Dutch Shepherd vs German Shepherd: What Are The Differences?

Written by Katelynn Sobus
Updated: September 28, 2023
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German Shepherds are among the most common, well-recognized dogs in the United States. You likely know someone who has one! On the other hand, Dutch Shepherds are rare in the U.S. and are mostly bred in the Netherlands. These breeds are similar in body shape, temperament, and trainability. Both bred for herding, they’re brilliant, loyal dogs that can take on a range of jobs—but they must have something to occupy their minds and bodies!

Learn more about these awesome breeds below and see what sets them apart!

Comparing Dutch Shepherd vs German Shepherd

German Shepherds have more appearance variation.
Dutch ShepherdGerman Shepherd
Size21-25 inches, 42-75 pounds22-26 inches, 50-90 pounds
FurShort, long, or rough fur in the colors silver brindle and gold brindleMedium-length fur in the colors black, cream, red, silver, tan, blue, grey, liver, sable, white, bi-color, or a combination of these
Lifespan11-14 years10-13 years
PopularityLesser-known in the United StatesCommon
Country of OriginNetherlandsGermany

Do Dutch Shepherds Make Good Service Dogs?

Dutch Shepherds are renowned for their intelligence and versatility, excelling in various roles such as agility, watchdog duties, search and rescue, herding, field training, police work, guide dog service, and as cherished family companions.

While not as widely recognized as some breeds, the Dutch Shepherd is a devoted companion and proficient working dog, sought after for tasks like obedience, dog sports, herding, tracking, search, and rescue operations.

Furthermore, Dutch Shepherds demonstrate exceptional obedience and a strong desire to satisfy their families. Their sharp intellect and motivation to acquire new skills make them an easily trainable breed. To maintain your dog’s engagement and concentration, it’s advisable to keep training sessions relatively brief.

6 Key Differences Between the Dutch Shepherd and German Shepherd

The main differences between a German and Dutch Shepherd are their size, coat, lifespan, popularity, country of origin, and price. German Shepherds are larger with shorter lifespans, a wide variety of coat colors, and immense popularity, which leads to most breeders charging less for puppies.

The most significant difference between the Dutch Shepherd and German Shepherd is their commonality. German Shepherds are known and beloved pets in the United States, while Dutch Shepherds are rarer.

We’ll dive into all of these further below, so keep reading!

Dutch Shepherd vs German Shepherd: Size

taste of the wild sierra mountain

German Shepherds are larger than Dutch Shepherds.

©Dmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock.com

German Shepherds are typically larger than Dutch Shepherds, though female German Shepherds are closer to the Dutch Shepherd’s size. Maxing out at 26 inches and 90 pounds, German Shepherds also tend to be stockier in appearance. They likely have a stronger bite force as well, though it hasn’t yet been studied.

Dutch Shepherds grow up to 25 inches tall and weigh up to 75 pounds, so they’re not tiny dogs. Their smaller size may make them faster than German Shepherds, however.

Dutch Shepherd vs German Shepherd: Fur

Aside from size, these dogs’ coats are the fastest way to tell them apart. German Shepherds always have a medium-length double coat that varies in color, with all of the following included in the breed standard:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Black and red
  • Black and silver
  • Liver
  • Black and cream
  • Grey
  • Black and tan
  • Sable
  • White
  • Bi-color

Despite their thick coats, they’re still quite easy to groom. Brush them once every few days to remove loose fur. During shedding season, they’ll need to be brushed daily.

Dutch Shepherds, on the other hand, can have short, long, or rough coats. Each fur texture comes with its own grooming requirements, from occasional brushing to more frequent combing. Rough coats must be hand-stripped every six months.

The only colors accepted by the AKC breed standard are gold brindle and silver brindle.

Dutch Shepherd vs German Shepherd: Lifespan

Overall, the Dutch Shepherd is better bred than the German Shepherd, and it shows. While German Shepherds live just 10-13 years—quite short compared to breeds of similar size—Dutch Shepherds live a more average 11-14 years.

American breeding standards are often lacking, leading to poor health in our dogs. A great example of this is the German Shepherd. These dogs are often bred with a back that slopes downwards. Although this is detrimental to their joint and bone health, it’s encouraged in show lines and by the American Kennel Club.

This can be avoided if you adopt a dog bred from a working line rather than a show line. Other medical conditions common to German Shepherds include degenerative myelopathy and bloat (GDV).

While the Dutch Shepherd is relatively healthy, the breed does have its own problems, such as thyroid issues in long-haired dogs and Goniodysplasia in rough-haired dogs.

Both can and should be screened for by your breeder. Never purchase a puppy from someone who doesn’t health screen their dogs.

Lastly, Dutch Shepherds are sensitive to anesthesia. Your veterinarian should know this before any surgery and have experience operating on similar breeds.

Dutch Shepherd vs German Shepherd: Popularity

dog food for German shepherds

You can commonly find German Shepherds in animal shelters.

©Barat Roland/Shutterstock.com

German Shepherds are incredibly popular, beloved dogs in the United States. This comes with several benefits, including:

  • You can easily adopt a German Shepherd from a shelter or rescue.
  • Breeders sell puppies at lower prices—but you still must ensure you’re shopping with a reputable breeder, not a backyard breeder or puppy mill!
  • It’s easy to learn about the breed and we have a lot of scientific information available.

It also comes with drawbacks. Since these dogs are widely-bred, there are more irresponsible breeders out there, causing poor health.

Dutch Shepherds are rarely bred in the United States, which comes with several benefits for the dogs. Most notably, they tend to be healthier and live longer than German Shepherds. They do, however, cost more when shopping with a breeder—and are less likely to be found in shelters or rescues.

While this may be disappointing to potential owners, it’s great for the dogs as they’re more likely to be in loving homes than in crowded shelter or rescue environments.

Dutch Shepherd vs German Shepherd: Country of Origin

Dutch shepherd walking in field

Dutch Shepherds are mostly bred in the Netherlands and are rare to find in the United States.

©iStock.com/Tamara Harding

Both breeds were originally bred to work on farms, herding and guarding livestock. They’re used today in various lines of work including policing, military work, search and rescue, and guide dogs. However, they originated in different places. The Dutch Shepherd comes from the Netherlands as an all-around farm dog, tending to animals and children and guarding farms.

German Shepherds were first bred in Germany for herding livestock. They’re now incredibly popular in the United States, while Dutch Shepherds are still primarily bred in their home country.

Dutch Shepherd vs German Shepherd: Price

The German Shepherd is so common that there’s a plethora up for adoption at any given time. This is the best way to bring one into your family, with the next best being purchasing a puppy from a well-bred working line.

Either way, you’re likely to pay less than you would for a Dutch Shepherd. These dogs are rare in the United States, so finding a breeder may also be more difficult. You’re likely to pay $1,500 or more.

Rescue dogs typically cost under $500, while a German Shepherd puppy from a breeder will likely cost $450-$1,000.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Aleksandr Zotov

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About the Author

Katelynn Sobus is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on pets including dogs, cats, and exotics. She has been writing about pet care for over five years. Katelynn currently lives in Michigan with her seven senior rescue cats.

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