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A two-year-old Kooikerhondje
Other namesKooiker,
Nederlandse Kooikerhondje,
Dutch Spaniel,
Dutch Decoy Spaniel
Life span 8-15 year
Kennel club standards
Dutch Kennel Club standard
American Kennel Club standard
Fédération Cynologique Internationale standard
Dog (domestic dog)

The Kooikerhondje (Dutch for "Duck catcher's small dog") is a small spaniel-type breed of dog of Dutch ancestry that was originally used as a working dog, particularly in an eendenkooi (duck decoy) to lure ducks. Kooikers were popular in the 17th and 18th century[citation needed] and appear in paintings by Jan Steen.



The Kooikerhondje is a small, flashy, orange and white spaniel-like sporting dog. Originally bred in the Netherlands as a duck decoy dog, its heavily white plumed tail waves jauntily to entice and lure ducks to follow it into eendenkooi (elaborate manmade pond trapping systems). When not working the traps, Kooikers were expected to work on the farm to catch vermin. The preferred height at the withers is 40 cm (16 inches in the U.S.) for males and 38 cm (15 inches in the U.S.) for females.[1] The FCI standard allows variation of 38 to 41 cm for males, 36 to 39 cm for females.[2] Allowable size in the United States is 14.5 to 17.5 inches for males, 13.5 to 16.5 inches for females. The proportion of the Kooiker is off-square. The bone and substance of the Kooiker is moderate. The head should be in proportion to the dog. The expression is gentle and alert. Ears should be orange-red in color and well feathered and ideally adorned with earrings. The color for the Kooiker should preferably be distinct patches of clear orange-red on pure white, although a few small spots on the legs are acceptable. Color should be predominate on the back with the chest, belly, blaze and the majority of the legs and tail white. Black ears. A black tail ring where the color changes from orange-red to white is permitted. A dog who is solid red on the back is acceptable but not preferred.[1]


A Kooikerhondje

A number of heritable diseases have been identified in the Kooikerhondje[3] including:

A Dutch study of 842 dogs found that patellar luxation was prevalent in 24% of dogs scanned. During the time period of the study — which started in 1994 and ended in 2011 — the prevalence of the condition fell from 28% to 19%, although the prevalence is still higher than other spaniel dogs.[7]


Doctor's visit with Kooikerhondje, painting (1658-1620) by Jan Steen

The Kooikerhondje was developed in the Netherlands sometime prior to the 16th century to be a breed to lure ducks into traps - a technique also called tolling. They were used to lure 'kooien' (cages in the form of canals with traps at the ends), where the hunter (the so-called Kooiker) could easily catch the fowl. 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 this dog being called Kooikerhondje.[citation needed]

The breed almost became extinct during World War II until Baroness van Hardenbroek van Ammerstol rescued it. The breed was only officially recognized by the Raad van Beheer,[9] the Dutch Kennel Club, in 1971[10] and has since been imported into other countries and recognised officially. The breed is still relatively unknown in North America and not yet recognized as a breed in Canada, although it was accepted into the AKC's Foundation Stock Service Program,[11] in 2004. The breed was moved to the AKC Miscellaneous Class on July 1, 2015[12] in preparation to moving to the Sporting Group upon full recognition.[13] As of Jan 1, 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 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 of the breed in the U.K.

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.[14]

Some historians[who?] believe the Kooikerhondje may have possibly played a part in the development of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Nederlandse Kooikerhondje" (PDF). American Kennel Club. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  2. ^ Fédération Cynologique Internationale Retrieved 7 February 2024. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ a b Opmeer, Yvet; Grinwis, Guy C. M.; Shelton, G. Diane; Rosati, Marco; Alf, Vanessa; Fieten, Hille; Leegwater, Peter A. J.; Matiasek, Kaspar; Mandigers, Paul J. J. (2023-04-29). "An Inflammatory Myopathy in the Dutch Kooiker Dog". Animals. 13 (9). MDPI AG: 1508. doi:10.3390/ani13091508. ISSN 2076-2615. PMC 10177195. PMID 37174546.
  4. ^ Slappendel, R.J.; Beijer, E.G.M.; van Leeuwen, M. (1998). "Type III von Willebrand's disease in Dutch kooiker dogs". Veterinary Quarterly. 20 (3). Informa UK Limited: 93–97. doi:10.1080/01652176.1998.9694847. ISSN 0165-2176. PMID 9684296.
  5. ^ Mandigers, P.J.J.; van Nes, J.J.; Knol, B.W.; Ubbink, G.J.; Gruys, E. (1993). "Hereditary necrotising myelopathy in Kooiker dogs". Research in Veterinary Science. 54 (1). Elsevier BV: 118–123. doi:10.1016/0034-5288(93)90020-g. ISSN 0034-5288. PMID 8434139.
  6. ^ Schulze, C.; Meyer, H.P.; Blok, A.L.; Schipper, K.; van den Ingh, T.S.G.A.M. (1998). "Renal dysplasia in three young adult dutch kooiker dogs". Veterinary Quarterly. 20 (4). Informa UK Limited: 146–148. doi:10.1080/01652176.1998.9694861. ISSN 0165-2176. PMID 9810631.
  7. ^ a b Wangdee, C.; Leegwater, P.A.J.; Heuven, H.C.M.; van Steenbeek, F.G.; Meutstege, F.J.; Meij, B.P.; Hazewinkel, H.A.W. (2014). "Prevalence and genetics of patellar luxation in Kooiker dogs". The Veterinary Journal. 201 (3). Elsevier BV: 333–337. doi:10.1016/j.tvjl.2014.05.036. ISSN 1090-0233. PMID 24986317.
  8. ^ PJ, Mandigers; JJ, van Nes; BW, Knol; GJ, Ubbink; E, Gruys (1993). "Hereditary Kooiker dog ataxia". Tijdschrift voor Diergeneeskunde. 118 (Suppl 1). Tijdschr Diergeneeskd: 65S. ISSN 0040-7453. PMID 8480326. Retrieved 2024-02-06.
  9. ^ Raad van Beheer (EN), Dutch Kennel Club
  10. ^ Vereniging het Nederlandse Kooikerhondje (NL), Dutch Kooikerhondje Club, history
  11. ^ Foundation Stock Service (EN), American Kennel Club Foundation Stock Service
  12. ^ "Nederlandse Kooikerhondje Dog Breed Information - American Kennel Club".
  13. ^ "AKC Kooikerhondje Did You Know?". Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  14. ^ "Kooikerhondje moves to utility". Dog World. Archived from the original on 1 November 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2013.