The Keeshond

Exercise Requirements  
Grooming Requirements  
Weight15 - 20 Kg (approx)
Life Span12 - 15 Years (approx)


A Spitz breed with a short, compact body and alert expression enhanced by “spectacles” which appear as a delicately pencilled black line slanting from the outer corner of the eye to the lower corner of the ear, coupled with distinct markings and shadings forming expressive short eyebrows. The head is wedge shaped with definite stop in profile. The muzzle should be dark and neither coarse or snipey. The nose should be black. The erect, velvety ears should not be set too wide, but not meeting. There should be good depth of brisket and the front should show medium width. The hindquarters should show slight angulation and there should be profuse, light-coloured trousers down to the hocks. The feet should be cat like and cream in colour with black nails. The tightly curled tail may show a double curl which is highly desirable and the tail carries a light plume on top where it is curled. The Keeshond has a magnificent double coat, consisting of a long, harsh outer coat and a thick fluffy undercoat, the coat is a mixture of grey and black, the undercoat being very pale grey or cream (not tawny) and all shades of grey are acceptable. The body hairs are black tipped and all markings should be definite, with no black below the wrist or hock.


This outstandingly beautiful breed has been known in Europe for centuries. In the 17th and 18th centuries, they were extensively used as watchdogs on river boats, farms, and barges and were known in Germany as "Wolfspitzen"; in France as "Chiens Loup"; in Italy as "Lupini"; and in Holland as "Keeshond" - pronounced "kayz-hawnd. The breed has a long history of popularity with the people of Holland and was used for a variety of jobs, including as a watch dog, for herding, for draft work and for hunting. Also known as the "Dutch Barge Dog," as they were customarily used on the barges as a guard and a companion. The accepted theory for the breed name is that it was named after "Kees," the leader of the Dutch Patriot Party, for which the Keeshond was the mascot. The Keeshond as we know it today is basically the work of breeders in England, as at the beginning of the 20th century the breed was further developed in England from imports obtained from both Holland and Germany. Although closely related, these two breeding stocks and their standards exhibited important variations in several respects, among them size, head, coat and colour. The English managed, in a remarkably short time, to blend the two into the handsome Keeshond we admire today. Bred primarily today as a companion and watchdog for the family


The Keeshond makes an excellent companion and watchdog, being very fond of members of his own family however can be somewhat aloof with strangers, but at the same time, friendly and not at all aggressive. Keenly aware of strangers, Keeshonds will vigorously give voice if their territory is approached by one. A barking Keeshond brazenly advertising his presence is enough to make any would-be intruder change his mind. However, Keeshonds will gladly accept strangers as friends once they have been properly introduced, sometimes a bit overwhelmingly. Many people purchase a Keeshond thinking that, being a family dog, they must also be an easy to train dog. While affectionate, the Keeshond may not be for the inexperienced trainer. Consistency and fairness is needed with a Keeshond. While most dogs need a structured environment, it’s especially necessary with a Keeshond. Their intelligence, in some ways, can be a liability, especially in obedience work, where they can get bored with repetitive training. Being an intelligent dog, most problems with Keeshonden stem from the dog inventing its own activities (often destructive ones, like digging and chewing). They need daily contact with their owners and lots of activity to remain happy. Therefore, it is not the right choice of breed for those who want a dog that lives happily alone in a kennel or backyard.

Care / Grooming

The elegant coat of a Keeshond is surprisingly easy to maintain. As mentioned previously, they are a double coated dog. The long, outer hairs with soft undercoat do not tangle and the outer coat sheds dirt as it dries after a wet outing. Strangely enough, this handsome coat, which is odourless when dry, normally needs grooming only about once every one to three weeks. Grooming should be done from the skin out. Keeshonden shed heavily twice per year, Spring and Autumn, when the undercoat detaches from the body - and then it is brush, brush, brush for about 2 to 3 weeks. Baths should be given only when necessary. The coat should be thoroughly brushed before bathing, and thoroughly dried after the bath. Use a quality shampoo and cream conditioner, then blow dry well. This helps the coat dry quickly and reduces tangles in the brushing out process. Owners should purchase a slicker brush, a pin brush and a steel-toothed comb for grooming. The Keeshond is a natural breed and little trimming is necessary. You can tidy the feet and the hocks but no further trimming should be done. Toenails should be trimmed every week or two with a file or nail clippers.


The typical Keeshond is happy, healthy and not prone to injury or disease but do note - The following conditions listed occur infrequently in dogs obtained from a reputable breeder, but occasionally are present in the breed - hip displasia, luxating patellas, congenital heart disease, allergies, and hypothyroidism. Both epilepsy and hyperparathyroidism have both been demonstrated to have a genetic component in this breed. In 2007 an accurate test for the gene causing hyperparathyroidism has recently been developed at Cornell University in USA and they are working on identifying the epilepsy gene. However, as with all domesticated pure bred dogs, man totally controls the breeding of the Keeshond and it is therefore essential that prospective new puppy owners seek out responsible, ethical, dedicated breeders.

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