Do Dutch Shepherds Make Good Therapy Dogs?

Dogs have long been recognized for their incredible ability to provide emotional support and comfort to those in need. Therapy dogs, in particular, play a vital role in various therapeutic settings, from hospitals to schools. 

While many breeds excel in this role, Dutch Shepherds, with their intelligence, loyalty, and unique traits, have been gaining popularity as potential therapy dogs. 

In this article, we will delve into the world of Dutch Shepherds and explore whether they make good therapy dogs. We’ll also discuss the qualities that make them stand out and how to train and prepare them for this vital role.

Understanding Dutch Shepherds

Before we dive into whether Dutch Shepherds are suitable therapy dogs, let’s get to know this remarkable breed a bit better.

History and Origins

Dutch Shepherds, known as “Hollandse Herdershond” in their native Netherlands, have a rich history dating back several centuries. Originally bred for herding sheep and other livestock, they are descendants of working dogs. 

Dutch Shepherds were known for their versatility, adaptability, and strong work ethic. Over time, their role evolved, and they became recognized for their intelligence and agility.

Physical Characteristics

Dutch Shepherds are medium-sized dogs with a well-proportioned and athletic build. They typically stand between 21 to 24 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 50 to 70 pounds. 

Their coat is usually short and dense, and they come in various colors, including brindle, gold, and silver.


One of the most appealing characteristics of Dutch Shepherds is their temperament. They are known for being loyal, obedient, and protective, making them excellent companions. 

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They are also highly intelligent, eager to please, and have a strong work ethic. These qualities often translate well into therapy dog work.

Dutch Shepherds as Therapy Dogs

Now that we have a better understanding of Dutch Shepherds let’s explore whether they have the qualities necessary to become successful therapy dogs.

Intelligence and Trainability

One of the most important traits for therapy dogs is intelligence. Dutch Shepherds rank high in this department. Their intelligence and ability to learn quickly make them well-suited for the training required for therapy work. 

They can grasp commands and routines with ease, which is essential for successful therapy dog interactions.

Calm and Gentle Demeanor

Successful therapy dogs must have a calm and gentle demeanor. Dutch Shepherds, despite their protective instincts, can be incredibly gentle and affectionate when interacting with people. 

They have a strong bond with their owners, which often extends to those they meet during therapy sessions.


Therapy dogs encounter a variety of environments and situations, from hospitals to schools and nursing homes. Dutch Shepherds are known for their adaptability, which is crucial in these diverse settings. They can handle changes in their surroundings and remain focused on their therapy duties.

Reliability and Consistency

Consistency is key in therapy work, and Dutch Shepherds are known for their reliability. They thrive on routines and are unlikely to become easily distracted during therapy sessions, ensuring that they can provide the consistency needed for effective therapy work.

Obedience and Socialization

Proper obedience and socialization are crucial for therapy dogs. Dutch Shepherds are typically good with other dogs and people when properly socialized from a young age. 

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Their obedience and ability to follow commands are assets during therapy sessions, ensuring a positive experience for those they interact with.

Training and Preparation

To maximize the potential of Dutch Shepherds as therapy dogs, proper training and preparation are essential. Here are some steps to consider:

Basic Obedience Training: Start with basic obedience training, including commands like sit, stay, and come. Consistent training helps build a strong foundation.

Socialization: Expose your Dutch Shepherd to various environments, people, and other dogs. This helps them become comfortable and confident in different settings.

Specialized Therapy Training: Consider enrolling your dog in specialized therapy dog training programs. These programs teach dogs how to behave in therapeutic settings and interact with different individuals.

Certification: Once your Dutch Shepherd has completed training, seek certification from reputable therapy dog organizations. Certification ensures that your dog meets the necessary standards for therapy work.


In conclusion, Dutch Shepherds possess many qualities that make them potential candidates for therapy dog work. Their intelligence, adaptability, and calm demeanor are valuable assets in therapeutic settings. 

However, it’s essential to remember that not every Dutch Shepherd will be suitable for this role. Each dog has its unique temperament, and it’s crucial to assess their individual traits and undergo proper training and certification.

If you’re considering a Dutch Shepherd as a therapy dog, remember that dedication, patience, and ongoing training are key to their success. 

With the right preparation and commitment, Dutch Shepherds can indeed make excellent therapy dogs, bringing comfort and support to those in need, and making a positive impact on the lives they touch.