|Dog (domestic dog)|
The Stabyhoun or Stabij is one of the top five rarest dog breeds in the world. It is from the Dutch province of Friesland and in particular from the Frisian forest area, a region in the southeast and east of Friesland. The breed has been mentioned in Dutch literature going back to the early 1800s, but has only extended its range from the 1960s outside of Friesland and not until the 2000s did the range officially extend beyond the Netherlands. The name Stabij translates roughly as "stand by me" with the last part simply Frisian, meaning dog, which is pronounced "hond ". The dog is considered a Dutch national treasure. There are only a few thousand Stabyhouns in existence today worldwide.
The Stabyhoun is found in historic literature from Joost Halbertsma, Waling Dijkstra and Nynke fan Hichtum dating back to the early 1800s. In earlier days it was used for hunting foxes, small game, and birds. While on farms, Stabyhouns exhibited fine skills as a mole-catcher. During the hunting season, it was used as an all-round gundog. Today, the Stabyhoun remains a competent hunter, although British and German breeds are more popular. Renowned for its peaceful disposition, the Stabij is a soft-mouthed retriever, a fine pointer, excellent tracker, and a good watchdog. It has also been used by dairy farmers as a cart-dog.
Historically, these dogs were nearly exclusively owned by farmers, whose limited financial means dictated the need for a single farm dog capable as an all-around working, hunting, guard and gentle house breed.
The breed's appearance and purpose have not changed. In order to optimize the working traits of the working farm dog in earlier days the Stabyhoun was often mixed with another old and rare Friesian breed, the Wetterhoun.
However, in 1942 Stabij owners organized for official breed recognition and crossbreeding between the Stabyhoun and Wetterhoun was halted in an effort to prevent the extinction of the increasingly rare breeds.
Today the Stabyhoun enjoys a small but thoroughly devoted following among Dutch sportsmen and homeowners. Its numbers are increasing slowly but steadily. This breed has caught the attention of dog lovers in the United Kingdom, Scandinavia and North America.
The working Stabyhoun
Historically, the Stabyhoun was an all-around working dog for a farmer that might be only able to afford and support a single dog that was required to be an all-around able worker that shared the home. Apart from hunting, these dogs were used to guard property and to catch rats, moles, and bunzing. This versatility is still reflected in the breed today. It is also this lack of a working specialization, the Stabij's generalization an all-rounder but not an expert at any particular skill that caused the breed to not be as sought-after traditionally.
The Stabyhoun is both a soft-mouthed retriever and a pointer with a strong tracking nose. It works very well on water, enduring the coldest rivers and lakes, and is easily controlled over greater distances. It brings in any game alive and undamaged. Although of medium build and size, it is a powerful and sturdy dog, and larger Stabyhouns of the past were occasionally used as draught animals to pull dog-carts .
The Stabyhoun has a gentle disposition. This breed is friendly, sensitive, intelligent, peaceful, patient, and willing to please, but may be stubborn on occasion. The Stabyhoun exhibits great tolerance of children and other animals. With steady yet gentle training, this breed will be obedient and devoted to its owner. Stabyhouns should never be vicious or snappy.
Although a Stabyhoun can be very calm indoors, like all sporting breeds it enjoys plenty of physical activity. Stabyhouns like to swim.
Sturdily built with a soft silky coat, the Stabyhoun is greater in length than height. It should be of good physical scale and balance and neither muscular nor slender in build. Feminine and masculine differences in facial features are distinct and easily distinguished between the sexes.
Most Stabyhouns have a black and white colored coat with often a solid fully colored, usually black, head and white tipped tail. Brown and white Stabyhouns are less common, but may be seen in the Netherlands, while the orange and white coated Stabyhouns are becoming increasingly rare.
Spotting and/or roan in the white are acceptable, but tricolor is considered a fault. Males are 53 cm (21 in) and females are 50 cm (20 in), measured at the withers. The ideal weight of a Stabyhoun is 45 lb (20 kg) for a female and 50–55 lb (23–25 kg) for a male.
Head and Face
The head should show more length than width, with the skull and foreface equally long. The hair on the head is short. The skull should be slightly domed, but not narrow, and may never give the impression of being wide. The head is carried low on a strong, slightly arched neck. The stop is only slightly indicated. The foreface is powerful, tapering gently toward the nose without giving the appearance of a point. The bridge is straight and the muzzle is broad with a nose that is well developed and has wide nostrils. Lips are tight and cover the teeth, which are strong and have a scissor bite. The neck should be free of throatiness or dewlap. The expression of the face should always be gentle and intelligent.
The ears are set fairly low, medium in size, and are strongly developed. The ears project from the head, and are moderately long and shaped like a mason's trowel. Feathering on the ears is typical, with hair growing longer at the base of the ear and steadily decreasing in length. The bottom-most third of the ear is covered with short hair.
The eyes should lie level in the head, and be of medium size with tight rounded lids. There should not be the appearance of haw or a third eyelid. Dogs with black and white coats should have dark brown eyes, while brown and white Stabyhouns may have brown- or orange-colored eyes. Bird of prey eyes are considered to be a fault.
The Stabyhoun's coat is long and sleek. Although a slight wave over the croup is permissible, it should never be curly. The hair behind a Stabyhoun's front and rear quarters is longer and fuller, but should never feather. Any curling of the coat suggests that cross-breeding has occurred in a dog's line, and for this reason cannot be considered a purebred Stabyhoun.
A Stabyhoun's body should be powerful with well-rounded ribs. Its back is straight with the croup sloping slightly. The loin is powerful, and the belly is only moderately tucked up. The tail is long, reaching to the hock. It is set low and carried downwards with a gentle bend upwards toward the tip of the tail. In action, the tail is lifted, but never so as to curl. Like the hair behind a Stabyhoun's front and rear quarters, the tail hair should be long, full, and bushy. However, the tail hair should not feather.
The shoulder is well laid against the chest, the blades well laid back and angulated. The lower forequarters should be powerful and straight, likewise the forelegs straight. A Stabyhoun's pasterns should be strong. The hindquarters are powerful and well angulated with a low placed hock. The feet should be round and rather big, with toes that are well developed and arched. A Stabyhoun should have thick pads.
A relatively healthy breed with no current common health issues, the average life span of a Stabyhoun is 13–15 years. Diet, exercise, care and environment are currently the factors of greatest overall influence on the breed's health and lifespan.
The Stabyhoun is an overall a healthy dog. Known congenital health conditions in the breed are Patent Ductus Arteriosis (PDA), Epilepsy, Elbow Dysplasia, Hip Dysplasia and Type 1 von Willebrands Disease (vWB). Other conditions recorded are Radius Curvus, Hereditary Cataracts, Steroid Responsive Meningitis-Arteritis (SRMA) and non-specific Cancer. The heritability of these conditions is uncertain, on, but with careful breeding, most of these problems were eliminated. Epilepsy occurred in the past, but is no longer a common genetic inheritance.
The Stabyhoun does not require special care apart from regular brushing to minimize tangling. The dogs moult (shed) twice a year, and thorough brushing helps the process of shedding. Without brushing, Stabyhoun hair can get tangled and matted in the manner of dreadlocks. The hair behind the ears is particularly susceptible to tangling and matting. Washing with soap should be avoided when possible because soap strips the coat of its natural oils and shine. The Stabyhoun coat will naturally rid itself of dirt and mud. After a swim the dog is usually clean and dry in a matter of hours.
Due to the limited size of the Stabyhoun population, careful breeding is essential. The Dutch Association for Stabyhouns and Wetterhouns (Nederlandse Vereniging voor Stabij- en Wetterhounen/NVSW), the Ameri-Can Stabyhoun Association and the UK Stabyhoun Association has breed advisors who assist with mating selections. In an effort to control inbreeding, the association keeps breeding at a minimum and carefully considers prospective matings. Despite there being small populations of Stabyhouns outside of the Netherlands, the breeding population is small and the greatest genetic diversity remains in the Netherlands. Since Stabyhouns are viewed as part of the Dutch national heritage, breeders keep puppy and dog prices affordable; Stabyhoun breeders are commonly hobby breeders as a result. The average Stabyhoun litter size is seven. Bitches are limited to delivering no more than 5 litters in their lifetime.
The bitch may only reproduce when she reaches a minimum age of 18 months, and cannot breed once she reaches the age of 9. At least one year should elapse between litters. The hips of prospective mating pair have to be x-rayed (not over FCI-C result), and the match between bitch and stud has to be approved by the Dutch Club's breeding committee. A stud must be 18 months of age or older to breed, and it must have with the same show and hip results as its female mate. Stud dogs should not sire more than three litters a year, and 10 in their lifetime. Stud-owners are expected to appear on breeders' days so that the dogs may be evaluated and paired with potentially suitable mates.
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- UK Stabyhoun Association (United Kingdom)
- Nederlandse Vereniging voor staby-en wetterhounen (Dutch association for staby-and wetterhounen). This is the official contact for the association on the Stabyhoun.
- Ameri-Can Stabyhoun Association website (U.S. and Canada)
- U.S. web site
- Dutch kennel, site with English content
- U.S. Kennel, site with information on Stabyhouns