Life span

15 Years


11 Kg

Breed Group

Utility Dogs

Thinking of buying or adopting a Kooikerhondje?


The Kooikerhondje is a small to medium-sized spaniel-type breed that originated in Holland and was primarily used as a working dog to lure ducks in duck cages. Kooikerhondje literally means “little caging dog” in the English language. This small, ostentatious orange/white dog used to work with hunters as a decoy to lure ducks into duck cages by waving its white heavily plumed tail. The Kennel Club of UK originally classified the Kooikerhondje under the Gundog group but since the breed does not work alongside hunters with guns, it was reclassified to the Utility Group. The colour of the Kooikerhondje is predominantly orange-red particoloured and has a nearly square body being just slightly longer than tall. The coat is left untrimmed and has a characteristic plumed tail. The Kooikerhondje has deep brown, almond-shaped eyes surrounded by orange-red hair, medium-sized pendant ears that fall close to the cheeks, strong and well-muscled legs, and a flowing and springy gait. The ideal size is 37-42cm from withers for males and 35-40cm for females.

History & Origin

The exact origin of the Kooikerhondje is relatively unknown but the breed has been depicted in paintings as early as the 1650s. It was believed that the breed developed around the early 16th century in the Netherlands as a tolling dog where it was used to lure ducks into “kooien” or cages where the hunter could easily catch the bird. Like many other breeds, the Kooikerhondje population suffered a setback during the Second World War, but thanks to the effort of Baroness Van Hardenbroek van Ammerstol, the breed was rescued from complete extinction. It was recognised as a distinct breed by the Dutch Kennel Club in 1971. The first stock was imported to the UK by Mollie and Bill Yates in 1980 who owned the Valleyrise kennel. However, the breed suffered another setback when husband and wife died and the breed population has to be re-established once more. In recent years, the number of Kooikerhondje continue to rise, although it is still relatively unknown in many parts of UK and Europe.


The Kooikerhondje is often described as cheerful, alert, energetic, intelligent, friendly, and well-behaved. It is an intelligent breed that loves to please its owner and can be trained easily. It is a highly adaptable breed and can quickly familiarize itself to different situations very quickly. In many cases, owners attest that their Kooikerhondje can quickly jump from being quiet to lively whenever the situation ask for it. This breed is a territorial dog and may not always immediately be friends with strangers, instead, will choose to be aloof, but once he gets accustomed to the presence of the stranger, the trust will remain for a long time.


This is an intelligent breed which can be trained easily, especially if rewards-based training is used. The Kooikerhondje needs a firm, committed and gentle hand to become an outstanding companion. Because the dog was originally used as a duck decoy, this breed can excel in lure coursing, obedience, and agility trials.


The Kooikerhondje has a medium long, slightly waved or straight coat with a well-developed undercoat. It has short hairs on the head, front part of the legs and feet but has a well-feathered tail, moderate featherings on the back of legs and underbelly. Grooming involves normal regular brushing/combing to keep the coat shiny and healthy. Shedding usually starts between 3 to 4 months old and can be controlled by regular brushing.


The Kooikerhondje has a tendency to become obese, especially if it does not get proper exercise. It is a generally healthy breed with an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years. The Kooikerhondje has a few genetic medical issues but this does not necessarily mean that all dogs are affected. These are:

  • Von Willebrand’s disease – a hereditary blood-clotting disorder in dogs;
  • Cataracts – the clouding of the lens in the eye that leads to decrease in vision;
  • Patellar luxation – also known as trick knee, is a condition where the patella or kneecap dislocates or moves out of its normal location;
  • Hereditary Necrotising Myelopathy (ENM) – also known as leukodystophy or Kooiker paralysis, it affects the dog’s spinal cord leading to ultimate paralysis;
  • Polymyositis (PM) – a type of hereditary disease involving the chronic inflammation of the muscles;
  • Kidney disorders.


The Kooikerhondje makes a good apartment or condominium companion if exercised sufficiently and properly, although a house with a medium-sized yard is ideal for this breed. This dog has a moderate amount of energy but is usually quiet when inside the home. An hour of daily short walks is an ideal exercise routine for this breed as well as an hour of free running inside a well-fenced yard.

Children and other pets

The Kooikerhondje is a territorial dog and can become aggressive when strange dogs trespass on his territory but is typically friendly with other household pets including cats especially if it is socialised at an early age, although its high prey drive can sometimes get him into trouble especially against feathered pets. It does not tolerate rowdy children but is a great playmate to older kids who knows how to treat a dog properly.

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