The words Dog Breed Info with the letter D inside of a black paw print

The Purebred Kooikerhondje

Information and Pictures

A white with red Kooikerhondje is standing outside on a wooden walkway

Duchess, photo courtesy of Linda Culpepper, Vonlin Kooikerhondje

Other Names
  • Kooiker Dog
  • Nederlandse Kooikerhondje
  • Small Dutch Waterfowl Dog



Kooikerhondjes have very unique coats that take up to 2 years to fully mature. The one distinguishing feature of the breed is the long black tips on its ears. The length and amount of these "earrings" are determined by genetics. Years ago, when the breed was being developed, dogs with a lot of black fur were introduced into the lines in order to develop the earrings. As a result of these breedings, some black and white and tricolored Kooikerhondjes have been born. These variations, while beautiful, do not meet the standard and cannot compete in conformation. Kooikerhondjes normally have some black hairs on their body when they born. These hairs fall out in the first shedding (3-4 months). If a puppy doesn't have any black hairs when he's born, he will not develop earrings. It is normal and acceptable in the adult Kooikerhondje for the tail to have a small ring of black fur between orange and white. Color restrictions in the breed standard make breeding Kooikerhondjes difficult.

Disqualifications: Tricolored (black/white/orange), black and white only, missing white blaze on head, white in the ear(s), black body hair, fully orange-colored tail (missing the white tip).

Between the ages of 4 and 6 months, baby teeth begin to fall out and are replaced with adult teeth. You will be able to recognize bite problems in your puppy by the age of 7-8 months when all the adult teeth are in. Scissor and pincer bites are standard for the breed. Your dog should be finished growing and its basic structure will be complete by the time the dog reaches one year old. Any developmental problems will be visible by now. The breed standard is very specific about the structure of the Kooikerhondje. When selecting a puppy, it is a good idea to examine the parents and compare them to the standard. Most breeders also show their dogs in conformation shows. It is helpful to know how well the parents measure up in front of an experienced eye. The Dutch Kennel Club has established specific breeding guidelines. An overview has been included in the Breeding section of this document. The following information speaks generally about the Kooikerhondje's reproductive development. Females usually come into their first heat (estrum) between the ages 6 and 12 months, but can be as late as 18 months. Male dogs are sexually capable by 9 months. If you are not planning to breed your dog, the responsible thing is to have your dog neutered or spayed. The male's sexual prime is between the age of 2 and 4 years, when his sperm count is the highest. After the age of 7 years, it is a good idea to have the dog's reproductive ability tested by a vet. The female's sexual prime is between the ages of 2 and 9 years. Her estrum cycle lasts about 21 days and she is generally introduced to the male around the 8th. It may be difficult to determine the exact day the female came into heat so the pair should be kept together until the female accepts the male for the first time. The female will indicate her willingness to mate by flagging her tail (holding if off to the side). Once the female accepts the male, the pair should be reintroduced every other day until the female no longer accepts the male (around day 14-17). The male should be allowed to breed the female at least three times during this period. Litter sizes can vary depending on how "well" the dogs were mated and the average size litter of the female's mother. First litters are sometimes smaller than future litters. The normal litter size is 5 to 7 puppies. The average gestation is 59-64 days, with a normal delivery date either on the 62nd or 63rd day.


The Kooikerhondje's affectionate and sturdy nature makes it a delightful family dog. Pictures painted by the Dutch artist Jan Steen depict the Kooikerhondje's past role an integral part of family life. This breed is happy and self-assured, yet cautious with strangers and other dogs. Its temperament should be neither aggressive nor anti-social. While it may take a little time, the Kooikerhondje, once accustomed to somebody, will always be a good and loyal friend. Socialization is the key to overcoming to the breed's cautiousness and to preventing potential behavioral problems, so start early. Kooikerhondjes make good watchdogs (but they are not noisy) and they make first-rate companions because they like to be among people. The little Kooikerhondje won the hearts of the Dutch people when Prince William II of Orange was saved by his faithful Kooikerhondje "Kuntze," who awakened the prince in the night during an assassination attempt. Generally speaking, due to the sensitive nature of the breed and the fact that the breed as a rule doesn't like unnecessary handling, Kooikerhondjes are not recommended as playmates for small or unruly children. They do like children however, and like most dogs, if they are raised with children and both child and dog have been taught to respect each other, there is no reason to pass over the Kooikerhondje as a family pet. Children need to be taught how to be pack leaders.

Kooikerhondjes are sensitive and intelligent and have a strong character. For that reason, they need consistent, firm training with a stern but calm voice. Yelling at a Kooikerhondje accomplishes little and can do more harm than good. Clicker training comes highly recommended. This breed responds well to positive reinforcement and food. Start training as soon as possible and make it fun. Use the moments that the dog does something you want him to do on his own (like lying down) and praise him while giving the command. Soon your dog will learn to associate the behavior with the command. Generally, you can start housetraining between 5 to 8 weeks of age. Your puppy won't be fully reliable until sometime after 6 months of age. The sooner you start, the sooner it will understand and the fewer accidents it will have. Most Kooikerhondjes love to be active and use their minds. Here is a list of activities that Kooikerhondjes are well suited to: Flushing Birds (primarily for fun), Retrieving (if they are taught well), Tracking, Agility, Obedience, Conformation, Dance (obedience and maneuvers set to music), Swimming and playing in Water. Activities that require a lot of physical exertion should be properly managed in order to prevent injury to the dog. Puppies can start agility training around 6-8 months of age provided that jumping is not part of the training. During the first year, your puppy is still growing and the bones and joints are not fully formed. Any activity that puts a strain on the legs, spine and joints should be avoided until after the dog has reached one year of age so as to avoid risking serious and permanent injury to your dog. Teaching your dog for conformation dog shows can start as soon as you get your puppy: It begins with socialization, as your puppy will need to get used to be handled by strangers in a fairly intrusive way. Unlike normal people, judges are going to look into the dog’s mouth and run their hands all over the dog. The dog must learn to allow this and not wiggle out of the judge's grasp. Lots of kind handling and praise from both the owner and strangers will accustom your dog to being examined. Consider seriously finding a good, local trainer to train both you and your dog in any activity you decide to participate in. Remember the Kooikerhondje is a sensitive breed, so select your trainer carefully to ensure the trainer’s style is suited to your dog.

Chewing Starts: 9 weeks Ends: excessive chewing: 6-7 months Recommendations: Chewing is natural for dogs and it is what all puppies do when their adult teeth start to come in. Chewing is also tremendous fun for a dog and it relieves a lot of pent-up stress and tension. While you can never completely stop a dog from chewing, experts agree that solving inappropriate chewing involves prevention, diversion and correction. Prevent your dog/puppy from chewing on inappropriate objects by keeping them out of reach and crating your puppy when you are away. Do not let they puppy chew on any old personal items, like shoes. A puppy has no way of telling an old shoe from a new shoe. Remember the golden rule: If it is on the floor, the puppy will think it belongs to him. Divert your dog/puppy’s chewing energies onto appropriate objects. Buy lots of chewing bones, rubber rings, nylon ropes, etc. that have been designed specifically for safe chewing. Keep away all things he/she may chew that could be dangerous (i.e. pens, rubbish, rubber bands, combs, scissors, wires, ropes, cables, etc. While verbally correcting your dog/puppy might stop the immediate chewing, you might just be teaching your dog not to get caught chewing. Correction is best when the object itself teaches your dog/puppy not to chew on it. Apple bitter, hot sauce or perfumes sprayed onto whatever you don’t want chewed suddenly makes chewing on that object not so desirable. Despite all of your efforts, you may expect to lose at least one cherished item during puppy's chewing phase. Kooikerhondjes are bright and active dogs. Destructive behavior is most often based in boredom. It is important for a Kooikerhondje to get enough activity. If your Kooikerhondje is being destructive, you need to increase his activity level. Try activities that involve both training and physical exertion, like obedience and agility. Strong leadership from you combined with the release of all that energywill bring about quick results. Behavior: Fear Starts: Normal Fear Stages: First: 9 weeks Second: 9 months Third: During first heat cycle. Ends: lasts approximately 2 weeks.

Some Fear is Normal for Puppies: You can expect your puppy to go through at least 2 to 3 fear periods. During these periods, your puppy is learning about the world. In the wild, this is when pups are first leaving the den and they need to learn quickly what is dangerous and what is not. During these times you need to be careful about controlling the situations your puppy gets exposed to. Do a lot of socialization and play with your puppy to give it self- confidence. If your puppy becomes startled do not pick him up and love him or sooth him with your words as dogs do not see human comfort the same as humans and if you do this anything that gives your puppy a fright during these periods may become imprinted in their minds and they can carry that fear for the rest of their lives. You need to allow the pup to get over the fright on their own to avoid a lasting affect.

Fear of Objects: If it is an object that is spooking your dog show him that it is nothing to be afraid of by touching it yourself. Sit near it and encourage your dog to come closer to you while ignoring the object. Eventually the dog will come to learn that the object isn't dangerous after all. Do not pet your dog while he is afraid.

Fear of Strangers: Although the Kooikerhondjes can be very selective about whom they like and whom they don¹t like, shyness is not normal for a Kooikerhondje. There can be several reasons for your Kooikerhondje to be fearful of strangers. Some people seem dangerous to them either because of what they are wearing, the size they are or the way they approach. Your dog may also be taking nonverbal cues from you. Dogs read our body language much more readily than we do. Your dog will know from your body language if you think they are friendly, wary or even hostile. If you have a shy puppy or dog, you need to start socializing it as soon as possible. Start by having lots of people come over and visit your dog at home. Instruct your guests to allow the dog to approach them first. Make sure your guests praise the dog and give her treats. Take your time and don't force it. When your puppy has had all it's vaccinations, take your it to as many places as you can. Introduce your puppy to a variety of people places and things. It's best if people scratch the puppy under the chin rather than over the head because the under the chin approach is less threatening. Praise and reward your puppy when it does well in a situation and don't fuss over it when your puppy gets scared. Remember that your Kooikerhondje is looking to you for clues as to how to deal with the situation so remain calm, happy and upbeat at all times. If you keep the experiences positive, your dog will learn to look forward to new situations and people.

Abnormal Fear: Fear can be based on past bad experiences, low self-esteem and poor socialization. If your dog seems abnormally fearful, you may want to enlist expert help from a trainer or behavioralist. Avoid encouraging your dog's fearfulness by making a big deal over the dog's reaction. By trying to comfort your dog when he is afraid you are reinforcing his belief that there really is something to be afraid of. Do not breed your dog if it has a serious character flaw. Behavior: Ignoring Commands Starts: 6 months and 13 months. Ends: 7 month and 15 months Recommendations: The Kooikerhondje is a very intelligent breed. They learn new things very quickly. Like most dogs though, when they reach the age of 6-7 months and then again at 13 - 15 months they seem to forget everything you taught them. Do not despair, as this is a normal part of growing up and testing their boundaries with you. Remain firm and consistent and your Kooikerhondje will soon learn that you are still the boss and all that you taught them will suddenly be remembered. Behavior: Biting during play Starts: when they start playing, 4 - 5 weeks Ends: stops around 5-6 months of age. Recommendations: While playing is good, biting hard is not and should not be tolerated. Your puppy needs to learn that biting is not acceptable and you need to start teaching him right away. Correct the pup with a strict "no bite" and then praise him when he backs off. Some cases require a sharp, but controlled tap underneath the chin. Stop the play by turning your back to him or letting out a little puppy like scream when he bites. It tells your puppy that "this is not fun". Soon he will get the idea that if he wants the play to continue he can't bite.

Kooikerhondjes are generally not noisy dogs. A barking Kooikerhondje is usually just trying to get attention or is trying to ward off an intruder. If your dog is barking directly at you it can be dominance as the dog tries to tell YOU what to do. If this is the case tell the dog "No" and look into your pack leader skills. One of the more common complaints is barking at other dogs. This type of barking can be based in fear and the best way to deal with it is through opportunities to meet smaller, calm dogs in a relaxed, off-leash environment. Gradually work up to introducing him to larger dogs. Keep your dog under your control by having him lie beside you. If he feels you are in control of the situation, he is less likely to try and warn you and keep the other dog at bay with his barking. Keep his mind on you and when passing a strange dog with it's owner by talking to your dog and praising it when it ignores the other dog. It is normal for Kooikerhondje puppies to actively play-fight with each other. Comparedwith other breeds, the Kooikerhondje appears to be more active than most. Enjoy the show while it remains all in good fun. Intervene when it gets out of hand.

Height, Weight

Height: 14 - 16 inches (36 - 41 cm)
Weight: 20 - 40 pounds (9 - 18 kg)

Kooikerhondjes normally reach their mature size between 7 and 8 months of age.

Health Problems

Responsible breeders work to eliminate hereditary diseases from breeds by disallowing dogs with hereditary defects from being bred. Kooikerhondjes are still known to carry some hereditary diseases. Puppies should only be obtained from breeders who can prove the parents do not carry these defects. Von Willebrandt Disease (VWD) is a common hereditary bleeding disorder in dogs that is very similar to hemophilia in humans. This disease prevents the dog’s blood from clotting. Blood tests and DNA tests can be performed to determine if the dog has the disease and how severe it is. It is not necessary for the dog to actually suffer from the disease to be able to pass the disease onto its offspring. Some dogs are carriers of the defective gene. Breeding Considerations: Dogs with or carriers of Von Willebrandt Disease must be excluded from the breeding program. Parents of dogs suffering from Von Willebrandt Disease must be excluded from further breeding. Cataracts: Kooikerhondjes have some eye problems with green or grey cataracts. This causes an abnormal cloudiness to the lens and reduces the dog's vision. Breeding Considerations: Before breeding the litters, parents should be tested and found free of cataracts. Sufferers from cataracts and their direct offspring are excluded from breeding. Mated pairs who have direct offspring that suffer from cataracts should be excluded from further matings with each other and their offspring must be tested and declared 'cataract-free' by a veterinarian eye-specialist before they may be used for breeding. Patella luxation: The patella is what we humans consider the kneecap. Patella luxation is the abnormal inward or outward moving of the knee. Dogs with this problem often appear bowlegged. This affliction can be hereditary or caused by injury. In some dogs the ridges forming the patellar groove are not prominent enough allow the patella to luxate (jump out of the groove) sideways, especially toward the inside. The result is that the leg "locks-up" in the flexed or bent position causing the dog to hold its foot off the ground. The dog experiences pain caused by the kneecap sliding across the bony ridges of the femur. Once out of position, the animal feels no discomfort. When the muscles around the joint relax enough, the patella slips back into position. Breeding Considerations: Prior to breeding, both animals should be examined by a vet for this disorder. Animals with hereditary patella luxation should not be used for breeding. Parents producing offspring that suffer from this disorder should not be mated to each other again. Sufferers can still be excellent pets and some, after corrective surgery, will usually lead perfectly normal lives without any restrictions on activity. Epilepsy is a disease of recurring (two or more) seizures. Epilepsy may cause your dog to lose consciousness for short or long periods, lose control of his bladder and/or bowels and have involuntary spasms. This disease can occur in either sex between the ages of 6 months and 6 years. Epilepsy can either be an inherited problem or idiopathic problem (caused by some unknown reason). Either way, dogs with epilepsy should not be bred. Male/females combinations that have produced two or more direct offspring that suffer from epilepsy should not be bred again. As well, any other offspring from such a pairing should also be excluded from breeding. Hereditary Necrotizing Myelopathy. This is a degenerative spinal disease, similar to multiple sclerosis in humans. It tends to strike when the dog reaches one year of age and never after the dog has reached 18 months. Dogs with this condition are subject to increasing stages of paralysis in the hind body. It is a progressive and debilitative disease that always results in the dog being euthanized. Because of selective breeding this disease has become quite rare. Breeding Considerations: Animals suffering from Hereditary Necrotizing Myelopathy and their direct offspring are excluded from breeding. Breeding pairs who have direct offspring suffering from this disorder are excluded from breeding as well as any offspring that may have resulted from that pair. Breeding Kooikerhondjes: It is the intention of the Kooikerhondje Club of Canada to adhere to the established rules of the Dutch Kennel Club so that we may preserve the Kooikerhondje in its truest form. The following are just some of the basic rules we follow for breeding: Males must be least 15 months old before they are bred. Females must be at least 18 months old before they are bred. Females should never be mated on their first estrum but can be mated on their second. Females are allowed 3-4 litters. Females over 6 years old must not be bred if they have had no previous litters. Females can be bred up to the age of 9 years old provided they have had a litter before the age of 6 years old. The females may not be mated within 10 months after the birth of a litter. Females should be allowed 1 - 2 estrums between breedings. Males may produce 3 litters a year, and not more than 15 litters in his lifespan. The same male and female combination may not produce more than 12 offspring. Male and female must not be closely related with each other. The pedigrees shouldn't contain same males in three generations: like parent/child or (half) brother/(half) sister. The male and female must be in good health at the time of mating (see the section: Health Issues). Aggressive or shy animals should not be used in breeding. Both parents must adhere to the breed standard. The height of the female should be between 35 cm and 40 cm at the shoulder and the male should be between 37 cm and 42 cm at the shoulder.

Living Conditions

This breed can do okay in an apartment if it has a very active family that takes it out for a lot of exercise, but it does better with more room and a fenced-in yard. If it has a small yard it will need to be walked on a lead for more exercise. This breed loves to run outside and check out everything. It has lots of energy, but is quiet indoors. Obedience training is a very good idea. Kooikerhondjes have curious and active minds. They love to check everything out and if they find something fascinating, they tend to zero in on it and ignore everything else, including their owners. It is for this very reason that cars kill so many Kooikerhondjes. Obedience training will help you to have good control over your dog. As a preventative measure, only let your Kooikerhondje off leash in safe areas. A fenced yard is best.


Because the Kooikerhondje is primarily a hunting breed, it loves outdoor life and need regular exercise to keep it happy. It needs to be taken on a daily long walk or jog. Be sure to have a safe fenced-in yard for this breed. The Kooikerhondje loves to run free, but it is not recommended for it to run free in an unsafe area. It must have a fenced in yard, as it may see an animal and chase it. Traditionally, when not luring ducks into traps, the Kooikerhondje kept watch of premises and busily worked to hunt down rats, moles and mice. For this reason, Kooikerhondjes have an almost tireless need to keep busy and have active minds that require stimulation. The last thing you want is a bored Kooikerhondje. Boredom will drive them to invent "work" and you may not appreciate what they come up with. On the positive side, their keen intelligence and high energy levels allow them excel at agility, obedience and hunting.

Life Expectancy

About 12-14 years

Litter Size

About 5 to 7 puppies


Kooikerhondjes do shed their hair. The first shedding begins when the puppy fur starts to be replaced with adult fur between 3 to 4 months of age. The coat is not difficult to take care of. Regular brushing is all that is needed to maintain the coat and reduce the shedding under control.


The Kooikerhondje is an old Dutch race bred to lure ducks into traps. The Kooikerhondje can be seen in paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries, but didn't become an official, recognized race until June 18, 1966. Unfortunately, by the end of World War II, when dwindling duck stocks left the Kooikerhondje out of a job, the breed almost became extinct. In all it is thought only 25 Kooikerhondjes were left in existence. In 1939 Baroness Van Hardenbroek van Ammerstol decided to resurrect the little Kooikerhondje. The Baroness lived alone in a very big mansion and was dedicated to her dogs. She was quite an eccentric woman and had her dogs join her for dinner. Each dog sat at her table in its own chair. During WWII the baroness helped many allied pilots to flee the Germans and used her dogs to guide the men through the woods to the Belgian border. The Baroness was also involved in the rescue of several other Dutch breeds (the Keeshond and the Drentse Patrijshond). In order to rebuild the Kooikerhondje, the Baroness prepared a detailed description of the ideal dog and asked traveling salesmen to look for a dog that fit those criteria. At long last, her efforts were rewarded when word came back of a female named Tommie on a farm in the northern province called Friesland. The Baroness went to Friesland, and was delighted to discover that Tommie did indeed fit the description. Fortunately, the farmer, who would not sell Tommie, agreed to lend her to the Baroness for breeding. Tommie was taken to the Baroness's home in Geldrop and the Baroness began her searched for a fitting dog to mate her to. Eventually, she found a suitable dog named Bobbie and he sired Tommie`s first litter. The only surviving pup from that litter was a male and the Baroness named him Bernhard van Walhalla (van Walhalla was the kennel’s name). In 1943 Tommie had her second litter from a new dog—named Bennie. This litter consisted of 4 females, which were named after Tommie and after the little princesses of the Netherlands: Trix, Irene, Margrietje and Tommie 2. (This was quite audacious of the Baroness, since in 1943 the Netherlands was occupied by Nazi-Germany and any reference to the royal family was absolutely forbidden.) The Baroness, as before, searched for suitable males to breed to these females and found them mostly on farms and with private families. Tommie was returned to the farm in Friesland when she became too old to have another litter. There she lived out her life until sadly, a harvester accidentally killed her. Eventually, other people became interested in breeding the Kooikerhondje. Using Tommie`s offspring, mongrels who fit the description as well as two dogs of decoyman Bosma they created their perfect dog. In 1966 the raad van Beheer (the Dutch institute that decides whether a breed can become officially recognized or not) decided that a provisional register could be installed. The dogs that passed the judging could be admitted to the register. Nico, great grandson of Margrietje, was the first Kooikerhondje to be admitted to the provisional register and can be found in almost every modern Kooikerhondje`s pedigree. By December 20, 1971, when the Kooikerhondje received its final recognition, a sufficient gene pool had been established. From that moment on, no unregistered dogs were allowed to participate in the breeding program.

For generations, the Kooikerhondje was used in an ingenious method of hunting ducks. The hunter would build a trap called a "Kooi" which consists of a curved ditch leading out from a pond frequented by ducks. Over the ditch an arch of netting is suspended. The result is a pipe through which the ducks could enter but could not see the end of. The Kooikerhondje's job was to lure the ducks far enough down the pipe so the hunter could cut off their retreat and drive them to the trap at the end. Here is how it works: Following the hunter's instructions, the dog would begin cavorting in such a way as to capture the duck's curiosity. The white-tipped, brushy tail of the dog is what attracts a lot of attention from the ducks. They think perhaps that this flashy thing might be a threat, but they aren't too sure what it is, so they come in for a closer look. As ducks approach, the dog moves further into the pipe, ducking in and out of blinds along the way. To the ducks, it appears as if the dog is fleeing them. Emboldened, they give chase, trying to drive it even further away. By the time the ducks lose interest and turn to go back out the mouth of the pipe, they find their way blocked by the hunter. With the nets above and the hunter behind, there is nowhere to go but further down the curving and ever narrowing Kooi to their eventual fate. Using this method, a whole flock could be captured at once. Ducks are seldom hunted in this fashion in Holland anymore, but the method and the Kooikerhondje are still used in conservation efforts.



  • ACA = American Canine Association Inc.
  • ACR = American Canine Registry
  • AKC/FSS = American Kennel Club Foundation Stock Service® Program
  • ARBA = American Rare Breed Association
  • APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
  • DKC = Danish Kennel Club
  • DKC = Dutch Kooiker Club
  • FCI = Fédération Cynologique Internationale
  • DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
  • KCC = Kooiker Club of Canada
  • KCF = Kooiker Club of Finland
  • KCGB = Kooikerhondje Club of Great Britain
  • KCUSA = Kooiker Club of USA
  • NAPR = North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • UKC = United Kennel Club
Close Up - A white with red Kooikerhondje dog is sanding on a wooden walkway next to grass and a wooden fence and looking up and to the left

This beautiful Kooikerhondje is named Duchess. Photo courtesy of Linda Culpepper, Vonlin Kooikerhondje

A small white with brown Kooikerhondje puppy is laying down on a white rug

Duchess at three weeks old, photo courtesy of Linda Culpepper, Vonlin Kooikerhondje

A tiny white with brown Kooikerhondje puppy is being held in the arm by a persons hand. It is biting its own paw

Niklas at 3 weeks old, photo courtesy of Linda Culpepper, Vonlin Kooikerhondje

See more examples of the Kooikerhondje

Thanks to Diane Lumsden for providing Dog Breed Info with this information.