The Dutch Decoy Dog or the Kooikerhondje is a medium size breed out of the Netherlands. Although you may have never heard of this breed, the Kooiker is an old gun dog with incredible hunting abilities.
Since the 1970’s, this breed, although rare, is quickly becoming more visible outside of its home country.
While most fanciers are aware of this breed’s strong hunting talents, the Kooikerhondje is just as fine as a family companion.
So what’s the story behind the Kooiker and is this the right breed for your home?
Here is what you need to know about Kooikerhondje.
This dazzling Dutch dog with the bushy white tail and trademark black tips as some call, earrings, isn’t just full on the eyes but on the mouth as well. Ostensibly, there are a few ways to pronounce this breed’s name. The easier one being, “Koy-ker-hond.” Or you can spice it up with “Koy-ker-hond-tsje.”
Either way, the Kooikerhondje is an ancient breed from the Netherlands. They are quite a popular gun dog, as hunters would use them for their impressive luring skills. Although the breed is a formidable hunter, this wasn’t their job when it came to seasoning ducks. Instead, it was their job to use their tails to encroach ducks into a “kooi,” or as we call it, “cage.” Then the hunters would arrive for a quick and easy capture and kill.
The Kooiker was also a vermin chasing mice killer. It was their job to hunt and keep mice away from cages as well to protect livestock and property. And when hunting season was over, the breed would flourish as a true companion.
Some say that the famous King William of Orange was an owner and fan of the Kooikerhondje. And why not? The legend has it that one night Spanish invaders were conspiring to kill the King, when the Kooiker would alert his master, thus preventing a surprise ambush.
Throughout the 16th and 17th century, plenty of famous paintings featuring a dog resembling a Kooiker surfaced. From the great visual artist, Rembrandt, to Jan Steen and Johannes Vermeer. These legendary Dutch artists in a way prove that the breed was somewhat of a prominent figure during that period.
Nearly four decades into the 20th century, only 25 or so Kooikers exist. According to Rosewood Kooikers, the breed was facing imminent extinction but thanks to a Baroness, Van Hardenbroek van Ammerstol, those plans would quickly change. Van Ammerstol was an ardent dog fan and thought very highly of her own dogs. It was said that she even had dinner with her dogs, and each dog had their own seat. Ammerstol had a picture of a dog she thought to be the perfect rendition of the breed’s future stock.
The challenge was met by some farmer, who had a picture of a dog that was perfect to mate with other potential dogs. From there and on, the revival was underway and the breeding took off.
Insomuch, that by 1966, the breed’s comeback nearly became official with the prominent kennel club in the Netherlands. After provisional registrations of the breed, this Dutch Kennel Club would make it official in 1971 by giving the breed official recognition status.
The FCI would follow suit in 1990, and the first litter was born in the United States in 1999. However, it wouldn’t be until nearly 20 years, that the American Kennel Club would give the breed recognition.
Today, in the Netherlands alone, far from extinction, there are some 14,000 Kooikerhondje registrations. In the United States, the breed is slowly become more and more commonplace..
As a medium energy and sporting group breed, the American Kennel Club doesn’t have a standard weight. However, most kennel clubs seem to approximate between 20 to 25 pounds. Although the breed can be seen much bigger depending on their role.
For a male, the Kooiker should stand between 15 to 17 inches, while a female will stand 14 to 16 inches.
Personality and Temperament
At first glance, you may confuse this with a mix breed or a Brittany spaniel with a long coat, but this dazzling Dutch dog is its own unique breed. They are alert, and have no problems as one legend above claims, letting their owners know when there is trouble. With their lively and athletic ability, the Kooiker loves to get out and run. Rumor is, the Kooikerhondje is a decent swimmer as well.
Ultimately, this is a working and hunting dog that loves to test its quick and agile skill set. When you combine their intelligence and their desire to please, it’s easy to see why this breed is simple to train. They love to work and then come home and snuggle with their hand.
This is a family dog, and prefers to be alone without other dogs. That said, if you introduce them early on, they should be fine with others. Again, this isn’t the best breed for other dogs. Strangers can expect a bit of reservation, while children will typically experience a fun and engaging dog.
Quiet and calm at home, the Kooikerhondje will only bark if it is necessary. They are cheerful to go out with their master and do whatever needs to be done. As a hunter of vermin and a quality watchdog, the Kooiker is an all around breed.
All in all, this is a working dog, that enjoys attention and close contact with their master. It’ll take them some time to mature, possibly up to two years of age. They are simple to care for and easy to train. The breed loves to please and enjoys working hard all day but going on to the reward of affection with family.
The Kooikerhondje is relatively a healthy breed with a few concerning complications to speak of. If all goes well, and you use good preventative practices, the breed should live between 12 to 14 years. When you buy yourself a Kooikerhondje, make sure you purchase from a reputable breeder. This breeder should be able to provide you with the proper documentation and health clearances. Additionally, you should schedule routine visits with your veterinarian to ensure good health.
One of the biggest complications with this breed is Patellar Luxation. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals did a survey and found the breed to rank 29th on their list. This ranks them among the company of the Pug and Boston Terrier. Kooikers have a 5.3% dysplastic rate. Patellar Luxation is when the knee cap slides or pops out of the places. Lameness and pain are typical with serious effects possible immobility.
Cloudiness of the crystalline lens that can cause temporary to permanent blindness is found with this breed at times. Cataracts is quite common, but a dog can typically survive and do fine with this condition. However, if you have a working dog that needs their visions, then this may present a problem.
Another issue this breed may contend with is Myositis. This is an autoimmune disease resulting in inflammation of one or two muscles, which can lead to a reduction in coordination and weakness in the muscles that are affected. Lameness, fatigue, fever are common symptoms. It can be lethal and is treatable, usually by the use of steroids.
Von Willebrand, which is a deficiency in a blood clotting protein, the Von Willebrand Factor, can be found with the Kooikerhondje. This may result in abnormal bleedingto life threatening injuries.
The Kooikerhondje has a low incident rate for Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia and may suffer from epilepsy and obesity.
A Kooikerhondje is a breed that should get a moderate amount of exercise. Several short walks per day should suffice their energy requirements. That said, this dog will appreciate a more definitive role with the family. A job or purpose. They should be a part of the family and you should include them with family vacations. They won’t go crazy like other breeds if you leave them alone for long periods of time, but that shouldn’t be the case either.
Introducing them to other dogs and family pets is a good idea. Although they have traditionally been a one dog family pet, they can get along fine with other animals and pets if they know or grew up with them. Smaller children are fine, but the breed will likely do better with older kids.
Early socialization and training will help entertain and stimulate their mind and body. They’ll need a yard to run around as they do enjoy running. You can take them to a dog park, a lake or just walk them around a neighborhood. You may want to entertain a leash as this breed has been prone to have prey drive.
They are adaptable and can get along with an owner who has experience or novice owners. Strangers may need to earn their trust and they can be territorial if you don’t introduce them to new situations. The breed prefers predictable and quiet settings as oppose to louder and unconventional ones.
Check their long flowing ears on occasion for any sign of infection or debris, trim their nails routinely and bathe as you see necessary.
Your Kooikerhondje should do fine with a regular but high quality dry food formula. That said, there’s no definitive amount you’ll feed your dog because it’ll depend on their age, metabolism and activity rate. Spaying and neutering a dog can have an affect on how much the dog eats as well.
With that in mind, your Kooiker should do well with a meat as the first ingredient. You’ll want to split that up into two or so meals per day to avoid Bloat and weight issues. Most owners seem content feeding their Kooikerhondje between 3/4 to 1 cups of top quality kibble.
A protein value of 22g or so should suffice, and a caloric daily intake of 660 to 780 for a typical 20 to 25 pound Kooiker should suffice.
As always, you should provide your Kooikerhondje with fresh drinking water.
Most Kooikerhondje owners consider this dog to be simple to groom. That may be the case, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some grooming to be done weekly for this seasonal shedder. This is a breed with a weather or water repellent coat. It’s a coat that is medium to long length. It should be soft to the touch in texture with some feathering on the underside, ears and hind legs. The coat will lie close to the body and can be straight or slightly wavy.
The American Kennel Club claims only one color for the breed’s coat: white and red. Black tips are the only marking acceptable, according to standard.
Fun Kooikerhondje Facts
- Rumor has it: According to uskooikerhondje, that legendary golfer, Bobby Jones, had a Kooiker and that there is a famous portrait depicting him and his dog during golf lessons.
- In 2018, the two newest arrivals for AKC recognition: Vendeen and the Kooiker.
- The UKC gave recognition to this breed in 1996.
- There’s a chance that the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a descendant of the Kooikerhondje.
With a bit more awareness and information, there isn’t any good reason why the Kooikerhondje and its popularity won’t continue to rise. The breed’s impressive appearance and fun looking ears, their intelligence and natural hunting talents, and their faithful personality to their family are a few factors that will contribute to the reasons of why dog lovers should embrace this ancient Dutch breed for years to come.