This working standard outlines the ideal image that should be pursued in practice as much as possible.
- FCI classification group 8 Retrievers- Flushing Dogs – Water Dogs
- Section 3 Water Dogs, subject to a working trial
1. Brief History
The Wetterhoun (in Frysk: Wetterhûn) has been used for centuries in hunting the otter and polecat because they are courageous and hardy dogs. When the Wetterhoun caught scent, he continues to follow the trail persistently until the game hided in a safe place, and the hunter was there to kill it with a spear. The animal species mentioned have not been hunted since the 1950s. In addition, he was and is a traditional exterminator of vermin. We can still see this way of working in his present working methods across the different hunting fields.
2. General appearance and exterior
The Wetterhoun is a powerful square-built dog with an astrakhan coat and spiral tail. He has a grim and reserved appearance. The powerful and sturdy construction, which is not plump or unwieldy, exudes courage and robustness. The Wetterhoun should stand square, with the length of the back equal to the height at the withers. The back is straight and the topline is level. Its entire appearance is at the service of his work, its usefulness for any purpose, in many fields.
3. All-round hunting dog
The Wetterhoun is an all-round hunting dog, which has its merits in field work, especially in locating and flushing the game and who also masters all facets of the work after the shot, f.i. retrieving and blood tracking. We want to keep this versatility. Due to the greasy coat and the webbing between the toes, the Wetterhoun is especially at home in the wetlands, and even in the middle of winter he takes on the water easily but often cautiously.
The Wetterhoun is attentive, calm, and silent on peg. In the field it is a quiet but passionate, energetic, tireless, and careful hunter under the gun. He shows initiative, perseverance and hunting sense and takes on the toughest cover. But, very typical, if there is no game, he will save his energy, which should not be confused with a lack of hunting passion. He spontaneously cooperates with his handler/hunter without relying unnecessarily on him; it is a very independent working dog. He seeks direct contact with the game and flushes it conscious and fiercely; he is steady on game, and on flush and shot, switches easily after the shot to the search of dead or wounded game and retrieves at a steady pace from both land and water.
3.1 Field work
Although the Wetterhoun is classified as a water dog in group 8 (section 3), its work in the field most closely matches that of the working spaniels. This is because the Wetterhoun is also a flushing dog. The Wetterhoun is in his element on many types of terrain and cover, but the wetlands are his natural habitat. An important difference to the work of the working spaniel is the slower speed, the different search method, and the apparent lack of a search pattern. The working style of the Wetterhoun is different because of his build and temperament.
While hunting in the field, the dog uses a quiet gallop or brisk trot. Because of its square build the Wetterhoun moves at a moderate pace, sometimes ambling. He works persistently, regularly checking for scent at rest. The back is firm and the topline remains level, with sometimes a slight movement of the hindquarters in higher vegetation.
3.1.2 Head Position
The Wetterhoun hunts with a semi-high head position, regularly adopting a high head position to better catch scent. Depending on the field and weather conditions, the head position can be higher or lower. Under certain circumstances, ground scent checks are permitted.
3.1.3 Search pattern
The Wetterhoun must show perseverance and exude courage. He quarters in a small range and should work within effective gun range, so he stays within approx. 30-40 meters while hunting, and remains in contact with the handler/hunter. He searches through a plot cautiously, freely, but intelligently, making great use of the wind, which does not always look methodical. Scent is regularly verified when hunting. After verification he will quickly resume quartering. The range of his quartering is adjusted to the field and vegetation.
If there is no game, it seems as if he’s hunting without any pattern – or seemingly carelessly. However, that is not the case; his amazing sense of smell has already told him that there is nothing there. The fact that a Wetterhoun adapts its search pattern, its work pace and degree of concentration to the changing conditions of terrain, game, and wind, testifies to his sense of hunting; this characteristic is highly appreciated.
3.1.4 Contact with game
The Wetterhoun that encounters game must -after quick verification- draw attention to the game and flush it immediately and vigorously. Drawing attention can be a very short lift of a front leg, or the head moves in the direction of the game, or there is firm tail action.
The Wetterhoun has a fine nose to ‘printsjen’ (Frysk): excellent game finding abilities, also to follow a trail with scent marks on the ground and in the air. With the game in sight the Wetterhoun can give bay, or in Frysk ’the Wetterhûn slacht troch’. This ’trochslaan’ is a high-pitched, terrifying bark and a clue to the hunter. Feather and fur game will be flushed immediately. With big game a Wetterhoun gives a specific bark and bayes-up the game until the hunter arrives. Predators should also be bayed-up and often the Wetterhoun will instinctively strangle it.
The retrieve should be natural and effective with a soft mouth, both on land and from the water. The Wetterhoun moves at a moderate pace because of its build and drops slightly downwind on the way back. When retrieving predators, a harder mouth can occur given its historical task.
3.3 Blood tracking
Regarding searching or blood tracking the working method can be compared to that of a blood tracking dog. The Wetterhoun runs on the track, just like a Dachshund, Hanoverian and Bayerische Gebirgsschweisshund, and at most cuts off a corner when it runs downwind. The Wetterhoun does alert on old tracks and game trails, but he continues the fresh track independently. The head position is not structurally low as in the breeds mentioned, but depending on the wind low to half high.
The working standard Wetterhoun was established on September 11, 2021, in the general meeting of breed club NVSW and has thus become official.