This January, the AKC recognized one country's (the Netherlands) favorite little dog: the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje. The name, pronounced "Netherlands-e Coy-ker-hond-tsje" translates roughly to "decoy dog." What does that mean? We’re about to tell you.
1. "Decoy dog" refers to the specific job the Kooikerhondje was bred for. Working from enclosures called "eendenkoois" that were built along wetlands and canals, the dog lured ducks into a cage (kooi) for the hunter. The dog would weave in and out of the enclosures, which caught the attention of the ducks.
2. The breed’s feathered tail, with its white plume, is quite distinctive, as the dog wags it back and forth. The wagging tail, along with the dog’s quick and playful movement, are what attract the ducks.
3. If any of this sounds familiar, perhaps it’s because you know a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. The Kooikerhondje is believed to be an ancestor of that North American breed.
4. The Kooikerhondje has distinctive ears, with many dogs having black tips on the ears, called earrings.
5. Kooikerhondjes date back at least as far as the 16th century. Anecdotal information says that a Kooikerhondje saved the life of William of Orange by alerting him to an attack by the Spanish. The breed also shows up in paintings by Dutch masters, such as Steen, Rembrandt, and Vermeer.
6. This lovely little spaniel almost became extinct in the 1940s. The breed was preserved and made its comeback through the efforts of a dedicated patron of the breed, Baroness Van Hardenbroek van Ammerstol.
7. Not a duck hunter? The Kooikerhondje may still be for you. He is spirited, easily trained, and loves doing things with his people. He makes an affectionate companion, as long as he gets the physical and mental exercise the breed thrives on.
8. The Kooikerhondje will soon have a wider audience. His very first official "Meet the Breed" appearance will be in February 2018 at the AKC Meet & Compete event on Saturday, Feb. 10.
9. This star athlete will compete at the "Kooiker Coming Out Party” in Louisville, Ky., March 15-18. He’s sure to excel at pretty much everything, including rally, agility, dock diving, and conformation.