Dutch Smoushond

Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
Photo of adult Dutch Smoushond

Falling somewhere between a small and medium-sized dog, the Dutch Smoushond has an excellent character and is a great match for an active family. Although little-known outside of their native Netherlands, the Smoushond has been around for 200 years. In more recent years, the breed nearly died out but was saved in the 1970s by the efforts of a group of dedicated enthusiasts.

In looks, the Smoushond has a certain similarity to a yellow Schnauzer with coarse tousled coat that has a hint of teddy bear about it. Indeed, the Smoushond is an affable fellow and refreshingly free from traits such as anxiety (although like any dog he should be well socialised as a pup.)

His generous heart and loyalty make him a good fit with families, as he will bond closely with those he knows and trusts. The Smoushond can also adapt to life in a smaller house, with the proviso that he gets plenty of exercise.

About & History

The Smoushond’s closest relatives’ hail from the Schnauzer group, with the latter’s history going back nearly a thousand years. The Smoushond breed was at its most popular in mid-19th century Netherlands. Bred for a similar purpose as the Dalmatian, he had the august duty of trotting behind a horse and carriage to making a pleasing ensemble. And, when off-duty, he was expected to keep down the rat population in the stables.

Originally known as the “Gentleman’s carriage dog”, it was his wiry coat that inspired the name “Smoushond”, with “Smous” meaning beard and “hond” meaning hound. Although the breed has been established some two centuries, the breed standard was first registered in Holland in 1905. Sadly, only a few decades later in 1945, due to decreasing popularity, the last litter was registered and it looked like the breed would die out.

With Smoushond endangered, in 1973 the appropriately named Mrs Barkman set about reconstructing the Smoushond type dog. She used cross-bred dog with a striking physical appearance to the breed and succeeded in reviving the Smoushond or a dog very much like the original.


Dutch Smoushond Large Photo

With “Smous” meaning bearded it is no surprise this breed has a rough, wiry coat. Facial hair is big in this breed, with a moustache, beard, and bushy eyebrows expected (even for the females!) The coat is course and has a naturally unkempt appearance, with a fur length of 4 to 7 cm.

Sitting astride the division between a small and medium-sized dog, the females are similar in size but often slightly longer in the back than the males. The overall impression is of a compact, muscular dog that is well-proportioned with the depth of the chest being half that of the dog’s height to the shoulder.

The Smoushond has a broad, slightly domed skull, again with nice proportions such that the muzzle is half the length of the cranial chamber. This is set off with appealing dark brown eyes, a black nose, and black-rimmed lips. A distinguishing feature is the Smoushond’s short tail, which should be no longer than the length from his rump to the hock (ankle). This should be carried upright but never curled over the back.

The Smoushond’s signature colour is yellow, with ears erring towards that of dark straw. Also, his moustache, beard, and eyebrows can also be a deeper shade of yellow.

Character & Temperament

Words such as friendly, outgoing, and steady nicely sum up the Smoushond’s temperament. He is an honest sort and generally considered free from anxiety and nervousness (provided he is well-socialised as a pup.) Also, he quickly learns to love those he trusts and makes for a devoted companion.

One of his attractive qualities is that he’s not easily startled, which can help him cope with life in a rambunctious family home. And even though he is considered free-spirited, very much has his own personality, he is also given to obedience.


The Smoushond enjoys being given guidance in the form of reward-based obedience training. He is a receptive fellow that is quick and eager to learn. However, this is where a loyal and loving temperament can work against him. His devotion to an owner means that he can become distressed when inappropriately punished or treated harshly. Thus, owners should be knowledgeable about how to correct unwanted behaviours in a sympathetic manner.

The Smoushond cares more about being with the people he loves, than the location he lives in. This makes him an adaptable dog prepared to live in a smaller dwelling, provided he gets plenty of exercise to make up for the lack of space.


The relative scarcity of the breed means that there have been no studies looking into which diseases are most prevalent in the breed. Whilst problems do occur, it’s difficult to say whether these are at a normal rate or there is an increased risk within the breed. Amongst Smoushond owners, the breed has a reputation for being healthy and relatively free from problems. This is especially good news given that the numbers of breeding dogs (and therefore the gene pool) are low, because genetic health issues could quickly become magnified much to the detriment of the breed. Problems that have occurred within the breed include:


This refers to difficulty giving birth. Anecdotally, it is not uncommon to hear of Smoushonds needing assistance to give birth or even requiring a Caesarean section.

Luxating Patellas

This refers to wobbly kneecaps and is a common problem with small breed dogs. In this case, the patella (kneecap) slips off to one side as the dog takes a step, which can cause the leg to lock up. Mild cases are of no great significance, whilst moderate cases need occasional pain relief. However, severe laxity of the patella does require corrective surgery in order to seat the kneecap more firmly in place.


The lens within the eye should be clear and transparent, in order for light to pass through to the light-sensitive layer. When the lens becomes opaque, which blocks the passage of light, a common cause is the formation of a cataract.

Cataracts impair vision in the same way that wearing a dirty contact lens does. A mature cataract blocks the passage of all light and will render the dog blind in that eye. If spotted in the early stages, cataracts can be removed using a specialist procedure called phaecoemulsion. However, this is expensive.

Eyelid Abnormalities

The eyelids should sit flush with the surface of the eye (cornea). Two contrasting conditions exist where the eyelid is too slack and sags away from the cornea (ectropion) or where it curls in and rubs on the surface of the eye (entropion). These conditions can lead to drying out of the cornea or severe discomfort, and surgery to improve the anatomy of the eyelid is advisable on humane grounds.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Think back to the Smoushond’s origins of tailgating carriages and it is apparent this is a breed that needs to be active. However, the good news is that he doesn’t need the extreme exercise some working breeds do and will settle for a couple of decent long walks per day.

But be warned, a Smoushond who is expected to lead a couch potato lifestyle will rapidly gain weight. In addition, he’s liable to become bored, which then leads to bad behaviours, such as chewing, digging, or destructiveness.


That wiry coat is meant to look shaggy and unkempt, so this is not a breed that needs regular parlour visits. However, he does need brushing at least once a week and the longer fur in his ears and paws should be kept trimmed back. In addition, twice a year his coat should be hand-stripped in order to keep it healthy. Bathing risks stripping the natural oils out of the coat, and so should be undertaken only when necessary.

Famous Dutch Smoushonds

As a relatively rare breed the Smoushond is little known outside of the Netherlands. However, in his home, he is a hero and there are many examples of this delightful breed on Pinterest.


This is a breed that relatively recently faced extinction. Efforts to date have focussed on re-establishing the breed whilst remaining as true as possible to the original breed standard as listed in 1905. This means the Smoushond is not widely used as a cross with other breeds, given that breeding efforts lean in a different direction.

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