Wetterhoun (Frisian Water Dog)

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black, brown, black or brown with white markings
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Pros Cons
  • excellent watch and guard dog                   
  • wonderful family companion
  • great hunter
  • independent and stubborn
  • without proper socialisation can become aggressive
  • requires a lot of daily exercises

The Wetterhoun is a medium-sized sporting dog with its homeland in Netherland’s Friesland. It excels as a retriever but it’s also widely used as a guard dog. Although this breed has an international recognition it remains rather obscure outside its native country.

Some dogs’ experts believe that the invention of the Wetterhoun happened about over 400 years ago. It was developed in the Friesland, which is the district in the northern region of Netherlands. In this area the folk stood out for its settled traditions and separate West Friesian dialect. It’s impossible to determine the exact lineage of the Wetterhoun but the strong likelihood holds that gypsy dogs, the Old Water Dog, Water Spaniel-type and Spitz-type local Frisian farm dogs contributed greatly in its creation.

Initially the Wetterhoun was used in hunting otters since expanding population of this predator threatens the local fishing industry. When its number had been taken under control the dog was adapted for hunting other species of animals. It turned out that it was able to courageously and persistently challenge such ferocious animals as a polecat and a wild cat. The breed represented a great companion for native hunters because of its intensive prey drive and water-resistant coat. Besides it was also treasured as a «yard dog» and was oftentimes responsible for guarding farmers’ property.

The Second World War terribly affected not only humans it also resulted in drastic reduction of population of numerous European breeds and the Wetterhoun was no exception. With united efforts of breed fans led by Jan Bos, it managed to survive the hardships of the war. In the meantime the preliminary standard was developed and specimens that matched the requirements of this document were registered. In order to reveal purebred dogs various trials and measurements of contenders were conducted in the Leeuwarden town. Best-quality members were enrolled into a Dutch Pedigree book. This kind of verification was persisted until the beginning of the 60s of XX century when the book was finally shut. The specimens that were listed in the appendix made a basis for the line of the pure-blooded Wetterhoun in Netherland.

The breed is recognised by two major dogs organisation namely the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) and the United Kennel Club (UKC). Previously it could be only located in its native Friesland but today one can meet it in other regions of the Netherlands as well as in other countries. Nevertheless it’s still regarded as a rare breed.

The Wetterhoun is famous for its incredible working drive and therefore it possesses the temperament, which is typical for such an outstanding guard and hunting dog. Sometimes this breed is unfairly called too aggressive but it usually grows up in a biddable and kind dog if it has been properly trained and socialised. This dog is generally fine with well-behaved children and will make a cheerful buddy for them. It’s also notable for extreme loyalty and attaches closely to all family members.

The Wetterhoun strives to protect its beloved humans from all possible threats. That’s why it commonly acts wary and reserved in front of unfamiliar people. However the dog warms up rather quickly especially if its master displays its favour towards the new acquaintance. Considering its vigilance and strong territorial instinct the breed will become a fabulous watchdog. The Wetterhoun will also make a highly responsible guard dog, which will do virtually anything to defend its master and his family.

This breed gets on with other canines if it has been introduced to their presence since an early age. Males can rival for dominance position in the pack and this usually leads to cruel fights between them. So the dog’s master should be aware of these behavioural traits and closely supervise the initial meeting of two unfamiliar dogs. The Wetterhoun is an infamous cat chaser so it should be always restrained with a secure leash while on a walk. Well-mannered specimens will accept other species of animal (including a home cat) as a part of its family if they have been brought up together.

Health Problems
The most common problems for the breed include:

• canine hip dysplasia;
• epilepsy;
• hair loss.

The Wetterhoun is considered as a low-maintenance breed. It possesses the all-weather coat, which is notable for water-repellent quality. This breed requires only occasional brushing to keep it healthy-looking and shiny. The dog should be bathed infrequently since water can remove the natural oil that covers its skin and gives a polish to its hair. The ears of the Wetterhoun attract dirt and debris and demand regular check-ups to timely identify signs of irritation or infection.

The effectiveness of training of the Wetterhoun depends solely on the personality of its trainer and training techniques he uses. This dog is quite headstrong and independent so it won’t obey a weak and irresolute handler.

It’s important to keep the lessons short and entertaining since it can be at times rather inattentive and easily distracts by some more appealing occupations. Positive reinforcement and generous praise are most suitable for the Wetterhouns’ motivation and this breed won’t certainly put up with physical abuse and will respond to it with wilful and aggressive behaviour.

The Wetterhoun requires a great amount of exercise because of its energetic nature. At the very minimum it should be taken on a daily walk of an hour long. This dog usually displays a strong prey drive so it should be kept on a leash and released only in a safely enclosed territory. It’s a big fan of swimming so it will be grateful to have regular opportunities to swim to its heart content in some local basin.

Remember that without sufficient amount of physical activity the Wetterhoun will most likely develop some nasty habits like unreasonable barking, destructiveness, nervousness.