Nederlandse Kooikerhondje

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Get all the facts about the good-natured and rare breed, Nederlandse Kooikerhondje, in our guide.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:
12 to 15 years
Size:

Medium

Maintenance Level:

Medium

Shed Level:

Medium

Temperament:
Delightful DoersCarefree Yet CleverDiligentDevoted
Coat Color:
White With Orange-Red Patches

Best For

The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is best for active pup parents and families with older children who have the time to give these pups the exercise and training they need.

Nederlandse Kooikerhondje Traits

What makes the Nederlandse Kooikerhonje a Nederlandse Kooikerhonje? Let's find out how they stack up.

Nederlandse Kooikerhondje Temperament

From the minute you bring your Nederlandse Kooikerhondje puppy home, socialization is important—and will be a lifelong staple. They shower their friends and family with love and want to stay as close as possible, often lying on their feet. But they follow the “stranger danger” mentality, which is why it’s important to properly introduce them to all newcomers (both two- and four-footed).

While they have a high prey drive (they were bred to hunt), they are not aggressive unless provoked. Puppy “mouthing” and biting is 100 percent to be expected, but with proper training and socialization, it fades away as they grow up.

Your Kooiker will match you wit for wit. At times, you may look into those expressive eyes and see a challenge brewing. (Just who’s really in charge here?) Just like a parent would when a child starts testing them, a pup parent needs to stay firm and not be swayed by their cuteness. Your ultimate goal is to make sure your pup knows you’re protecting them, and they don’t need to protect you.

Kooikers need to be busy, and they love it when you give them a job to do. (You can often accomplish this through involving them in dog sports like agility, obedience and tracking.) But be warned—if you don’t give them a job to do, they will create their own. And it may involve demolition duty.

How to Care for a Nederlandse Kooikerhondje

The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje breed is pretty—and pretty easy to care for. To control shedding, your brushing routine only needs to show up once a week on your to-do list. In addition, their au naturel, untrimmed coat will require only an occasional scrub-a-dub-dub—often in the form of a rinse-off. Which is great, ’cause you’ll be spending all that extra time in training and exercising your delightful pup.

Nederlandse Kooikerhondje Health

Nederlandse Kooikerhondjes have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years, and like most any other breed, is susceptible to a few hereditary conditions. A reputable breeder will screen puppies and parents for these conditions to ensure they aren’t passed to future generations. It’s a good idea to be aware of these health problems, so you can help your pup live a full and happy life.

  • Von Willebrand Disease: This is a genetic disorder that prevents a dog from clotting blood properly, which can lead to excessive bleeding if injured. There is no cure for vWD; often, a vet will adjust the dog’s activity to reduce the risk of scrapes and injury that may lead to bleeding. In severe cases, transfusions may be necessary.
  • Hereditary Necrotising Myelopathy: This is a degenerative spinal disease, similar to MS in humans; an early sign is paralysis in the hind legs. There is currently no cure for it, and the disease is fatal. Reputable breeders can screen for the disease to ensure it doesn’t pass to future generations of Kooikers.
  • Luxating Patella: This condition is when the knee slips out of the socket. Depending on the severity, it may be treated through weight management, physical therapy, pain medications or surgery.
  • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a condition when the hip joint wasn’t formed properly and causes pain or lameness. Your vet may prescribe glucosamine supplements, weight or exercise reduction to help manage it.
  • Polymyositis: In this disease, the muscles become inflamed, then die off. Fortunately, Kooikers rarely suffer from this disease. Signs include lethargy, weakness and muscle or weight loss. There is no cure, but it can be managed with steroids and immunosuppressants. If left untreated, it can be fatal.
  • Epilepsy: This condition is rare in Kooikers. Your vet can teach you how to help your pup through a seizure and will prescribe medications to help reduce the number of seizures your pup experiences.

Nederlandse Kooikerhondje History

The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje originated in the Netherlands, possibly dating as far back as the 1700s—you can find them in paintings by Rembrandt and Jan Steen. These plucky pups were bred for duck hunting and were called duck decoys—but not because they look like the wooden lures used by hunters today. They were (and still are) used by hunters to lure ducks through elaborate “canal cages” called eendenkooi (“duck cages” in Dutch) into traps. Kooikers also alerted their families to poachers on the property and kept the property free of vermin. It’s a similar job to that of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, the North American breed said to be descendants of the Kooiker.

Because of their heritage, Kooikers are often referred to as Dutch spaniels. The breed nearly died out after World War I, when more accurate rifles were available to duck hunters. But the breed was saved by Baroness von Hardenbroek van Ammerstol in the late 1930s when she sought out the little dog throughout the Dutch countryside and brought them back from the brink of extinction. The Dutch are so attached to their canine counterpart that they’ve kept a breeding registry of all the litters bred since 1942.

The first Nederlandse Kooikerhondje litter was born in the US in 1999, and the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje Club of the United States was formed in 2014. The breed officially joined the ranks of the American Kennel Club in 2018.

Where can you find a Nederlandse Kooikerhondje puppy? You can find reputable breeders on the AKC’s website. What’s the average price for a Kooiker puppy? You can expect to spend between $1,000 and $5,000 for a Kooiker puppy. But for that price, you’re likely getting a pup who’s been screened for health and temperament issues and may come with pedigree papers. You can also contact Nederlandse Kooikerhondje rescues or keep an eye out for the breed at your local animal shelter.

FAQs

How do you pronounce Kooikerhondje?

Nederlandse Kooikerhondje may not be easy to pronounce, unless you’re familiar with Dutch. It’s pronounced ney-der-lan-dsuh koy-ker-hoon-tyeh, which is why many refer to the Dutch dynamo as a “Kooiker” (koy-ker). That nickname makes perfect sense—it means “decoy man” in Dutch, heralding the breed’s original job as a duck decoy.

Are Kooikerhondjes good family dogs?

Nederlandse Kooikerhondjes make good family dogs as long as they are properly socialized and trained from an early age. They do well with older kids, but need to be supervised around infants and toddlers. Since they were bred to be super-alert and aware of their surroundings, Kooikers may respond to noises and sudden movements, so early socialization is key to help these pups be well-behaved members of the family.

Are Kooikerhondjes hypoallergenic?

No, Kooikerhondjes are not considered hypoallergenic. These pups do shed moderately, so they may not be a good choice for those allergic to dogs.

How big can a Kooikerhondje get?

While Kooikerhondjes can get pretty big—40 pounds if they’re “oversized,” the average size of a full-grown Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is between 20 and 30 pounds.

Are Kooikerhondjes rare or extinct?

Yes, the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje breed is quite rare. According to the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje Club of the USA, there are only a few thousand of the dogs in the world. Currently, only about 400 Kooiker pups live in the United States.

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Top Takeaways

Life with a Nederlandse Kooikerhondje will be full of adventure—kind of like adding a toddler to your home. They are playful and active, and they love getting into things, so you’ll need a lot of patience and understanding with this pup in those early stages. Kooikers need to be useful to the people they love, so give them a job to do! And don’t be surprised if your pup figures out how to open the door for you. They’re that smart and skillful!

Expert input provided by Natalie L. Marks, DVM, CVJ, VCA Blum Animal Hospital, Chicago, IL, and a host of TopVetsTalkPets.com; Dr. Rachel Barrack, DVM, CVA, CVCH, founder of concierge veterinary practice Animal Acupuncture; Nancy P. Melone, Ph.D., is the chair of the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje Club of the USA Health and Genetics Committee; Rendy Schuchat, M.A., owner/founder and certified head dog trainer at Anything Is Pawzible; Eileen Koval, CDBC, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, of Confident Canines LLC; Jody Haas-Wolfson, CPDT-KA, who holds a double master’s in behavior from Washington University, is Fear-Free-certified, and serves as a behaviorist-trainer and owner of ROOT Dog Training in Northbrook, Illinois; and Lucinda Paganin, Breeders Committee Chair and Vice President of Nederlandse Kooikerhondje Club of the USA.

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