A very attractive small/medium-sized dog, the Kooiker dog holds his head proudly and is slightly longer than he is tall, with adult dogs standing at 35-40cm and weighing 9-11kg. He has a medium-length coat that is straight or slightly wavy and is white with orange-red patches. The ears are tipped with black and have longer hair, known as 'earrings'.
The Kooikerhondje dog breed ('kooiker's dog', also known as a 'Kooiker' dog) has been a recognised breed in the Netherlands since the 17th century, thought to descend from spaniel-type dogs that arrived in the area from Spain in the 16th century. The breed's originally function was as a decoy dog – a job that some still perform to this day. The dog would attract the ducks' attention and lure them to the kooiker (the person in charge of the hunt) and his nets. The breed has changed little over the centuries, as shown in art from the Dutch masters.
A friendly, alert and good-natured dog with people, the Kooikerhondje can be aloof with those he doesn't know but is loving to his family. He can be problematic with other dogs, so early, thorough socialisation is especially important. The Kooiker loves training and being given new challenges.
As a result of careful breeding, most previously recognised inherited conditions in the breed (such as epilepsy and slipping kneecaps) are now rarely encountered.
The Kooiker dog needs at least an hour's daily exercise. Unsurprisingly, he loves the water and will often dive into any he finds on a walk. As well as the canine sports (agility etc.), some Kooikers still work as duck decoys – either for hunting or for the birds to be tagged.
Your dog's diet needs to have the right balance of all the main nutrient groups including a constant supply of fresh water. It's also important to conduct regular body condition scores to ensure you keep your dog in ideal shape and remember to feed him at least twice daily and in accordance with the feeding guidelines of his particular food.
The water-resistant coat also resists mud – once dry, it usually just brushes out. A groom through twice a week should suffice, but pay particular attention to the longer hair around the ears and to the tail and legs, as the feathering can tangle if neglected.