Kooikers and Grands: Two Newest Dog Breeds to Join the AKC

kooikers and grands

Story at-a-glance -

  • There are now 192 breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), courtesy of the two latest additions: the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje (Kooikers) and the Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen (Grands)
  • Kooikers are small spaniel-like dogs from the Netherlands with lots of energy and friendly, playful dispositions; they’re part of the sporting group of dogs
  • Grands are sensitive and laid-back with a stubborn streak; these hound dogs excel at nose work and look similar to a large basset hound but with longer fur
  • As always, despite new breeds being added to the list of registries worldwide, there are lots of amazing animals at local shelters that could steal your heart

By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

There are now 192 breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), courtesy of the two latest additions: the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje and the Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen (GBGV). In order to become an AKC-recognized breed, there must be a minimum number of the dogs spread throughout the U.S., as well as an established breed club of responsible owners and breeders.1

Each of the new breeds has unique characteristics. The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje (pronounced Netherlands-e Coy-ker-hond-tsje according to the AKC), was originally bred as a duck hunter, is known for being energetic and friendly, and has joined the sporting group of dogs. The GBGV (pronounced Grahnd Bah-SAY Grif-FON Vahn-DAY-ahn) originated in France to hunt rabbits and is known for its stamina and speed. It's now part of the AKC's hound group.

'Kooikers' Are Playful, Perky and Companionable

Nederlandse Kooikerhondjes, "Kooikers" for short, came from the Netherlands, where they were valued by duck hunters and are still used today by organizations that lure, band and release ducks for research purposes. This small, spaniel-type dog weighs in at just 20 to 30 pounds and stands 14 to 17 inches high. Their medium-length coats are white with red and gold patches and are easy to care for, even being touted as able to repel dirt.

Owners describe their Kooikers as playful, energetic and happy spending time with their family. While they make excellent dogs for participating in agility, rally and obedience events, Kooikers also enjoy relaxing at home. Karen Parker of Black Diamond, Washington, a Kooiker owner and enthusiast, told the AKC that these dogs love expending their physical energy just as much as its mental counterpart:2

"Provided they are given enough exercise and proper stimulation, they can live in apartments and in the suburbs. A large fenced-in area to run is optimal, as they love to hunt, explore, fetch, and run. They need to be mentally challenged, too. Any game where they get to figure out the answer is great fun."

She also points out that Kooikers are very in tune with their owners. "The breed tends to adjust its activity and energy level — and often its mood — to match that of its human companions. In other words, they are very intuitive to our wants and needs."3

Kooikers are still considered rare in the U.S. with only about 500 AKC-registered dogs, and while they're able to blend well with other dogs in the same household, provided proper positive training and socialization takes place, they're not the best fit for romps in the dog park.

"They are smart like a border collie, but can have a very sharp, terrier-like attitude. They can be very reactive to other dogs, especially while on leash," Parker says.4 There's no doubt that Kooikers appear cute and cuddly, but they're also strong-minded and must be positively taught proper socialization and respect for other dogs (and people).

While typically a healthy breed, Kooikers may be prone to Von Willebrand disease, an inherited blood-clotting disorder in dogs, and hereditary necrotic myelopathy, a degenerative spinal disease.

Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen: Lovable, Comical and Sometimes Stubborn

Grand Basset Griffon Vendéens, or Grands, originated in France where they were bred to hunt in packs. Good with other dogs and children, they're said to be more laid-back than their cousins, the Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen, which are known for being quite vivacious with lots of energy. Grands, on the other hand, are not high-energy and, like Kooikers, are known to adjust their mood to that of their family around them.

That being said, Grands do need regular daily outings along with plenty of attention and early, positive training and socialization. Corey Benedict of Howey-in-the Hills, Florida, president of the Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen Club of America, told the AKC:5

"While they love their families, like many breeds they need to learn their place in the pack at an early age. If you are not a leader, they will become the leader … They are sometimes not the best breed for a first-time owner. They can be comical, but stubborn, when it comes to training."

As for appearance, Grands look similar to a large basset hound but with longer fur. Their coats should be brushed at least twice a week but other than that are easy to care for and said to be low-shedding. Described as "sensitive yet noble," Cindy Wilt, a member of the Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen Club of America board of directors, told the AKC:6

"They should be handled with respect. As a true pack hunter, their ability to think independently while working and communicating systematically with others of their own species toward a common goal makes them one of the most intelligent breeds of dog."

While they can be trained in agility, obedience and even dock diving (many Grands enjoy swimming), as hounds they excel in nose work. Health-wise, Grands may sometimes suffer from epilepsy or lion's jaw disorder, which is abnormal growth on the skull and lower jaw, and they shouldn't be over-exercised, which can be harmful for their growth and hip development, especially prior to 1 year of age, Benedict noted.7

With fewer than 400 Grands in the U.S., and a similarly small number of Kooikers, you may have a hard time finding one at a rescue group or shelter, but the Kooikerhondje Club of the USA states they do occasionally have such dogs available for adoption. Additionally, there are lots of dog breeds with names you can easily pronounce awaiting their forever homes at your local shelter, so if you are seeking a soul mate and can't bear to wait, head to your local rescue to find the perfect friend.