The Schapendoes, also known as the Dutch Sheepdog, hails from the Netherlands. This breed was primarily used as a herding dog, particularly for sheep, and their name, Schapendoes, actually translates to 'sheep dog' in Dutch. These dogs were bred for their agility, intelligence, and stamina, characteristics essential for herding sheep across diverse and often challenging terrains. However, they nearly faced extinction in the early 20th century due to the mechanization of farming and the subsequent reduced need for herding dogs. The resurgence of the Schapendoes breed is mainly credited to P.M.C. Toepoel, a Dutch dog enthusiast who took an interest in preserving the breed after World War II.
Schapendoess are known to be generally healthy dogs. Genetic testing is recommended, including for the following specific conditions: hyperuricosoria, degenerative myelopathy, and progressive rod-cone degeneration. They are also prone to hip dysplasia, a condition that affects the joint of the hip, and can lead to discomfort, pain, and sometimes lameness.
Schapendoes are known for their intelligence, friendliness, and high energy levels. They are extremely loyal and form close bonds with their families. They are also known to get along well with children and other pets, making them a good choice for a family dog.
Their herding instincts make them alert and responsive, so they can be good watchdogs. However, they are not typically aggressive. Like many working breeds, the Schapendoes needs plenty of mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. They excel in various dog sports such as obedience, agility, and herding events.
Schapendoes have a thick double coat that is long and slightly wavy, providing good protection against cold weather and harsh conditions. The outer coat is dry and rough to touch while the undercoat is thick and woolly.
Despite their fluffy appearance, Schapendoes are agile athletes and are known for their leaping abilities, which were very useful in navigating the varied Dutch landscape.
Their heavy coat helps them swim well, and many Schapendoes enjoy water play.
While they might be rare in the United States, Schapendoes are more common in their homeland, the Netherlands, and in other parts of Europe.