The Dutch Smoushond is a small breed of companion dog native to the Netherlands. There is some disagreement as to the status of the modern day Dutch Smoushond. Some claim that the breed nearly went extinct during World War II and was subsequently recreated while others claim that a few examples managed to survive and that the modern breed is partially descended from them. Although the breed was originally developed as a working farm ratter, the Dutch Smoushond of today is essentially exclusively a companion animal known for its yellow Schnauzer-like coat. The Dutch Smoushond is also known as the Hollandse Smoushond, Dutch Ratter, and Dutch Terrier.
Most of the history of the Dutch Smoushond has been lost to time, and large portions of this breed’s origins will probably forever remain a mystery. Almost anything that is said is little more than pure speculation. All that is clear is that the Dutch Smoushond has been kept in the Netherlands as a vermin eradicator since time immemorial, and the breed is likely several centuries old if not older. Most experts believe that the Dutch Smoushond is a very close relative of the Standard Schnauzer and Standard Pinscher and may once have been considered the same breed, but it is impossible to say with any certainty. If the Dutch Smoushond is a member of the Pinscher/Schnauzer family, it is also likely related to the Affenpinscher, Brussels Griffon, Doberman Pinscher, Miniature Pinscher, Miniature Schnauzer, Standard Schnauzer, Austrian Short-Haired Pinscher, Danish-Swedish Farm Dog, and possibly the Swiss Mountain Dogs, Rottweiler, and German Shepherd Dog.
If the Dutch Smoushond is indeed a relative of the Schnauzer, the breed has likely been present in what is now the Netherlands for over 1,000 years. The Standard Schnauzer and Standard Pinscher, which until the late 1800’s were considered two coat varieties of the same breed, have been kept by German/Dutch/Frisian speakers for at least that long. These dogs served as multipurpose working farm dogs. Their primary role was to hunt down and kill rats, mice, and other vermin. By doing so, they helped prevent starvation and disease and also increased a farmer’s earning potential. Although primarily vermin eradicators, the Pinschers and Schnauzers performed a number of farm jobs. These dogs were guard dogs tasked with protecting their families and their properties, beasts of burden that pulled carts, and droving dogs that nipped at the heels of livestock and brought them to market. No one is sure when or how these dogs were developed, but it is quite possible that they have been in existence longer than the Germanic languages have been spoken, and that they were descended from Spitz-type dogs of Scandinavia.
For almost 850 years, what is now the Netherlands was part of the Holy Roman Empire, a feudal political conglomeration that also included what is now Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, and parts of Poland, Italy, and France. This empire was so vast that many localized varieties of Pinscher and Schnauzer developed. It is very possible that the Dutch Smoushond was originally a color variation of the Standard Schnauzer that became particularly favored in the Netherlands. The dog’s color would likely have been quite popular in the Netherlands; where orange has long been the color of the royal family and a national symbol. It is possible that this color difference was the result of a natural mutation, or that it was introduced to the breed via outcrosses with other dogs such as British Terriers or French Griffons, both of which have curly and/or wiry hair. However the Dutch Smoushond was developed, the breed became a highly valued companion of the Dutch farmer and stableman. Unlike the larger multipurpose Pinschers and Schnauzers, the small Dutch Smoushond became a vermin eradication specialist.
There is one story told about the origin of the Dutch Smoushond, but it is entirely undocumented and probably little more than a myth. According to this tale, salt and pepper and solid black Schnauzers were greatly preferred by most Germans. The yellow puppies which were occasionally born were euthanized as undesirable. Allegedly, a Dutch merchant by the name or Abraas began to purchase these unwanted puppies. This enterprising trader then sold these uniquely colored puppies in Amsterdam at a greatly marked up price. He claimed that these yellow Schnauzers were a rare breed which he called Heerenstalhonden or Stable Dogs. While this story is possible, little can be said of its veracity until more information comes to light.
For untold centuries, the Dutch Smoushond was bred exclusively as a working dog. Its owners cared little for its appearance, only for its ability to kill rodents. However, the breed maintained a relatively high degree of appearance uniformity for a working dog. The breed became known as the Smoushond, which comes from the Dutch word, “Smouzen,” meaning, “Jewish Man.” The Dutch Smoushond was so named because its long wiry coat reminded many observers of the long beards and curled hair traditionally worn by the Orthodox and Hasidic Jews. The name Dutch Smoushond was chosen in large part to distinguish the breed as much as possible from the Belgian Griffon. The Dutch Smoushond’s role and status began to change in the late 1800’s. As was the case with many of the British Terriers, the local upper classes discovered that the Dutch Smoushond made an excellent urban companion as well as a ratter. The closing decades of the 19th Century saw the Dutch Smoushond transform into an aristocratic pet, and the breed was considered to be the preferred companion for the Dutch gentleman. In 1905, the Hollandse Smoushond Club was established to keep pedigrees and promote the breed.
As the 20th Century wore on, the Dutch Smoushond faced increasing competition from foreign companion breeds. Although the breed’s popularity was somewhat diminished as a result, the Dutch Smoushond remained locally popular across the Netherlands. On May 10, 1940, the history of the Dutch Smoushond (and indeed all of the Netherlands) was forever changed when Nazi forces from Germany invaded its homeland, despite repeated Dutch attempts to maintain neutrality. German occupation proved devastating to the Netherlands, but especially to the Dutch Smoushond. By that point, the breed was primarily found in large urban areas, the same areas that suffered the worst under Nazi rule. Dog breeding, especially of companion animals, almost entirely ceased. Many owners could no longer afford to care for their dogs, and were forced to abandon them to starvation and/or disease. Additionally, many Dutch Smoushonds were killed in the blitzkrieg, during the Dutch resistance, or as a result of the Allied liberation drive. By the end of World War II, the Dutch Smoushond population had been severely diminished.
There is substantial debate as to what happened to the Dutch Smoushond in the aftermath of World War II. Many experts, and perhaps most, believe that the Dutch Smoushond became extinct as a pure bred dog, and that no full-blooded breed members managed to survive the War. Some go so far as to say that no cross-bred dogs survived either. Others believe that although pedigrees were not kept, a very small number of purebred Dutch Smoushonds did manage to survive. All agree that even if the Dutch Smoushond did manage to survive, the breed was extremely rare and on the verge of total extinction. It is also agreed that the last pedigreed Dutch Smoushond litter was registered with the Dutch Kennel Club (Raad van Beheer) in 1949.
In the early 1970’s, Mrs. H.M. Barkman became interested in the Dutch Smoushond and became determined to restore the breed. In 1973, Mrs. Barkman established a breeding program for Dutch Smoushonds. She began her program by collecting mixed-breed dogs that closely resembled the Dutch Smoushond of old. Barkman enlisted a small number of friends and other fanciers to help her with her breeding program. Different experts have different opinions as to what this breeding program achieved. Some experts claim that the dogs Barkman and other early breeders used merely looked like Dutch Smoushonds but did not have any of their blood. These experts believe that the modern day Dutch Smoushond is entirely a recreation of the older breed. Other researchers believe that many of the dogs used, and perhaps most, possessed some Dutch Smoushond blood, and some say that even a few purebred breed members may have been discovered. These researchers claim that the modern day breed is not a recreation but rather a restoration.
Regardless of the whether one believes that the modern-day Dutch Smoushond is a recreation or a restoration, all agree that a very large number of mixed breed dogs were used, as were a substantial number of purebred dogs of other breeds. Mrs. Barkman and other breeders were very concerned about the future health of the Dutch Smoushond and did not want to see their breed crippled with the many health concerns that often come with dogs with very limited gene pools. Their goal was to have as large a gene pool as possible while maintaining the appearance and temperament conformation of the Dutch Smoushond. Because many of the dogs used were mixes of unknown pedigree, it is impossible to say what breeds factored into the development of the modern Dutch Smoushond. It is known for sure that purebred Border Terriers were used, and it is almost universally agreed that at least a few Schnauzer, Poodle, Griffon, and Terrier mixes factored in as well.
Although it took many years and a massive amount of effort, eventually the labors of Mrs. Barkman and her fellow breeders were rewarded. In 1977, the Dutch Kennel Club began reregistering Dutch Smoushonds from Barkman’s lines even though most did not necessarily meet typical pedigree standards. Roughly 20 years later, the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) also granted full recognition to the Dutch Smoushond as a member of the Pinscher/Schnauzer Group, waiting until the breed fully met the exacting pedigree standards of that organization. Today, the Dutch Smoushond breeds true for both appearance and temperament.
Although it has been saved/recreated from extinction, the Dutch Smoushond remains a very rare breed. Currently, an average of 125 purebred Dutch Smoushond puppies are registered with the FCI every year, a very low number. However, this number appears to be slightly increasing, and the breed is considered to be safe and stable in the Netherlands. Dutch breeders have proven very reluctant to sell their Smoushonds out of the Netherlands, instead choosing to save all potential stock for breeding in their home country. Despite this, small Smoushond populations are found in Germany as well as the Netherlands. The Dutch Smoushond remains essentially unknown outside of its homeland, and not especially common within it. It is unclear whether any breed members have made their way to the United States (and in fact this is very unlikely), but if any have they have not become established in that country. Despite this rarity, in 2006 the United Kennel Club (UKC) became the only major English-language kennel club to grant full recognition to the Dutch Smoushond placing the breed in the Terrier Group. The Dutch Smoushond is not currently recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) nor is it likely to achieve such recognition any time in the near future. Like most modern breeds, the Dutch Smoushond is rarely if ever used for its original purpose. Although the breed was once a skilled and dedicated ratter, the vast majority (and perhaps all) of today’s breed members are companion animals and show dogs, and it is unclear if the breed retains either the ability or drive to function as a working ratter. The future of the Dutch Smoushond is likely as a pet, although it will probably remain very rare for the foreseeable future.
The Dutch Smoushond is very similar in appearance to a yellow Terrier or Schnauzer, although it remains a unique-looking breed. The Dutch Smoushond is a small to medium sized breed. Breed members of both sexes usually stand between 14 and 16½ inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 20 and 22 pounds. The Dutch Smoushond is a squarely proportioned breed although many breed members are slightly longer from chest to rump than they are tall from floor to shoulder. The Dutch Smoushond should be a sturdily constructed breed, but it should never be excessively stocky. Unlike most similar breeds, the tail of the Dutch Smoushond is never docked. The tail of this breed is naturally short and carried upright and alert, though never curled over the back.
The head of the Dutch Smoushond is the breed’s most important feature after its coat. The head of this breed is quite broad and short, similar to that of a Molosser-type dog but not quite to that extent. The skull is slightly domed, while the forehead is gently rounded. The head and muzzle of this breed are quite distinct and connect very sharply with each other. The muzzle should be as close to exactly half as long as the skull as possible. The muzzles of some breed members are relatively wide and do not taper much, while those of others taper very sharply towards the end. The nose of this breed should be dark black in color and quite wide. The ears of the Dutch Smoushond are thin, small, and triangular. These ears drop down. Some hang very close to the cheeks while others face forwards. The eyes of the Dutch Smoushond are large, dark, and round. Sometimes they are partially obscured by the dog’s hair but this is not especially desirable. The overall expression of most breed members is friendly and very lively.
The coat of the Dutch Smoushond is by far the breed’s most important feature and the one that breeders and show judges pay the most attention to. According to the breed’s UKC standard (which was very closely adopted from the FCI standard) “On the body, it is coarse, wiry, harsh and straight, and has an unkempt appearance. It is 1.5 to 2.5 inches long. There is sufficient undercoat. Any tendency to mat is a serious fault. A part down the middle of the back indicates that the coat is too long and soft. On the legs, the coat is medium length and not dense, pointing backwards, suggesting feathering. A dense, woolly coat all over the legs that hides the outline is a fault. The coat on the tail is bushy without fringe. On the head the coat is wiry like on the body, but slightly shorter. The eyebrows should not hide the eyes and there should not be a topknot or a part on the head. The hair on the ears is shorter.” The Dutch Smoushond comes in only one acceptable color, solid yellow. This yellow may be of any shade but a dark straw color is preferable. As long as the color remains yellow, the ears, mustache, and eyebrows may be a darker shade than the rest of the coat. Occasionally, a Dutch Smoushond will be born with an alternate color such as having white markings on the chest or feet or being a light brown rather than yellow. Such dogs are disqualified in the show ring and should not be bred, but otherwise make just as excellent pets as other breed members.
Although the Dutch Smoushond was originally developed as a dedicated ratter, the modern breed has been bred almost exclusively for companionship and has the temperament one would expect of such a breed. The Dutch Smoushond is a very loyal breed that forms incredibly deep attachments to its family. These dogs want to be in the constant company of their families and can suffer from very severe separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time on a regular basis. This breed is known for being extremely affectionate, often fawningly so. Unlike most British Terriers, the Dutch Smoushond makes an excellent family dog. When properly trained and socialized, this breed usually is very good with children, and many breed members form close bonds with them. The Dutch Smoushond is not a snappy breed and will enjoy a certain amount of rough play, although it is usually not quite as tolerant as a breed such as a Newfoundland or Labrador Retriever.
The Dutch Smoushond is a breed that greatly prefers the company of its own family to strangers. While the Dutch Smoushond is very rarely aggressive, most breed members are very reserved with, distrusting of, and aloof from strangers. Proper training and socialization are very important for the Dutch Smoushond, otherwise nervousness and defensiveness issues may develop. The Dutch Smoushond is a peerless watchdog that will always (and repeatedly) alert its family to the approach of a stranger. However, this breed lacks both the size and aggression to make an effective guard dog.
Unlike most Terrier-like dogs, the Dutch Smoushond is actually quite willing to please. This intelligent breed is considered relatively easy to train. Most breed members take to basic obedience and commands very easily, and many learn advanced and complicated tricks with ease. Because this breed tends to be very sensitive, training techniques which emphasize rewards (especially food treats) are much more effective than correction based techniques. Although the Dutch Smoushond is generally willing to please, most breed members do not live to do so. These dogs will probably be capable of learning almost anything that any breed can, but they may take more time and effort to train than a breed such as a Labrador Retriever or Standard Poodle. Even though the Dutch Smoushond is not a dominant breed, these dogs are more than capable of figuring out when their owners are not in charge and may take on the dominant role.
Perhaps no personality traits better define the Dutch Smoushond than lively and energetic. Although small, the Dutch Smoushond requires a substantial amount of exercise. This breed should receive no less than 45 minutes of vigorous physical activity every day, and more would be ideal. Dutch Smoushonds that do not receive sufficient daily activity are likely to develop behavioral problems such as excessive barking, destructiveness, housebreaking accidents, hyperactivity, over excitability, and nervousness. That being said, the Dutch Smoushond is not a breed that will constantly hound its owners for activity and once properly exercised most breed members will be relatively calm in doors. Most reasonably active and dedicated families will be able to provide a Dutch Smoushond with the activity they require. Although this breed would absolutely love a yard to play in, Dutch Smoushonds adapt well to apartment life if provided sufficient exercise.
Potential Dutch Smoushond owners need to be aware of the breed’s barking. The Dutch Smoushond is an extremely vocal breed, and most of these dogs bark a great deal. Although it would probably be unfair to describe this dogs as yappy, their barks do tend to be quite high-pitched and repeated frequently in quick succession. Exercise and training can greatly reduce a Dutch Smoushond’s barking, but they cannot eliminate them entirely. Generally very well-suited to apartment life, Dutch Smoushonds are very likely to result in noise complaints due to their vocalness.
As one might expect from the Dutch Smoushond’s coat, this breed requires a substantial amount of coat care. Although the breed should be brushed only infrequently in order to maintain its shaggy appearance, these dogs do need to be combed frequently with a wide-toothed comb to prevent tangles and mats. The Dutch Smoushond also needs to have its coat hand plucked two or three times a year to allow new hair to grow. Although this procedure is relatively easy to learn to do at home, most owners choose to have it done professionally. Most of the coat of the Dutch Smoushond does not need to be trimmed, but the hair in the ears and between the toes may need to be trimmed on occasion. The Dutch Smoushond does shed, but it considered a light to average shedder.
It does not appear that any health studies have been conducted on the Dutch Smoushond which makes it impossible to make any definitive statements on the breed’s health. Most fanciers seem to believe that this breed is relatively healthy. A number of health problems have been identified from the Dutch Smoushond, but most are at low to average rates. Breeders of the Dutch Smoushond are greatly concerned about its health, however, because the dog has such a small gene pool. Currently, Dutch Smoushond breeders are working very carefully to maintain and preserve the breed’s health and to eliminate unhealthy animals from breeding lines.
Because skeletal and visual problems are known to occur in this breed, it is highly advisable for owners to have their pets tested by both the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF). The OFA and CERF perform genetic and other tests to identify potential health defects before they show up. This is especially valuable in the detection of conditions that do not show up until the dog has reached an advanced age, making it especially important for anyone considering breeding their dog to have them tested to prevent the spread of potential genetic conditions to its offspring. It is highly advisable to request that breeders show any OFA and CERF documentation that they have on a puppy or its parents, which essentially all reputable breeders will have.
A full list of health problems which have been identified in the Dutch Smoushond would have to include: