The right dog for you?

amber77.jpg (7502 bytes)
Amber Uyt den Cule, born July 1977. Picture taken in June 1991.

One of the first questions commonly asked by people interested in a particular dog breed, is "What's their temperament like - would it suit mine?" Good question!
To begin with, you might take a look at the so-called breed standard. This is basically a description of the breed's exterior, but there's always a short temperament sketch in keywords which might give us a clue.
According to the breed standard, a typical Dutch shepherd is "devoted to his owner, obedient, glad to please and oblige, alert, a good guardian, very faithful and reliable, undemanding, with plenty of stamina, vigilant, active and gifted with the real shepherd temperament".
Sounds good, doesn't it? Being an attentive reader, however, you might have spotted several terms indicating that this is not the type of dog suited to just everyone. (Hmmm, is there such a thing as a "dog for just everyone", anyway?)

These dogs combine alertness and vigilance with the ability to react instantly, and a tendency to 'enforce law and order'. Just the thing that's needed to control a flock of sheep! But slow and/or inattentive folks, however well-meaning, more often than not find they simply can't keep up with such a dog.... As one might guess, here's a recipe for dominance problems.
On the other hand, one shouldn't label every growl or bark immediately as "dominant behaviour". Keep in mind that a Dutchie is a communicative sort of dog - sometimes he simply has to give vent to his feelings! Calm him down with a soothing word and a smile, and everything will be OK. Try and "put him in his place" by force on such an occasion, and soon you will have exactly the problem on your hands that you tried to prevent......

For a reasonably clear-headed person with some ability to read canine body language (actually not so different from human body language as many would have it!), a sense of humor and a sense of what's fair, a Dutch shepherd would be a great choice of dog.
Being naturally active and curious, they love to go everywhere with you, be it on a hiking tour of several days or just a trip to the local supermarket. Both mentally and bodily agile, they are able to enjoy a variety of activities such as your local Canine Club may provide. Obedience training is OK as long as it doesn't become a dreary routine, in which case they get bored and unhappy.

Though active and full of initiative, Dutch shepherds are not nervous freaks. While I am at the computer typing this, my (pet) dog is relaxing full length on his couch, now and then opening one eye to see if I'm still busy. When I turn off the computer, he'll get off the couch, stretching and wagging his tail: Seems it's time for a walk now, right? Yes, he's right- by then it is time to go out and get some fresh air. Where would we be without our doggies!


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