Stabyhoun dog
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The Stabyhoun, also known as the Stabij, is one of the rarest dog breeds in the world. Hailing from the Netherlands, this breed can be found in books as far back as the 1800s. The Stabij name translates to “stand by me dog” and only a few thousand Stabyhouns are living currently all around the world. Originally bred for hunting small game, birds, foxes and moles, this breed is great at tracking, pointing, and makes a wonderful guard dog and faithful companion to your family.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsHigh

Dog Breed Group:Sporting Dog
Height:1 foot, 7 inches tall to 1 foot, 8 inches tall
Weight:45 to 50 pounds
Life Span:13 to 14 years

The Stabyhoun dog breed is beloved in the Netherlands and comes from the Friesland area, which is in the northeast portion of the country. Used as a hunting and watchdog, his name comes from the Dutch phrase “stand by me dog”, which shows just what a faithful and loving companion he can be, as well as a great hunter, pointer, tracker, and all around great sporting breed.

There are Dutch writings and books that show this breed in the early 1800s, in the area of Friesland, and in the 1900s, the breed was more known, and by the 2000s, there were Stabyhouns living outside of its origin, but it is still considered a treasured dog in the Netherlands, loved by children and adults alike. Only a few thousand dogs in this breed are currently living in the entire world.

Originally, this dog was bred for hunting animals such as small game, foxes, moles and birds, and was occasionally used as a gun dog. They are smart hunters, pointers, trackers and make great guard dogs, and some farmers used them as dog carts.

Mostly farmers owned this breed in the early days and they needed a dog who could do not only farm work, but hunting, guarding and being a companion in the home, and the Stabyhoun fit that description perfectly.

Sometimes you will see a Stabyhoun that is mixed with a Wetterhoun, which is yet another rare breed from the same area in the Netherlands. This is because farmers wanted to make their dog the best farming and hunting dog due to their lack of money and needing a single farm dog.

This no longer occurs because in 1942, the crossbreeding was stopped to help both of these rare breeds carry on their genetics and not become extinct. Currently, some dogs of this breed are mixed with Labradors because they have roughly the same temper, behavior and body. One identifier to this is a possible tuxedo marking.

In appearance, you can expect to find a sturdy dog that has a silky fur coat. They are longer in length than they are tall, and the males and females have slight differences in their faces. You can expect a black and white coat, with more black on their head and more white on their tails. You will occasionally see a brown and white version, or an orange and white version. These are very rare and hard to come by.

Currently, numbers are building in this breed, keeping it alive, and they are still as loved by the Dutch as much now as back then. Many dog lovers around the world are becoming aware of this breed, which can only help them populate and become less rare. Places such as Scandinavia, the United States and the United Kingdom are taking notice of the beloved Stabyhoun.

Main Highlights
  • The Stabij dog breed is one of the top five rarest dogs in the entire world with only a few thousand existing now. The name Stabyhoun, nicknamed Stabij, translates to “stand by me dog” in Dutch and can be dated back as far as the 1800s.
  • When originally bred, they were used as hunters, guards, workers, and house dogs. They catch animals like small game, moles, birds, and foxes. During hunting season, you can sometimes see them as gun dogs.
  • Crossbreeding with another beloved Dutch breed, the Wetterhoun, ended in 1942 to save both breeds from going extinct. However, the Stabij later stated to be crossbred with Labradors due to their similar body types, temperament and behavior.
  • The breed works great in the water, making it easy to hunt certain game, and they are sometimes used as dog carts for drought animals. Today, they are more of a household dog.
  • Most Stabijs are black and white colored, but occasionally you will see the very rare orange and white version, and the brown and white version. These are becoming more and more rare as times goes on.
  • Overall, this breed is healthy, but can suffer common dog issues. In past breeding, there were congenital defects and epilepsy, but these are no longer common due to better breeding.
  • In the breeding standard, the female dog can only breed once she reaches 18 months old, and cannot be bred after the age of 9, and each litter must be at least one year apart. Any matches between male and female for breeding must be approved by the Dutch Club’s committee on breeding.
Breed History

The early 1800s is the time frame in which the Stabyhoun was discovered in books that were written by Joost Halbertsma, Waling Dijkstra and Nynke fan Hichtum. In these days, the breed was used mainly for hunting animals like the fox, moles, birds and small game, and was occasionally used as a gun dog and dog cart.

Originally, mostly farmers owned this breed due to their lack of money, had to have a dog to work the farm, but could only afford one. This breed could do it all as far as hunting, farm work, guarding, and more! They were also crossbred with the Wetterhoun to increase the agility of the dog breed. The Wetterhoun is a breed from the same area as the Stabij, and is just as rare. In 1942, the cross breeding was ended to save both breeds from extinction. Later, the Stabij would be bread with Labradors due to their similar bodies, temperament and the way they behave.

Currently, the numbers are growing more and more with this breed, saving it from dying. Most people who own this dog have it for sport and companionship. This breed is becoming more popular outside of its home country, in places like North America, United Kingdom and Scandinavia.


For the males, you can expect them to stand about 1 foot, 8 inches tall and will weigh about 50 pounds. The females will be shorter, as with most breeds, and will stand around 1 foot, 7 inches tall and weigh closer to 45 pounds.

Personality and Character

This gentle breed is very friendly, smart, eager to please and patient. They are peaceful dogs that can occasionally get stubborn, but overall they are great working dogs and companions. Another great thing is that they love kids and animals, so they make a great family dog.

They should be trained, however, and once they are trained, they will be devoted and obedient. The breed does need daily exercise but will be calm when inside of the house. They do enjoy being outside and will go for a swim sometimes!

They are perfect dogs for going to dog trials and will do well in various categories like Frisbee, hunting, obedience, agility, and the triathlon.

Health and Potential Problems

Some congenital defects and epilepsy used to be problems with this dog, but are no longer common issues. You can expect to have a healthy pet, but they will incur common dog issues that you can read about below.

  • Cataracts, which occurs in the lens of the eye, causes cloudiness and therefore will give your dog blurry vision. When they become thicker, the dog can go blind if surgery is not an option. Most times, genetics are the cause of this but injury, age, and other diseases can inhibit this type of degeneration.
  • Diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to process sugars correctly. Check for the symptoms which include increased appetite, being really thirsty, and going to the bathroom a lot. A dog will live with diabetes for the rest of its life so it is important to get them on insulin shots and control what they eat.
  • Diarrhea is common among dogs, cats, humans, and other species. But if your pup gets diarrhea, make sure to keep them hydrated. Generally, something could be wrong if this lasts more than 24 hours. If diarrhea comes with vomiting, dark stool or fever, get your dog to a vet. Causes of this include Parvo, parasites, food problems, and stress, and many other types of infections or diseases. Pay attention to your dog’s symptoms in case their issue is more pressing.
  • Lyme Disease is a common disease, found in dogs, that comes from ticks that leave behind a bacteria that spreads in the dog’s body. This can cause inflammation and lack of use of the affected area. Some dogs lose their appetite and subsequently lose weight, and may become depressed. If the disease is very serious, the kidneys and nervous system can be affected.
  • Seizures occur because of injury or some type of trauma, abnormalities in the brain, trouble with blood and organs, and being exposed to pollutants. While there is no cure, your dog can be helped with medication and possible surgery. It is also recommended they not swim, as they can have a seizure in the water and drown.
  • Heat bumps are common for many species, but for this breed, it can be annoying. Be aware of how much sunlight the dog is getting. Too much can cause the heat bumps. The bumps generally appear on the dog’s back, but they can occur anywhere, so owners should be on alert during hotter weather.
  • Epilepsy is a disease that cannot be cured, which causes seizures and can be treated only by mediation. This is a genetic disorder and the dog can live a regular, happy, healthy life with this disease.
  • Hernias are known as defects of the muscles in the abdomen that make organs protrude and cause pain. Sometimes surgery is needed and if so, it’ll be either umbilical, which is in the belly button, or inguinal, which is through the groin.
  • Parvo Virus is a viral and very contagious disease that is either defined as the intestinal form, which is most common, or the cardiac form. The intestinal form has symptoms of weight loss, vomiting and diarrhea. The cardiac form will affect the muscles in the heart. Parvo can lead to death and the dog should have shots to prevent this from happening.
  • Food allergies can be avoided if they are eating a proper dog food. Contact allergies could be from shampoos, powders and other chemicals in the house. Also, inhalant allergies can affect your dog because of pollen outside or dust and mildew.
Care Features

Your dog needs to be exercised each day in order to be happy and healthy. They love to be outdoors, hunting and retrieving, and absolutely love swimming! This breed has a lot of energy to burn off outdoors, so going for daily walks is helpful. Indoors, you can expect them to be calm and gentle.

You can expect them to show stubbornness occasionally, but not often. Training can help curb this if it is a problem. Overall, this dog is pretty good and does not need too much intense training as they are very smart.

If you want to train your dog for trials, they will be best at agility, obedience, pointing, tracking, hunting, and more! Win your dog a medal!

Feeding Schedule

In order to get proper nutrition, your beloved dog will need to get the right kibble, and also have plenty of fresh water available. If your dog is a pup less than 12 weeks old, they will each 4 bowls of kibble a day, at the recommended dosage on the bag. From 3 to 6 months, they will eat 3 times per day. When they become six months to 1 year, they will eat twice daily.

After their first birthday, they will then eat one meal per day. Some dogs prefer to have that one meal split into two smaller ones through the day. Try to limit human food consumption for your dog, as it is not healthy. However, they do love cooked eggs, cottage cheese, and some fruits and veggies. Do not over feed your dog as they will gain unnecessary weight. Occasional treats are fine, however.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The majority of Stabyhouns will have a black and white coat, with more black on the head, and more white on the tail. There are other rare colors that are hard to come by such as the brown and white coat and the orange and white coat, which are getting rarer by the day.

Their coat is shiny and silky, and they do not need to be bathed often as the oils will strip from the coat. The breed’s look has been the same since they were originally bred, they are still the same colors, the coat is the same, and they have the same temperament as well.

The Stabyhoun is pretty easy to care for as they need weekly brushing to eliminate dander and debris. Take special care when it comes to tangles, especially near the ears. They will shed twice per year. Bathing should happen when necessary as soap will strip oils from the coat. Each week, check their body for sores, scrapes, cuts or any infection, especially around the face, eyes, nose, and mouth. Check ears for infection, too, and clip their nails once a month or two.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

This breed absolutely loves children! They love to play with them outside, running, Frisbee, or just goofing around. They will also relax with them inside of the home. The same can be said for other animals in the home.

The Stabij absolutely loves other dogs or pets and will play with them as well! They should be introduced to children and animals as a puppy so they can get used to them, but they naturally are inclined to be gentle to both.

Overall, you can expect to have a wonderful guard dog and family companion with this breed. They are so friendly, great with kids, and love to be around people and play. They burn off their energy outside and are calm when inside of the home. They are faithful, loyal and will make a special place in your heart and home!

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.