Breed comparison by Kathy Rost.

I have an 11 year old brittany and a 5 year old kooikerhondje. I got my brittany when she was 4 months old and my kooiker when she was 8 weeks old. When I got my brittany I met both parents. When I got my kooiker I only saw the mother. I think both breeders were first time breeders and I probably didn’t do as much research on either breed before I got them. With the brittany I did agility for a number of years and now I am doing nose work.
With my kooiker I do agility. Both dogs work with a fitness trainer and have advanced trick skills. We have property so both dogs have lots of opportunity for unstructured time outside to explore and just be dogs. They also do things with me and just hang out.

Q: How do the breeds’ temperaments compare?

The brittany is an explorer. She is very athletic and energetic. She likes routine. She is very intelligent and quick to learn. I would describe her as aloof and independent. She doesn’t mind being alone. She is very slow to bond with others but once she does she is friendly. She and I are very close and she trusts me in everyway. The thing that makes her the happiest is to hunt. She is always out front of me looking for birds so keeping a connection is always a challenge. She was born to be out front looking for the birds so forget walking by my side. She hates that. She has a very calm personality except when on the hunt.

My kooiker came to me fearful of other dogs and I was never able to find out why. She is much better now. I would say she is an introvert until she knows you very well. People need to earn her trust. She is a thinker and needs to know why something needs to get done. When she is out of balance she can be very fearful, timid and she use to be a fear biter but we have overcome that. She is very attentive to my every move. She is very observant and often evaluates a situation before agreeing to do something. I had to work very hard to earn her trust. I spent the last 4 years keeping her safe and calm and now she is a joy. She is by my side whenever she can be. Where the brittany runs out to find the bird, my kooiker would be strolling either right in front of me or by my side. Often sniffing!

Q: How do the breeds’ energy levels and exercise requirements compare?

My brittany needs lots of exercise. Even at 11 she can outlast most dogs. I am lucky though because she can chill with the best of them. I suppose she gets 2 to 5 miles of either walking or running almost every day. She can stay outside for long periods of time running from bush to bush making sure there are no critters or birds. She still goes to the agility practice barn once a week to play around and does nose work once a week.

My kooiker gets walked every day for about 2 miles. They are what I call slow sniff walks. Our pace is about 20 minute miles. When she is outside she is either sniffing or sitting on the hill just looking about. We go to agility training once a week and practice once or twice a week.

Q: How do the breeds’ care requirements (including grooming needs) compare?

Both dogs have minimum grooming needs. I wash my brittany more often because of how she spends her time running in the fields and bushes. She gets minimum trims on her tail and back end. In the summer I bathe her frequently but not in the winter. She gets a nail trim each week.

I don’t wash my kooiker very often. She is more self cleaning and never seems to have an odor like my brittany. She gets brushed regularly and does not shed that much. I only trim her little feet and of course her nails.

Q: How do the breeds’ training and socialization processes compare?

Both the brittany and kooiker are very easy to train. Both very smart and seem to generalize quickly. I can teach them something at home and it transfers to another location easily. Both dogs love to train. They are more food motivated than toys but they do like to play. Because they are food motivated they learn easily.

I was not concerned about the socialization process for my brittany. We went to puppy training and she hung our with me a lot. She really pays no attention to other people or dogs. She is a good neutral dog around people and other dogs. I do have to watch the environment because she can get overstimulated if she thinks there is a hunting opportunity. Doing agility with her was very difficult not because of her skills and capability but if there were birds in the arena it was hard to keep her focused. She has also been know to run off on her own and can cover a lot of distance before she is ready to come back. She used to play with a couple of dogs before agility class but she isn’t much interested in play now.

With my kooiker I may have exposed her to too many people and dogs before she was ready. I should have spent more time building our relationship first. She did go to puppy training and did fine but her first agility foundation class was where she really showed how afraid she was of other dogs. We had to back off at that point and I spent all my time making sure she was safe, calm and felt very secure. I didn’t expose her to other dogs at a close distance for a very long time. She does ok now but I always have to make sure she is comfortable.

Q: How do the breeds’ health concerns compare?

Both my brittany and kooiker are healthy. My kooiker may have a hip problem in the future. At 18 months she was xrayed and at that time they could not tell for sure but they were concerned about hip dysplasia. She shows no sign of any problem but I watch it closely. All other vet visits have been good health wise.

Q: Describe the ideal owner for each of your breeds

For the brittany, the ideal owner would be someone who wants to spend a lot of time outside doing a lot of walking, hiking, hunting. The brittany also needs lots of mental stimulation so nosework is very good for them and they do ok in agility. Having space outside to run and play is also important. The brittany wouldn’t do well as just a house dog. If the owner did hunt training that would be a plus. At the end of the day the brittany likes to snuggle with me so I would hope the owner would be kind and very loving.

The owner for the kooiker should be very patient and kind. I think the breed is very sensitive to voice and movement so an owner should be aware of how they show up. The owner should be happy having a buddy. My kooiker can stay alone for a few hours but she doesn’t sleep. She waits by the window for my return. I wouldn’t get a kooiker if you had to crate them in an apartment for 8 hours. The owner should have space or willing to go places to exercise. The kooiker is nice to hang with because they aren’t that big and it is easy to take them places. I would hope the owner would like a travel buddy.

Q: Please include any other details you wish to convey about the similarities and differences between your breeds.

These breeds are very different. The similarities I think would be in their intelligence. Both are fast learners and enjoy training opportunities. They both would get very bored if they did not have exercise and mental stimulation. I think my brittany is tall compared to others but I have seen a small brittany who wasn’t much bigger than my kooiker. They look good together because of their color and I often get non dog people ask if they are the same breed. That always surprises me because they don’t look anything alike. Just their coloring. I would say my brittany was high energy and my kooiker was medium energy. Both do very well in the house. They alert when someone comes to the door and the brittany is easier to stop barking than the kooiker until she sees who is at the door. If there is a deer in the field the brittany will chase the kooiker will look at me to see if we are both going to chase. She would look for my cue but the brittany would just go. They both have good recalls but it is because we continuously work on that.