Saturday, August 25, 2012

Unusual Breed: Kooikerhondje

This small breed is also known by such names as the Dutch decoy dog.
Though the original Kooiker was a rather old breed, the current version only dates back to the 1940's. Before then, the breed was seen in the work of some very famous Dutch painters. After World War II it was basically gone and the Baroness Van Hardenbroek van Ammerstol began work to recreate the breed. She hunted down dogs that looked similar to the breed she remembered, and these became the foundation for the modern Kooikerhondje.

A typical Kooiker face
Whether new or old, these small dogs have been used as duck decoys. Supposedly, their plumed tails act as a lure to draw the ducks into nets, where they are then trapped. The method is actually rather complicated, and required the use of special traps that needed a lot of upkeep. Since the tail is given an important status, emphasis is placed on its plumed appearance. The breed has also been used to hunt pest species outside of duck season.

These dogs are rather small, measuring fifteen to sixteen inches tall. Their feathered coat is reminiscent of certain spaniels. The breed only comes in one color variation: red piebald with black hairs on the ears. The preferred facial markings are also clearly defined: a white stripe down the face with prominent red on the cheeks.

Though once a prominent working breed, the Kooiker is now primarily a companion.

Sources are the American Kennel Club, Fédération Cynologique Internationale, and Kooikerhondje Club of the USA. Images are from Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons licenses: one, two.

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