The Wetterhoun, also known as Frisian Water Dog, is a medium-sized gun dog that originated in the Netherlands, skilled in retrieving game birds both on land and in the water, and smaller game animals like otters and rabbits. Also called Dutch Spaniels, these breeds are intelligent and persistent, with an extremely high prey drive that tends to bond closely to their human families but can be wary of outsiders. While they have a rather severe expression and can be very stubborn when working, Wetterhouns also tend to be relatively comical and clumsy when playing at home.
Wetterhouns are recommended only for people who have previously owned dogs with training experience because of their high energy level and sensitivity. In addition, these breeds are very intense and like to be included in family activities. Hence, they are least well suited for people who often travel or work long hours, leaving their pets at home.
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A Wetterhoun’s temperament is similar to his looks: uncouth, full of devotion and tolerance, yet very persevering in what they see as their duties. They are gentle and affectionate, full of humor, and happy to obey, although not always when the owner sees fit. Wetterhouns are reserved towards strangers but friendly and reliable towards their people. They are very capable of entertaining themselves. A bird, a leaf, or anything small can keep their minds occupied for hours. They hardly run off, and training them to stay on the premises is easy.
Wetterhouns have innate guarding powers and are considered to be reserved. However, because of these traits, they are generally not considered aggressive hounds, making them a good choice for families and those with existing pets. Even though Wetterhouns were initially bred for hunting otters, today, they make ideal companions, water retrievers, and watchdogs, excelling in various sports due to their perseverance.
Wetterhoun Pros and Cons
|Affectionate, easy-going, and lovable||Difficult to housetrain|
|Energetic, active, and athletic||Can be stubborn and strong-will|
|Excellent watchdogs||Prone to separation anxiety|
Wetterhoun Basic Information
- Name: Wetterhoun
- Origin: Netherlands
- Group: Gundog
- Size: Medium
- Height: Male: 23 inches, Female: 21.5 inches
- Weight: 50 – 75 pounds
- Coat: Thick, coarse, curly
- Color: Black and white, liver and white, solid black, brown, brown & white, or solid liver
- Energy: High
- Activities: Walking, hiking, playing fetch, agility, companion dogs, conformity, obedience, herding, watchdogs, guard dogs
- Barking Level: Medium
- Shedding Level: Occasional
- Hypoallergenic: No
- Litter Size: 3-7 puppies
- Other Names: Frisian Water Dog, Dutch Spaniel, Otterhound, Friesischer Wasserhund, Friisinvesikoira
- Original Pastime: Flushing small birds
- Life Span: 12 – 14 years
History of Wetterhoun
The history of the Wetterhoun started over 400 years ago in the Netherlands. Their earliest ancestor was a breed called the Old Water Dog. From the latter, Dutch fanciers produced what then went on to become known as the Frisian Water Dog. It is believed that the Wetterhoun dog was born out of a mix of Old Water Dog and Frisian dog blood to produce the dog we see today.
- The United Kennel Club officially recognized Wetterhoun in 2006.
- Wetterhouns are yet to be officially recognized by the American Kennel Club. But they have been recognized under the title of Frisian Water Dog by the Federation Cynologique Internationale under the heading of retrievers and flushing water dogs since December 1959.
- Wetterhouns are happy, alert, and intelligent dogs. They are prone to destructive behavior like excessive barking and chewing if they are not active and bored.
- They love being around their families and suffer separation anxiety when left alone for a long time.
- Wetterhouns enjoy jogging, pulling, and hiking and require 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise.
- They prefer living indoors with their family, mainly in a home with access to a safely fenced backyard.
- Wetterhouns are quick learners.
Wetterhouns are known for the following personalities:
- Loyal and confident
- Affectionate and lively
- Smart and playful
- Friendly and outgoing
- Intelligent and people-pleasing
- Independent and charming
The Wetterhoun is a medium-sized, well-balanced dog recognized for their unique companionship and charming personality. Also, they make excellent family pets and are patient with kids and the elderly. Still, adult supervision is needed until they are appropriately trained. These breeds are not excessive barkers but will warn of the presence of strangers. Pet owners must be confident when dealing with them as these breeds dominate. Proper training and early socialization should begin to discourage chewing, house-soiling, and other destructive habits.
|Good for apartment living||Low|
|Good for new owners||Medium|
|Tolerates being alone||Low|
Wetterhoun Physical Features
- Powerful head and size in balance to the body.
- Slightly rounded skull.
- Well-developed nose.
- Oval, medium-sized eyes.
- Long, curled ears.
- Powerful muzzle tapering slightly to the nose.
- Tightly fitting, not overhanging lips.
- Powerful, scissor-bite teeth.
- Short, slightly arched neck without throatiness.
- Short and straight back.
- Strong loin
- Broad chest and sloping croup.
- Well-rounded and well-developed ribs.
Tail: Long and carried as ringtail over or alongside the croup
- Well-angulated and well-laid shoulder.
- Powerful and straight forearm.
- Straight pastern
- Round and well-developed toes with thick pads.
- Powerful and moderately angulated hindquarters.
- Short lower thigh
- Hock joints are placed low.
- Short rear pastern
- Round hind feet with well-developed pads.
Coat: Thick, coarse, and curly coat.
Color: Solid black or brown, black with white markings, or brown with white markings.
Disqualifications (FCI standards)
- Aggressive or overly shy dogs
- Physical or behavioral abnormalities
Wetterhouns are known for the following temperaments:
- Loving and loyal
- Active and sporting
- Energetic and smart
- Affectionate and intelligent
- Calm and eager to please
- Excitable and quick learner
- Caring and playful
- Confident and adaptable
Perfectly groomed, elegant, and athletic, Wetterhouns are winning hearts. They are watchful but thoughtful, not barking at everything that moves but maintaining fire until they witness something worth alerting their owner. As such, Wetterhouns make an exceptional guard dog, mainly because they are fully ready to sacrifice themselves to protect their beloved family. These breeds are never happier than when outside with their owners. They love to have their human companions constantly in sight, regularly checking to ensure they are still there. In addition, they can take on a task and stick with it until the job is done. However, this single-mindedness can come across as stubbornness in some events. For instance, if they pick up an intriguing scent and are determined to track it to the source, Wetterhouns become deaf to their owner’s commands. This characteristic requires an extraordinarily patient and skilled owner to devote time to obedience training.
Letting your Wetterhoun go off-leash is not a good idea. An unfamiliar smell might trigger their hunting and scenting instincts, causing them to run off and get hurt or lost. However, if you socialize them with other pets from an initial age, they will happily welcome outside or at the park throughout their lives. But, avoid being trained to chase them as these hounds have a high prey drive and will not quickly get along with smaller pets like gerbils and ferrets.
Although Wetterhouns can sometimes be stubborn and strong-willed, they are not a breed that tends to be purposely disobedient. Pet owners must start training them early because of their headstrong traits. These breeds are intelligent, watchful fast learners with an independent streak. Wetterhouns can be sensitive and respond much better to positive reinforcement. Due to their history as a gun dog, Wetterhoun thrives when given a job to perform.
Here are some of the training activities that you need to do with your Wetterhoun:
Here are a few dog interactive toys and products that you can use while training:
|Easy to train||Medium|
|Intelligence||Medium to High|
|Barking and Howling tendencies||Medium|
Wetterhoun Exercise Needs
Wetterhouns are working dogs with a working inheritance. Hence, they need to be active and need abundant exercise. Wetterhouns need around 30 – 60 minutes of daily exercise or interactive play sessions, depending on their age and energy levels. In addition, they love spending time in the water and appreciate the opportunity to swim. You can meet your Wetterhoun’s daily exercise essentials by:
- Teaching new tricks
- Playing with puzzle toys
- Agility Training
- Dog park
Here are a few puzzles and dog toys to keep your pet engaged:
Exercise Needs Overview
|Exercise needs||Medium to High|
Wetterhouns are a low-maintenance, non-hypoallergenic breed with a thick, curly waterproofed coat that sheds a moderate amount year-round. Wetterhoun’s grooming requirements are as follows:
- Brush their coat once or twice a week.
- Bathe them whenever it is needed.
- Brush their teeth weekly once.
- Trim their nails monthly once.
- Regularly check their ear for infections such as spots, redness, discharge, or foul odor.
Here are a few products and equipment to meet your Wetterhoun grooming needs:
|Easy to groom||High|
|Amount of shedding||Medium|
Wetterhouns are healthy and active dogs. Yet, it’s always wise to be conscious of the health conditions that may affect them.
|General Health||Medium to High|
|Weight gain tendencies||Medium|
Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Syndrome: A rare genetic disorder that can lead to death in Wetterhouns
Hip dysplasia: A hereditary condition in which the thigh bone fails to fit into the hip joint. One or both legs of your dog may become lame or ache. X-ray is the best way to analyze the situation. It is not advisable to breed dogs with hip dysplasia.
Elbow dysplasia: When dogs go lame later in life, elbow dysplasia is the most common reason. It’s a malformation of the elbow joint, driving it to deviate, resulting in pain, loss of motion, and lameness.
Patellar Luxation: When the dog patella (kneecap), which commonly lies in the cleft of the femur (thighbone), slips out of position, it is referred to as the luxating patella. If the patella luxates, your puppy may feel periodic hind limb “skipping,” lameness, or locking up the leg at an irregular angle.
Ear infections: The floppy ears are prone to infections. The best way is to keep the ears clean and dry.
Recommended Health Tests
- Skin and Hair evaluation tests
- Blood and urine analysis
Wetterhoun Diet and Nutrition
Wetterhouns thrive on a complete and balanced diet. They are active breeds and need the right amount of nourishment. Hence, you can feed them a well-balanced, high-quality protein diet and calorie-rich food. However, every dog’s diet depends on size, age, metabolism, and activity level. Ensure your dog has clean and fresh water at regular intervals.
Here are the foods and supplements to meet your Wetterhoun’s nutrition needs:
Wetterhoun Living condition
- Wetterhouns love playing in large plots, running, and exploring; apartments can complicate their lives. However, they can become accustomed to apartment life as long as they are given daily walks and regular play sessions.
- Wetterhouns have a strong chase instinct, so they must be leash walked and have a fenced yard.
- They have high energy levels and do well in busy households.
- Wetterhouns may exhibit digging and chewing traits. So, please provide them with toys to keep them engaged.
Did you know?
- The Wetterhoun breed was approved for the Foundation Stock Service program in November 2019.
- The Wetterhuon originated in the same region as the Friesian horse.
Wetterhoun Club Recognition
- ACA = American Canine Association Inc.
- ACR = American Canine Registry
- APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
- CKC = Continental Kennel Club
- DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
- FCI = Fédération Cynologique Internationale
- NKC = National Kennel Club
- NVSW= Nederlandse Vereniging voor Stabijhoun en Wetterhoun (Dutch Association for Stabij- and Wetterhoun)
Adding a Wetterhoun to Your Family
Things to remember before adding a Wetterhoun to your family
Generally speaking, if you want to bring home a Wetterhoun, you may have the pursuit on your hands. Unfortunately, as a rare breed whose numbers have dwindled since World War II, it’s unlikely that you’ll find these hounds in a rescue center or shelter. Getting a Wetterhoun from a reputable breeder is best to prevent unavoidable circumstances like health and vaccination. Also, checking with the puppy’s parents to cross-check its health and happiness is best.