From the breed standard:
Originally the main function of the Dutch Shepherd Dog was that of a shepherd’s dog in the countryside. From early times, the Dutch had an arable culture that was – among other things – maintained by flocks of sheep. The dogs had to keep the flock away from the crops, which they did by patrolling the borders of the road and the fields. They also accompanied the flocks on their way to the common meadows, markets and ports.
At the farm, they kept the hens away from the kitchen garden, they herded the cows together for milking and pulled the milk carts. They also alerted the farmers if strangers entered the farmyard. Around 1900, sheep flocks had for the greater part disappeared in the Netherlands. The versatile skills of the Dutch Shepherd Dog made him suitable for dog training, which was then starting to become popular. Thus he started on a new career as a police dog, as a search- and tracking dog and as a guide dog for the blind. He is, however, still capable of herding sheep. The breed’s first standard dates from 12 June 1898.