Stabyhouns (pronounced Stah BAY hoons), are a Dutch dog breed; their name, translated, means “stand by me dog”. (An alternate spelling is Stabijhouns.) They are also known as Friese Stabijs or Frisian Pointers. In their country of origin, the breed is called Stabij or Bijke. This medium sized sporting dog originated in the Netherlands, in the northeastern province of Friesland. There, it was found primarily in the Frisian Forests, located in the eastern and southeastern part of the province.
The Stabyhoun’s ancestors are most likely Spaniels, brought to the Netherlands during the Spanish Occupation (1567-1648), who were probably crossed with the local Frisian pointing dogs. The first recorded descriptions of the breed are found in various texts from the early 1800s, written by such authors as Joost Halbertsma, Waling Dyskstra, and Nynke Fan Hichtum. They called the dogs “Bijkes”, depicting them as long haired, black and white dogs, which excelled at hunting, and were gentle with children. The description still fits today’s Stabyhouns. The breed has been characterized as similar to the original Frisian people in that they were stubborn and tenacious, unpretentious, friendly yet quiet, and initially reserved with strangers.
Over the course of the breed’s history, these smart and versatile dogs were favored by the impoverished farmers and peasants of the region, who could only afford one dog. The Stabyhoun could and did fulfill multiple roles, as a hunter, soft-mouthed retriever, and pointer. They were particularly skilled at hunting duck and upland birds. They worked well in the water, even when extremely cold, as well as on land, possessing an acute sense of smell and sharp-eyed alertness. They were put to use to rid farms of unwanted rats, mice, voles, moles, ferrets, foxes, and polecats. They were quick and efficient workers, happy to please their owners and to be charged with a task. In addition, the farmers appreciated the Stabyhouns’ tolerance of other livestock and protectiveness of their home and family. Also, these energetic athletes were calm when indoors and gentle and playful with children, making them not only versatile working dogs and watch dogs, but excellent family pets.
In their history as the peasant farmer’s friend, Stabyhouns also served as draft dogs, pulling carts laden with goods to and from the farm. At one point in their history, their excellent mole hunting skills enabled farmers to earn extra income. The farmer would put his Stabyhoun in a basket on a bicycle, ride around with his dog, and have it catch moles. The farmer was able to sell the mole skins, which were used for making the linings in gloves.
Stabyhouns were often bred with Wetterhouns, a Frisian water dog, but the practice ceased when the Stabyhoun gained official recognition as a breed in Holland on October 10, 1942. In 1947 the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Stabij-enWetterhounen (NVSW), which translates to The Dutch Staby and Wetterhoun Association, was formed.
Marjolein Roosendaal is a geneticist for the NVSW. She began showing Stabyhouns in 1989 and later began breeding them, and is one of the owners of Eenhoornleijn Kennel, located in southwestern Friesland. One focus of Ms. Roosendaal’s work for the NVSW, is the occurrence of certain coat colors in the breed, such as the orange and white coat coloring, which is almost extinct in Stabyhouns. While the majority of Stabyhouns are black and white, brown and white breed specimens are found only in the Netherlands. She is an advocate of what is called “blue mold” coloring in the breed which occurs when the coat is a blue roan (white and black hairs mixed together in equal amounts, creating a blue cast to the coat). This coat color was listed in the first breed standard, but is no longer, although Stabyhouns with this color are acceptable. In fact, Ms. Roosendaal and the NVSW are working to preserve the blue mold or blue roan coat coloring in future generations of Stabyhouns. Ms. Roosendaal has written a book called Stabij, Bijke in All Respects, offered through the NVSW website, containing both historical and modern breed information.
It was not until the 1960s that Stabyhouns began to be more widely known outside of Friesland, today however, Stabyhouns are making inroads outside of the Netherlands. Besides its native country, the breed is most popular in Sweden, Denmark, and Finland where small scale breeding is increasing, and in small numbers in North America, as well.
Stabyhouns were first imported to Finland in 1991, by the owner of Nordwart Kennel, Birgitta Kajander of Ikaalinen. He decided to introduce a new breed of dog to Finland and, after perusing dog books, he found the Stabyhoun’s appearance and character to his liking. His first two Stabyhoun imports, Mimi (female, born 1990) and Miki (male, born 1990), were registered in the Finnish Kennel Club (FKC) in 1991. Unfortunately, Mimi died at a young age, and she was never bred. In 1994 Mr. Kajander brought over Rimme Fan’t Paradijske (male, born 1994), bred by E. Vellenga, from the Netherlands. Rimme won many titles in his show career, such as V-96, PMV-97, V-97, and MV-98.
In 1995 two Stabyhoun sisters, born that same year, were imported to Finland, also bred by E. Vellenga. One of the dogs, named Ulbe Fan’t Paradijske, went to Mr. Kajander of Nordwart Kennel. The other, Ulke Fan’t Paradijske, went to Sarkilammelle, Finland.
Ulbe Fan’t Paradijske was bred to Swedish Stabyhoun Addik Fan’t Gaelefjild, producing eight puppies, born at Nordwart Kennel in 1997. Ulbe’s next litter was born in 1998 and was also comprised of eight puppies; the sire was Rimme Fan’t Paradijske of Nordwart Kennel. This kennel’s last Stabyhoun litter was born in 2001; Ulbe was again the mother, mated this time to Caesar Bauke V. Rinasburch (born 1995), bred by Van Duijn of the Netherlands and imported to Helsinki. Caesar won numerous show titles, including ESTW-98, V-98, V-99, V-00, and PMV-01.
Since 2000, the number of Stabyhoun kennels in Finland has steadily increased. Apple Hill Kennel produced its first Stabyhoun litter in 2000; Hazebad Kennel followed suit in 2001. Trindy’s Kennel had its one and only litter of Stabyhoun puppies in the latter part of 2001. Apple Hill had its last litter in 2007 and no longer breeds Stabyhouns. Hazebad Kennel, however, has produced ten more litters since that first one in 2000. Currently, Sinisuven, Ohped Dal, and Tina Axen Kennels are all breeding Stabyhouns. Between 2005 and 2009, 124 Stabyhouns were registered in Finland. From 2006 to 2009, twenty Stabyhouns were imported—seven from the Netherlands and thirteen from Sweden. The number of Stabyhouns imported to Finland continues to increase.
The Ameri-Can Stabyhoun Association (ASA) is the North American branch of the NVSW. The NVSW oversees all the recognized branches of the organizations, located in the US, Canada, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. All of them share a database on over 13,000 Stabyhounds, with information regarding health issues and other matters related to the breed. The ASA screens breeding plans under the advisement of the NVSW. In 2010, the ASA had seventy-eight members; the organization is planning its First Continental Stabyhoun Specialty, to be held July 12-15, 2013.
The first record of Stabyhouns born in the United States occurred in 1994. In March of 2005, the AKC began to record Stabyhouns in the Foundation Stock Service; they can participate in Obedience and Field competitions but are not recognized by the AKC or the CKC because they are such a rare breed.
The Stabyhoun Kennel called Fen’e Griene Bergen is located in Vermont; the kennel name is Frisian, meaning “From the Green Mountains”. Fen’e Griene Bergen Kennel has been a member of the NVSW since 2001. In 2009 they received the best rating of “Excellent” for three of their dogs, rated by a Stabyhoun judge from the Netherlands. At that time, no other American bred Stabyhouns had received this top rating. Three other Stabyhouns at their kennel were deemed “Very Good” during this judge’s evaluation, which was more than any other American breeder of Stabyhouns was awarded. They have raised forty-three Stabyhoun puppies—more than any other North American Stabyhoun breeder can claim.
Thus far the owners of Fen’e Griene Bergen Kennel have imported ten puppies from the Netherlands, eight for family and friends and two for their kennel (Femke and Wietske). On September 20th, 2011, the most recent litter was born, consisting of four males and four females. The mother is Saske Regina Fen’e Griene Bergen (born 2008), daughter of Wietske. Saske is co-owned by the kennel, living with her other family in Pennsylvania; she was one of the dogs that received an “Excellent” rating. The father is Nomme-Tuur Fan’t Saksenhiem, called Cody, and is owned by Michael and Linda Fosina of New Jersey. He was imported from the Netherlands and has a number of champions in his breed lines.
Fryske Point Kennel, located in the Low Country of South Carolina is a charter member of the ASA. Like Finnish Stabyhoun breeder Birgitta Kajander, the owners of Fryske Point “discovered” the breed by perusing dog books. Having lost their second Flat-coated Retriever to cancer, they wanted to try a different breed, but one that shared the geniality with other dogs and children found in retrievers. They were taken by the Stabyhoun’s appearance and size, as well as its character.
In July 2004, they imported their first Stabyhoun from Holland, a female named Echo. Their first litter was born November 7, 2006; the mother was Echo and the Father was Bijke, imported from The Netherlands and now living in North Carolina. This first litter consisted of one male and three females. Echo’s second litter was born November 4, 2007. This time the father was Wiebe Regent Fan’e Griene Bergen of Vermont. This litter was made up of four males and three females.
Their male dogs are Radar, Burt, and Dutch; the latter two are stud dogs. Along with Echo, their breeding females today are Tulip (born September, 2008), whose given name is Sante Yfke Fan Buten Ut and who was also imported from Holland, and Brietske. Brietske birthed her first litter January 30th, 2011. She had two males and two females. The father was Henri, imported from The Netherlands and living in Illinois. Tulip delivered the kennel’s latest litter, born December 4th, 2011, giving birth to eight puppies via artificial insemination.
The father of this most recent litter was Chess Fan’e Twellegeaster Bourren of Holland, owned by Rene Rigterink. Chess and his mother, Aja, are Euro Dog winners, placing first with an “Excellent” in conformation. Chess has won a CAC (National Champion Certificate) and a CACIB (International Beauty Championship Certificate) title. He won Best Stabyhoun of Show at the 2011 Euro Dog Show, which was where the Fryske Point Kennel owners first met him. They travel to Holland every year as board member and breeders advisor for ASA, and were able to combine the trip with attending the 2011 Euro Dog Show held in Leeuwarden on September 2nd.
Fan’t Fryske Lan Stabyhouns is a small kennel that breeds litters only occasionally; the kennel, located in Alaska, is owned by Renske Vinke and Boukje Westra. Djarre, their male Stabyhoun, has been rated “U” (which means “Excellent”) a number of times at dog shows in Holland. They own two other males, Wijckel and Beike. Both Djarre and Wijckel are available for stud. Fan’t Fryske Lan Stabyhoun Kennel boasts three females of the breed: Froukje, Trienke, and Fanne. The latter has also won ratings of “U” at Dutch dog shows.
Currently 4,500 Stabyhouns are registered in Europe and 250 in the United States and Canada. The breed, while still rare, continues to grow in numbers and in popularity. While still retaining their hunting, retrieving, and pointing skills, today Stabyhouns are owned primarily as companion dogs and family pets. They are especially skilled at agility performance because they are extremely intelligent, flexible, fast, as well as eager to please their owners. They also enjoy and excel at flyball, tracking, endurance, and obedience competitions.
Stabyhouns are medium sized, sturdy dogs with a simple appearance (as in a no frills, artless look). This breed’s weight generally ranges from 38 to 58 pounds. The height for males (measured from ground to withers) should be 20 to 21 inches; the height of females should be 19 to 20 inches.
Their coat colors may be black, brown, or orange, with white markings. Either the white or the other color may be predominant. The white may have ticking (tiny spots of color on the white background) or roan (other colors of hairs intermixed with the white hairs). Stabyhouns have long, smooth hair over their entire bodies. A slight wave is acceptable over the croup. On the head, the coat hair is short. On the upper and lower thighs and the back of the forelegs, the coat is bushy. A white tip on the tail is desirable.
Their heads are longer than they are wide; the muzzle and skull are equal in length. Their skulls are slightly rounded and of medium width. They have barely any stop. The muzzle tapers toward the nose, but is not pointed at the end. The bridge of the nose is wide and straight, when viewed from the front or side. The head has tight fitting skin, with no wrinkles.
Stabyhouns have round, medium sized eyes with tight lids that are set horizontally. Their eyes are not deep set, nor do they protrude. Eye color is dark brown for dogs that are predominately black, and brown for dogs with either brown or orange in their coat color. They have low set ears with no fold at the base, so that the ear flaps lay close to their heads. Their moderately long ears are trowel shaped. They usually have feathering on their ears, longest at the base with a gradual decrease down the ear; the lower third of their ears have short hair. They have minimally developed cheeks, tight lips, and strong teeth that close in a scissors bite. Their noses are well developed with wide open nostrils. Noses are black on black dogs and brown on brown or orange coated dogs. (Although some white on their noses is acceptable.)
Stabyhouns carry their heads low on their short, round necks, forming a blunt angle between the neck and topline. Their slightly arched necks have no dewlap or throatiness. The shoulders are well laid back and angulated at the joint. They have broad chests that are not deep, causing the forelegs to be wide set. The chest does not hang below their elbows. They have well rounded ribs and well developed back ribs. Their long backs are straight, with powerful loins and a slight slope to the croup. Their bellies have a moderate tuck up.
The forearms are straight, as are the pasterns. The forefeet are arched with well developed toes and tough pads. They have powerful hindquarters that are well angulated. The lower thigh is of medium length with low set hocks and short rear pasterns. Their hind feet are round, with well developed pads. The Stabyhoun’s long tail is not set high, reaching down to the hock. In repose, the dog carries the tail hanging down, maybe with the last third curving upward. In action, the tail is lifted, without curling.
Stabyhouns make terrific family pets for a number of reasons. They are active and energetic outside, but calm when indoors. In addition, they are affectionate and loving toward their people, playful with children, and tolerant of other animals, both canine and noncanine.
While Stabyhouns like children and enjoy playing with them, as with any dog breed, small children should be supervised with them. Older children should be taught to respect their dogs’ boundaries. They are friendly to people, but they do not become friends with everyone. Their cautiousness extends to reacting to any strange or unusual noise or occurrence. They are extremely alert and protective of their homes, making them great watch dogs, but this breed is not snappy or aggressive.
Stabyhouns want your attention and hate to be left alone. They are sometimes called “Velcro” dogs because they want to follow you everywhere. In addition to giving your dog adequate attention and involvement with your activities, you will need to socialize your puppy properly, to prevent your Stabyhoun from developing separation anxiety.
Socialization and training from an early age is also important in order to help your dog be flexible and not overly anxious when encountering new situations and environments. Desensitize your Stabyhoun beginning before he or she reaches fourteen weeks of age and continue at least through the first year of life. Include your dog in as many activities as possible, allowing him or her to safely experience new people, places, and noises. Always be patient with your dog and if your Stabyhoun exhibits fearfulness, do not comfort. Instead, exhibit calm and confidence; your dog will take its cue from you.
This breed’s high level of intelligence, combined with their desire to please their owners, makes them easy to train. However, they do have a certain amount of willfulness in their natures, so clear and consistent training, starting from puppyhood, is definitely necessary. Stabyhouns can be dependable at obeying the command to come to you, when off leash or when playing with other dogs, provided they have had proper and adequate obedience training. But if you are uncertain or they have not been well trained, they should be kept leashed when in an unenclosed area. Stabyhouns’ hunting instinct may kick in and they will chase prey (anything moving) without regard to cars.
Stabyhouns need a lot of physical activity in order to be mentally and physically healthy. Fortunately they enjoy a variety of activities. They love to perform tasks and to play outdoor games, such as fetching a tennis ball. Most of them love the water and are excellent swimmers. Stabyhouns enjoy participating in all dog sports (and excel at them). They require a daily pack walk (on a leash, heeling beside or behind you); if that is all the outdoor exercise they get that day, the walk should be an hour long.
This breed can adapt to apartment living, provided the dog gets enough exercise every day. They do well living in a house with an enclosed yard or in a country or farm setting.
Stabyhouns require minimal grooming, as their coats repel dirt and they do not have a “doggy” smell. Bathe only when absolutely necessary and use a mild soap. Frequent bathing and/or use of a harsh detergent will damage the natural oils that protect the coat and give it a rich sheen. Brush your dog on a regular basis to get rid of any tangles.
The Stabyhoun’s life expectancy is approximately thirteen to fourteen years. The most common genetic problems that occur in this breed are hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, radius curvus (one of the causes of elbow dysplasia), and PDA (a congenital heart disorder). Each of these conditions presents itself at a rate of less than two percent, in the overall Stabyhoun population.