Information about the Wetterhoun

The Wetterhoun (FCI No.221, translated into English as the Frisian Water Dog) is a breed of dog traditionally used as a hunting dog for hunting small mammals and waterfowl in the province of Friesland in the Netherlands. The name of the dog comes from the West Frisian Wetterhûn meaning “water dog.” Plural of Wetterhoun is Wetterhounen in Dutch. The breed may also be called the Otterhoun (not to be confused with the Otterhound) or Dutch Spaniel, although it is not a Spaniel-type dog.

The Wetterhoun is a medium sized dog between 55 and 59 centimeters (21.6-23 inches) at the withers. They weigh between 25 and 35 kilo, 55 and 77 pounds]). Their coat is thick and curly except for the head, ears and legs, where the coat is smoother; the water repellant coat is described as having a greasy feel. Coat colour may be solid black or brown, or black with white, or brown with white, with or without white ticking or roan marks. The texture of the coat should not be woolly, as such fur will not resist water. The ears are low set and hang flat to the head, and the tail curls tightly over the back. The breed has an unusual, somewhat grim expression due to the shape of the eyes, which marks it as different from other dog breeds.

The ancestral type of the Wetterhoun was developed at least 400 years ago in the Dutch province of Friesland. The origins of the Wetterhoun are conjectured to be from Gypsy dogs, crossed with an indigenous Frisian dog, perhaps the Old Water Dog, a type which is now extinct. Dogs of this type were kept for the difficult and dangerous hunting of fitch (Mustela putorius) and otter (Lutra lutra) in the water. The dogs were also used for retrieving waterfowl and as watch dogs. Although the dogs almost disappeared during World War II, fanciers were able to bring the breed back through careful breeding, and it is gaining in popularity.

A database is maintained by the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Stabij- en Wetterhounen (Club for the Stabij and Wetterhoun) for understanding pedigrees and computing inbreeding coefficients. Internationally the breed is recognised by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale in the Water Dogs section of Group 8. The United Kennel Club recognises the breed in its Gundog Group. The breed is also recognized by a number of minor registries, hunting clubs, and internet-based dog registry businesses and promoted as a rare breed for those seeking an unusual pet.

This breed is an excellent gun dog, effective as both a land and water retriever, however its strong will and natural guarding abilities make early training a requirement. The breed standard describes the breed’s temperament as reserved and “an ideal guard-dog”. though never aggressive.