About Schapendoes

Group1The Schapendoes, or Dutch Sheepdog, is a lightly built, lively dog. Although there are only a few Schapendoes still actively working with flocks of sheep, the breed does not deny its sheepherding origin.

The Schapendoes belongs to the wide-ranging group of long haired herding breeds which have densely coated heads. He is related to the Bearded Collie, the Puli, the Owczarek Nizinny (Polish Lowland Sheepdog), the Bobtail, the Briard, the Bergamasco, and the German Schafpudil. All these similar dogs are smaller mutations of mountain dogs.


The Schapendoes, also known as the “Dutch Sheepdog”, originated in Holland.

Although the Dutch Sheepdogs have been in existence for many centuries, they are not well known. They did not attract the attention of royalty but remained a dog of the common people; therefore, they were rarely immortalized in art or literature.

At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the Nederlandse Schapendoes were found everywhere in the Netherlands where there was heath land and flocks of sheep. The shepherds valued them for the tireless pleasure they took in their work and for their intelligence.

In past days, the flocks of Dutch sheep were taken care of by two sorts of shepherd dogs. The larger of the two, the Dutch Shepherd and the smaller hairier variety now know as the Schapendoes. These two ‘landbreeds’ had complementary tasks with the herd. The Dutch Shepherd was the herder, the dog which kept the herd together when they had reached their destination. The Schapendoes was the drover, its most important job to bring the flock to its destination. Due to a lack of interest in the native breed and the importation of English Border collies, the Schapendoes dwindled into small numbers prior to the Second World War.

Schapendoes Dutch SheepdogP.M.C. Toepoel, breeder, all-round judge and publicist discussed the dog’s characteristics with others who were interested in the breed and became the driving force behind preserving the Schapendoes. He gathered a group of experts and dedicated breeders that gave the breed a solid foundation during its resurrection. Their cheerful temperaments, coupled with a rough-and-tumble appeal, stirred interest in the Schapendoes. Growth in numbers has been tempered with caution by wise breeders. Even large kennels only keep four or five dogs with a few pups, and waiting lists are long.

The breed club for the Nederlandse Schapendoes was founded in the year 1947 and in 1952 the breed was provisionally recognized by the Kennel Club in Holland. In 1954 the standard was set up and a stud book started. The start of the seventies included the closure of the breed registry. This meant that dogs of unknown heritage could no longer be included in the breed registry. The breed had progressed far enough to be able to carry on using only dogs of certain ancestry. The breed was also recognized internationally by the Federation Cynologique International (FCI) in 1989, the mother organization of which the Dutch Kennel Club is a member. Gradually throughout the seventies, eighties and nineties, dog fanciers across Europe (including Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, France, Denmark, Finland, Austria, Luxembourg and Italy) became aware and enthralled by the Schapendoes and began introducing them to their own countries.

The first Schapendoes in Canada, O’Fisban and O’Thasna, arrived in Quebec from France in 1998, and their first litter was born in 2000 at the kennel of Raymonde Briere. Since then several other dogs have been imported to Canada from France, Holland, Germany and most recently Sweden.

In November of 2005, the Canadian Kennel Club, fully recognized the Schapendoes in the "Herding Group" under the name of the "Dutch Sheepdog". As of March 1st 2006, our breed may now participate in all of the CKC activities.

The Schapendoes Club of Canada continued to press the CKC for a name change from Dutch Sheepdog to Schapendoes and in the 2014 referendum the CKC membership approved the name change and beginning in August of 2015 after the approval of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the CKC made the necessary changes to the data base to reflect the new name of the breed.


The Schapendoes is a medium sized dog with lighter, finer bone than you would really expect in a dog of this size. This results in the distinctive light springy gait of the Schapendoes, as well as his flexibility and great facility for jumping.

Worthy descendant of the great sheep dogs, the Schapendoes maintains many distinctive features of that breed without inheriting the considerable size and the dominant disposition. It was in the North-Eastern part of the Low Countries in Holland that the Schapendoes’ characteristics were shaped. Their modest size and lively disposition were an answer to the demands of their environment and their duties as a sheep dog. Shepherds preferred smaller sized dogs because they were easier to keep (ate less) and because their role was not to guard the herd, but to safely move the herd from place to place, the Schapendoes required great endurance, mobility and speed, as well as intelligence and the ability to act on his own.

Group1They are true herding dogs in character, body and soul. Cowardice, nervousness and aggressiveness are not characteristic. The Schapendoes is an engaging and delightful companion, always ready for a rousing game of ball, a walk through the woods, or to curl up nearby while you watch tv or read a book. They are active and energetic dogs that can excel in obedience and agility. Indoors they are calm, provided they get daily walks, with some activity such as playing ball or chasing dog friends at the park. They are eager to learn but require a firm and fair hand if they are not to get the better of their human partners. They are an excellent companion for kids due to their sociability, perpetually happy demeanour and ready to play attitude, as tireless as they are nice. To other dogs, a Schapendoes is generally obliging and tolerant; early and frequent socialization is necessary to help promote this attitude. The Schapendoes has low hunting instincts and are therefore not likely to wander away. They thrive when they are together with their families.


The Schapendoes enjoys learning and it comes very easily to him, but given half a chance he will be quite happy to make you look foolish. They need at least a one hour walk every day to keep fit and prevent nervous energy building up, especially important in the first 2 to 3 years of their lives. They are, on the whole, not big eaters The double coat, which is a predominant feature of the breed, may reach a length of about 10 centimetres. Their coats are totally natural requiring no trimming or shaping. A weekly brushing followed by combing is recommended in order to prevent the coat from knotting or matting. This is especially important when puppies are changing coat to the adult coat (usually about 6 months to 18 months). More frequent brushing followed by combing is really needed at this time or the undercoat will tangle with the top coat. The Schapendoes does not have a doggy odor and a sound coat cleans itself. Bathing is only required infrequently when the dog gets extremely dirty. They are not considered to be a non-allergenic dog but their shedding is minimal.


The Schapendoes are typically a healthy, long living breed. They can live up to 12 – 16 years. Illnesses and defects occur only occasionally. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (a hereditary eye disorder) was a major consideration for our Schapendoes but recently researchers in Germany have found a marker test to screen dogs before they are bred to see if they carry this disease. This is great news for breeders, as it opens many doors that were previously closed; and all Schapendoes owners, knowing that you will not have a pet blinded by this disease. Our club in Canada also recommends that hips are x-rayed for dysplasia.

In early 2006, in a routine test for breeding it was discovered that the dog in question had severely elevated liver enzymes. Although the dog appeared healthy, the vets were aghast by the readings and expected to see a dog in severe distress and very sick, not a happy seemingly perfectly healthy dog. Since this discovery, several other dogs have been found to have elevated liver enzymes again with no sign of ill effect or disease from the dogs. Concerned several breeders contacted Holland looking for some answers, and apparently some dogs had also been discovered there with elevated liver enzymes but lived out their lives in health and to a normal expected age. It is believed that higher liver enzymes may be natural for some Schapendoes. Here in Canada we are keeping tabs on all the puppies born that show these abnormal levels. Although to date we feel that there is no concern with dogs showing these elevated liver enzymes; at Schapannro, we have decided not to breed any dogs with elevated liver enzymes as a precaution.

Breed Standard

FCI-Standard No. 313 / 14-04-1999 / GB

Translation: Mrs. Chris Seidler



The Nederlandse Schapendoes is a herding dog which was used for herding flocks of sheep and which is still used in the same capacity today. As pasture for sheep is situated mainly in quiet, lonely areas of the country, it is necessary for the Schapendoes to be equipped with great endurance, mobility and speed. A great facility for jumping is essential, as well as intelligence and the ability to act on his own. He has to be a true herding dog in character, body and soul.


Group 1: Sheepdogs and Cattle-dogs (except Swiss cattle-dogs).
Section 1: Sheepdogs. Without working trial.


At the end of the last and beginning of this century, the Nederlandse Schapendoes occurred everywhere in the region of the Netherlands where there was heathland and where there were herds or flocks of sheep. The shepherds valued him for the tireless pleasure he took in his work and for his intelligence. He belongs to the wide-ranging group of longhaired herding breeds which have densely coated heads. He is related to the Bearded Collie, the Puli, the Owczarek Nizinny, the Bobtail, the Briard, the Bergamasker and the German Schafpudel of the variety which occurs in Hessen, Odenwald and the Niederrhein district. All these similar dogs are smaller mutations of mountain dogs. The canine authority, P.M.C. Toepoel, is the founder of this breed. During the Second World War, he knew how to rouse interest in the breed. During the years from 1940 to 1945 specimen of the almost vanished Schapendoes were used for breeding from wherever they could be found. The Breed Club for Nederlandse Schapendoes was founded in the year 1947 and in 1952 the breed was provisionally recognised by the Raad van Beheer. In 1954 the standard was set up and a Studbook started. Definite recognition followed in the year 1971. Since then only registered dogs have been bred from.


The Schapendoes is a normally and harmonically constructed herding dog with an attentive and courageous character. He is intelligent, watchful, jolly, lively, friendly and high spirited. Towards people familiar to him, he develops great affection and loyalty.


The Nederlandse Schapendoes is a lightly built, long coated dog with a height at whithers of 40 to 50 cm. His movement is effortless and springy. He is a remarkable jumper.


The abundant growth of hair gives the head the appearance of looking bigger and, in particular, broader.


Skull: Almost flat with a moderate frontal furrow and strongly defined superciliary arches. It is fairly broad in proportion to its length: the width is slightly greater than the distance between the stop and the occiput.
Stop: Clearly defined but not steep.


Nose: The bridge of the nose is placed a little lower than the line of the skull.
Muzzle: The muzzle is shorter than the distance between the stop and the occiput. The foreface tapers hardly, remains deep and ends broadly, being only slightly rounded at its end. Seen from the side, with jaw closed, the lower jaw must be clearly visible.
Teeth: Normally developed scissor bite.
Cheeks: The zygomatic arches are strongly prominent.
Eyes: The eyes are fairly large, round and set into the socket in a normal position. They are placed more to the front than the side of the head. Their colour is brown; they should not give the impression of being black. The white of the eye should only be visible when the dog looks hard to one side. The expression is open-minded, honest and lively. Shape, colour and expression are very characteristic for the breed.
Ears: These are set on fairly high and are neither large nor fleshy. They hang free, but not close to the head. They are amply feathered and mobile but should not protrude beyond the outline of the skull.


The head is carried high on a strong, clean neck.


The Schapendoes is slightly longer than high. The skeleton is fine boned, pliable and elastic.
Top line: Curved over a strong muscular loin.
Chest: Deep. Ribs are moderately to well sprung; they reach far back.

Lower line and Belly: Not too tucked up.


The tail is long, well coated and feathered. The manner and way in which the dog carries his tail is characteristic of the breed. In repose it hangs downwards. When trotting, the tail is carried fairly high and swings slightly curved from one side to the other. When galloping, it is stretched out straight. When jumping, the tail definitely serves as a rudder. When the dog is alert, the tail may sometimes be raised high. lt should, however, never be carried stiffly over the back.


Forequarters: The front legs are straight and lightly boned. Good angulation of the front legs should emphasize the fore-chest.

Pasterns: Springy.


Pelvis: In a well-slanted position.
Hocks: Moderately angulated, well muscled. Metatarsus: Short.


The feet are fairly large and elastic, broad and oval in shape.
The toes are tightly bunched.
The pads are thick and springy, with plentiful hair between them.
Dewclaws are permitted.


In his work, the Schapendoes gallops rather than trots, so his movement must be light footed and springy without excessive use of energy. He must be able to jump well and turn swiftly.


Hair: The Schapendoes has a thick coat with sufficient undercoat. The coat is long, a good 7 cm or more in the region of the hindquarters. lt is not smooth, but lightly waved. Definitely curly, frizzy hair is not permitted. The hairs grow very densely together; they are fine and dry, but above all, never silky. The coat, where it is long, is inclined to stand off in tufts, giving the Schapendoes a large girth, especially at the rear. The Schapendoes has a tremendous topknot moustache and beard.


All colours are permitted. Preference is given to blue-grey to black.


Height at withers:
For dogs: 43 - 50 cm.
For bitches: 40 - 47 cm.


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.


No Schapendoes which behaves nervously and - or - aggressively in the ring will be placed or classified.


Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

Meet Our Dogs


...is a small Ontario Kennel devoted to the Schapendoes breed.