Let's talk Kooikerhondjes

With their distinct orange-red markings and black-tipped ears, the elegant Kooikerhondje looks like they’ve stepped out of a Dutch painting. And, in a way, they have. Native to Holland, the sporting Kooikerhondje is a good-natured, energetic companion - easy to train, but less easy to pronounce - “coy-ker-hund-che.” Small wonder their owners often shorten their name to Kooiker. Originally bred as a duck decoy, this medium-sized yet athletic dog has kept their water-resistant fur - making them the perfect partner for days on the water. Whether out with you on a paddleboard or splashing through park ponds, the Kooikerhondje will always be at the heart of the action.

Official name: Kooikerhondje

Origins: The Netherlands

Black and white portrait of a Kooikerhondje
 Drooling tendencies   Warm weather?  Very low
 Shedding level  Medium Suited to apartment living?   Medium
 Physical activity needs Moderate Kid-friendly?
 High
 Compatibility with other pets  Very high Can stay alone?  Very low

We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

 
Inline Image 15
Illustration of a Kooikerhondje
Male
38 - 43 cm Height
9 - 13.5 kg Weight
Female
36 - 41 cm Height
9 - 13.5 kg Weight

 

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 12 months
 Adult age  1 to 7 years
 Mature age  7 to 10 years
 Senior age  From 10 years

Kooikerhondje stood to the side on a forest floor

1/7

Get to know the Kooikerhondje

All you need to know about the breed

With their challenging mouthful of a name (for the non-Dutch at least), once you’ve mastered the Kooikerhondje’s pronunciation yourself - “coy-ker-hund-che” - you can enjoy hearing others repeatedly attempt it when they ask what your breed of dog is. Or, if time is short, simply reply “a type of spaniel!”

For indeed, despite the tricky name, your Kooikerhondje is a wonderful mix of a spaniel’s easy temperament, with the natural athleticism of their working dog past - they were originally bred as a decoy for Holland’s traditional duck trapping ponds.

With their photogenic looks: orange-red markings, black tipped-ears, called “earrings” and almond-shaped brown eyes, not to mention poise - the way they carry their heads high lends the Kooikerhondje an almost regal air it’s easy to see why the Dutch masters painted the faithful working dog into the family portrait.

Today still considered rare outside their native Netherlands, this little orange and white sporting dog is growing in popularity in the US, where the breed was officially recognised in 2018. While they can be sensitive to noise and take time to relax with strangers, the Kooikerhondje is sociable, yet not barky themselves unless they’re raising the alarm! An ideal combination, really.

Kooikerhondje sat up on a paved deck

2/7

2 facts about Kooikerhondjes

1. The Kooikerhondje’ s earrings

What’s the Kooikerhondje without their black-tipped ears, called “earrings?” In fact though considered a highly desirable trait (the bigger the earrings, the better the dog is considered for breeding) not all Kooikerhondjes are born with them.

2. Water loving - and water-resistant

Such a shiny handsome coat must be high-maintenance, right? Well, actually, less than you’d think. The Kooikerhondje’s coat, consisting of medium-length hair, naturally repels dirt. So as long as they’re not rolling in mud every time you leave the house, an occasional bath will suffice!

3/7

History of the breed

One of Holland’s oldest dog breeds, as history tells it, in the 16th century, a Kooikerhondje saved Prince William of Orange from enemy attack by barking to wake him up. Originally bred as a duck decoy, when that custom declined, so, too, did the Kooikerhondje. By the Second World War, the breed had almost disappeared.

It took a determined aristocrat to turn the Kooikerhondje’s fate around. The Baroness Van Hardenbroek van Ammerstol gave travelling salesmen a copy of the dog, a tuft of their orange-red fur, and the task to find a female to breed.

As the story goes, when a potential mate was finally found, the farmer who owned her didn’t want to sell - she was his daughter’s dog. It took a combination of cajoling and promises of sweets (for his daughter) for the Baroness to finally win the farmer’s approval. Though she wanted to name the breed, “the Prince’s dog,” after the famous legend where the Kooikerhondje saved Prince William’s life, under German occupation, the Baroness more sensibly chose a Dutch name. The breed gained official recognition by the Dutch Kennel Club in 1971.

Black and white portrait of a Kooikerhondje

4/7

From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Kooikerhondjes

1. Ears

Orange-red markings, with black-tipped ears known as “earrings”.

2. Tail

White plume tail.

3. Body

Muscular body with head carried high.

Kooikerhondje puppy sat on a tree branch

5/7

Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Kooikerhondje
Kooikerhondje bounding over a field

6/7

Caring for your Kooikerhondje

Grooming, training and exercise tips

To keep your Kooikerhondje’s orange and white coat gleaming and free of tangles, weekly brushing should suffice. Obviously, if they have trampled about in water or mud, a bath will be in order - but their coat’s natural water resistance makes the breed otherwise fairly low maintenance. Nails should be clipped regularly, ears checked for debris or dirt, and teeth brushed daily if you can get away with it. When it comes to exercise, your Kooikerhondje will love nothing more than walks in the woods or by the water’s edge. If you have a garden, make sure it’s enclosed or they might follow their nose. Up to three hours a day of exercise is recommended so if you are happiest on your couch, the Kooikerhondje is perhaps not the best breed for you. Training your Kooikerhondje should be pretty straightforward, as they’re a working dog at heart. Any treats should be taken from their daily kibble portion to keep them in good shape.

7/7

All about Kooikerhondjes

Kooikerhondjes shed moderately all year-round, and a female generally sheds more than a male. Regular brushing will help minimise the spread around your home. As will a vacuum...

Though there are thousands in their native Holland, the Kooikerhondje is still considered rare elsewhere. In the US, only around 500 are registered according to the American Kennel Club.

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/