The Wetterhoun (Frisian for “water dog”) is an old Friesian farm dog that used to keep vermin away and hunt small fur animals. Its unusual fur is described as having Persian-like curls and is extremely waterproof. Created for working in the water, he is clearly more of a country dog than a city dog.
Physical Characteristics of the Wetterhoun
The Wetterhoun is a strong water dog that is not of the spaniel type, but you can clearly see that it is related to other water dogs and retrievers such as the Curly Coated Retriever. For males, the FCI standard prescribes an ideal height of 59 cm at the withers, bitches reach about 55 cm in height at the withers. There are no specifications for the weight, 25 to 35 kilograms are usual.
Even as puppies, dogs develop a thick, curly coat. They look a lot like small Stabyhouns, but with much smoother fur.
From head to tail – specifications for breeding dogs
- The powerful head is typical of retrievers and resembles that of the Friesian Stabyhoun. Skull and muzzle are about the same length and the stop is barely pronounced. The forehead appears wider than it is long and is slightly arched. The stop is hardly pronounced.
- The muzzle hardly tapers towards the blunt tip, it is very strong and covered with tight lips. The color of the well-developed nose matches the coat color (brown or black)
- There should be no conjunctiva under the oval-shaped eyes as is found in other strong breeds. They are slightly slanted and therefore have a slightly grim expression.
- The lop ears should lie as close to the head as possible and not bend off in the first third as with retrievers. The drooping ear is “shaped like a mason’s trowel” and has longer and more curly hair at the base than at the tip.
- The strong neck is carried quite low and forms no dewlap. The skin is tight all over the body. Since the chest is particularly well arched and wider than deep, the legs are wide apart. Overall, the tousled powerhouse looks square, strong, and stocky.
- The joint between the shoulder blade and the upper arm is well angulated and the forelegs are straight. Hindquarters are moderately angulated, with low hocks and round feet.
- The ringtail, which is well haired, is quite long and is carried lying next to or over the croup.
The Persian tresses of the Frisian otter catcher
- The hair grows short on the head and legs, which means that the individual features and facial expressions remain recognizable.
- The entire body, ears, and tail are covered with dense, strong curls that grow in tufts and are oily to the touch.
- Acceptable colors are black and tan, either solid or with white markings.
- The distribution of the white markings is not specified in the breed standard, but the legs, underside of the body, and chest as well as the collar are often white, resulting in coat coloring or black/brown patches on the sides of the body and on the head. A white blaze may appear on the head, running from muzzle to forehead.
- According to the breed standard, white areas may also be spotted with black or brown.
The History of the Wetterhoun – Guard Dog, Retriever or Court Hunter?
The dog breed was already widespread in the north of the Netherlands in the Middle Ages but was hardly noticed there in writing and pictures, since, like the Sstabyhouns, they were quite ordinary farm dogs. On Frisian farms, they did various jobs and mainly served as guard dogs to keep intruders and rats away.
Traditional duties of the Friesian Water Dog
- Hunting polecats and otters
- Mole hunting (the fur was popular at the beginning of the 20th century)
- Rat hunting in the yard
- In the US, the breed is listed as a Gun Dog (Retriever) and not a water dog. They are often used there for duck hunting.
- Schutzhund (keeps strangers away, defends family)
Used to be common, now rare
The breed was probably created by crossing large Sinti and Roma Molossians with local Frisian water dogs. At the same time, the Frisian Stabij was created, and other Wetterhouns were crossed in to maintain it in the 1950s. After the breeds all but died out during World War II, there are now around 800 Wetterhouns worldwide. Only about two dozen purebred representatives of the breed live in Germany.
Headstrong but not stubborn – The essence of the Wetterhoun
Some sources describe the breed as difficult to train and stubborn, which according to Wikipedia can be explained by a translation error from Frisian. In Dutch literature, he is described as a store, which does not mean stubborn or stubborn, but brave and resilient. He is definitely not a city dog and should have a meaningful job in the family. If he can move freely in the garden or in the yard, he guards the territory independently and does not need constant proximity to the owner.
Typical character traits
- One man dog, very related to one person
- willing to work
- Defy any weather
- Moderately pronounced hunting instinct (can be increased through motivation)
- Intelligent and demanding
The Wetterhoun as a family dog?
The Wetterhoun is rather unsuitable as a family dog in the modern sense. He prefers rummaging around to fooling around with kids. He is skeptical of strangers and other males are also kept out of the territory. The dogs are therefore not classic park runners who like to meet animal buddies on their walks. Of course, that doesn’t mean he can’t live with the family, he’s just not a lap dog. In the pack, he behaves peacefully and absolutely loyal.