It is hard to imagine any dog cuter than a Dutch Shepherd puppy. These puppies seem to be all ears and tail connected by an adorable little furry body!
But Dutch Shepherds are definitely not the dog breed for everyone. As one of a relatively rare group of “naturally occurring” dog breeds (which we will talk about here more in sections to follow), Dutch Shepherds definitely have an “ideal owner.”
That ideal owner goes into owning and caring for a Dutch Shepherd with eyes wide open and some prior experience raising, training, and caring for an intense working dog breed.
The ideal owner for a Dutch Shepherd also understands that puppyhood for a Dutch Shepherd doesn’t end abruptly when your dog turns one year old. This is a big milestone, indeed, but it is not the biggest milestone in the Dutch Shepherd dog breed.
In this article, we offer you a guide to Dutch Shepherd puppyhood, taking you to step by step through the process from whelping to adulthood for these amazing dogs.
See a Dutch Shepherd Dog Grow Up in This Short Video
This short video by an expert K-9 dog trainer shows the relatively rapid progression a Dutch Shepherd puppy goes through from the age of 7.5 weeks to the age of 11 months.
While the Dutch Shepherd will never quite lose that puppy-ish eager expression (or those intensely long ears and tail) you can see some of the baby fat melt away, to be replaced by the confidence of a well-loved, well-trained young adult dog.
When Does Dutch Shepherd Puppyhood Begin?
This question seems obvious, right? For a Dutch Shepherd or any dog breed, puppyhood starts the moment whelping ends.
But as the American Dutch Shepherd Association (ADSA) points out, there is a particularly critical time period in the life of a Dutch Shepherd puppy.
This time period starts when the young puppy first opens their eyes around the second week of life (7 to 10 days on average) and ends around the 20th week of life (five months old).
This socialization and training period is perhaps the most important time in your Dutch Shepherd dog’s whole life! It is when your dog will learn not to be afraid of new people, animals, or experiences.
It is when your puppy will learn how to handle themselves with confidence and courage even in the absence of an accustomed daily routine. Dutch Shepherds particularly need this lesson because of their intense protective and prey instincts.
So in some ways, puppyhood for a Dutch Shepherd also ends around week 20, although older puppies and dogs that did not get the proper training and socialization can often still be rehabilitated to some degree.
But it is the difference between riding a train up a hill and pulling that train up the hill with your teeth (and your puppy riding on top of it).
When Does Dutch Shepherd Puppyhood End?
All puppies go through puppyhood – and life itself for that matter – in distinct phases. However, as you are starting to perceive, these phases can be both more vital and also more pronounced for Dutch Shepherd puppies.
For general purposes, you can expect your Dutch Shepherd dog to transition into full adulthood around the age of two years.
This is quite common for medium to large dog breeds that have more growing to do and need to do it at a slower pace. Growing up too fast can place tremendous strain on bones, muscles, and ligaments and cause malformation, injury, and pain.
As this thread from a Dutch Shepherd dog forum highlights, sometimes dogs will continue growing even past the age of two years old.
You can expect to see the most visible and obvious growth spurt from whelping to the age of six months. But there may be subtle growing, changing, filling out, slimming down and other markers all the way up to the age of two years and beyond.
Does this mean that your Dutch Shepherd will be a full-blown puppy up to the age of two years old? Thankfully, the answer to this question is no. We will take a look at this important question here in the next section.
When Is a Dutch Shepherd Dog Fully Grown?
As the Dutch Sheepdog Club website emphasizes, the Dutch Shepherd is definitely not a “show” or “fancy” dog breed. This dog breed has always worked and won’t be happy with a life of leisure.
For this reason, in some ways, Dutch Shepherds are always puppies, at least in the sense that they always need firm, positive direction and training with continual reinforcement throughout life.
Why is this? The simple reason is that Dutch Shepherds have an independent streak and a mind of their own. They are intelligent dogs that have a long history of working independently with people, sometimes at a great distance from their people.
So Dutch Shepherds are used to making up their own minds and acting accordingly. This is why a Dutch Shepherd is never out of training, in a manner of speaking. It is critical to know this before you bring one of these dogs into your family!
What Size Is an Adult Dutch Shepherd Dog?
One of the many traits that Dutch Shepherd owners really like about their athletic, active dogs is that these dogs aren’t overwhelmingly big.
As the American Kennel Club (AKC) points out, the Dutch Shepherd falls into the medium-large category for dogs in terms of size.
The Dutch Shepherd typically grows up to weigh between 42 and 75 pounds, although certainly there can be some variation depending on a dog’s parents’ sizes.
Typically, a Dutch Shepherd adult dog will stand between 21.5 and 24.5 inches (paw pads to shoulders). Male Dutch Shepherds can be a bit taller and heavier than female adult dogs.
Also, even in puppyhood, a Dutch Shepherd dog is a lean breed, rangy and tall, with thin legs and tail and a body built for running, jumping, and herding.
In fact, Dutch Shepherds have a long history of working on farms, herding livestock, protecting people and animals, and doing a variety of “odd jobs” that even included pulling carts full of supplies.
Today, Dutch Shepherds are more apt to be found working in police, military, and security jobs, as active K-9 partners to people.
Pet Dutch Shepherds are typically heavily involved in K-9 athletics, including agility, obedience, tracking, search and rescue, service dog work, and as guide dogs for the blind.
What Your Dutch Shepherd Puppy Needs From You to Grow Up Healthy & Happy
As the Dutch Shepherd Dog Club of America (DSDCA) explains, the Dutch Shepherd dog breed is lively, athletic, and completely able to run and work and stay active all day, every day.
These dogs are also extremely smart and will become easily bored if they don’t get enough daily challenges and mental stimulation. And a bored Dutch Shepherd can quickly become a destructive Dutch Shepherd.
For this reason, the Dutch Shepherd is only recommended for experienced dog owners, handlers, and trainers.
If you are learning to care for one of these wonderful and unique dogs for the first time, don’t be afraid to reach out for help from a professional dog trainer.
You can learn alongside a professional and help your Dutch Shepherd grow up to be healthy, happy, and well adjusted for life in your family and in your community.