The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is an ancient breed, appearing in the works of the Dutch Masters as early as the 17th Century. They were brought to near-extinction during World War II, and only became a recognized breed the The Netherlands in 1971. Since then, they have spread slowly to the rest of the world, and are fiercely guarded by their loyal and protective fans.
The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is a working dog. It was developed to hunt ducks in enclosures called eendenkoois built along the canals and wetlands in the Netherlands. Smart, responsive, and independent, the kooikerhondje worked closely with the kooiker, or duck hunter, responding to hand signals and silent cues to lure the ducks down a net-covered canal and into a trap.
This elaborate method of hunting ducks takes place on a very large scale and is incredibly complex. It requires the cooperation and training of many decoy ducks, the kooikerhondje, and the duck hunter. It also requires constant maintenance and repair of the intricately-constructed walls and pipes of the trap.
Keeping this ancient form of hunting alive means preserving the Dutch wetlands, which protects not only water fowl, but also provides a habitat for native flowers, plants, and other animals as well. For a closer look at the role of the kooikerhondje in wetlands preservation, visit our slide show on the Dutch Eendenkooi (provided by member Rose Shenk) and view a video (narrated in Dutch) about an eendenkooi.
From Decoy Work to Domestic Life
Not many modern kooikerhondjes are able to do the work for which they were developed. Now they are more likely to find a home as a valued family companion. However, these are spirited and smart little animals, and they need to have a job to keep them occupied. They thrive on physical and mental stimulation, and excel in the Agility ring. They have been successful in Obedience, Rally, Tracking, and Search and Rescue, among other dog sports and competitions.
The kooikerhondje is rare enough that is not yet recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), but it has gained Foundation Stock Service and is on its way to being in the Miscellaneous Class. Keep checking back for progress as we work towards full AKC recognition.