Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Kooikerhondje
Average Cost to keep/care for a Kooikerhondje
The Kooikerhondje is a small dog that originates from the Netherlands where they are highly prized for the job they were bred to do which is to lure ducks into hunter’s traps and nets. Some people believe these charming dogs are the founding stock for the Nova Scotis Duck Tolling Retriever and they are sometimes referred to as the Kooiker Hound. Over recent years Kooikers have gained recognition and popularity with many people in other parts of the world which includes here in the UK thanks to their charming looks and loyal, affectionate personalities although very few puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year.
The Kooikerhondje originates from the Netherlands and are a breed that has been around for hundreds of years. They were developed during the 16th century to work as duck tolling dogs which saw them drive the birds into hunter’s cages and nets. These charming dogs were extremely popular during the 17th and 18th century and were often depicted in paintings by the old Dutch masters namely Rembrandt and Jan Steen.
However, by the beginning of the 20th century, the breed's popularity dropped and as such their numbers fell dangerously low which nearly saw the breed vanishing altogether at the outset of World War II. Luckily, through the efforts of breed enthusiasts, the Kooiker was saved from extinction with the breed finally being recognised by the Dutch Kennel Club in 1971.
Today, they are recognised by The Kennel Club although their classification was changed from gundog to utility in 2013. It is widely accepted that the Kooikerhondje also contributed to the development of the Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever and although these charming dogs are gaining popularity as companions and family pets here in the UK, their numbers remain very low. As such anyone wishing to share their home with a Kooiker would need to register their interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because so few puppies are bred every year.
Height at the withers: Males 37 - 42 cm, Females 35 - 40 cm
Average weight: Males 9 - 11 kg, Females 9 - 11 kg
The Kooikerhondje is an attractive, compact looking medium sized dog that boasts having a gorgeous coloured coat and they carry their heads proudly which adds to their overall charming appearance. Their skulls are nicely curved being as long equal as a dog's muzzle. They have a clearly defined stop when seen in profile and their muzzles are moderately wedge-shaped without being too deep. They have almond shaped, deep brown coloured eyes that are surrounded with lush red/orange hair and black rims with dogs always having a keen, alert and friendly expression in them.
Their ears are nicely in proportion with a dog's head and set just above their eye level being pendant and which dogs carry close to their cheeks without a fold in them. Their ears are nicely feathered with black tips which become more noticeable as dogs get older.
The Kooikerhondje has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Their necks are moderately long and well-muscled with the hair being slightly thicker on it. Their shoulders are well laid back with dogs having straight front legs that show a good amount of bone and which are nicely but not overly feathered. Their bodies are muscular with dogs having nice, level backs. Chests are deep and ribs well sprung and bellies are slightly tucked up which adds to a Kooiker's athletic appearance.
Their hindquarters are strong, powerful and well-muscled with dogs having well developed back legs which are well feathered to the mid-thigh. Their feet are small, compact and very slightly oval in shape. Tails are set in line with a dog's croup and moderately long which they carry level or just above their backs and which are well feathered forming a white plume.
When it comes to their coat, the Kooikerhondje boasts having a medium length, close lying coat that can be either straight of slightly wavy in texture. They have a well-developed, finer undercoat with the hair on a dog's head, the front of their legs and feet being shorter than on the rest of the body. Tails are well feathered as are the backs of a dog's legs, but not below the hocks. The accepted breed colour is as follows:
Dogs should have a nice white blaze and they can also have a few black hairs in their coat as well as a black tail ring which is acceptable under their breed standard.
The Kooikerhondje is a friendly, even tempered character that was bred to be a duck tolling dog and as such they are hardy both in body and mind. They are energetic by nature and do really well when they live with people who lead active, outdoor lives even if they are not into hunting. They are intelligent and always eager to please which means in the right hands and environment, a Kooiker is easy to train. However, their socialisation has to start as early as possible and it has to include introducing puppies to lots of new situations, noises, people, other animals and dogs once they have been fully vaccinated for them to grow up to be relaxed, outgoing and confident mature dogs.
When well socialised and trained, the Kooiker is a pleasure to have around because they are such bright, alert and well-mannered dogs to be around. They love nothing more than to be included in everything that goes on around them whether it's when they are in the great outdoors or when they are in a home environment.
They can be a little shy around strangers, but rarely would a Kooiker show any sort of aggressive behaviour towards people they have never met before, preferring to keep their distance until they get to know someone.
The Kooikerhondje is an intelligent dog and they love nothing better than to please which in short means that in the right hands, they are highly trainable and they thoroughly enjoy the one-to-one attention they are given during training sessions. However, Kooikers need to be handled gently, yet firmly so they understand who is the alpha dog. It's important for these dogs to know who they can look to for direction and guidance or they might take on a more dominant role which can make them harder to handle. Like many other breeds, they are quite sensitive by nature and as such they do not respond well to any sort of harsh correction or heavier handed training methods. They do answer very well to positive reinforcement which always brings the best out of these clever dogs.
The key to successfully training a Kooiker is to make their training sessions as interesting as possible and to avoid too much repetition which can make it harder to keep a dog focussed on what they are being asked to do. Shorter more interesting training sessions tend to work a lot better than longer more repetitive ones when training a Kooikerhondje.
The Kooikerhondje is a gentle character when they are children around which makes them great family pets. They enjoy being in a home environment and thrive on being involved in everything that goes on around them which includes playing fun games with the kids. However, any interaction between younger children and a dog should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure playtime does not end up getting too boisterous.
If well socialised from a young enough age, the Kooiker generally gets on with other dogs they meet and if they grow up with a family cat in the home, they usually get on well together too. However, a Kooikerhondje would think nothing of chasing any other cats they come across. Care should always be taken when they are around any small animals and pets just to be on the safe side.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Kooikerhondje is between 12 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Like a lot of other breeds, the Kooiker is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active and attractive dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
As with any other breed, Kooikers need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
The Kooikerhondje has a double coat that consists of a harsher outer coat and a denser, softer undercoat. They shed steadily throughout the year which means their coats need to be brushed once or twice a week to remove any dead hair and to prevent any knots or matts from forming. However, they shed the most during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent brushing is usually necessary to stay on top of things. It's important to pay particular attention to dog's feathering and the longer hair found on their bodies which is longer and finer and therefore it tends to tangle a lot faster.
It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
Although the Kooikerhondje is a not a high energy dog, they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded characters. They need at least one hour's exercise a day with as much off the lead time as possible. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, a Kooiker would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving stress.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these active dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble.
With this said, puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.
If you get a Kooikerhondje puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be fed a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
If you are looking to buy a Kooikerhondje, you would need to register your interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because very few puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything upwards of £900 for a well-bred pedigree puppy.
The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Kooikerhondje in northern England would be £21.87 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.75 a month (quote as of July 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £30 - £40 a month. On top of all of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Kooikerhondje and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £900 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Kooikerhondje would be between £60 to £90 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.
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