Het Nederlandse Kooikerhondje

Nederlandse Kooikerhondje are an old Dutch Breed pictured in many of the old Dutch Masters paintings.

In paintings from the 17th century, Dutch Masters such as Jan Steen, often painted spaniel like dogs who resemble our current Kooikerhondje. 

It is no compliment when you are told you live in the House van Jan Steen! Why is that? Jan Steen painted chaotic and messy households, and more often than not there was a spaniel-like dog in the painting. 

Dogs resembling the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje continued to be painted by the Dutch Masters from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

Jan Steen Schilderij
Prinses Beatrix - Willem Van Oranje

Princess Beatrix visits the new statue of William of Orange with Pompey looking up at him.

How the little Dutch Dog saved Prince William of Orange 

A little history on one of the many interesting things the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is thought to have done is saving a Dutch prince's life.

 

William I, Prince of Orange (also known as William the Silent) was a Dutch leader at the beginning of the famous Eighty Year War where the Dutch fought for independence from Spain. In 1572, one night the Prince was asleep in his tent near Hermigny, France during the Siege of Mons. His dog Pompey was at his side. When assassins attempted to sneak up to the Prince's tent, Pompey barked, scratched and finally jumped on his master's head to warn him of the intruders. The Prince managed to escape death that night.

 

Unfortunately in 1584 he was not that lucky. While walking down the stairs of his home in Delft, Gérard Balthasar (who regarded the Prince as a traitor to the Catholic religion) shot and killed him. It is said Pompey grieved for his master and died three days later. The tomb of William the Silent with his beloved dog Pompey at the foot of his bed was designed by a Dutch sculptor named Hendrick de Keyser in the early 1600s.

What was the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje breed used for?

The "Kooikerhondje" is a working dog in the Netherlands. It is a spaniel type of dog and also goes by the name of Kooiker, Kooiker Dog, Small Dutch Waterfowl Dog, and Dutch Decoy Dog. During the sixteenth century the Dutch had an ingenious way of hunting waterfowl. A trap called a "kooi" was built on ponds that are  frequented by waterfowl. The name "Kooikerhondje" was taken from the name of the trap. It also means “decoy dog” and “dog of the decoy boss”. The decoy boss is called a "Kooiker" and in Dutch a dog is "Hond" and a small dog is a "Hondje" (JE on end makes it small). Since most of the birds caught were ducks (eend) the traps were referred to as "Eendenkooi".

Upon the Kooi-Baas (the decoy boss)’s hand signals, the Kooikerhondje would start working by getting the birds' attention. "Kooikerhondjes" are very intelligent dogs. They used their well feathered white tails to entice and lure the ducks to follow. The dog would weave in and out of reed blinds and/or tall grasses and reeds and the curious ducks would follow them further and further into the trap. At the end of trap was a cage where the waterfowl would be caught and able to take to market. This is a very efficient method of duck hunting, one that can easily capture a whole flock of ducks at one time.

To be able to stimulate the interest of the ducks without barking or making a sound, the dog has to be cunning and self confident. This is a daunting task as the ducks are being lured and not chased by the "Kooikerhondje". This is the reason why the dog is most valued by the people of The Netherlands. Outside the duck hunting season "Kooikerhondjes" have proven their worth by helping their masters keep farms free of vermin. To be able to hunt rats, weasels and other small animals that destroy crops and properties, a dog has to be agile, relentless and have the perseverance to finish the task at hand. The "Kooikerhondjes" have all these admirable qualities.