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Breed Spotlight: Nederlandse Kooikerhondjes


The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje (ned.e.lendz.ey koi.ker.hond.jay) was developed in the Netherlands in the 15th century to be a breed for tolling, which is the practice of luring ducks for hunters. The term Kooiker is a reference to both a hunter and a trap; 'kooien' were cages in the form of canals with traps at the ends where the hunter would then capture the waterfowl. The dogs that were used by the Kooiker for this kind of hunting technique, were referred to as the 'Kooiker's hondjes' (literally: Kooiker's hounds). Eventually this led to the breed being called Kooikerhondje.



The breed - like many breeds at that time - almost became extinct during World War II. But Baroness van Hardenbroek van Ammerstol rescued it. The breed was only officially recognized by the Raad van Beheer, the Dutch Kennel Club, in 1971 and has since been imported into other countries and recognized officially by most kennel clubs around the world.

Baroness van Hardenbroek van Ammerstol

The breed is still relatively uncommon in North America and not yet recognized as a breed in Canada, although it was accepted into the AKC's Foundation Stock Service Program in 2004. As of early 2018, the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje has been fully recognized by the American Kennel Club and is now competing in the Sporting Group. In the United States, both the UKC and ARBA also recognize the breed.



In the U.K., the breed has been removed from the import list and is now eligible to enter Crufts for the Best in Show award, despite there being only 76 registered individuals of the breed in the country. In January 2013, the Kennel Club announced it was re-classifying the Kooikerhondje from the gundog group to the utility group effective from January 2014. The decision was reached after discussions with the U.K. breed clubs and unanimous agreement was achieved.



The Kooikerhondje is a small, flashy, red and white spaniel-like sporting dog. When not working traps, Kooikers were expected to work on the farm to catch vermin. Because of this, they are an active breed that enjoys a job.


The preferred height at the withers is 16 inches for males and 15 inches for females. The ears of well-bred Kooikers should be an orangish red in color with an accent of black and they should be well feathered. The color for the Kooiker should preferably be distinct patches of clear red on pure white, although a few small spots on the legs are acceptable. Color should be predominately on the back with the chest, belly, blaze and the majority of the legs and tail pure white. A dog who is solid red on the back is acceptable but not preferred. Puppies born of solid red or solid white coloring are registerable but are considered a fault in the breed, as are individuals with no black on the ears. Faults should generally disqualify an individual from being used in breeding, especially since many faults that seem only to be aesthetic are actually linked to the increased risk of various health issues (solid white Kookiers are almost always blind and deaf, for example).


A high-quality dog grain-inclusive food appropriate for the dog's age (puppy, adult, or senior) or an all-life-stages food will have all the nutrients the breed needs. Most Kooikers are prone to obesity after being spayed or neutered, so watch your dog's calorie consumption and weight level if you have them altered. If you choose to give your dog treats, do so in moderation, and in the case of the Kooiker they are best used as the occasional reward for a job well done.


This breed can be calm, but that is not the typical expression. Most individuals are highly active and relatively intense when given a job on which to focus. This breed loves to work, but that doesn't mean that they don't do well in the family. They make excellent family companions as long as their needs for exercise and mental stimulation are met. They are adaptable to apartment life, but this would require a rather intense devotion to their exercise needs; a minimum of an hour walk each day coupled with vigorous indoor play should be sufficient, but an hour or more of strenuous play and running in a securely fenced area each day would be optimal. Training is a must with this breed, and it is recommended that if you do not plan to work the dog in hunting duck then you train in both obedience and in a sport such as rally to help provide the sense of a job. They can also do very well in running sports such as Fast CAT.



In the appropriate home they are good with respectful children and are a devoted family member. They can make first-rate watch dogs and will do everything in their power to fend off unwelcome intruders. They also excel at eradicating rodents that may invade the property.


Speaking from experience, they're exceptional dogs.

Me (age 5) with my Kooikerhondjes, Mister - 1990

Take a look at the video below to see the Nederlandse Kooikerhondjes on the move at the Westminster Dog Show in 2023!




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