint gets loose, leading to a deterioration of the joint. Hip dysplasia can lead to arthritis and even lameness. 

The Dutch Shepherd is prone to thyroid conditions and goniodysplasia. It can also be sensitive to anesthesia, given its rarity. Other than those, Dutch Shepherds are healthy.

The German Shepherd suffers from more problems like bloating, degenerative myelopathy, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, and some doggy allergies. 

If you do get a well-bred breed, you may not have any issues with either the German Shepherd or the Dutch Shepherd. However, the Dutch Shepherd has the upper hand in health. 

Coat and grooming

The German Shepherd and the Dutch Shepherd both have a double coat, but lengths and textures differ.

The length determines the grooming need of both breeds. If the coat type is short, you’ll need to brush them only once a week.

Longer coats require more brushing. Both breeds shed heavily and they’re not suitable for allergy sufferers. You’ll need a vacuum cleaner to keep your environment clean.

These breeds should only be bathed when necessary, that is when they get dirty or just once a month. Too much of it can cause more harm than good for the German Shepherd and the Dutch Shepherd. 

Wire-coated Dutch Shepherds have a specific grooming need akin to the Poodle. It needs a pin brush and more brushing than other types, a minimum of two times a week. 

You should also take care of their ears. Both breeds are not prone to ear infections, but they’re not impervious to it either.

Wipe their ears regularly. Also, trim the nails, and clean their teeth and the areas around the eyes. 

Origin and AKC recognition

The difference in their origin is as clear as their names. The German Shepherd comes from Germany while the Dutch Shepherd comes from Netherland.

Their history runs along parallel lines, however. Both were bred to be workers and were versatile.

They got affected by the industrialization era—albeit in different ways—and they played important roles in the 1st World War. 

The German Shepherd was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1908 under the Herding Group.

The Dutch Shepherd has not yet been fully recognized by the AKC because of its rarity. It remains in the Miscellaneous Group. Both breeds are pure in status. 


Both breeds thrive better with a quality meal for the day, but their general requirements aren’t the same.

The Dutch Shepherd’s feeding requirement as an adult is 2 to 3 cups of high-quality meal per day. The German Shepherd requires a bit more, going up to 2.5 and 3.5 cups each day. 

These dogs are prone to obesity, so their food should be measured.

They’re also susceptible to bloating—the German Shepherd more than the Dutch Shepherd—and shouldn’t be allowed to rush their food, regardless of how hungry they are.

They should also not exercise immediately after a meal, or eat immediately after an exercise.


German Shepherd Puppy and Dutch Shepherd Puppy Side by Side
The puppy price for both shepherds from a reputable breeder is roughly the same.

The German Shepherd tends to be more expensive than the Dutch Shepherd, but also more available.

The German Shepherd’s price falls between $1,500 and $3,000 while the Dutch Shepherd falls between $1,000 and $2,000. 

Considering that the German Shepherd is easier to find, many people might go for it, regardless of its high price. However, if you prefer the Dutch Shepherd, it’s worth the wait. 

Get a reputable breeder who will sell a puppy that’s healthy and well-bred.

The German Shepherd is more vulnerable to ill-breeding because of its popularity, but that doesn’t hinder breeders from doing the same to the Dutch Shepherd. Avoid backyard breeders or puppy mills. 

If you prefer not to shop, you can adopt. The German Shepherd is also easier to find at rescue shelters than the rare Dutch Shepherd, but you can always see both. 

Security duties 

If you need a guard dog or a watchdog, both breeds can do the job.

Loyal, devoted, and protective, the German Shepherd and the Dutch Shepherd are always at the top of their guarding game and they take their job seriously.

The German Shepherd is often considered a better guard dog, while the Dutch Shepherd is a sought-after option for a watchdog. 

Are they good with kids and other pets

The German Shepherd and Dutch Shepherd are both good with kids. The Dutch Shepherd is known to be loyal to everyone, including children.

The German Shepherds also enjoy kids and are affectionate towards them. 

Both dogs aren’t advisable for a house with toddlers, however, when they’re grown. This is because they are energetic and can hit the child down.

You should also supervise any interactions your kid has with the dog, as well as teach your children how to relate with canines

Good for family 

Overall, the German Shepherd and Dutch Shepherd are both good for families. The choice largely depends on which you think fits your family.

Though they are alike and have similar personality traits, they are not for everyone.

Both dogs need active owners, but if you’re new, you’ll do better with the German Shepherd. These little details make the difference. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Dutch Shepherd or a German Shepherd better?

None of these breeds is necessarily better than the other as they both have their strengths and weaknesses. The German Shepherd is easier to find, but the Dutch Shepherd is healthier.

Is the Dutch Shepherd a German Shepherd?

Though they look alike, the Dutch Shepherd and the German Shepherd are not the same. They do have similar physical and personality traits, but they also have their differences.

Is the German Shepherd aggressive?

Many people perceive the German Shepherd to be aggressive, and evidence has shown that some members of this breed have bit people in the past. However, a well-trained and socialized German Shepherd is unlikely to be aggressive.

Is the Dutch Shepherd popular?

The Dutch Shepherd is popular in Europe, but not in the United States. In the US, the Dutch Shepherd is rare. This is one reason why many people think the Dutch Shepherd and the German Shepherd are the same.

Final Thoughts

The German Shepherd and the Dutch Shepherd are both exceptional breeds. Hard workers and good family pets are assets to any household.

While some people might think they’re the same, they are not. The choice is always yours, as long as you know which is better suited for you.

References: AKC, Wikipedia

Authored By

Robert Miller

Robert Miller is a dog behaviorist and professional dog trainer. With more than eight years of hands-on experience in the field, Robert relishes sharing his vast knowledge to help prospective pet parents choose the right dog breeds that suit their lifestyle and provide dog owners with the information they need to ensure they raise a well-behaved canine companion. ...