Old Dutch breeds | Part 1: The charme of living history


Landscape paintings from old masters in the Rijksmuseum: you probably have seen these type of artworks in their real versions. The economical worth is mostly more than the average home in Amsterdam. The worth I’m talking about, is not even the artist behind the painting. What I mean, is the numerous information. Where we can capture everything with a camera, the landscape paintings we know today are the photos from then…

What are Old Dutch breeds?

To start this blog, I will begin by telling you the meaning of Old Dutch animals: What is the definition of it? Old Dutch breeds are breeds, such as horses, dogs and farm animals, from The Netherlands who are on this planet for centuries. ‘Why are these animals so important?’, you will probably think.


There are more reasons for that. In this case, farmers and ‘hobby farmers’ will emphasize on the ecological and economical value, like durability and ‘the power of old blood’. But, that is not the point of my specific story. I will, to begin with, quickly take you into history…



Replaced by the Industrial Revolution

The reason why many Old Dutch breeds became rare, knows several factors. The most recent reason is the ‘replacement’. Where tractors and other industrial instruments became the new draft horses of the countryside, even some goat and cattle breeds seemed to disappear.


In case of cattle breeds, they were replaced by ‘highly producing super cows’, like the modern types we know today. But, if the health of these animals was the same as the old, hardy breeds…

Disastrous disasters


Another cause goes back to the Medieval and even 18th century. In The Netherlands, there where many red-and-white cows: the Brandrood and Friesian Red are ‘still living’ examples of this. Also then the country had to deal with natural disasters. A big flood, when The Netherlands wasn’t that innovative yet when it comes to water systems, had the power over thinning the then living livestock: many creatures didn’t survive...


In the 18th century, another disaster knew how to reduce the number of animals: a plague caused a large number of death cattle… Many red-and-white cows faced this brutal faith, just like many other Old Dutch breeds.



To increase the number again, many black-and-white cows from the German area Schleswig-Holstein were imported to The Netherlands. Although some of the surviving red-and-white cows were crossed with these new ones, the black colour was very dominant. The red-and-white cows where almost nowhere to be seen in the Dutch landscape anymore…


The nowadays Friesian Red is the result of active farmers from the past who decided to continue the breeding process of this colour. Because of their work, red-and-white cows are still to be seen in The Netherlands!



Cultural value


Knowing how rare Old Dutch breeds are today, the landscape paintings from the past, with artists like Paulus Potter, are extra valuable. On those paintings, you see all these special animals.


How wonderful is it, if you come across an Old Dutch breed, you’re actually looking to an -almost disappeared- piece of history? Especially when placing the nowadays breeds next to the old ones and seeing the similarities…


It even shows you the landscapes from then; something you almost cannot believe with the nowadays city views and knowledge of today! The landscape paintings from Dutch masters, as well as the Old Dutch breeds themselves, have a very high, cultural value.


When you recognize more and more, like a breed, the world around you will come to live even more! Where you first didn’t notice a ‘special something’, and would probably describe it as common, you can now see how extraordinary it really is…


In the next blog, in part 2 about Old Dutch breeds, I will tell you how Dominique Laurine gives the Old Dutch breeds a ‘whole new life’…


#olddutch #olddutchbreeds #thenetherlands #dominiquelaurine #pauluspotter