AKC Dog Breeds: Kooikerhondje

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Foundation Stock Service® Breed
Height: 14-16 inches   Weight: 20-24 pounds  Color: White and red, orange and white

The Kooikerhondje or Kooiker Hound, is a small spaniel-type breed of dog of Dutch ancestry that was originally used as a working dog, particularly in duck hunting and tolling. Kooikers were popular in the 17th and 18th century and appeared in the paintings of Rembrandt and Jan Steen. This rare breed originated in the Netherlands in the 1500s. Kooikerhondje's were used to decoy and hunt ducks. After World War II the Kooikerhondje became nearly extinct. In 1943 Baroness von Hardenbrock van Ammerstol began the arduous task of reviving this breed. In 1572, a Kooiker supposedly saved the life of William of Orange in the Netherlands by warning of the Spanish attack. Today they remain extremely rare and difficult to obtain. Seldom seen outside the Netherlands, the Kooikerhondje is a medium sized dog that has the appearance of a Spaniel or Setter. They are brave, versatile, and alert. The Kooikerhondje breed is highly adept at flushing and retrieving fowl. Kooikers are believed to be an ancestor to the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. The first recorded litter born in the United States was in 1999. The Kooikerhondje has been recorded in the Foundation Stock Service since 2004.

General Appearance

Kooikerhondjes have very unique coats that take up to 2 years to fully mature.  The one distinguishing feature of the breed is the long black tips on their ears.  The length and amount of these "earrings" are determined by genetics.  Years ago, when the breed was being developed, dogs with a lot of black fur were introduced into the lines in order to develop the earrings.  As a result of  breeding, some black and white and tri-colored Kooikerhondjes are born.  These variations, while beautiful, do not meet the standard and cannot compete in conformation.  Kooikerhondjes normally have some black hairs on their body when they born.  These hairs fall out in the first shedding (3-4 months).  If puppy doesn't have any black hairs when he's born, he will not develop earrings.  It is normal and acceptable in the adult Kooikerhondje for the tail to have a small ring of black fur between orange and white.  Color restrictions in the breed standard make breeding Kooikerhondjes difficult.  

The Kooikerhondje's affectionate and sturdy nature makes it a delightful family dog.  Pictures painted by the Dutch artist, Jan Steen depict the Kooikerhondje's past role an integral part of family life.  This breed is happy and self- assured, yet cautious with strangers and other dogs.  Their temperaments should be neither aggressive nor anti-social.  While it may take a little time, the Kooikerhondje, once accustomed to some-body, will always be a good and loyal friend. Kooikers are intelligent, alert, active, agile dogs, generally with a benevolent nature. However, they can be extremely territorial and will bark at strangers. They are usually good swimmers and can generally adapt to different levels of exercise. The Kooikerhondje breed is lively, attentive, and good-natured. They are not recommended for homes with small or loud, boisterous children. They bond closely to their family and are reserved with strangers. The Kooikerhondje will do well with other pets they have been raised with. They make an excellent hunting companion or delightful family pet. The Kooikerhondje is exceedingly sensitive and does not respond to loud, harsh, or heavy-handed methods. Training must be done with kindness, fairness, patience, and consistency.


Kooikerhondje's require occasional brushing. Bathing should only be done when absolutely necessary. It is important to regularly check and clean the ears.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy
Kooikers have good appetites and a tendency to put on weight easily. They have a relatively small genetic base, so hereditary diseases are somewhat prevalent. These include: von Willebrand's disease, a blood clotting disorder,  Cataracts Patellar luxation, Epilepsy, and Hereditary Necrotizing Myelopathy, a degenerative disease similar to Multiple sclerosis. The Kooikerhondje breed  has a life expectancy of 12-14 years.

Activity Level
The Kooikerhondje breed is not recommended for apartment or city dwelling. They thrive on physical activity and do best in a rural setting with ample opportunity to run, roam, and hunt. Because the Kooikerhondje is primarily a hunting breed, they love outdoor life and need regular exercise to keep them happy. They need to be taken on a daily long walk or jog.


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