You would be forgiven for not ever having heard of the lovely Dutch sheepdog called a Schapendoes because the breed has been kept somewhat of a secret, even though they are native to a country that's just across the English Channel. These lovely dogs with an almost unpronounceable name, are renowned for being talented working dogs native to the Netherlands, but they are also a brilliant choice as a family pet due to their kind and loyal natures.
The Schapendoes is a prized Dutch sheepdog. The breed is known for it's tremendous jumping abilities which all leads to the fact, they boast great agility and fitness. They were originally bred in the Netherlands for their prowess as herding dogs, and today are exhibited in many dog shows over there. However, these days the breed is gaining popularity as a sports dog too which probably has something to do with their fine lineage. Schapendoes boast an interesting bloodline that includes Puli, Old English Sheepdog, Bergamasco Sherperd Dog, Briard, and a few other breeds including the Bearded Collie.
This lovely Dutch sheepdog almost vanished off the face of the planet during the Second World War. The dogs we see today are descendants of just a handful of Schapendoes that were bred by discerning people to save the breed. Today, this lovely breed is recognised by the majority of kennel clubs in many parts of the world which naturally includes the Dutch Raad van Beheer – the official Netherlands kennel club.
Dutch Schapendoes are very appealing looking dogs both as puppies and as adults. It's easy to recognise the bearded in the breed in them with their kind, alert eye, beard and moustache. They stand at around 20 inches tall with a healthy dog, well cared for dog normally weighing in at around 55 lbs, females are usually that little bit smaller and quite a lot lighter, only weighing about 44 lbs.
The breed boasts a lovely thick, long coat from head to toe, covering their faces giving them a wonderful shaggy appeal. Schapendoes also boast gorgeous beards and moustaches, topped with neat, small furry ears that are meant to fall down in a very cute way.
When it comes to their temperament, it would be hard to find a kinder, friendlier character than the Schapendoes. In short, the breed would definitely not make a very good guard dog but a fantastic family pet to have around the home. This is especially true if young puppies have been well socialised right from the word go.
Like the majority of sheepdog breeds, the Schapendoes are very active, busy characters and this means they need regular exercise both physical and mental. Because the breed is so clever, they need the right kind of mental stimulation which includes lots of interaction with their owners, playing games as often as possible. Schapendoes are definitely not stay at home and get bored dogs, they love being out and about doing things like so many other breeds of sheepdog.
The breed is a herding dog by nature, therefore it is important for them to have the right sort of training from an early age. They make the ideal pet for people with active lifestyles which their pooches can be a part of. Schapendoes do not make good lapdogs that spend a lot of time indoors and should they have to do this, it can lead to all sorts of behavioural problems which include them becoming a little too boisterous.
Because their coats are so thick and so long, Dutch Schapendoes need a lot of grooming which they naturally adore. Not only does frequent grooming mean their coats look great, but it is a superb way of creating a strong bond between dog and owner. It's a good idea to bath them frequently too, but in the colder winter months, Schapendoes need to have their coats fully dried out after bath which takes quite a bit of doing!
Although native to Netherlands, these lovely looking dogs are not that easy to find in the UK, although since the secret has been let out on how lovely natured the breed happens to be, people are showing an interest in owning one. This has led to more reputable breeders offering Schapendoes for sale in England.
As with any other breed of dog, you have to contact a well respected and reputable breeder so you know the pups have been well bred and their lineage has been respected. All Dutch Schapendoes, no matter where they are bred, must have their papers as proof of their bloodlines and must have been given all the necessary vaccinations to ensure they are healthy, happy pups and they stay that way.
The other thing you have to make sure of is that puppies have been socialised from an early age. This makes them a lot more manageable simply because they are happier, more relaxed dogs that cope with situations they find themselves in a lot better than dogs that have not been socialised early enough.
If you're an outdoor sort of person, or a family that loves to spend their free time in the great outdoors and are looking to own a great family dog, you would not go far wrong by choosing a Dutch Schapendoes. These lovely characters are friendly, they're watchful of their owners, they're lively, attentive as well as being highly intelligent and courageous. This gorgeous breed that nearly vanished from the face of the earth not that very long ago, is a genuine canine character that makes a wonderful loyal family pet.