An indigenous Dutch dog, the Kooikerhondje has long worked as an able assistant to duck hunters. A glamorous dog depicted in old paintings, it is now popular as a companion.

The Kooikerhondje was named for a Dutch duck hunting technique that has been practiced for several centuries. In this method, the Kooikerhondje's job was to go to the canal where wild ducks were resting and to chase them into a net at the edge of the canal. This method is no longer in use except for scientific research.


The Dutch Spaniel originates from a very ancient type of spaniel that was used before the invention of guns. The dogs used to attract fowl and water birds by jumping and playing around. This made the game curious and venture close enough for the hunters to throw their nets over them.

Some historians have mentioned the Kooiker as possibly playing a part in the development of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Emigrating Dutch weavers are said to have brought them to North America. Certainly, the way in which both breeds perform and work to this day are very similar.

The Kooiker was almost extinct by the end of World War II but through a lot of hard work it was re-established and recognized in 1971. It is still rare and seldom seen outside the Netherlands where it is mainly kept as a companion dog.


Resembling a small-size setter and spaniel, the Kooikerhondje has a small head, a lean muzzle, and drop ears set high and forward. A slightly wavy long coat covers the whole body, and the tail is well feathered.

The height at its withers is about 13-16 inches/ 35-40 cm. Its body should be slightly rectangular and its head quite broad in the skull, the same length as the muzzle. The ears should be small and fairly high set. The coat should be soft and silky, lying flat on the body and with longer hair on the ears, neck, back of the legs and its profusely coated tail. Its color is usually white with patches of bright red. The sides of the head and ears should always be red and it is very typical that fringes on the ears have black hair tips.


This cheerful, intelligent, delicate, and gentle dog is obedient and loyal, and loves to work for and to be with its master.

The Dutch consider the Kooikerhondje an ideal family companion – loyal and affectionate with those he knows but somewhat suspicious of strangers. He is described as being neither aggressive nor antisocial; he is calm indoors but has boundless energy outdoors. His delight in life is to hunt all day and sleep with the family at night. He is a trustworthy companion for children young and old. He will alert his owner to visitors but does not bark a lot.


It is important to satisfy the physical needs of the Kooikerhondje because if he does not get enough physical exercise and mental stimulation, he can become bored.


The Kooikerhondje must be trained with positive methods and rewarded for appropriate behaviors. Sensitive and responsive, when his energy is channeled into something he enjoys, he learns quickly and delights in the shared activity.


The Kooikerhondje's coat is waterproof and easily repels dirt and grime. Weekly brushings are all he needs to keep his coat in shape.


Breed health concerns may include cataracts; epilepsy; hereditary necrotizing myelopathy; patellar luxation; and von Willebrand disease. Average life span is 12 to 14 years.

Puppies and Training

The three to six puppies born in each litter are easily whelped, strong, and easy to raise.

Gallery of Kooikerhondje