The Dutch Shepherd originated in Eastern Europe, where it has existed for centuries. This breed is closely related to both the German Shepherd and the Belgian Shepherd; the Dutch and Belgian Shepherds are so genetically similar, in fact, that some argue that they are simply variants of the same breed. As Europe grew in population in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, these three shepherd breeds also diversified, and the Dutch Shepherd became especially popular in the Netherlands (which likely explains the origin for the breed's name) as a versatile working dog. Dutch culture of the 1800s was largely agricultural, so Dutch Shepherds were used to tend sheep, among other livestock; in particular, these dogs patrolled the borders of the crop fields, and prevented the sheep from eating them. Around 1900, the Nederlandse Herdershonden Clube, the official Dutch club for Dutch Shepherd owners, published the first breed standard for these dogs.
With the advent of more modern farming techniques, the need for this breed as a working farm dog decreased dramatically, so Dutch Shepherds shrank in number in the Netherlands and elsewhere during the early twentieth century; when Europe was ravaged by World War II, Dutch Shepherds nearly became extinct. But in the later 1900s, breed clubs worldwide revived its existence, though it is still somewhat rare even today.