Schapendoes originated in Holland as sheepdogs on farms several centuries ago. The exact timing is ambiguous, but they were certainly very popular in the country by the late 19th century.
Along with other European herding dogs, they worked long hours in cold, wet weather, so their long coats were important to keep them warm.
Though native to the Netherlands, their popularity began to decline as farmers chose to import Border Collies instead. Their population dwindled during World War II, like that of many European sheepdogs. But luckily, in 1947, P.M.C. Toepoel, a Dutch inspector, encouraged the breeding of this dog, and a breed club was established soon after. This ensured the survival of the breed, though numbers remain small worldwide, with the greatest population still in the Netherlands, followed by other European countries, Canada, and the USA.
In 1952, the ‘Raad van Beheer’, or Dutch Kennel Club, recognized the breed, and in 1971, so did the FCI. The American Kennel Club currently recognizes the breed as part of their Foundation Stock Service.