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Every 4th October our animals enjoy a deserved day in spotlight as we celebrate ‘World Animal Day’, known as ‘Dierendag’ in the Netherlands. Many Dutch primary schools mark Dierendag with a fun visit to the zoo or a ‘show and tell’ on animal related topics, such as animal welfare or exotic species. And on this special day, Dutch children and adults alike are often reminded of just how many (domesticated) animals are typically Dutch… below are some fascinating examples.
Fries paard (Friesian horse)
The proud and graceful Friesian horse has been reared in the Dutch province of Friesland since the thirteenth century, making it the oldest horse breed in the Netherlands. The Friesian horse is characteristically black, boasts a compact and powerful body, yet is extremely nimble for its size. Dutch farmers traditionally used it as a draft horse, although these days the striking steed is more likely to be seen pulling a carriage than a plough. The Friesian horse has also starred in a number of historic adaptations, including famous American films, such as Eragon, The Mask of Zorro, Alexander, The Chronicles of Narnia and Clash of the Titans.
Hollandse herder (Dutch shepherd dog)
The German shepherd might be better known, but the Hollandse herder more than warrants attention, particularly on Dierendag! The Dutch shepherd is instantly recognisable by its distinctive dark striped coat and is widely regarded as an exceptionally reliable, alert and intelligent four-legged friend. Once used to protect sheep and farms in the Netherlands, today the breed is frequently used as a police dog, tracking dog or guide dog.
Drentse patrijshond (Dutch Partridge Dog)
The Drentse patrijshond has been bred in the Dutch province of Drenthe since the sixteenth century. It is descended from a spaniel-like dog that was brought to Holland by invading armies from Spain, via France. Traditionally used as a hunting dog in the Netherlands, the Dutch partridge dog is renowned for its gentle nature and makes a loyal, obedient and intelligent pet.
Barnevelder (Dutch chicken breed)
The Barnevelder is a hardy, medium-sized chicken that originated (as a result of crossing local Dutch fowl with different Asian breeds) in the Dutch town of Barneveld. It boasts dark feathers, often with a white or brown accent, prominent orange eyes, very yellow legs, and lays lovely brown eggs. It was previously used for commercial egg production (from which a number of famous Dutch products were made, including Dutch pancakes and biscuits), but this job now largely falls to other varieties of chicken.
Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Then visit our sister blog, Heimwee.info, which is specifically intended for Dutch emigrants.