Breed Type: Gun Dog
Country of Origin: Netherlands
Also known as: Frisian Water Dog, Otterhoun, Dutch Spaniel
Males: Height: 53-58cm Weight: 15-20 kg
Females: Height: 50-55cm Weight: 12-18 kg
Exercise Requirements: High
Care Requirements: Low
Lifespan: 12-13 Years
Best Suited as: Hunting Dogs, Family Pets
Wetterhoun, which means “water dog” in Dutch, and is pronounced Vetterhoun, is an excellent swimmer and was first developed, over 400 years ago to hunt waterfowl and other small animals such as otters. Today this breed is rare, but they make excellent hunters and can be loving pets for experienced dog owners. This dog is ideally adopted by someone in a rural environment who can provide the large amount of exercise needed to keep this breed healthy and happy.
The Wetterhoun is a medium sized dog with a thick, curly coat ideal for hunting on many different terrains and in all kinds of weather. His coat is surprisingly oily and feels greasy to the touch. His head does not have the prominent curls that are seen over the rest of his body, but is smooth and short. The most common coat colors are solid liver, solid black, black and white, or liver and white. Some coats have ticking or roan markings.
The overall appearance of the Wetterhoun is square with a large, yet narrow head and proportionately large feet. They have wide chests and thin, but sturdy legs. Their medium sized eyes are usually brown and although they exhibit an intelligent expression, they also make this dog appear stoic. Dogs with black coats have black noses and those with brown coats have brown noses. The Wetterhoun has round ears that are low set and a distinct curly tail that curls over their back into a “puff ball”.
The Wetterhoun is a strong hunter with an independent spirit and excellent retrieving skills. They can best be described as reserved, sensitive, intelligent, independent and brave. Although they learn quickly, they can be stubborn when it comes to learning and should be trained by someone who has prior experience training dogs. Consistent and firm (yet not overly firm) methods should be used with this dominant dog. If your Wetterhoun perceives you to be weak, he will try to rule the roost.
Because they are reserved with strangers, and are vigilant watchdogs, the Wetterhoun makes a perfect guard dog. Once the Wetterhoun has accepted you into his family, she can make a friendly and loving pet and will always welcome you with excitement.
When the otter population became a major problem to fishermen in the Dutch province of Friesland over 400 years ago, breeders there worked to develop a dog breed that would excel at controlling the otter population. The Wetterhoun was developed from the now extinct water dog and not only was successful at catching otter but also excelled at catching other small animals as well that farmers did not want around. Their temperament and weather resistant coat was no match for their prey.
Like most dogs, the Wetterhoun did not fare well in the second world war. Some dedicated breeders helped to restore the breed but the popularity of these dogs never increased greatly. The dog was recognized by the Federation Cynologique Internationale and the United Kennel Club. The dog is considered rare today.
Care and Grooming
The Wetterhoun is a low maintenance dog in the grooming department. Their coat needs to be brushed occasionally and their ears need to be checked often. Their nails need to be trimmed when needed. Do not bathe your Wetterhoun too frequently because it will strip the natural oils that are necessary to keep this dog moisturized and healthy. Do not overfeed this guy, they are prone to weight gain, particularly if they are not sufficiently exercised.
The Wetterhoun needs plenty of exercise and should be taken on at least one long walk or jog a day. They also enjoy playing in the yard and swimming. Make sure you bring plenty of water for your Wetterhoun, though as they do not do well in humid or hot weather.
Because of the rarity of this breed, little is known of genetic or common health conditions. Some owners have reported problems with hip dysplasia and epilepsy. In recent years, due to a small stock of dogs, inbreeding has caused issues and many young puppies have died of an immunodeficiency.
Suitability as a Pet
The Wetterhoun loves being outside and does not do well when forced to live in small spaces. Therefore, the Wetterhoun is ideally adopted by someone with a large yard or who lives in the countryside. Because of their weather resistant coat, the Wetterhoun can spend long periods outside as long as it is not in hot weather. If you really want to make your dog happy, make sure you let them play in water often. They are not ideal for apartment life and may become destructive and anxious there.
The Wetterhoun makes a good pet for an active family with or without children. They make great watchdogs and are happy to protect their families. They are not overly tolerant of teasing and young children should always be supervised when they are around. While they do fairly well with other nonaggressive dogs, their high prey drive makes them an undesirable pet for those families that have cats or other small furry creatures. They can also be territorial, not wanting to share their people or things with other animals. They are quick to take off after other animals, and therefore should be kept on a tight leash in areas where they might be run over. Because of their determined, independent spirit, this breed is not ideal for an inexperienced dog owner. They need early training and socialization to be good pets.