Kooikerhondjes have very unique coats that take up to 2 years to fully mature. The one distinguishing feature of the breed is the long black tips on its ears. The length and amount of these “earrings” are determined by genetics. Years ago, when the breed was being developed, dogs with a lot of black fur were introduced into the lines in order to develop the earrings. As a result of these breedings, some black and white and tricolored Kooikerhondjes have been born. These variations, while beautiful, do not meet the standard and cannot compete in conformation. Kooikerhondjes normally have some black hairs on their body when they born. These hairs fall out in the first shedding (3-4 months). If a puppy doesn’t have any black hairs when he’s born, he will not develop earrings. It is normal and acceptable in the adult Kooikerhondje for the tail to have a small ring of black fur between orange and white. Color restrictions in the breed standard make breeding Kooikerhondjes difficult.
Disqualifications: Tricolored (black/white/orange), black and white only, missing white blaze on head, white in the ear(s), black body hair, fully orange-colored tail (missing the white tip).
Between the ages of 4 and 6 months, baby teeth begin to fall out and are replaced with adult teeth. You will be able to recognize bite problems in your puppy by the age of 7-8 months when all the adult teeth are in. Scissor and pincer bites are standard for the breed. Your dog should be finished growing and its basic structure will be complete by the time the dog reaches one year old. Any developmental problems will be visible by now. The breed standard is very specific about the structure of the Kooikerhondje. When selecting a puppy, it is a good idea to examine the parents and compare them to the standard. Most breeders also show their dogs in conformation shows. It is helpful to know how well the parents measure up in front of an experienced eye. The Dutch Kennel Club has established specific breeding guidelines. An overview has been included in the Breeding section of this document. The following information speaks generally about the Kooikerhondje’s reproductive development. Females usually come into their first heat (estrum) between the ages 6 and 12 months, but can be as late as 18 months. Male dogs are sexually capable by 9 months. If you are not planning to breed your dog, the responsible thing is to have your dog neutered or spayed. The male’s sexual prime is between the age of 2 and 4 years, when his sperm count is the highest. After the age of 7 years, it is a good idea to have the dog’s reproductive ability tested by a vet. The female’s sexual prime is between the ages of 2 and 9 years. Her estrum cycle lasts about 21 days and she is generally introduced to the male around the 8th. It may be difficult to determine the exact day the female came into heat so the pair should be kept together until the female accepts the male for the first time. The female will indicate her willingness to mate by flagging her tail (holding if off to the side). Once the female accepts the male, the pair should be reintroduced every other day until the female no longer accepts the male (around day 14-17). The male should be allowed to breed the female at least three times during this period. Litter sizes can vary depending on how “well” the dogs were mated and the average size litter of the female’s mother. First litters are sometimes smaller than future litters. The normal litter size is 5 to 7 puppies. The average gestation is 59-64 days, with a normal delivery date either on the 62nd or 63rd day.
The Kooikerhondje’s affectionate and sturdy nature makes it a delightful family dog. Pictures painted by the Dutch artist Jan Steen depict the Kooikerhondje’s past role an integral part of family life. This breed is happy and self-assured, yet cautious with strangers and other dogs. Its temperament should be neither aggressive nor anti-social. While it may take a little time, the Kooikerhondje, once accustomed to somebody, will always be a good and loyal friend. Socialization is the key to overcoming to the breed’s cautiousness and to preventing potential behavioral problems, so start early. Kooikerhondjes make good watchdogs (but they are not noisy) and they make first-rate companions because they like to be among people. The little Kooikerhondje won the hearts of the Dutch people when Prince William II of Orange was saved by his faithful Kooikerhondje “Kuntze,” who awakened the prince in the night during an assassination attempt. Generally speaking, due to the sensitive nature of the breed and the fact that the breed as a rule doesn’t like unnecessary handling, Kooikerhondjes are not recommended as playmates for small or unruly children. They do like children however, and like most dogs, if they are raised with children and both child and dog have been taught to respect each other, there is no reason to pass over the Kooikerhondje as a family pet. Children need to be taught how to be pack leaders.
Kooikerhondjes are sensitive and intelligent and have a strong character. For that reason, they need consistent, firm trainingwith a stern but calm voice. Yelling at a Kooikerhondje accomplishes little and can do more harm than good. Clicker training comes highly recommended. This breed responds well to positive reinforcement and food. Start training as soon as possible and make it fun. Use the moments that the dog does something you want him to do on his own (like lying down) and praise him while giving the command. Soon your dog will learn to associate the behavior with the command. Generally, you can start housetraining between 5 to 8 weeks of age. Your puppy won’t be fully reliable until sometime after 6 months of age. The sooner you start, the sooner it will understand and the fewer accidents it will have. Most Kooikerhondjes love to be active and use their minds. Here is a list of activities that Kooikerhondjes are well suited to: Flushing Birds (primarily for fun), Retrieving (if they are taught well), Tracking, Agility, Obedience, Conformation, Dance (obedience and maneuvers set to music), Swimming and playing in Water. Activities that require a lot of physical exertion should be properly managed in order to prevent injury to the dog. Puppies can start agility training around 6-8 months of age provided that jumping is not part of the training. During the first year, your puppy is still growing and the bones and joints are not fully formed. Any activity that puts a strain on the legs, spine and joints should be avoided until after the dog has reached one year of age so as to avoid risking serious and permanent injury to your dog. Teaching your dog for conformation dog shows can start as soon as you get your puppy: It begins with socialization, as your puppy will need to get used to be handled by strangers in a fairly intrusive way. Unlike normal people, judges are going to look into the dog’s mouth and run their hands all over the dog. The dog must learn to allow this and not wiggle out of the judge’s grasp. Lots of kind handling and praise from both the owner and strangers will accustom your dog to being examined. Consider seriously finding a good, local trainer to train both you and your dog in any activity you decide to participate in. Remember the Kooikerhondje is a sensitive breed, so select your trainer carefully to ensure the trainer’s style is suited to your dog.