You Say “Jump,” a Schapendoes Asks: How High?

Though many of our breeds display an aptitude for jumping (over fences, onto countertops, and to greet us face to face after we’ve been gone for a while), only a couple of AKC recognized breeds refer to  “jumping” in their standards. They are the Saluki (“Strong, hipbones set well apart and stifle moderately bent, hocks low to the ground, showing galloping and jumping power”), and the Ibizan Hound (“In the field the Ibizan is as fast as top coursing breeds and without equal in agility, high jumping and broad jumping ability).

Only one breed standard we know of, however, indicates the importance of jumping in its standard, and that belongs to the Dutch Schapendoes (currently an AKC FSS breed) in which “a great facility for jumping is essential.” Indeed, a breed hallmark of this quintessential “shaggy dog” is an astounding jumping ability. The Schapendoes’ tail serves as a rudder when jumping, though it also acts as a barometer in gauging the dog’s mood, and in this way, it is similar to the Puli, a breed which is thought to be related to it (and also an exceptionally agile breed). Not surprisingly, the Bearded Collie and the Polish Lowland Sheepdog – all prodigious jumpers – are also thought to be related.

The Schapendoes has been a fixture since time immemorial in the Northeastern parts of the Netherlands where it was bred exclusively as a working sheepdog used to drive herds of sheep wherever they needed to go.  Since sheep were put out to pasture in the remote areas of the country, a Schapendoes had to be hardy, mobile and nimble, and galloped rather than trotted while working.

Needless to say, these dog are superb candidates for agility and flyball.

We leave you with mood music to “jump:”

Image: Schapendoes by LA Shepard/thedoglover
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