Update on the Stabyhoun
In an earlier Breed of the Week post, I wrote the following about a breed called the Stabyhoun:
I am happy to say that I now stand corrected. There are still at least one or two kennels doing their best to produce Staby's for the field. The owner of one of them, Klass Zonnebeld from Nijverdal in the Netherlands, sent me some very nice photos of Stabyhouns in the field to prove it.
|And ere's a Staby making a retrieve.|
Klass and his wife Esther breed Staby's under the kennel name Fan it Heidehiem. They are among the very few folks in the world breeding Staby's for hunting.
Several years and nests (litters) further, we can say that our kennel breeds healthy dogs with passion for hunting. We think beauty is less important than fine characters, although we do not want to lose the typical qualities that belong to our breed. We love the older Stabij type that is not too big and is able to hunt all day. The body needs to be athletic and in good proportions with good movements.
A Fan it Heidehiem dog is first and foremost bred to have great working potential. We are not producing show dogs but a Stabij that has the health, temperament and movement to prove himself a worthy companion in the field. I enjoy seeing a dog is in his element – using his natural hunting instincts and willingness to do a good day’s work. These are the qualities I value highest in a dog. If a judge also likes the look of them then that is a bonus.
Klass and Esther offer some fascinating details on the history of the breed and how it was used to capture moles and polecats.
The Stabij was the dog for the poor man they called him Bijke and if the owner had a farm it was a farm dog, but if the owner was a hunter, it was a hunting dog. This is also why these poor people were breeding the dogs. If they needed a stronger dog, they just find a combination with a bigger and stronger breed. But if they needed a special hunting dog, the combination with a hunter-breed was made. The early 20th century were crisis years and everybody was poor.
In Friesland they did a lot of mole catching and for this kind of hunting they needed a smaller dog so the Stabij was crossed with a smaller breed. In 1904 the Stabij was often sold for 15,- gulden which is about €7,= but in 1918 a good mole catcher was worth a fortune - between f.50,- and f.100,- (€ 25,= – 50,= ) In those days, that was the main reason to breed these dogs.
There were two ways to catch a mole.
1) The Stabij tracked down a fresh mole-hill and stood still and waited for his boss. Together they waited until the mole started to dig. The trick now was to wait and just before the mole was on the highest point, put a shovel under the mole and lift it up. The dog would then catch the mole and shake it until it died and then gave it to his boss.
2) The second method was when the Stabij caught the mole itself out of a tunnel by digging it out. But it could only get the young and small ones which are not worth much money.
When a farmer just wants to keep his land ´mole- free´, the second option was ok. But when it was to catch a mole for the skin, the first option was better. The mole was cut open and the skin was spread out on some wood and put to dry. When they were dry they could be sold for cloth etc.
Today, unfortunately the Stabij as a hunter is not used so much anymore, and other specialized dogs from outside Holland took this place. Maybe this is because the Stabij is to much of an all-rounder, he can do a little of everything. But still as a mole and a polecat-catcher he is still very valued.
For more information on the breed and more great photos of Stabyhouns, check out Klass and Esther's website: http://www.fanitheidehiem.nl/en/
Read more about the breed, and all the other pointing breeds from Continental Europe, in my book Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals