Wetterhoun: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners


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Originally bred for hunting otters, the Wettherhoun is a dog breed that makes both a fantastic watchdog and family pet. Energetic and strong-willed, they excel in a variety of dog sports but continue to remain a coveted breed for their abilities as both a retriever and gun dog. They are known for their coarse, curly coats and active, independent personalities, and they love to spend time with their families.

Breed Overview

Group: Gundog (UKC)

Height: 21-23 inches

Weight: 33-44 pounds

Coat:  Thick, coarse, curly

Coat Color: Black and white, liver and white, solid black, or solid liver

Life Span: 12-13 years

Temperament: Intelligent, alert, loyal, stubborn, active, gentle, quiet

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: Netherlands

Characteristics of the Wetterhoun

Though touted as a hunting breed, Wetterhouns have tolerant and loyal personalities that make them ideal family pets. They love the water and prefer an active lifestyle, happy to accompany their owners on hikes, runs, and adventures outdoors. They are a fiercely loyal and attached breed, preferring to be by their owner's side at all times.

 Affection Level  High
 Friendliness  High
 Kid-Friendly  Medium
 Pet-Friendly  Medium
 Exercise Needs Medium
 Playfulness  High
 Energy Level  High
 Trainability  Medium
 Intelligence  High
 Tendency to Bark  Medium
 Amount of Shedding  Medium

History of the Wetterhoun

The Wetterhoun was first developed more than 400 years ago in Friesland, a province of the Netherlands. Their common name comes from the Dutch word for “water dog," though they are sometimes referred to as the Otterhound or Dutch Spaniel (even though they're technically not a type of spaniel). Throughout its history, the Wetterhoun has been relied upon not only as a water retriever but also as a trustworthy and efficient gun dog and watchdog.

The Wetterhoun is believed to have descended from the now-extinct Old Water Dog, though some believe it may have also been crossed with an indigenous Frisian breed. Thanks to careful and meticulous breeding practices, the breed was successfully saved from near-extinction during World War II.

The Wetterhoun is not currently recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC)—however, the breed is recognized by the Federation Cynologique International, where it is included as part of the water dogs group, as well as the United Kennel Club (UKC), where it is part of the gundog group. The Wetterhoun is recognized as a rare breed by many smaller clubs and registries, as well.

Wetterhoun Care

While Wetterhouns are not difficult to care for, they do require a decent amount of training and activity that can make them the wrong choice for certain households—primarily those families or owners with little free time. Wetterhouns have natural guarding abilities and are considered to be somewhat reserved. Because of this, they are generally not considered an aggressive breed, making them a good option for families and those with existing pets.


Like most breeds, the Wetterhoun will require daily exercise for both their physical and mental well-being. As a hunting breed, they are fairly active dogs, so you'll want to aim for about 30 minutes of activity a day, plus plenty of outdoor play. As water dogs, they will be more than happy to take a dip in a pool or lake and are sure to enjoy pretty much any activity involving water.


Wetterhouns have a thick coat of coarse, curly hair that covers their entire body, though it is a bit shorter on the legs and head. It is naturally oily and therefore somewhat waterproof, so they will not require frequent bathing or extensive grooming.


Although they can be stubborn and strong-willed, the Wetterhoun is not a breed that tends to be purposely disobedient. You'll want to start their training as early as possible—because of their headstrong personalities, the breed is both intelligent and watchful, so they are fast learners but do still have an independent streak. They can definitely be trained, but steer clear of punishment or other harsh tactics—they can be sensitive and will respond much better to positive reinforcement. Because of their strong history as a gun dog, the Wetterhoun is a breed that thrives when given a job to perform.

Common Health Problems

Wetterhouns are considered a fairly healthy breed, but they have been associated with hip, elbow, and other joint issues, as well as Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that can lead to death in certain breeds. As a result, the NVSW (Dutch Association for Stabij- and Wetterhoun) has introduced efforts to introduce more genetic variety into the breed.

Diet and Nutrition

Whether their food is commercially prepared or cooked at home (with your veterinarian's approval), the Wetterhoun should do well on any high-quality diet. Due to the fact that the Wetterhoun is a hunting breed with lots of energy, you may want to opt for a dog food that's formulated for active breeds in order to ensure their nutritional needs are met.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Wetterhoun

Generally speaking, if you want to bring home a Wetterhoun you may have quite the search on your hands. As a rare breed whose numbers have dwindled since World War II, it's pretty unlikely that you'll find these dogs in a rescue center or shelter. There are also no known Wetterhoun rescue organizations. You'd be most likely to stumble upon this breed in the Netherlands, where there are still several reputable breeders available.

Wetterhoun Overview

  • Good with children and elderly

    Requires minimal bathing and grooming

    Excellent watchdogs

  • Can be stubborn and strong-willed

    Needs a good amount of exercise

  • Not hypoallergenic

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

When determining if the Wetterhoun is the right dog for your family, be sure to research all aspects of the breed and consult other Wetterhoun owners to try and learn more. 

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

  • Are Wetterhoun dogs rare?

    The Wetterhoun breed almost became entirely extinct during World War II. While concentrated breeding efforts saved the breed, they are still considered a very rare type of dog and can typically only be found in the Netherlands or imported from Europe.

  • Are Wetterhouns good apartment dogs?

    Wetterhouns tend to not do well as apartment dwellers due to their size and exercise needs. They will be the happiest living on plenty of land where they can run around and play.

  • Are Wetterhouns good family dogs?

    Wetterhouns are considered good family dogs and can learn to be tolerant of children if properly socialized from a young age. However, as with all animals, it's imperative that your children are taught how to properly care for and respect the dogs to prevent injury to both parites.