Drentse Patrijshond

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Drentse Patrijshond

The Drentse Patrijshond, also known as the Dutch Partridge Dog, is a respected hunter used in Holland and its neighbouring countries. A medium-sized Spaniel-type dog, they have thick brown and white fur, and long, densely-coated ears and tails. They enjoy ambling in the great outdoors, and prefer to hunt partridges, other game and vermin.

Loving and gentle, they are one of the most human-dependent hunting dogs around, and thrive when in the company of their family. Intelligent but wilful, training can be an issue at times, although they will inherently know how to hunt, flush and retrieve.

About & History

Thought to have originated several hundreds of years ago, the Drentse Patrijshond has an undocumented history. The first official records of the Drentse Patrijshond only started to appear in the 16th century. At this time, a range of Spaniel-type dogs were beginning to be imported into Holland from France, Italy and Spain. By the 17th century, several dogs were depicted in Dutch artwork bearing close resemblance to the modern-day appearance of the Drentse Patrijshond.

In Holland, the Partridge was commonly hunted, hence the name ‘Partridge dog’. Unlike in the rest of Europe where hunting was an elitist sport, in Holland, particularly in the northern region of Drenthe, hunting was open to people from all walks of life, and enjoyed by everyone from the poorest people to nobility.

The Dutch Partridge Dog was typically used to hunt alone rather than in packs, and the more versatile they were, the more prized. As well as assisting in hunting, their Dutch owners used them to pull carts and kill vermin. These dogs were part of the family, and lived in the home, ensuring they were well socialised despite their working nature.

In 1943, the Dutch Kennel Club officially recognised the Drentse Patrijshond. This was symbolic during the Second World War, a time when the Dutch Nationals were keen to separate themselves from the Germans, and to celebrate all things ‘Holland’. Their popularity as hunting gun dogs has remained to this day, and they are still a preferred option for Dutch hunters. Equally, their sociable nature has ensured they are commonly used as non-working household pets. While increasingly popular on mainland Europe, they remain rare in the rest of the world.

The Drentse Patrijshond is used to assist hunters by locating hidden birds in long grass and flushing them out. Once the game has been shot, they will search for it, then stand and point at their find until the hunter appears. Equally, they will retrieve game whether on land or in water. They are slow and steady hunters who stick close to their master for the duration of the hunt.


Drentse Patrijshond Large Photo

Not dissimilar in appearance to the English Springer Spaniel, the Drentse Patrijshond is a medium-sized Spaniel-type dog with a thick and dense coat that tends to obscure the view of its athletic body. Their skull is slightly domed, and they have long and furry ears that frame their face. Their nose is large and must always be brown. Their face will generally exhibit a sweet and gentle expression with their oval, amber eyes looking at you imploringly.

Their body is typically rectangular in shape, and ends with a distinctively long and furry tail, which may be curved at the tip. The male will measure 58-63cm, while the female stands a few centimetres shorter at the withers, measuring 55-60cm. They weigh, on average, between 21 and 30kg when fully grown.

Most dogs will display a predominantly white coat with large brown markings. Orange markings are also acceptable. Their coat is medium-long in length and they should have feathered fur on their legs.

Character & Temperament

As the Drentse Patrijshond is a breed that has always lived with people, and was never kept outdoors or in out-houses, they are very human-orientated. These dogs will depend heavily on their family, and form long-lasting and very strong bonds. This reliance on humans can become an issue if a dog is left without human companionship for too long, as they may develop separation anxiety.

Socialising the Drentse Patrijshond well from a young age will ensure that they accept strangers without hesitation. They are famous for their patience and tolerance of young children, and do very well with them. Alert and protective of their family, they can work as watchdogs, and while unlikely to aggressively attack an intruder, they will bark to alert their owner of the stranger’s presence.

While they traditionally hunt alone, they tend to do very well in the company of other dogs. Despite this reputation, they must not be trusted with smaller animals, as they will instinctively chase and hunt them. While driven and hard-working when on the hunt, they are happy to relax by the fire once home.


Photo of Drentse Patrijshond puppy

While all gun dogs will naturally know how to perform the task they were bred to do, training the Drentse Patrijshond to perform other jobs can be tricky. Though undeniably intelligent, they are often stubborn, and will require a firm and consistent trainer.

Sensitive by nature, they will respond poorly to criticism, punishment and shouting, and a trainer will get much better results with positive reinforcement and patience.


Due to the relative rarity of this breed, they have not featured in many publicised health trials, and so there is scarce data available on their overall health. It is generally accepted that they are a healthy dog that will live into their early teens. However, anecdotally, they are known to suffer from a number of medical conditions. These include:

  • Hip Dysplasia – A failure of the hip joints to form properly, resulting in inappropriate weight -bearing and the development of osteoarthritis in later life. Lifestyle modifications, medications, and sometimes orthopaedic surgeries, can benefit affected dogs.
  • Elbow Dysplasia – A group of several orthopaedic conditions that affect the elbow in the dog. Affected dogs may be slow to rise, and are often lame on one or both of their forelimbs.
  • Entropion and Ectropion – When the eyelids are not positioned correctly, they may curl inwards towards the eye (entropion) or outwards (ectropion). Entropion can result in the cornea being rubbed against and ulcerating, while ectropion can cause improper blinking and a dry eye. In selected cases, surgery may be indicated.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy – A degeneration within the eye that can eventually result in blindness. There is no treatment or cure and breeding dogs should be screened for this devastating condition.
  • Hereditary stomatocytosis – A particularly rare condition that leads to the leakage of salt ions and a haemolytic anaemia.
  • Otitis Externa – Ear infections are always a problem in Spaniel-type dogs due to the shape and design of their ears. An animal with an ear infection will need to make a visit to the vet, where the type of infection will be diagnosed, and the appropriate treatment initiated. Regular ear cleaning is essential to avoid infections throughout the dog's life.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Bred as a working dog, the Drentse Patrijshond has a high demand for exercise and, at a minimum, will require a vigorous 60-minute walk each day. Designed to roam in the outdoors, they relish the opportunity to go on hikes and swims, and will gladly join you on any outdoor expedition you may go on.

When a Drentse Patrijshond is not adequately exercised they will inevitably become bored and develop unwanted behaviours such as hyperactivity and destructiveness within the home. A large, fenced-in garden is appreciated by this breed, as they love to be active off the lead.


With their thick coat, it is not surprising that when this breed sheds, it does so impressively. Despite the denseness of their coat, when not shedding, they are low-maintenance, and only require brushing every few days.

Spaniel-types are notorious for developing ear infections, and the Drentse Patrijshond is no exception. It is vital that their ears are checked on a regular basis to ensure they are not becoming red, smelly or filled with discharge. Regular cleaning is often indicated. Ear canals should be dried after swimming and bathing to reduce the incidence of infections. As with all dogs, you should brush their teeth and clip their claws from a young age.

Famous Drentse Patrijshonds

While popular in its native Holland, there are no famous examples of the Drentse Patrijshond. There are plenty of great examples of the breed as wonderful pets, however, on the famous photo sharing site Instagram if you look under the #DrentsePatrijshond.


There are no well-known Drentse Patrijshond cross-breeds.

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