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

A Dutch breed that dates back several hundred years, the Stabyhoun was used by many farmers in Holland to catch vermin, hunt game and act as a watch dog. Their medium-sized, well-built bodies allowed them to be both quick and sturdy, enabling them to perform a variety of tasks with skill.

Now more often found as a family pet, it is the kind nature and agreeable disposition of the Stabyhoun that makes it so sought after today. Quick to learn, they are easy to train and their adaptability means that they excel in a huge variety of sports and activities. They require plenty of exercise and mental stimulation and would not be content with a couch potato lifestyle.

About & History

It is widely believed that the Stabyhoun is derived from Spaniels brought over by the Spanish, and its descendants are likely to include the Drentsche Patrijshond and the Small Münsterländer. It hails from a region called Friesland, in the north of Holland. The ‘Staby’ in the name ‘Stabyhoun’ is a play on the Dutch words ‘sta mij bij’, roughly meaning ‘stand by me’. This name is probably a reference to the breeds’ loyalty, and the close relationship it enjoys with its owners.

The Stabyhoun was extensively used by Dutch farmers during the 19th and 20th century; its intelligence and versatility earning it great admiration. A fruitful hunter, watchdog, retriever and tracker, the ability of this Dutch farm dog to fill many roles was widely respected and sought after. Commonly described as a ‘jack of all trades’, it seems there was little work on the farm that the Stabyhoun couldn’t put his ‘paw’ to.

Not only has the Stabyhoun garnered Dutch attention for the decades of farm yard labour it has served, it is also known to be a much-loved family pet. Its gentle and affable nature has meant that it is trainable and trustworthy; a superb all-round dog.

Historically, the Stabyhoun was habitually bred with the Wetterhoun, a similar looking Dutch dog. However, in order to preserve the breed, in 1942, this practice was stopped, and in 1944, the first breed standard was written. In fact, within Holland there are a lot of rules regarding the breeding of the Stabyhoun, with the aim to increase the population size and keep the rate of inherited health conditions low. Breed advisors from the Dutch Stabyhoun Association should be contacted if an owner wishes to breed their Stabyhoun.

There are thought to only be around 6,000 to 7,000 Stabyhoun dogs in the world, making it a truly rare breed. The majority of the Stabyhoun dogs reside in Holland, although there has recently been an increased interest in the breed in the USA, UK and Scandinavia. Today, the breed is often seen competing in canine activities, such as agility and flyball; their athleticism and obedient natures paying off.


Stabyhoun Large Photo

A long, medium-sized dog of stocky build, the Stabyhoun should be athletic and agile. Males reach heights of 50-56cm, while females stand to 45-50cm at the withers. Males will weigh between 23-25kg, while the smaller female will typically weigh around 20-22kg.

The skull of the Stabyhoun is slightly domed in appearance, though this trait should not be pronounced. Their feathered ears flop forwards, framing the face. Their brown eyes are rounded, with tight-fitting eyelids. Their chest should be broad but not deep and their back is straight and strong. Their limbs are well-muscled, ending in thick paw pads.

Their soft, medium-length coat is classically white and black (piebald) but can also be brown and white or orange and white. A waviness to the coat is permitted. Their long tail in particular should be covered in flowing, silky fur. The coat should not be excessively feathered as this is frowned upon in the show ring.

Character & Temperament

One of the first things that will endear an owner to a Stabyhoun is their charming personality. Loving and gentle, they are a joy to be around, getting on particularly well with children. The Stabyhoun’s close relationships with its family can have a downside, however, as they can become overly attached to their owners, and have a tendency towards developing separation anxiety in certain situations.

It is not unheard of for a Stabyhoun to be reserved with a new person, and they should be allowed to take their time with the introduction, gradually building their confidence until they feel comfortable approaching the stranger. They are rarely, if ever, aggressive towards those they don’t know. The Stabyhoun can certainly be relied upon to be a watch dog, as they are watchful when at home and will bark to alert their owner of any new activity.

While lively and upbeat when outside, unlike many other breeds, they seem to have an ‘off switch’ and will be polite and calm when indoors. Traditionally, the Stabyhoun was used to hunt vermin, such as moles, and so great caution should be taken if in the presence of small family pets, such as hamsters and mice.


Photo of Stabyhoun puppy

Remarkably intelligent, they are quick to learn and always aim to please. The Stabyhoun is incredibly obedient and will follow any instruction it understands. Sensitive by nature, it is important that they are not reprimanded if they do not understand a task first time. Instead, they should be encouraged to try again and rewarded when they get it right. Off lead training can be a challenge, as they still maintain a high prey drive.


The Dutch Government and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Utrecht University recently conducted a study involving the four most popular dog breeds in the Netherlands with the Stabyhoun included. They were looking into the most prevalent inherited conditions within the breed, and discovered that the following three conditions occur more commonly than within other breeds:

Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

While of use within the foetus, the ductus arteriosus becomes redundant after birth and should seal over. When this fails to happen, it is known as a PDA, and inappropriate shunting of blood occurs from the aorta to the pulmonary artery. Most affected puppies are found to have a murmur at their first health check, and further recommended tests will diagnose the condition. An untreated animal will likely go on to develop complete heart failure within a year or two and carries a poor prognosis.

Cerebral Dysfunction

This is a rare condition of neurological dysfunction seen in the Stabyhoun breed. Affected animals will show signs very early on in life and will demonstrate strange repetitive behaviours. As they fail to eat, they tend to eventually die from starvation.


Canine Epilepsy is a relatively common cause of seizures in dogs, and one that can often be managed well with medication.

Hip & Elbow Dysplasia

As well as the above three important medical conditions, the breed is also predisposed to Hip & Elbow Dysplasia. These orthopaedic conditions, caused by improperly developed joints, lead to lameness and discomfort. It is in the breed’s best interest for affected animals to not reproduce.

Exercise and Activity Levels

This is a breed that loves to be part of an active household and will happily participate in any task set to it. Having gained a reputation as a great competitor, the Stabyhoun loves to join in when it comes to competitive activities, such as agility, frisbee and endurance. Additionally, the Stabyhoun loves to swim and does not seem to mind how cold the water gets.

Exercise alone will not keep the Stabyhoun content, as they also need some form of mental stimulation. If appropriate, setting them to work, such as in field trials, can be a great challenge for them. Otherwise, providing them with complex dog puzzles and games should suffice. It goes without saying that if an owner fails to adequately exercise their Stabyhoun they may well use their excess energy to develop nuisance behaviours within the home.


The coat of the Stabyhoun is known for being low maintenance and easy to keep clean. Weekly brushing is usually all that is needed, although more frequent brushing may be required for their longer sections of fur, particularly during a moult.

Bathing is not needed very often, and dogs that swim will generally keep themselves clean, without the need for a bath. Owners must remember to thoroughly dry inside the ears after getting wet to prevent infection from setting in.

Famous Stabyhounen

No Stabyhoun dogs have quite made it to the Hollywood walk of fame just yet. With their sparkling personality though, it’s surely only a matter of time. But, if you're researching the breed and want to browse through some photos, Tibbe and Yerke from Instagram are some pretty adorable examples.


The Stabyhoun was once crossed with the Wetterhoun with great frequency, however, this practice has now fallen out of favour.

User comments

There are no user comments for this listing.