The Kooikerhondje: Everything You Need to Know

The Kooikerhondje, described as the “little white and orange dog with a big heart,” is a delightful breed from the Netherlands.

This article will explain the history, physical characteristics, personality, and health of the unique and lovely Kooikerhondje. 

History of the Kooikerhondje

The Kooikerhondje is an ancient breed that has been around for centuries. Its origins can be traced to the Netherlands, where it was popularly used for duck hunting in the 16th century.

Origins in the Netherlands

The Kooikerhondje, also known as the Dutch decoy dog, was first bred in the Netherlands for the specific purpose of hunting ducks. At the time, the breed was abundant and played an essential role in the hunting industry.

The breed’s popularity was due to its ability to lure ducks into the manmade duck-trapping pond systems (Eendenkooi). The Kooikerhondje was trained to play and jump around the pond to attract the ducks’ attention and lure them into the trap. 

Near Extinction and Revival

The Kooikerhondje faced near-extinction after the Second World War, with only a handful of breeders keeping the breed alive. The war had a devastating impact on the breed, with many dogs being killed or abandoned as their owners fled the country.

Despite the challenges, a small group of dedicated breeders worked tirelessly to preserve the Kooikerhondje’s history and revive the breed. In the 1930s, breed enthusiasts formed the Kooikerhondje Club to promote the breed and preserve its history.

Recognition and Popularity 

Thanks to their efforts, the Kooikerhondje regained popularity and is now a recognized breed in many countries. The breed is recognized by the Dutch Kennel Club, the American Kennel Club (AKC), and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI).

Today, the Kooikerhondje is still used for hunting in some parts of Europe, but it has also become a popular companion dog. The breed’s friendly and affectionate nature, combined with its intelligence and agility, make it an excellent family pet.

Physical Characteristics

The Kooikerhondje is a small and compact breed with a distinctive curly tail and a beautiful tri-colored coat. Here is a closer look at the breed’s most prominent physical features. 

Size and Weight

The Kooikerhondje is a relatively small dog with breed members weighing between 20 and 30 pounds. Males are taller and stand 16 inches, while females are 15 inches tall at the shoulders. 

Despite the small size, the Kooikerhondje is a sturdy and hard-working breed. The small size allows to breed to adapt to different living situations and is fit for apartment and urban settings. 

Coat and Colors

The Kooikerhondje has a lustrous and silky coat with feathers on the ears and legs. The hallmark coat color is white with red and black tips as standard markings. 

The dog’s coat is both aesthetically appealing and functional. However, in terms of maintenance, the Kooikerhondje is quite needy and requires regular brushing. 

Distinctive Features

In addition to the curly tail and distinctive coat, the Kooikerhondje has several other unique features, including well-muscled legs and a balanced body. The ears are long and feathered, adding to the overall adorable appearance.

Personality and Temperament

The Kooikerhondje is an intelligent and affectionate dog with a playful and engaging personality. The breed is friendly and outgoing, making a great companion. It is also highly adaptable and can thrive in a variety of living environments, from small apartments to large homes with yards.

General Disposition

The Kooikerhondje is a relatively easy-going breed that is known for their adaptability. They are quick to form strong bonds with their owners and are fiercely loyal and protective.

This makes the Kooikerhondje a great watchdog, as it will bark to alert the owner of any potential danger. Despite its protective nature, it is also friendly and approachable.

Intelligence and Trainability

The Kooikerhondje is a highly intelligent breed that is easy to train. It has a natural desire to please and enjoys learning new tricks and commands. Positive reinforcement training methods, such as clicker training and reward-based training, work best with this breed.

One thing to note about the Kooikerhondje’s intelligence is that they can become bored easily. It’s important for owners to provide them with plenty of mental stimulation, such as puzzle toys and interactive games, to keep their minds engaged and prevent destructive behavior.

Socialization and Interaction with Other Animals

The Kooikerhondje is an amicable breed that loves to interact with other animals, including cats and other dogs. However, proper socialization and training are crucial to ensure that they behave appropriately with other pets.

Early socialization is key, as it helps them develop positive associations with other animals and learn how to communicate effectively. It’s important for owners to supervise their Kooikerhondje when interacting with new pets. 

Health and Lifespan

The Kooikerhondje is generally a healthy and long-lived dog breed. However, it is important to take proper care of your Kooikerhondje to ensure they live a long and happy life.

Common Health Issues

Like other breeds, Kooikerhondjes are susceptible to various health issues, such as: 

  • Hip Dysplasia: An orthopedic condition that affects the hip joint and causes pain, lameness, and mobility issues 
  • Skin Allergies: Breed members are sensitive to environmental allergens, which can cause itchy and irritated skin
  • Eye Disorders: Progressive retinal atrophy, glaucoma, and cataracts result in vision problems and even blindness

Preventative Care and Regular Check-ups

Proper preventative care is essential to ensuring your Kooikerhondje remains healthy and happy. This includes regular check-ups, vaccinations, and parasite control. The veterinarian can also recommend a healthy diet and exercise routine to keep your Kooikerhondje in good shape.

Expected Lifespan

The average lifespan for the Kooikerhondje breed is between 12 and 14 years. However, with proper care and attention, they can live a happy and healthy life for many years. 


The Kooikerhondje is a delightful breed of dog that is both charming and affectionate. The breed has a rich history, is highly trainable, and makes a great family pet.

If you are considering getting a Kooikerhondje, make sure to do your research, find a reputable breeder, and provide the dog with the care and attention it deserves.

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