Nederlandse Kooikerhondje

Table of Contents

kooikerhondje portrait
Discover the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje, the enchanting Dutch charmer that will steal your heart with its vibrant personality and striking good looks. With their captivating orange-red coat and intelligent nature, these pint-sized dynamos are not only stunning to behold but also make for delightful companions in every adventure life brings their way.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is perfect for those who crave a loyal, intelligent companion with a zest for life! These versatile pups thrive in active households and love joining in on family adventures.


OFFICIAL NAMENederlandse Kooikerhondje
OTHER NAMESKooiker, Kooikerhondje, Dutch Spaniel, Dutch Decoy Spaniel
ORIGINThe Netherlands
BREED GROUPSporting Group
HEIGHT14-16 inches
WEIGHT20-30 lbs
LIFESPAN12-15 years
kooikerhondje in a park
Photo: Bigandt_Photography/Getty Images


The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is a medium-sized breed with a striking appearance that’s sure to turn heads! These charming dogs typically stand between 14 to 16 inches tall and weigh around 20 to 30 pounds. Their well-proportioned bodies are sturdy, yet elegant, making them both agile and graceful.

Now, let’s talk about those adorable faces! Kooikers have wedge-shaped heads with a gentle, yet alert expression. Their dark, almond-shaped eyes twinkle with curiosity and intelligence, while their large, pendant ears give them an endearing, attentive look. As a signature feature, the ears are adorned with long, silky hair—known as ear furnishings—that flutter gracefully whenever they’re on the move.

Speaking of movement, these dogs have a smooth, effortless gait that showcases their athleticism. Their tails, carried in a slight curve, add a lively touch to their overall appearance. While the tail is sometimes naturally bobbed, most Kooikers have a full-length tail with a distinctive white plume at the tip, affectionately called the “flag.”

But perhaps the most eye-catching aspect of the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is its stunning coat. The breed sports a medium-length, waterproof coat that’s predominantly white with vibrant patches of orange-red.

This combination creates a striking contrast that gives them a truly unique look. The coat itself is somewhat wavy, adding to the breed’s charm, and requires regular grooming to keep it looking its best.

When it comes to their physique, Kooikers have a well-developed chest, strong back, and muscular thighs, which contribute to their impressive athleticism. They’re built for endurance and agility, making them excellent companions for those who enjoy outdoor activities.

Overall, the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is a picture-perfect blend of beauty, grace, and athleticism. With their distinctive coat, expressive faces, and elegant movement, these dogs are sure to stand out in any crowd.

kooikerhondje walking on grass
Photo: mb-fotos/Getty Images


The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje boasts a delightful mix of personality traits, making them a joy to have around. These dogs are known for their friendly and affectionate nature, which often earns them the title of “gentle charmers.” They truly love being in the company of their families and are always eager to please.

One of the standout features of the Kooiker’s temperament is their intelligence. These clever canines are quick learners and enjoy engaging their minds in various activities.

They have a natural curiosity that drives them to explore the world around them, and they’re always eager to take on new challenges. This innate intelligence also makes them highly adaptable, allowing them to adjust well to different situations and environments.

Despite their friendly disposition, Kooikers can be somewhat reserved when it comes to strangers. They may take a little time to warm up to new people, but once they do, they’re likely to form strong bonds. This cautious nature also means they make excellent watchdogs, as they’ll be sure to alert you if anything seems amiss.

Kooikers are sensitive souls that thrive on positive reinforcement and gentle guidance. They respond best to a kind, patient approach when it comes to training and socialization. Harsh methods or raised voices can cause these dogs to become anxious or withdrawn, so it’s essential to treat them with care and understanding.

When it comes to playtime, the Kooikerhondje’s lively and playful demeanor shines through. They adore engaging in interactive games like fetch or hide-and-seek and will happily entertain themselves (and you!) for hours on end. Their spirited nature ensures there’s never a dull moment when you have a Kooikerhondje by your side.

Another charming aspect of the Kooiker’s personality is their affectionate side. These dogs are true cuddlebugs and will relish any opportunity to snuggle up with their favorite humans. They have a strong sense of loyalty and will often form deep bonds with their families, making them the ultimate four-legged friends.

Despite their many endearing qualities, it’s important to note that Kooikers can be prone to certain behavioral issues if not properly socialized or stimulated. Like many intelligent breeds, they can become bored or frustrated without sufficient mental engagement, which may lead to unwanted behaviors such as excessive barking or destructiveness.

two kooikerhondjes sitting side by side outdoor
Photo: elfmet / 500px/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is a versatile breed that can adapt well to various living situations, but there are certain environments and conditions where they’ll truly thrive. Let’s explore the ideal environment for these delightful dogs, from the perfect pet parents to their compatibility with other pets and climate considerations.

Ideal Owner

First and foremost, Kooikers are best suited to active pet parents who enjoy spending time outdoors and engaging in physical activities. These energetic pups love to be on the move and will be happiest with an owner who shares their zest for life. Whether it’s hiking, jogging, or playing fetch in the park, a Kooikerhondje will relish any opportunity to stretch their legs and bond with their favorite human.

Other Pets

When it comes to other pets, Kooikers generally get along well with fellow canines and can even coexist peacefully with cats if properly socialized from a young age. However, due to their hunting instincts, they may not be the best match for households with small animals like birds or rodents. Early socialization and training will be key to ensure harmony among all your furry family members.

Physical Environment

As for the physical environment, Kooikers can adapt to both urban and rural settings, provided they have access to a secure outdoor space where they can run and play. A fenced yard is ideal, but if that’s not possible, regular trips to the dog park or other safe off-leash areas will help keep them happy and healthy.

Climate Adaptability

In terms of climate, the Kooiker’s waterproof coat allows them to tolerate cold weather quite well. They can enjoy outdoor activities in winter, but it’s essential to keep an eye on them for signs of discomfort or frostbite during extreme temperatures.

On the flip side, they can also adapt to warmer climates, although precautions should be taken to prevent overheating. Provide plenty of shade and water during hot weather, and avoid exercising your Kooiker during the hottest parts of the day.

kooikerhondje's face up close
Photo: NoName_13/Getty Images


Caring for a Nederlandse Kooikerhondje goes beyond providing love, food, and exercise – it also involves meeting their grooming needs. Let’s dive into the world of Kooikerhondje grooming, exploring how often you should groom your furry friend, the tools you’ll need, and important aspects like dental care and nail maintenance.

Coat Care

The Kooiker has a beautiful, medium-length coat that is both waterproof and low-shedding. This makes their grooming needs relatively manageable compared to some high-maintenance breeds. However, it’s essential to establish a regular grooming routine to keep your pup looking and feeling their best.

Aim to brush your Kooiker’s coat at least once or twice a week. This helps remove loose hair, prevent matting, and distribute natural oils throughout their fur, keeping it healthy and shiny.

Use a slicker brush or a pin brush for this task. When you encounter tangles or mats, gently work them out with a comb or dematting tool, being careful not to hurt your dog’s skin.


Kooikers don’t require frequent baths – every 3 to 4 months should suffice, unless they get particularly dirty or smelly. Use a gentle, dog-friendly shampoo to avoid irritating their skin. After bathing, towel-dry your pup and use a hairdryer on the lowest heat setting to fully dry their coat, avoiding matting and skin issues.

Ear Care

Check your Kooiker’s ears weekly for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or an unpleasant odor. Clean the outer part of their ears with a cotton ball dampened with a dog-safe ear-cleaning solution. Avoid inserting anything into the ear canal, as this can cause injury.

Dental Care

Good oral hygiene is crucial for your Kooiker’s overall health. Brush their teeth at least two or three times a week using a soft-bristled toothbrush and dog-friendly toothpaste. Regular brushing helps prevent plaque buildup, gum disease, and bad breath. Additionally, you can offer dental chews or toys designed to promote oral health.

Nail Trimming

Trim your Kooiker’s nails every 3 to 4 weeks, or as needed. Long nails can cause discomfort and even affect your dog’s gait. Use a pair of dog nail clippers or a grinder, and be cautious not to cut the quick – the blood vessel inside the nail – as this can be painful and cause bleeding. If you’re unsure about trimming your dog’s nails yourself, consult a groomer or veterinarian for guidance.

Eye Care

Gently wipe the corners of your Kooiker’s eyes with a soft, damp cloth to remove any discharge or buildup. Be on the lookout for signs of eye irritation or infection, such as redness or excessive tearing.

kooikerhondje playing on the beach
Photo: Ivonne Wierink


The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is an energetic and agile breed that loves to stay active. Originally developed for hunting and retrieving, these dogs require daily exercise to maintain their physical health and mental well-being.

Regular physical activity also helps prevent boredom and the development of unwanted behaviors.

Exercise Amount & Types

Aim to provide your Kooiker with at least 60 minutes of exercise each day, which can be broken up into multiple sessions such as a morning walk and an evening playtime. Remember to adjust the exercise duration and intensity according to your dog’s age, fitness level, and individual needs.

Variety is essential when it comes to exercising your Kooiker. Mix up their exercise routine with different activities like daily walks, exploring new routes and environments to keep things interesting and mentally stimulating.

Play fetch with a ball, frisbee, or other toy to tap into their natural retrieving drive. If you have access to a secure, fenced area, allow your Kooikerhondje some off-leash playtime, giving them a chance to run, explore, and burn off excess energy.

The Kooiker’s agility and intelligence make them excellent candidates for agility training. Set up a backyard course or join a local agility club to challenge your dog’s physical and mental prowess. Many Kooikers also enjoy swimming, which provides a low-impact workout that’s easy on the joints. Visit a dog-friendly beach or pool to let your pup take a refreshing dip.

Dog Sports

Kooikers excel in various dog sports and competitions, such as obedience trials, flyball, dock diving, and scent work. Participating in these events not only keeps your dog physically active but also strengthens the bond between you and your furry friend.

kooikerhondje at an agility course
Photo: s5iztok/Getty Images


The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is a delightful and intelligent breed that’s known for its eagerness to learn and please its owner. Training a Kooiker can be an enjoyable experience for both the dog and the owner, given their high trainability and willingness to work.

First, start with early socialization. Expose your Kooiker puppy to various people, animals, and environments. This helps them develop into a well-rounded adult dog, comfortable in different situations.

Next, focus on basic obedience training. Teach commands such as “sit,” “stay,” “down,” and “come.” Kooikers respond well to positive reinforcement techniques, like treats and praise. Avoid harsh methods, as they can damage the bond between you and your dog.

Consistency is crucial when training your Kooiker. Stick to the same commands and expectations to avoid confusion. Also, keep training sessions short and fun to hold their attention and prevent boredom.

Due to their high intelligence, Kooikers enjoy learning new tricks and commands. Challenge their minds with advanced training or enroll them in dog sports like agility, flyball, or obedience competitions. These activities not only strengthen your bond but also provide mental stimulation for your clever pup.

Kooikers are natural retrievers, so teaching them to fetch can be both fun and practical. Start with a small object, like a toy or ball, and gradually work up to larger items if desired. Remember to reward them with praise and treats when they successfully retrieve the object.

One specific aspect of training Kooikers is addressing their potential for shyness. Some Kooikers may be reserved around strangers. Encourage positive interactions with new people by rewarding your dog with treats and praise during these encounters.

Lastly, it’s essential to establish yourself as the leader in your Kooiker’s eyes. Use confident body language and a firm, but gentle tone when giving commands. This helps your dog understand its place in the family hierarchy and ensures a harmonious relationship.

kooikerhondje playing with a stick in a dog playground
Photo: Jitka Cernohorska/Getty Images

Diet & Nutrition 

The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is an energetic and lively breed, which means they require a balanced diet to maintain their overall health and well-being. Paying attention to their nutritional needs will ensure that your furry friend remains happy and healthy throughout their lifetime.

What to Feed & How Much

When choosing food for your Kooiker, consider high-quality dry, wet, or raw options that follow the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) guidelines. These guidelines ensure that the food contains all the essential nutrients your dog needs for a balanced diet.

The amount of food you should feed your Kooiker depends on several factors such as their age, weight, activity level, and overall health. Generally, adult Kooikerhondjes require about 1 to 1.5 cups of high-quality dry food per day, divided into two meals. Puppies may need smaller, more frequent meals as they grow.

Make sure to adjust the portion sizes according to your dog’s individual needs. Active dogs may require more food, while less active or older dogs might need fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight. It’s essential to monitor your dog’s weight and body condition regularly and consult with your veterinarian if you have concerns or need guidance.

Lastly, it’s essential to keep a consistent feeding schedule for your Kooiker. This helps regulate their digestive system and prevents overeating. If you have any concerns about your dog’s diet or nutritional needs, always consult with a veterinarian for personalized advice.


Treats are an excellent way to reward your Kooiker during training sessions. However, treats should not exceed 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake, as overfeeding can lead to obesity and other health issues. Opt for healthy, low-calorie treats like fruits, vegetables, or specially formulated dog treats.


Water is a crucial component of your Kooiker’s diet. Provide fresh, clean water at all times, and change it regularly to encourage proper hydration. Keep in mind that your dog’s water intake may vary depending on factors like exercise, weather, and diet.

kooikerhondje looking up
Photo: Bigandt_Photography/Getty Images


The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is generally a healthy and robust breed with a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. However, like any other breed, they can be predisposed to specific health issues. By being aware of these concerns and taking preventive measures, you can help ensure a happy, healthy life for your Kooikerhondje.

Here are common health issues associated with the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje:

Hereditary Necrotizing Myelopathy (ENM): This is a severe neurological disorder that affects young Kooikerhondjes. Responsible breeding practices can minimize the risk of this genetic condition.

Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD): This is a blood clotting disorder that can lead to excessive bleeding in affected dogs. Regular screening and responsible breeding can help prevent this genetic issue.

Patellar Luxation: This condition occurs when the kneecap dislocates from its proper position. It can cause pain, limping, and arthritis if left untreated. Regular check-ups can help detect and manage this issue early on.

Cataracts: This eye condition causes cloudiness in the lens, leading to vision loss. Regular eye exams can help detect cataracts early, and treatment options are available to manage the condition.

Hip Dysplasia: This is a developmental disorder of the hip joint, which can cause pain, arthritis, and mobility issues. Responsible breeding, weight management, and regular veterinary check-ups can help reduce the risk of hip dysplasia.

To keep your Kooiker healthy, it’s crucial to provide them with a balanced and nutritious diet. High-quality food that meets the AAFCO guidelines will ensure that they receive all the essential nutrients they need.

Regular veterinary check-ups are vital to monitor your Kooiker’s overall health and detect any potential issues early on. During these visits, your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination and may recommend additional screenings based on your dog’s age and breed.

kooikerhondje standing on a rock
Photo: Jitka Cernohorska/Getty Images


The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje boasts a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the 16th century in the Netherlands.

This charming breed was initially developed as a working dog, specifically for the purpose of luring ducks into traps called “kooien” or “eendenkooi.” The Kooiker’s striking appearance and agile nature made them perfect for this task, earning them the nickname “Dutch Decoy Dog.”

The breed’s ancestors are believed to have been small Spaniels and other water dogs, brought to the Netherlands by the Spanish during the 1500s. Over time, they were selectively bred to develop the unique traits we associate with the Kooiker today. These dogs were highly valued by Dutch nobility, not only for their excellent working abilities but also for their friendly and loyal temperament.

Sadly, the Kooiker faced near extinction during World War II, as the turmoil of the war made it difficult for breeders to maintain their breeding programs. However, thanks to the efforts of Baroness van Hardenbroek van Ammerstol, the breed was revived in the 1940s and 1950s.

The Baroness searched tirelessly for surviving Kooikerhondjes and worked to reestablish the breed through careful breeding practices.

The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje was first registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in its Foundation Stock Service in 2004. This marked an important milestone for the breed, as it allowed Kooikers to participate in AKC events and helped to raise awareness about the breed in the United States.

The breed was officially recognized by the AKC in the Sporting Group in 2018, further solidifying their status as a distinct and cherished breed.

Today, the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje enjoys increasing popularity worldwide, thanks to their unique appearance, remarkable history, and engaging personality.

Parent Club

The parent club for the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje in the United States is called the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje Club of the USA (NKCUSA). It was founded in 1999 to promote and protect the breed within the country.

The club serves as a resource for Kooikerhondje enthusiasts, providing information on the breed’s history, health, and responsible breeding practices. Visit their webpage to learn more about the club.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed.

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check out the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC). 

kooikerhondje lying with her puppy at home
Photo: anikalauerphotos


Acquiring a Nederlandse Kooikerhondje can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Before bringing one home, prepare by researching the breed’s temperament, exercise needs, and grooming requirements. Ensure that you have ample time and space to accommodate your new furry friend.

If you decide to buy a Kooiker, always choose a reputable breeder who prioritizes health, temperament, and responsible breeding practices. Ask for health clearances and meet the puppy’s parents to get a sense of their disposition.

Alternatively, consider rescuing a Kooiker in need of a loving home. The American Kennel Club and the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje Club of the USA (NKCUSA), can help connect you with rescue organizations and available dogs. Adopting a rescue dog can be a fulfilling way to provide a second chance to a deserving Kooikerhondje.

Whichever route you choose, remember that patience, love, and commitment are essential for building a strong bond with your new Nederlandse Kooikerhondje companion.


How smart is the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje?

The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is an intelligent and trainable breed. They excel in various dog sports, such as agility, obedience, and flyball, which showcase their mental and physical capabilities.

What kind of dog is the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje?

The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is a small to medium-sized sporting dog, originally bred in the Netherlands for luring ducks into traps. They are known for their distinctive appearance, friendly temperament, and agile nature.

Can the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje be left alone?

While Kooikerhondjes can tolerate some alone time, they are a social breed that thrives on human companionship. Prolonged periods of isolation may lead to boredom and anxiety. Regular interaction, mental stimulation, and exercise are essential for their well-being.

Is the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje a good first dog?

Yes, the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje can be a suitable choice for first-time dog owners due to their friendly disposition, adaptability, and trainability. However, it’s essential to research and understand the breed’s specific needs and ensure you can meet them.

Are Nederlandse Kooikerhondjes good with children?

Kooikerhondjes generally get along well with children, especially when socialized early and raised together. Their friendly and playful nature makes them excellent family companions. However, always supervise interactions between dogs and young children to ensure safety and mutual respect.

How much exercise does a Nederlandse Kooikerhondje need?

The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is an energetic breed that requires at least 60 minutes of regular exercise to maintain their health and happiness. Daily walks, playtime, and participation in dog sports can help meet their physical and mental needs.

Do Nederlandse Kooikerhondjes have any specific grooming requirements?

Kooikerhondjes have a medium-length, waterproof coat that requires regular brushing to prevent tangles and matting. Occasional bathing, nail trimming, and ear cleaning are also necessary to maintain their overall health and hygiene.

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