Schapendoes (Dutch Sheepdog): Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

schapendoes lying outside

Diyanski / Getty Images

The schapendoes, also known as the Dutch sheepdog, is a medium-size herding dog breed from the Netherlands with a long, thick, slightly wavy double coat that can come in a variety of colors. Overall, the dog has a well-balanced and light build. Its large, round eyes peek out from behind the shaggy fur on its face, which also grows into a mustache and beard. And its downward-hanging ears are fairly small but covered in feathering. The dog’s long tail also has ample feathering. The breed is built for springy movements, which serves it well as a herding dog. And it does best with an active owner.

Breed Overview

Group: Herding

Height: 16 to 20 inches

Weight: 26 to 55 pounds

Coat: Long double coat

Coat Color: Beige, black, black and white, brown, gray, gray and white, white, chocolate and white, or tricolored

Life Span: 12 to 15 years

Temperament: Affectionate, bright, attentive

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: Netherlands

Characteristics of the Schapendoes

The schapendoes generally has a friendly and upbeat personality. The breed tends to be very devoted to its family, though it can be slightly reserved around strangers. High energy and a playful nature also help to shape the breed's temperament.

Affection Level High
Friendliness Medium
Kid-Friendly Medium
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark Medium
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Schapendoes

The origin of the schapendoes is unclear. The breed is thought to have existed throughout the Netherlands for centuries. It’s likely related to similar breeds, including the bearded collie, puli, Briard, Polish lowland sheepdog, and Bergamasco.

Schapendoezen have been valuable companions for shepherds in the Netherlands due to their strong work ethic and high intelligence. Plus, they were friendly and devoted family companions. The breed nearly disappeared around the time of World War II, but the remaining dogs were gathered to keep it alive. 

The schapendoes breed club in the Netherlands was founded in 1947, and shortly thereafter breeding began to be logged. In 2005, the American Kennel Club admitted the schapendoes to its Foundation Stock Service, which also helps to document breeding. And the breed received the Herding group designation. It still remains rare around the world today.

Schapendoes Care

Plan to give your schapendoes lots of daily exercise. Plus, this breed's grooming needs are fairly straightforward, though they do require some dedication. Fortunately, it typically takes well to training.


Aim to give your schapendoes at least two hours of exercise per day to keep it happy and healthy. Long walks, running, cycling, hiking, and vigorous games of fetch all are ideal activities. This breed also can excel in dog sports, including agility and herding trials, which will help to challenge it physically and mentally. Some dogs that don’t receive enough exercise might become overly vocal or destructive in the house, so it’s important to have enough time for this energetic breed.


Brush your dog at least one to two times per week to remove loose fur and prevent tangles and mats. This breed’s thick coat is prone to matting, especially in the areas with feathering. So thorough grooming is a necessity. Also, expect periods of higher shedding seasonally as the weather changes, during which you’ll likely have to brush more frequently to keep up with the loose fur. 

Bathe your schapendoes roughly once a month, depending on how dirty it gets. But see whether its ears need cleaning at least weekly. Also, see whether it needs a nail trim about every month, and attempt to brush its teeth every day.


This breed is known to be eager to please, so training is typically an easy process. Begin both training and socialization from a young age to prevent any bad habits from forming. A puppy class can be ideal both to teach basic obedience and manners. Always use positive-reinforcement training methods, such as praise and treats. And keep training sessions fun and varied to hold this intelligent dog’s attention. 

Furthermore, to help quell the breed’s reserved nature around strangers, aim to expose your dog to different people and various locations starting when it’s a puppy. Having lots of positive experiences can help with a dog’s social skills.

Common Health Problems

The schapendoes is a healthy dog breed overall. It is not prone to any known hereditary health issues. However, any dog might be affected by common health problems related to aging, such as arthritis.

Diet and Nutrition

Always have fresh water available for your dog. And feed your schapendoes a high-quality canine diet with balanced nutrition. It’s typical to feed two measured meals per day to ensure that your dog gets the right amount. Be sure to discuss both the type of food and the quantity with your vet, as individual needs can vary based on age, activity level, and other factors. 

Where to Adopt or Buy a Schapendoes

The schapendoes is a rare breed, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to find. Check local animal shelters and rescue groups, and see whether you can get your name on a breed wait list. Breeders also might be difficult to come by depending on where you live, and you might have to wait some time for a dog to be available. Expect to pay around $1,000 to $1,500 on average for a puppy from a reputable breeder.

For more information to help you find a schapendoes, check out:

Schapendoes Overview

  • Happy and friendly

  • Eager to please

  • Highly intelligent and trainable

  • Requires a lot of daily exercise

  • Coat can mat without regular brushing

  • Rare breed and difficult to find

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Before you decide on a schapendoes, be sure to do your homework. You can connect with other schapendoes owners, reputable breeders, and rescue groups to learn more about the breed and determine whether it's the right fit for your lifestyle.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

  • Are schapendoezen good family dogs?

    Schapendoezen are moderately tolerant of kids in general. They can be good with respectful older children. But they might be too energetic for young kids, whom they also might want to herd.

  • Are schapendoezen aggressive?

    Schapendoezen are typically very friendly dogs, though they can be somewhat reserved around strangers. But as long as they have proper training and socialization, aggression is rare.

  • Are schapendoezen good apartment dogs?

    Schapendoezen are generally adaptable to different living situations. However, they do require lots of exercise and mental stimulation. So they might not be fit for apartment living unless you can get them outside enough every day—and ideally let them run freely in a secure area—to burn their energy.

Article Sources
The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Schapendoes. Dog Breeds List.