The Wetterhoun is a dog breed that can trace its roots to the Netherlands. Given its name, it should come as no surprise to learn that its traditional role was that of a hunting dog meant for hunting waterfowl as well as small mammals. However, Wetterhounen have long since taken on other roles as well. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about the Wetterhoun:
1. Sometimes Called By Other Names
It is interesting to note that the Wetterhoun is sometimes called by other names. One example would be Frisian Water Dog, which makes sense because Wetterhoun means “water dog.” Another example would be Otterhoun, though it is important to note that the Wetterhoun should not be mistaken for the separate breed called the Otterhound.
2. Not a Spaniel
Speaking of which, the Wetterhoun is also sometimes called the Dutch Spaniel. However, this is rather misleading because it isn’t counted among the Spaniels. After all, Spaniels were bred for the purpose of pointing game as well as flushing out game. Furthermore, said breeds have a shared origin, as shown by how their name comes from the medieval French for “Spanish.”
3. Came Into Existence in Friesland
Generally speaking, when people think of the Netherlands, they think of Holland. This can be seen in how Holland is often used to refer to the whole of the Netherlands, which happens so much that even the Dutch have been known to do it from time to time. Regardless, since the Wetterhoun is sometimes called the Frisian Water Dog, it makes sense that it came into existence in the region that was once called Frisia but is now called Friesland. Said names reference the Frisii, who were one of the Germanic tribes that settled close to the North Sea in the 4th century BC.
4. Might Have Some Romani Origins
The Wetterhoun has existed for a few centuries. As a result, the exact way that it came into existence isn’t clear. However, that hasn’t prevented conjecture. For instance, it is believed that the Wetterhoun might have some ancestry from the dogs that accompanied the Romani people in their wanderings. As for the other side of the breed’s heritage, it is believed that it might have been the Old Water Dog but even this is unclear.
5. Had a Dangerous Job
As mentioned earlier, the Wetterhoun was bred to hunt small mammals. However, that isn’t as safe as it sounds. After all, small mammals can be rather formidable in their own right. Furthermore, it is important to remember that said label is assigned based on a human perspective. As such, what seems small to us might not seem so small to a Wetterhoun, particularly since these dogs aren’t so huge themselves. On top of this, the Wetterhoun was expected to take on these animals in the water, which adds a whole host of complications.
6. Used to Hunt Fitch
Wetterhounen were sometimes used to hunt fitch. For those who are unfamiliar, the term used to be used in reference to the European polecat but has since been used in reference to related species as well. As for why they were hunted, they were a potential threat to farmers’ livestock. Thanks to this, European polecats often had a very negative reputation among European cultures, with an excellent example being how they were associated with prostitutes as well as other people of low repute in early English literature.
7. Used to Hunt Otter
On a related note, Wetterhounen were also sometimes used to hunt otters. Nowadays, Eurasian otters have come under threat because of human encroachment. However, they can still be found in a wide range of environments throughout Eurasia as well as certain parts of North Africa. For instance, there are Eurasian otters living in saltwater environments that are sometimes called sea otters for the sake of convenience, but it is important to note that they are not the same species as the sea otters that make their home on the Pacific coast of North America.
8. Came Close to Extinction
Like a lot of breeds that came into existence centuries ago but have managed to make it into the present time, Wetterhounen came very close to extinction at one point in time. For them, this happened during World War II, which was not a good time for the Netherlands because it was invaded and then occupied by Nazi Germany. Indeed, said period includes the so-called Hunger Winter of 1944 and 1945 caused by a Nazi-imposed blockade. Calculating the exact number of deaths is challenging, but common figures include both 18,000 and 22,000. However, a total of 4.5 million people were impacted by the Hunger Winter. In any case, Wetterhounen managed to survive World War II before being brought back to enthusiasts, though even now, they are a relatively rare breed.
9. Get Along Well with Humans
Wetterhounen have been used as guard dogs. However, it is worth mentioning that they tend to get along well with humans. Amusingly, when Wetterhounen are accustomed to children, it is more important to watch out for children causing problems for the dog than for the dog causing problems for the children. Something that says much about the breed’s amicability towards humans.
10. Strong-Willed But Not Stubborn
Given their intended role, it makes sense that Wetterhounen tend to be very strong-willed animals. After all, otters, polecats, and the other small mammals that they were meant to go after can be formidable fighters, meaning that a sense of determination was needed to see these dogs through such tasks. However, it has been said that Wetterhounen are strong-willed but not stubborn, meaning that they have a lot of the upsides but not a lot of the downsides in this regard. In any case, these dogs are also intelligent animals. As such, they can do very well in a wide range of roles when they have been provided the proper training as well as the proper socialization.