The Wetterhoun also known as the Frisian Water Dog, is a medium-sized breed that was used for hunting waterfowl and small mammals in the Fryslan province of Netherland. Characterized by a grim expression, low set hanging ears, smooth, thick coat and a short tail curled over its back, these dogs are noted for their strong guarding skills.
|Other names||Otterhoun, Dutch Spaniel|
|Coat||Thick and color all over its body excepting its head, leg, and ears which has a smooth coat|
|Color||Black and white; black; liver and white; liver; roan|
|Group||Sporting dogs, Gundogs|
|Lifespan/ Life Expectancy||12-13 years|
|Litter size||4-6 puppies|
|Behavioral Characteristics||Good guarding abilities; reserved; intelligent; watchful; stubborn|
|Good with children||Yes|
|Shedding (Does it shed)||Moderate|
|Competitive Registration Qualification/Information||UKC, FCI|
The ancient version of the Wetterhoun developed 400 years back in the Friesland region, a province of the Netherlands. It has been speculated that these dogs have their lineage linked to the gypsy dogs, Frisian farm dogs, and even the Old Water dog that is presently extinct.
Being excellent hunting dogs because of their water-resistant coat and large prey drive, they were mainly used for the hunting of otters as their increasing population had posed a threat to the fishing industry. When the numbers of the otters were finally controlled, these dogs were used for bringing down bigger and ferocious animals like the fitch (polecat). These versatile dogs were even put to use for retrieving the waterfowl and also served as excellent watchdogs, protecting the farmer’s property.
Their number diminished drastically after the Second World War, though with efforts and initiatives taken by dog fanciers, their numbers are gradually being revived. The FCI and UKC recognize it under the water and gundog category respectively. Besides its international recognition, the Wetterhoun also attains recognition by several small registries, as well as hunting dogs, being showcased as rare breeds for all those who wish to take an unusual pet home.
Because of their hunting and guarding instincts, they may be strong-willed and independent but never disobedient and stubborn. In fact, they are known to have a great deal of perseverance and are quite intent on completing a task assigned to them. They also display a reserved attitude on encountering a stranger but are never aggressive and would change their demeanor towards the unknown person if they see their owner behaving in a friendly manner with him.
These great guard dogs are loyal and devoted to their family, going to any extent to safeguard their kith and kin from any danger.
They are territorial and may only get along well with other dogs if they are brought up with them since their puppy days. However, the Wetterhoun is not suitable for homes having felines as these dogs are great cat chasers.
They are friendly towards children, emerging as their perfect playmate, provided the latter behave well with them.
The Wetterhoun does better in homes with a big space where they can move around freely rather than a small apartment.
These dogs have a will of their unknown, thus needing to be trained since the time you bring the puppies home. Since they are sensitive, they would not do well with harsh and forceful training but requires a firm master who would tactfully handle them, incorporating positive reinforcement techniques.
Socialization: Socializing these dogs would be a real challenge, and you should begin doing so since its puppy days. Acquaint them with a lot of people, so that it gradually begins to realize whom to be reserved with and whom to display a friendly attitude. You can organize dog parties at home and ask your friends to bring over their pets too, however, supervise while your Wetterhoun is interacting with other canines to prevent any unpleasant occurrences.
Obedience: Train it to follow commands like “stop”, “come”, “go”, so that they listen to you and refrain from doing anything undesirable.
Leash training: Since it has a chasing instinct, you need to leash train your pet at the earliest. Get him acquainted with the leash first and allow him to wear it, initially for a few seconds, and increase the time gradually. The moment it wears the leash, reward it with its favorite treat. Once he gets used to the leash and collar, take it out, though keep the walks short at the beginning. If you sense its urge to jump at something it spots, say “stop” or make the cue sound that your puppy understands. Once it obeys you, shower him with treats and praises.
Give your Wetterhoun a balanced diet, comprising of high-quality dog food as well as homemade food that is rich in proteins, vitamins, and fibers.