The Schapendoes is a breed that originates from the Netherlands where they were popular as a herding dog and as a worker on farms. These dogs were valued by shepherds for their intelligence and stamina while working. The Schapendoes is believed to be related to other long-haired herding breeds such as the Bearded Collie, the Bergamasco Shepherd Dog, and the Puli. Like many breeds based in Europe, the Schapendoes population was devastated during World War II and became nearly extinct. After the war increased interest in the breed led to a standard being established in 1954. These dogs have slowly continued to be bred and developed, spreading throughout the world. The Schapendoes is not yet officially recognized by the AKC, but they are being recorded in the Foundation Stock Service. This is a preliminary step to AKC recognition and also serves to keep records and information on breeds that are rare or still being developed.
The Schapendoes is a medium sized herding breed that stands at about 15 to 19 inches tall and they should weigh about 26 to 55 pounds. These dogs have an average sized head, but it often appears larger and broader due to the abundant hair that grows all over the head and face. The muzzle is somewhat short with a clearly defined stop. The nose is black and the eyes are round and fairly large. The eyes should be dark brown without appearing black. The ears are high set and medium in size. They hang down alongside the head. These dogs have a tail that is long and feathered, usually carried in a relaxed manner. The coat on the Schapendoes is thick, with a dense undercoat. The hair is slightly wavy, but never curly. These dogs also have an extensive topknot, beard, and mustache. All colors are permitted in the standard for this breed, but black and white, solid black, and blue-grey are most preferred.
Schapendoes are known to be intelligent and efficient working dogs. They are very attentive to their task and usually in high spirits. As family companions these dogs are very friendly and affectionate with the people closest to them. They are loyal, but they should still be obedience trained while they are still young. As long as the training is firm and consistent, these dogs should learn fairly quickly. It is also important for the owner of this breed to act as a strong pack leader towards the dog. This means being naturally authoritative and someone the dog can look to for instruction. This is a fairly independent breed, and without rules and structure they will not know what is expected of them. Socializing these dogs while they are still young is also highly recommended. This is a process that should involve taking them out to expose them to new people, places, and situations. If this is done properly, then the dog should not feel timid when introduced to anything new later on. This breed is not naturally aggressive so they do not make good guard dogs, but this does make them good for families with children as long as the dog is well trained and the children have been taught how to properly interact with him.
The Schapendoes is an active breed both indoors and out. It is possible for them to live happily in an apartment as long as they are getting out for plenty of exercise every day. A dog not getting enough exercise will not only be unhappy, but also bored. This can lead to many undesirable behaviors such as obsessive barking, digging, and chewing. These dogs will need a long walk or run, but they will also enjoy playing games and running in an open area as long as it is safely enclosed.
Health concerns and issues have not been well documented in this breed. They are not believed to suffer from any major issues, but it is always important to check with the breeder before adopting a puppy. Schapendoes can live about 14 years and they produce litters of about 5 puppies.
Overall the Schapendoes is generally a working breed, but they are a dog that can make a good family companion as well. They need plenty of training and socialization, but they are intelligent dogs that learn quickly. As long as this breed is getting enough exercise, they will remain happy and healthy.