The Koninklijke Nederlandse Politiehond Vereniging (Royal Dutch Police Dog Association) was originally formed as the NPV, on November 1, 1907, in a town called Roosendaal in Noord-Brabant, the Netherlands. The K for Koninklijke or Royal was not added until February 28, 1912. When first seeing the KNPV logo, the question often asked is “where is the K”. The crown above the letters NPV represents ‘K’ for royal. Police dog training was already known in Holland. However, there was no institution with a goal to organize the training of police dogs or to spread knowledge about this type of training. Although founded in Roosendaal, the KNPV was, and still is seated in The Hague, which was also the early meeting place of the Association. The fact that the KNPV office is now in Amersfoort has no bearing on the Association’s seat. The statutes were written and approved by Her Majesty the Queen and governing rules were put on paper. The town square in Roosendaal. Far left "The Unicorn" pharmacy where the KNPV was founded.
In those days when people talked about a police dog, they mostly thought of the qualities of the dog’s nose, qualities that sadly enough were highly overestimated. The dog’s ability to bite and hear was more or less overlooked. Fortunately, time taught us that the protection qualities of police dogs were very important for actual police work too. The disappointment of not being able to create a miracle dog that could track and find everything everywhere was forgotten. People came to realize that every dog is an individual, and therefore, every dog is somewhat limited in what it can do. This dictates how a trainer has to go about training this particular dog. In the early 20th century when this concept was not yet accepted, discussions were held whether all dogs should be trained with a forceful method. The method used depended on the individual dog, however the goal was always the same: to pass the KNPV trial in the discipline that fitted the dog best (tracking or protection).The first trial rules were made in 1908, but many additions and changes were to follow dictated by experience in the potential of the dogs, as well as having to adjust the rules to reality. The fact remained however, that under every set of trial rules the dog, in order to pass, had to be totally controllable at all times.
An early group of KNPV trainers with their dogs.
Founders and Pioneers
The pioneers for the KNPV were Mr. Couwenberg with his Boxer ‘Max’, Mr. Van Oosten with his Shepherd ‘Hector’, Mr. Steijns with his Dutch Shepherd ‘Germanicus’ (Frits), and Mr. Lokerse with his French Shepherd ‘Piet’. Even before there was a NPV, these men achieved very good results with their dogs for which they should be honored. Police Commissioner Muller, a judge for the German ‘Polizeihund Verein’, invited Mr. Ch. Herfkens, Police Inspector in The Hague, to come to a competition for police dogs in Hagen, Germany in September of 1907. There, Mr. Herfkens met Mr. M. Kessler, also from The Hague, and together with him and an acquaintance of Kessler, Mr. J. Steijns from Roosendaal, they decided that it was time to found a Police Dog Association in Holland, just like Belgium and Germany had done before them. On October 25, 1907, these three gentlemen came together in the house and pharmacy “The Unicorn” of J. Steijns, Pharmacist in Roosendaal, and founded the (K)NPV.
The official day of founding is Friday, November 1, 1907, and that date is found in minutes of the first meeting.
Of all the people that contributed to the growth of the young KNPV, Mr. J. Key certainly needs mentioning. He was the president between 1920 and 1926 and one of the first sets of trial rules was, for the most part, made by him. The German Police Dog Association is said to have copied large sections of it for their program in those days. Colonel G.J.P.A. Thomson, treasurer from 1920-1927 is also mentioned as one of the main driving forces behind the sometimes-shaky KNPV.
Colonel Thomson Mr. Key
The heart of the new association was certainly in the region ‘Zuid Holland’. But before too long, without informing the NPV of this, in the Dutch Region of ‘Overijssel’, some NPV members declared themselves a region of the association and thus the structure of the future KNPV, with one national board and regions with separate boards, was formed.Regions:
Overijssel, November 28, 1908
Gelderland, May 15, 1912
Utrecht, February 14, 1910
Noord Holland, November 1909
Zuid Holland, April 2, 1909
Zeeland, January 24, 1925
Noord Brabant, 1910?
Limburg, December 1919
The KNPV dogs
In the early days, even before the (K)NPV was founded, various breeds were used for police work. In the first 25 years of existence, a limited amount of dogs received a KNPV title, not quite 33 dogs a year, the low being 1921 with 12 dogs, the high 1925 with 60. Compare that to the current numbers, approximately 1000 certificates of the combined disciplines per year.
GSD male "Racker" pedigree NPV
15977, born 8-20-1909
"Spits", Dutch Shepherd Bitch,
pedigree reg: NPV 149
GSD bitch "Kelinerin" callname "Ali" born 6-17-1909
The dogs that were used most in those days were Malinois, Dutch Shepherds, German Shepherds, Dobermans, Groenendaels (called Belgian Sheepdog in the USA) and Bouviers. The list below shows some other breeds as well but they were obviously more of an exception. The fact that the Dutch Shepherd started off as the front runner, when it comes to the breeds that were used, could possibly be caused by the fact that people used dogs that were readily available to them. Due to the breeding policy for the Dutch Shepherds, dictated by the NHC, a lot of good dogs were excluded as Dutch Shepherds (for example in 1914, with no prior warning only brindle dogs could be registered, and up to that point, many colors, including ‘yellow’ had been permitted), but these same dogs could be entered as Belgian Malinois in those days. Maybe that explains part of the sudden increase of Malinois in the KNPV.
Statistics show the total for the first 25 years, adding up to 822 dogs that received a KNPV title. The six most prevalent breeds listed above plus 5 Airedale terriers, 8 Briards, 15 Beaucerons, 9 Rottweilers, and 1 Giant Schnauzer were titled. The rest (29) were of mixed breed.
A bouvier family. The identity of
the dogs is unknown.
Doberman bitch "Lida" pedigree NPV 286, born 3-15-1911
Rottweiler bitch "Ortrud" (owned by the KNPV) and her pups, born 5-17-1916
One of the founders of the region Utrecht, Mr. D. Otten tells us in 1932 how he regretted that some outstanding Dutch Shepherd lines which were successfully trained for the KNPV and had proven their prodigy were later forgotten when it came to the breeding of KNPV dogs. The breeding of dogs of unknown background started to happen more and more. This was partly to blame on finances only (crosses were cheaper than pedigreed dogs), and partly to blame on the fact that the “Raad van Beheer”, the Dutch pedigree registry (FCI), contrary to surrounding countries, did not require a dog that won a championship in conformation to also have a working title of some kind.
"Marco" the 1931 champion of the region Noord Brabant, at the spring trial of 1932 with decoy "Piet"
Thus we can, as early as 1932, hear the complaint that pedigreed dogs with a correct temperament for KNPV work, were few and far between. Later, after the World War II in particular, due to financial considerations, many puppies of pedigreed litters were not registered with the FCI. This was simply because registering cost money and people felt that a simple piece of paper would not make their dog a better one. The split between pedigreed and non pedigreed dogs was created, and even today the majority of KNPV dogs is not FCI registered, which does not necessarily mean that the lineage of these dogs is unknown. Nowadays, most breeders are fully aware of working lines within the KNPV and most dogs share some very solid working lines that go back a long way.
Since history is made every day, this is far from being a complete overview of the KNPV. It is limited to the early beginnings of the Association, which is still very much alive, and producing great dogs for Police service applications all over the world. A continuing summing up of names of the people that carried the KNPV through the 20th century could follow. Many very inspired and knowledgeable people gave their best for the benefit of this wonderful organization and continue doing so to this day. We hope that the KNPV has a future ahead of her, as impressive and solid as her past. Long live the KNPV.
By Judith van Heugten Powell
The above was translated from text by Judith van Heugten Powell. The KNPV today has evolved as a modern dog sporting organization. The standards are recognized as some of the highest in the world. A dog with a KNPV PH1 met lof title is quite a dog indeed.