So often, history fails to mark the importance of a dog so vital in its country of origin. A fixture in the homes and farms of the common people, many of these breeds are rarely mentioned in historical texts, let alone immortalized in art or literature.
Such was the lot of the Schapendoes (the singular form), a sheep herding dog in the Netherlands. Also called Dutch Sheepdogs, Schapendoezen (the plural form) have existed as helpmates for centuries, but they didn’t garner favor among royalty, nor were they mentioned in poems or portrayed in artwork. The fun loving Schapendoes simply went about his business as a general farm dog and sheep herder who used his barking and body contact to move animals.
A “double whammy” led to a decline of the breed just before WWII: A lack of interest in the native breed, coupled with the importation of Border Collies could have been disastrous had it not been for canine authority, P.M.C. Toepoel whose alarm at the decline of breed numbers kept the breed from total extinction. A breed club founded in 1947 helped resuscitate the breed, and steadily, the breed has been getting more notice. It was recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in 1971, followed by the Canadian Kennel Club (as the Dutch Sheepdog) and the United Kennel Club. The AKC has the breed listed in the Foundation Stock Service, the first step in breed recognition.
In our view, it’s only a matter of time before the Schapendoes takes off in a big way. These are cheerful dogs with a rough-and-tumble appeal. Lively, kind, courageous and intelligent, they tend not to be dog aggressive, but they do have a lot of energy and have been described as being occasionally high strung. They have an astounding ability to jump, little surprise in a breed related to the Puli, Bearded Collie, PONs, Briard and Bergamasco). Their weather-resistant coat does have a tendency to get matted, so regular brushing is called for.
Do we have any Schapendoes readers out there?
Image found on Pinterest and happily credited upon receipt of information.