Classified as one of the world’s rarest breeds, the Stabyhoun is an all-around working dog, originally used for hunting, retrieving, and pointing. Though sometimes willful, he is known for being gentle, patient, and devoted, and very affectionate towards his family. Energetic and smart, he loves having a job to do and will flourish in homes that can match his vigor and excitable personality and provide him ample time and space for engaging exercise sessions and play.
Origins of the Stabyhoun
Hailing from the Netherlands, the breed traces its roots in the Frisian region in the northern part of the country. The Stabyhoun’s name came from the Dutch words “sta mij bij”, meaning “stand by me,” while “houn,” pronounced as “hoon,” is the Frisian word for “dog.”
Paintings and Dutch literature in the 17th century depicted dogs that are of remarkable resemblance with the Stabyhouns we have today. With that, it is deemed that they have existed as early as Spanish occupation, starting in the 16th century.
What’s certain is that the Stabyhouns became farmers’ helping hands, more specifically in the Frisian forested areas. They were all-around dogs, made excellent watchdogs, hunters, and rodent exterminators. However, though versatility is a good trait, many working dog owners and huntsmen preferred breeds that are outstandingly good in performing a task, overshadowing the Stabyhouns in terms of popularity.
Another setback is that the Staby was regularly crossed with another Frisian dog, the Wetterhoun, which almost resulted in the loss of the two breeds’ distinct traits. Fortunately, a group of canine enthusiasts from Friesland began purifying the breeds in 1938. Four years later, the Dutch Kennel Club granted full recognition to both breeds.
In 1994, the first Stabyhoun litter was born in the United States. Though his popularity has grown across Europe, the US, and the UK, the Staby is still listed as one of the five rarest canine breeds globally, only having around 7,000 dogs registered worldwide.
Characteristics of the Stabyhoun
Height: 19-21 inches
Weight: 40-60 pounds
Life Expectancy: 13-15 years
The Stabyhoun is a medium-sized canine, with a robust and stocky build, blessed with athleticism and agility. His eyes are brown, surrounded by tight-fitting eyelids. Ears are feathered, forward-flopping, and framing his face. Meanwhile, his chest is broad, though not deep, while the back is strong and straight. His limbs are nicely muscled, with thick paw pads.
His coat is soft, medium-length, often in piebald coloring, though may also occur in orange and white, and brown and white. Feathering may be observed on the chest, neck, tail, and legs. Though the fur is usually straight, slight waviness is pretty accepted. However, excessive feathering that can provide him an appearance of a long-haired dog is usually undesirable.
What’s undoubtedly there to love about the Stabyhoun is his affectionate and gentle temperament. He gets along well with small children and other dogs, plus incredibly devoted towards his beloved humans. Compared to his other working relatives, the Staby is relatively peaceful and rarely displays aggressive behavior, making him an excellent fit even for first-time owners.
While calmer, it doesn’t mean the Stabyhoun is less energetic, though. With his rich all-purpose lineage, he is very athletic and has strong stamina, allowing him to spend hours in the field. Adding his intelligence, he will excel in competitive dog sports, such as scent work and agility. He is also vigilant and can be relied upon as an excellent watchdog, always alerting his owners of any unfamiliar individual or any suspicious.
However, the usual price of a dog having smarts is their inquisitive nature. As a former hunting dog, he would always be curious about his surroundings. He was initially bred as such and was added with an independent character that enabled him to look and hunt for moles and rabbits by himself. Combining both traits, he can be headstrong at times, which can get his owner in trouble.
Luckily, training usually does the trick in toning down unwanted behaviors. He is eager to please and is very responsive to training. With proper technique and guidance, a Staby can be a loving dog and a great canine pal for life.
Caring for the Stabyhoun
The Stabyhoun is relatively active, which means he needs high-quality dog food that fits his needs. Typically, a high protein diet split into two meals provides him enough vigor to play and exercise and keep his energy stable. Nevertheless, consulting your trusted veterinarian for a proper plan is always the safest way to ensure that your dog gets balanced nutrition.
As a dog bred for action, the Staby requires at least an hour of play each day to keep him healthy. He loves to go on long walks or runs or partake in more exciting tasks, such as flyball, swimming, or hunting. Remember that he has high prey and may chase squirrels, rabbits, and other vermins outdoors. If you’re taking him outside, see to it that he is on a leash. Off-leash activities should only be done if you’re in a safe, secure well-fenced yard.
Thanks to controlled and restricted breeding, the Stabyhoun is considered a hardy breed. While there are some inheritable health concerns to watch out for, reputable breeders are usually taking steps to decrease the likelihood of these diseases from occurring. Yet, it is still best to be aware of the conditions that may affect the breed.
Some of the health issues the Staby may suffer from include hip and elbow dysplasia, patent ductus arteriosus, a heart disorder, and Von Willebrand’s Disease, characterized by a decreased ability to clot blood. Getting your dog regular check-ups with the vet, and acquiring proper immunizations helps keep his optimum health and keep any potential condition at bay.
As for grooming upkeeps, the Stabyhoun’s coat is weather-resistant and natural cleaning. With that, bathing is rarely necessary unless he gets into any mishap, making him foul-smelling or extremely dirty. The Staby does shed, though, two times each year. During the molting period, he needs daily brushing to keep loose fur manageable. Outside the shedding season, he is relatively easy to care for, and weekly brushing using a metal comb or pin brush is usually enough to keep dirt and tangles away.
Other parts of his grooming routine include trimming his nails as necessary, usually every three to four weeks, brushing his teeth weekly with vet-approved toothpaste, and cleaning his ears regularly to avoid infection. Make sure to introduce him to these activities at a young age to make them hassle-free and fun for both ends.