Interview with Ann Knoop-Siderius, Breeder of Nederlandse Kooikerhondjes van den Iserman Hoeve
Where do we live? How many years in dogs? How many years as breeders?
Ann Knoop-Siderius: We are located in central Illinois. We have a beautiful country home, with a river running across the back of our property where our dogs love to swim! We imported our first Nederlandse Kooikerhondje pair in 2010 from our home country and the home country of the breed, the Netherlands. We grew up with Kooikers in the Netherlands!
What is our kennel name? How many dogs do we currently keep?
Ann Knoop-Siderius: Our kennel name is Nederlandse Kooikerhondjes van den Iserman Hoeve. This is a family name of mine from Friesland, an area in the Netherlands. We currently live with nine Kooikerhondjes in our homes; three live with my husband and I, three live with my son, who lives directly behind us, and three live with my daughter, who lives directly next to us.
Which show dogs from the past have been our noteworthy winners?
Ann Knoop-Siderius: We have imported and bred show quality dogs specifically to meet our standard for conformation and functionality and will continue to do so. Some of our notable puppies are last year’s Westminster Best of Breed winner, GCH Amazing Gerard Ravenswood Van Den Iserman Hoeve BCAT THDN CGC (Best of Breed at Westminster 2022), and several others from our breeding program, including:
- CH Amazing Catarina Haarlem Van Den Iserman Hoeve CM CD BN GN RA BCAT CGC TKI;
- MACH Amazing Lutcia Van Den Iserman Hoeve CDX BN GN RI FDC MXB MJB XF SWM TKP;
- GCH Amazing Luka Van Den Iserman Hoeve FDC BCAT CGC TKN ATT (attending Westminster this year).
Which have been our most influential sires and dams?
Ann Knoop-Siderius: Looking at our offspring has been a wonderful experience, as we can see how each dog/bitch influenced the lines. Likely a couple of the most influential have been our matriarch: Amazing Queen Achteraf (Evie), along with an influential sire, IRon Ravenswood von Wichtelhaus (IRon), whose offspring, Amazing Amerika van den Iserman Hoeve (Xena), has done amazing things for our breed, including a wonderful temperament and not being oversized. Offspring of Xena includes Amazing Luka Van Den Iserman Hoeve (Luka), who continues to show off the beautiful looks, structure, proper size, temperament, biddability, and work ethic of a true Kooiker.
Can we talk a bit about our facilities? Where are our puppies whelped?
Ann Knoop-Siderius: Our puppies are whelped in our home. We have a study/library just off our kitchen where our puppies enter the world and begin their first steps. We do lots of socialization on our small farm where they meet different animals and children of all ages. We have so many special places for them to explore and learn new things.
We follow several different puppy rearing programs, including Avidog, and as the puppies turn 7 weeks of age we do the Volhard temperament test. Puppy parents are encouraged to meet us at our home and see where their little ones grew up. Typically, our puppies leave for their new homes at 8 weeks of age, but sometimes we will keep them longer, depending on the litter.
What is our “process” for selecting Show Puppies? Performance Puppies? Field Puppies?
Ann Knoop-Siderius: We will not choose homes for puppies until 7 weeks of age in order to get the full view of their personalities and futures. Show homes are very special and we go into depth with those who are interested in showing or competing, since they are likely to be the future of the breeding program. We make sure our buyers have proper expectations of a Kooiker, its needs, its temperament, etc. Having a sit-down conversation to understand what the buyer wants from their puppy is important in helping us determine which puppy will best fit their needs. The Volhard test is used as a guide, but it is not the only tool used when selecting this very special puppy.
Do we compete in Companion Events? Performance Events?
Ann Knoop-Siderius: We personally compete in Conformation, Companion, and Performance Events, though not to the extent that we are gone every weekend. We do what our dogs enjoy, and currently they are loving Fast CAT as well as the show ring! Our puppy buyers are a wide variety of Performance, Companion, and show homes. We have many different types of jobs for a Kooiker and they do all of them well.
Some of them are Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs, and Performance Stars (Agility, Dock Diving, Rally, Obedience, etc.), and some are very successful in the show ring. While our personal dogs may not have the long list of titles that their puppies do, we take pride in knowing we are producing dogs that can work and perform, as well as keep their families happy and safe.
Are Field Trials or parent club Hunt Tests important to us?
Ann Knoop-Siderius: Our breed does not place importance on Field Trials or Hunt Tests, because we are not a typical Sporting Breed. We place special value on temperament, ability to perform around the farm or house, and protecting their families. We prefer getting a Dutch Judge’s written evaluation on our (and other American) Kooikers as much as possible to add value to our Standard and maintain their purpose.
How would we define “conditioning” as it relates to our breed?
Ann Knoop-Siderius: Our breed is a healthy, active breed that needs conditioning exercise to stay in shape. A healthy Kooiker needs walks, fun, and a frisbee, but does not need biking, excessive fitness training, or other physical therapy. Our show homes keep their dogs active. They include stretching and core work in their exercise in the forms of tricks and play, and keeping their dogs well vetted with chiropractic adjustments and massage. Our breed maintains its shape and form with proper exercise.
Are there any health-related concerns in our breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Ann Knoop-Siderius: We are involved in the AKC national parent club and I am a member of the Health and Genetics Committee. We work very closely with the Dutch club and try to make sure that the US population is informed as new tests become available for our breed. There are currently five tests required by the breed club and the OFA. This is a healthy breed, and as long as health tests are conducted and followed in breeding practice, it will remain healthy.
Nutritionally, this breed should be fed the best quality food, as every dog should. There are not specific nutritional requirements, other than taking care of your pet with quality products. Luka’s (mentioned above) parents own a pet store, Roo’s Holistic Pet Supplies, which specializes in high-quality food. Not “boutique” or made-up foods, but truly balanced, nutritional diets that promote the best health possible in our dogs.
You can look at Luka and their other dogs and see the true care taken in their food selection, simply by how wonderful their dogs’ coats, stools, habits, and health are. Luka’s coat is healthy, shiny, has minimal shedding/breaking of the coat, and is not frizzy or unhealthy looking. His nutrition makes a difference in his performance and gives him an edge over the competition. The owners have been involved in sighthounds for a long time and have proven improved endurance, muscling, etc. from proper diet.
Do we think our breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Ann Knoop-Siderius: We have several preservation breeders that we work with very closely, as well as the national breed club in the Netherlands. The hope, of course, is to preserve the true Kooiker and not give in to pressure from outside breeds/onlookers. Size, temperament, function, and health are very important. Preservation breeders are (and should continue) showing their dogs that are of proper size (many are too large), proper temperament, and untrimmed (as written in the Standard). They should not hide flaws so as not to create trends in the breed.
Is our breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own our breed?
Ann Knoop-Siderius: The Kooikerhondje can be a wonderful addition to the right family. Not every Kooikerhondje is a good fit with every family, which is why we do not let people choose their own puppies. We use a questionnaire from prospective owners and the Volhard test as a guide to match the right puppy with the right family. The Kooiker is to be aloof to strangers, but not aggressive. They should be protective when appropriate, but true to their family.
What is the biggest misconception about our breed? What is our breed’s best-kept secret?
Ann Knoop-Siderius: Do not let their small stature and beauty fool you. The Kooiker is incredibly smart, and given the chance, will take the alpha position in your family. While adorable, they will protect their family and are fiercely loyal and loving.
Another misconception is that this breed must carry the duck within its mouth. The Kooiker worked quietly in the Eendenkooi (duck pond) to lure ducks into elaborate traps; nothing in their mouth. We love to explain the elaborate system to new people interested in the breed. They are not a typical Sporting Dog and should be treated, trained, and socialized differently.
If we could share a comment or two with judges of our breed, what would we like to say to them?
Ann Knoop-Siderius: We would like judges to watch for size and temperament within the breed. Understand that this breed’s name explains that it is to be a small dog: Kooiker-hondJE (hond means dog, and the JE at the end makes it small). There should be trimming on the FEET ONLY; there should never be any other trimming on the body, especially not the tail! We are seeing too many trimmed dogs, large dogs, and poor temperaments in the Breed ring. They can be flashy and beautiful without being trimmed and oversize.
Do we have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?
Ann Knoop-Siderius: Our breed is in need of genetic diversity. It is only with new breeders, or owners who are willing to keep their Kooikers intact and do the recommended/required testing, that we can bring it back to a healthy population. If you are considering breeding, please reach out to us!
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing we’ve ever experienced with a Sporting Dog?
Ann Knoop-Siderius: It is always fun to hear people mispronounce our breed’s name. We have heard so many amusing names, but maybe the best is the Cookie Hound! When you say Kooiker, think Koi fish, not cookie!
Are you looking for a Nederlandse Kooikerhondje puppy?
The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder?
Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.
Want to help rescue and re-home a Nederlandse Kooikerhondje dog?
Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.
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