The Drent is an old gun dog breed originally from the North-Eastern provinces of The Netherlands, mostly from Drenthe, but also from bordering provinces, including Friesland, Groningen and Overijssel. The Dutch name of the breed is "Drentsche Patrijshond", or "Drents Partridge Dog". In English speaking countries, the dog has been referred to as the "Dutch Partridge Dog", the "Dutch Spaniel", "Dutch Partridge Hound", etc. None of these are correct, as the dog is not a pure spaniel, not at all a hound, and only a few of the provinces of The Netherlands had anything to do with the development of the breed. In The Netherlands, the breed is nicknamed "Drent", and so Drents Partridge Dog it is.
The Drent has a unique personality. In general, they are loving, sweet, soft natured and intelligent. At the same time, they are hard headed, stubborn, naughty, often a little reserved towards strangers, and very watchful. Like all "working breeds", they need quite a bit of exercise. Not just physically, but also mentally. Routine retrieving drills? Not with the Drent. You have to mix it up, or you will get the "we just did that" look. I was once told that the Drent personality reflects the personality of the Drent farmer that was his companion for so many centuries. Hard working, bright, affectionate towards family, reserved towards strangers, and neither suffers fools easily.
The Drent in training needs a firm but gentle hand. He may be stubborn, but even a harsh word can sometimes be too much. They are very much eager to please, and will work hard for the owner they respect. Even though they may be stubborn, hard headed, they still have a very soft personality. This is not an easy combination for training, although the results can be wonderful, if you are looking for a dog that uses it's intelligence in the field.
If the owner doesn't earn the respect of the dog, the Drent will gleefully take advantage and become the ruler of the home in short order. Dominance issues are not uncommon in the Drent breed, and new owners should be aware that that sweet little pup they are getting does not have a pushover personality.
The rural Province of Drenthe was unusual, in that it allowed "even" the common gentry the right to hunt. Thus, the local mayor, the farmer, and the "landed" population in general needed a dog to support their pursuit of various small game. For over 300 years, the Drent was that dog. Unlike many other hunting breeds, which were developed by, and for, the "upper crust" only to hunt, the Drent was expected to hunt all game, and also pull duty as watch dog, child playmate, etc. Some were even used to pull the dog-carts of the day.
Perfectly suited to the walk-up hunter, the Drent is thorough, in order to find all the game on the smaller plots available in Drenthe. It hunts with good speed, within reach of the gun. As with most European versatile breeds, the Drent points and retrieves, and will hunt "fur", including rabbit, hare and fox. After the hunt, the Drent switches it's personality to family pet with ease. At night, it becomes an alert watch dog to protect the family estate.
A Drent coat is medium length and quite dense, with feathers on the legs, which protects it from the various brambles and brush. Like most spaniel type dogs, burrs and cheat grass must be combed out after a day in the field, but the hair is pretty much self-cleaning, so baths are the rare exception. Because of their heavy coat, they are not at their best during early season, warm weather hunts.
The Dutch Drent breed club has founded the Drent breed on three "pillars": hunting, pet qualities, and watch dog. During the breed's long history, the Drent had to pull "triple duty". Not only was the dog expected to help put meat in the pot, it was expected to warn of visitors to the farm or estate, and to be a pet "par excellence" for the family. This is what makes the Drent such an ideal hunting dog for us in the US. Not only are they intelligent enough to be useful in hunting a variety of game, they are also marvelous additions to the family. The Drent is a TRUE versatile hunting dog.
Today, the Drent is a favorite hunting dog throughout it's native country of The Netherlands, with approximately 5,000 dogs registered with the breed club. Slowly, the dogs are being recognized for their unique abilities in other countries, and breed clubs have recently been established in Belgium and Denmark. We expect that a breed club will be started in the US in the next few years.