Thursday, 14 May 2009
I was in Holland yesterday and came across a dogbreed I did not know. I asked the dog's owner what breed it was and she told me it was a typical Dutch farmdog, a Kooikerhondje or Kooiker Hound. It is a small spaniel-type breed of dog of Dutch ancestry that was originally used as a working dog, particularly in duck hunting. Kooikers were popular in the 17th and 18th century and appeared in paintings by Rembrandt and Jan Steen. Kooikers were bred as duck decoys, used for trapping live waterfowl by attracting them with their bushy tails, leading them along the banks of a canal, and finally drawing them into a catching pen. Unfortunately, the Kooiker became much less useful as duck decoys and became unpopular and by the end of WW II the breed became nearly extinct with only about twenty-five Kooikers left. Due to the efforts of eccentric dog breeder Baroness van Hardenbroek van Ammerstol, the Kooiker made a spectacular reappearance. It received its final recognition from the Dutch Kennel Club in 1971, when it was decided a sufficient gene pool had been established. They are also useful farmdogs, destroying rats and feasels and other vermin which destroy crops and property. A Kooikerhondje was Prince William of Orange's dog and faithful companion who saved him from an assassination attempt whilst he was asleep by barking furiously.