Learn all about the amazing Kooikerhondje in our latest guide. We discuss their personality, trainability, health problems and a whole lot more!
Height: 35-42cm at the withers
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Pedigree Breed?: Yes
Positives and Negatives of the Breed
- Fun-loving and happy dogs that can make great family pets
- Good watchdogs
- Very intelligent dogs that are quite easy to train
- Need a firm hand to avoid them displaying their dominant side
- High prey drive
- They are active dogs, so are no good for people with sedentary lifestyles
- May be shy around strangers
Small, intelligent, and active, the Kooikerhondje originally comes from Holland where the breed has long been prized for its ability to lure ducks into the nets and traps of hunters.
The Kooiker dog has become more popular over recent years with people outside its native Netherlands thanks to its charming good looks and affectionate and loyal personality.
These Dutch dogs are not always easy to get your hands on, but there are a number of Kooikerhondje puppy breeders who can give you the information you need if you’re keen to add one of these dogs to your family.
The Kooikerhondje is one of the Dutch dog breeds and has been around for centuries.
First bred in the 1500s as a gundog to drive ducks into the nets and cages of hunters, they hit peak popularity during the 1600s and 1700s.
You may have seen them in paintings by Jan Steen, Rembrandt, and other old Dutch masters.
By the start of the 20th century, though, the breed’s popularity had wanted and by the Second World War, it had almost vanished completely.
Luckily, Kooiker enthusiasts came to the rescue and saved the breed from extinction. Finally, it was recognised in 1971 by the Dutch Kennel Club.
In the UK, the breed was introduced during the 1980s by Bill and Mollie Yates. Over the years, they continued bringing well-bred Kooikerhondjes into the country, establishing a small scale breeding programme involving 15 dogs.
Sadly, when the Yates’ passed away in 1994, the kennel was closed and it took many more years before the breeding programme got back on track.
More recently, Kooikerhondje dogs have been imported to the UK from Denmark and in 2013 it was recognised as a utility dog by the Kennel Club in 2013.
This breed is known for its even-tempered, friendly personality. Hardy in mind and body, these dogs are naturally energetic and are happiest when living with families that lead an outdoor, active lifestyle.
The Kooiker dog is intelligent and keen to please as well as relatively easy to train.
When trained and socialised properly, this breed is a bright, well-mannered, and alert companion that thrives in the home and in the great outdoors alike.
While Kooikers are sometimes shy around unknown people, they are very rarely aggressive and are great with children.
If you’re a first-time dog owner, a Kooikerhondje would be a good choice for you as long as you’re prepared to dedicate sufficient time to training this high-energy, intelligent breed.
Fun-loving and playful, they may be a little mischievous and boisterous but are quite capable of learning what kind of behaviour is acceptable.
As long as a Kooiker has sufficient physical and mental stimulation it will be equally happy in a town apartment as in a country house, and separation anxiety is unlikely to be a problem for this breed, although too much time alone could end up causing destructive behaviours and incessant barking.
Typically, Kooikerhondjes bark when they detect strangers nearby, and this makes them excellent watchdogs.
When around children, this breed is gently and sweet-tempered, and this means that they’re excellent family pets. They love the home environment and getting involved with family activities.
It’s important to supervise interactions with young children though, to ensure playtime isn’t too boisterous.
When it comes to getting on with other animals, the Kooiker will usually get on well with other dogs that it meets, as long as it has been properly socialised from puppyhood.
If it has grown up with a cat at home, they will usually get on well too. It’s a different matter with stranger’s cats though, and Kooikerhondjes have a strong prey instinct that can lead to them chasing cats and small animals when out and about.
The Kooikerhondje has an average lifespan of 12 – 15 years as long as it is well cared for.
Like most other breeds, it does have a tendency to suffer from several hereditary health conditions that you should be aware of if you’re planning to add one to your family.
The most common conditions that appear to affect this breed include:
- Hip dysplasia – this condition can be treated with weight loss and medication or with surgery in more severe cases.
- Von Willebrand’s Disease (VWD)
- HNM/ENM Hereditary Necrotising Myelopathy
- Patellar luxation
- Renal dysplasia
- Myasthenia gravis
Of course, not every dog will develop any or all of these problems, but it’s always best to be aware that they are a possibility.
A responsible breeder will have had the parent dogs tested for some of these common conditions so that the puppies will be free of disease.
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While the Kooikerhondje isn’t an especially high energy breed, it does require enough exercise and mental activity every day to ensure that it is well-rounded and happy.
A minimum of 60 minutes exercise each day is essential and as much of that should be off the lead as possible.
Without this exercise, Kooikers often get bored and show destructive behaviour like chewing in the home to relieve stress.
Taking a short walk during the morning then a longer one in the afternoon works well for most Kooikers, but having a back yard where they can run and roam at will off the lead is always best for this breed.
It’s important, though, to ensure that the yard is well secured with a fence that is robust enough to ensure that they cannot escape.
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Kooikerhondjes are intelligent dogs that love to please their owners. Therefore, if you train them well, you’ll find that they will not only learn quickly but will thrive on the one to one attention they get in each session.
It’s important, though, to handle your Kooiker gently but firmly. They need to know that you are the alpha in the household and that they need to look to you for guidance and direction.
Without a strong leader to follow, they may try to take a dominant role in the home and that could make them difficult to handle.
Like lots of breeds, the Kooikerhondje is quite sensitive natured, and so responds best to positive reinforcement training methods rather than harsh and heavy handed correction techniques.
The most effective training for a Kooiker will be fun and without excessive repetition. Short, focused sessions are best to retain the Kooikerhondje’s interest, and will work more effectively than longer sessions when the dog gets bored.
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Kooikerhondjes have double coats made up of a harsh outer coat over a softer, denser undercoat.
Through the year, they will shed steadily, so this makes the chore of grooming a relatively onerous one. This is not a breed for anyone who is looking for a low maintenance pet in terms of brushing.
You will need to brush their coat a couple of times a week at least to remove the dead hairs and to guard against any matts and knots forming in the coat.
Although their coats shed all year round, during the Autumn and Spring time they will shed even more.
During those times, you will, therefore, need to brush their coat even more frequently to stay on top of the dead hairs.
Special attention will need to be paid to the longer patches of hair on their body which will be finer and will tangle more quickly as well as the feathered areas that also often become knotted.
You will also need to regularly check your pet’s ears and clean them whenever necessary. When wax is allowed to build up, they can develop a painful ear infection that is hard to treat and that can take a long time to clear up. You will also need to trim your pet’s nails around once a month.
If you can hear clicking on a hard surface when they walk across it, it’s time to clip their claws. You can do this yourself or take your dog to a groomer if you prefer.
Dental hygiene is just as important with a Kooiker as with any other breed. Make sure you brush his teeth at least once a week to guard against tartar and bacteria build-up that could cause long term problems.
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