HerrytAlthough the odd adult Stabyhoun may have found itself on English soil over the years, a concerted effort to introduce these magnificent dogs to the UK officially began in 2012 when Christina Savage and Janice Vittachi launched the UK Stabyhoun Association.

Through careful import and a strictly managed breeding program, these wonderful dogs are now beginning to make their mark.

Click here to see a full list of the Stabyhoun currently living in the UK.

History of the Stabyhoun

Described as a ‘national treasure’ in its native Netherlands, the Stabij is becoming increasingly popular as a loyal, calm and intelligent family dog. With a total of around 6,000 dogs worldwide, populations exist in the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, America and most recently in the UK.

In 1942, the Stabyhoun was officially recognized by the Dutch Kennel Club together with another dog from the same region in Friesland, the Wetterhoun. On April 26, 1947 the Dutch Stabyhoun and Wetterhoun Association (NVSW) was established with the goal to protect the interests of these two remarkable Frisian breeds.

The UK Stabyhoun Association today works closely with the NVSW as one of several recognised clubs – and the only one in the UK –  across Northern Europe and North America whose joint mission it is to protect and promote this rare but wonderful breed for the future. The NVSW plays a vital role in keeping detailed records of all Stabyhoun, past and present, so that owners can benefit from their advice in breeding and raising happy, healthy and beautiful dogs. In fact, the original Dutch Stabyhoun Association holds the records of more than 21,000 Stabijhoun! Therefore, future breeding plans of the Stabyhoun in the UK will naturally be by advice and with support from the NVSW. If you can ever spare the time to visit Holland we strongly recommend a trip which coincides with the big annual Clubmatch (usually in May). At this dedicated Stabyhoun and Wetterhoun show, puppies, mums, dads and future breeding pairs are evaluated by some of the most experienced judges and handlers – and you can enjoy the biggest Stabyhoun gathering you’ll ever see!

Yvonne Wiktelius's dog Reuben shows how gentle the Stabij is with other animals

Yvonne Wiktelius’s dog Reuben shows how gentle the Stabij is with other animals

What’s in a name

The Stabyhoun probably owes its name to its versatility. The word ‘Staby’ could be derived from the Dutch words ‘sta me bij’ (‘stand by me’). Houn is the word for dog in the language of the Friesian region.

A Stabij is truly a dog that enjoys activity; whether that is play, a good walk in the woods, obedience training, agility and even field work. This is not, however, a breed of dog that is as easy to train as, for example, a Labrador or a Golden Retriever. Although the Stabyhoun belongs in FCI Group 7 along with the Pointers and Setters, this is not your typical UK gun dog. It was bred with a particular skill for mole catching which was a lucrative business back in those days. The Stabyhoun is also a good swimmer that handles cold water well.

Since the dog used to be owned by farmers who were in general poor it was very welcome to have an all-rounder, because often only one dog could be afforded. The dog also had to be tolerant toward livestock on the farm, friendly with the children and protective about the premises, without being vicious or snappy.

Stabyhoun: a gentle and loyal family dog

This dog is a wonderful pet to have around the house and is just perfect for life in a spot near the beach, lakes, waterways and parks. While it makes a good watchdog it is friendly and amiable. By their nature, the Stabyhoun is obedient, peaceful, kind and patient – deeply fond of their family and eager to please. It does, however, have a stubborn side too!

Stabyhoun charachteristics

Its looks have not changed much although in earlier days the breed was often mixed with the Wetterhoun, because only working capacities were counted. In 1942, cross-breeding between the two stopped.

Today, the Stabyhoun is either black and white or brown and white with the latter being slightly rarer. Occasionally the roan pattern is produced, which can occur in black or brown. A few years ago, this pattern was on the brink of extinction, but a concerted effort by breeders has brought it back. We now have 5 roan Stabyhoun in the UK. Its average life expectancy is 13-14 years.

IMG_8951Males are around 53 cm and bitches 49 cm (19 to 23 inches), measured at the shoulder. The Stabyhoun usually weighs between 18-25 kg (45-55lb).

Their beautiful coat is long and sleek and with a natural fresh smell. As such they don’t need much grooming – the coat is practically self-cleaning!

Stabyhouns usually shed twice a year, and thorough brushing helps the dog to finish its moult in about two weeks. The coat by its nature will lose dirt extremely quickly. After a swim the dog is usually clean and dry in a couple of hours.

As a breed, the Stabyhoun is a healthy dog due to careful and managed breeding.

History of the club

Founder Members

Christina Savage TE78999-HY5555-07 2

Christina Savage – Founder of the UKSA 

Founder of the UK Stabyhoun Association, Christina grew up with a Stabyhoun in Denmark. Having been in love with the breed ever since, she has worked tirelessly to establish the Stabij as an active family dog in the UK alongside her dog, Jelske – one of the very first Stabyhoun in England and the mother of the country’s second ever litter of Stabyhoun puppies.

Christina moved back to native Denmark in 2017 but remained the club chairman until 2020. In 2021, Christina joined the committee at the Dansk Stabyhoun Klubb in Denmark, where she is now part of the Breeding Advisory Committee and International contact. She is still in close contact with the UKSA and our International Contact, Hannah Woods.

Christina was part of the club committee from 2012 until 2020. Of course, Christina is a lifetime member of the UK Stabyhoun Association and continues to offer her support to the committee members.

Janice Vittachi – Founder

Janice is the owner of one of the very first Stabyhoun in the UK, Rikje. She also owns Rikje’s son, Nine, who is on the UK stud list.

Janice was previously on the Breeders Advisory Committee for the Stabyhoun in North America where she helped write their whelping guide.

She has successfully bred three litters of Stabyhoun puppies including the very first in England.

Janice was part of the club committee from 2012 until 2021, when she resigned to remain a lifetime member and advocate of the breed for the UKSA.

Previous Committee Members

Katie Smith – Previous Social Media Manager

Katie and her Stabyhoun, Nova, are training with Berkshire Search and Rescue Dogs.  She was Social Media Manager from 2018 – 2022 and is still a member of UKSA.