Meet the Wetterhoun: The Frisian Water Dog

This hunting breed is specialized in aquatic environments, and its coat is greasy enough to waterproof it. In addition, this breed was on the verge of disappearing, but it recovered after the Second World War.
Meet the Wetterhoun: The Frisian Water Dog

Last update: 28 February, 2021

The Wetterhoun, or Frisian water dog, is a European dog breed specialized in aquatic hunting, as the name suggests. Because of this specialty, it has developed a special coat. If you want to discover more, we’ll tell you all about this interesting breed up next!

The Frisian water dog: background and history

The Wetterhoun first appeared almost 400 years ago in Holland. Experts aren’t still quite sure which breeds were used in the mix to produce this dog, but they assume that one of them was the old water dog, which has now disappeared.

Its main use was to hunt small mammals, such as mustelids and otters. In addition, it also retrieved game such as waterfowl. Although it proved to be a good worker on land, it did much better in the water.

Despite it being a hard-working and efficient dog, during the early 20th century it was almost on the verge of disappearing. As with so many other dog breeds, at the end of World War II, a group of breeders got together and reclaimed the breed. This is how the Frisian water dog recovered, up to the present day.

Characteristics of the Wetterhoun

The Wetterhoun is a medium to large-sized dog breed. Adult specimens weigh between 55 and 65 pounds. In addition, they can also reach a height between 21 to 23 inches up to the withers.

A wetterhoun on the water.
Source: / Marjoleine

One of the physical characteristics that tell it apart from other hunting dog breeds is its eyes. They’re oblique, which gives them a unique expression. Moreover, some people say they give it a somber or angry look while others say it gives the impression of a very attentive gaze.

The Wetterhoun’s ears are rounded at the tip and hang low on the sides of the head. Its tail is long and curled over the back or on the side of the back.

In regards to its hair color, we find only solid black, solid brown, and white with black or brown spots. Brown and black without white markings are also acceptable.

However, this dog’s most characteristic feature is its coat. Its whole body, except the head and limbs, has dense, tight curls. The coat is strong and thick and doesn’t have a woolly undercoat, surprisingly.

This breed’s coat is coarse and greasy to the touch. In addition, this is how it gets to be waterproof so that the dog can work in the water without irritating its skin or being affected by the cold.

The Wetterhoun’s behavior

This is an aquatic hunting dog, so they instinctively like aquatic environments and enjoy splashing everywhere they can. They’re also friendly and fun-loving dogs, affectionate with their family, but wary of strangers.

A standing wetterhoun.
Source: / Marjoleine

The Wetterhoun is a great watchdog. In fact, people also used it to protect livestock and their houses. It usually isn’t aggressive, but it’s stubborn and persistent in its work. The affection it feels for its family will lead it to protect them from intruders or people it feels aren’t trustworthy.

They’re intelligent dogs, but, above all, they’re hard workers. They’re easy to train through positive reinforcement, and their size makes it counterproductive to try to teach them through punishment or a traditional approach. By seeking their best interests and reinforcing their progress, their training is easy to cope with at any time in their lives.

Frisian water dog care

Hereditary diseases that this breed of dog may face especially affect the eyes and joints. It’s necessary to have a veterinarian evaluate the animal’s health every year to ensure its well-being and to prevent further ailments as well.

In addition, because this is a hunting dog, (and an aquatic one at that) it’s especially important to follow a strict vaccination and deworming schedule. You should also frequently examine their ears since their shape and the humid environment tend to form fungus or develop infections very easily.

Baths shouldn’t be overdone with this breed of dog. The coat has a layer of grease that makes it waterproof, but too many baths can damage this layer. As a result, this could expose the dog to skin diseases and make it prone to other hair problems.

In sum, the Wetterhoun is a hard-working and faithful dog. It has a great personality and is perfect for family life. However, when it comes across a puddle, it’ll most likely behave like one of the children of the house, because it’ll run straight into the water. On the beach or in the river they can become the happiest dogs in the world.

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