Type: Northern Breeds
Height: 17 -19 inches
Weight: 30 - 66 lbs.
Life Span: 13 -15 years.
Litter Size: 3 - 8 puppies.
Country of Origin: Netherlands
Activity: Low to Moderate.
Watch-dog: Very High. They have especially good hearing.
Guard-dog: Low. Keeshonds are very friendly to all.
Description: The Keeshond (plural is Keeshunden, pronounced "kayz-hond") is a natural, handsome dog who resembles the spitz of the northern breeds with their richly plumed tail that curls over their back and their thick coat. They are short, sturdy dogs, and have been referred to as the "Overweight Pomeranian" in Victorian England. They are quite furry, with profuse hair and short prick ears. They are the most popular large spitz type breed in England and North America. Their sharp, clear bark make them good watch dogs, but they don't have a mean bone in their body and are affectionate and loving companions. They can be stubborn and willful, however. Keeshonds happy dogs, often called the "smiling Dutchman" for their perpetual good-natured grin. They are easy going, independent, and compliant with firm and consistent guidance. Keeshonds are clean animals, relatively low maintenance, and an alert and personable disposition.
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Other Names: German Wolf Spitz, Foxdog, Fik, Dutch Barge Dog, Chien Loup, Smiling Dutchman, Overweight Pomeranian
Colors: Mixture of gray, black, and cream; the undercoat is pale. They are often wolf gray, with lighter shades on the head and undersides, and with
Coat: Long and straight with the hairs standing out; a dense, thick ruff is over the neck. The fur is very thick over the shoulders, behind, hind legs, and chest (mane).
Temperament: Keeshonds are independent, affectionate and alert. They make good watchdogs. They are self willed, and need proper training and firm but positive instruction to ensure compliance. They are friendly with everyone, fun loving and happy. They get along well with children and other pets. They are eager to learn, intelligent and highly trainable.
With Children: Yes, they adore children.
With Pets: Yes, they are good with other pets.
Special Skills: Vermin destroyer, watchdog, and family pet.
Care and Training: Keeshonds require weekly brushing of their long coat with a stiff bristle brush. Take special care as ticks are hard to locate in their dense undercoat. Bathe or dry shampoo only when necessary. Extra care is required during shedding which takes place in the spring and fall. The Keeshond will adapt to any exercise regimen whether it is demanding or easy, but they will keep fitter with regular activity.
Learning Rate: Medium - High. They are thinking dogs and require guidance, motivation and patience. Obedience - High. The Keeshond does well in obedience training. Problem Solving - Medium.
Living Environment: Keeshonds do well in an urban setting if they are exercised on a regular basis. They should not be locked away from their family. A six foot fence should be around the property to prevent escaping. The best owner for this breed would be a family living in the city, suburban or rural area. They are very adaptable dogs.
Health Issues: Hip dysplasia, heart defects (cardiac disease), and genetic eye diseases. Other heath concerns include epilepsy and hypothyroidism.
History: Also known as the Dutch Barge Dog, the Keeshond was developed from the northern sleigh dogs of the Artic. These spitz type dogs have been around in Holland for hundreds of years. They are believed to have come from Vikings. A different legend tells of a Viking ship which sank, with only the chieftain's son surviving. He was rescued by a Christian fisherman of northern Holland and his dog. The fisherman, the rescuee and the dog all landed on a foreign land and built a chapel to St. Olaf out of gratefulness for finding land. From here a village was built near the Amstel River, which later led to a dam being built. This dam led to the name of the town becoming Amstelredam, which is now currently Amsterdam. Today, the seal of the city shows a ship with a spitz type dog looking over the side of it. Because of this story and other legends, taking a dog on board a ship became good luck. The breed then served as dogs accompanying people to sea on boats and barges, and became known as the Dutch Barge Dog in England. The name of the current Keeshond came from a man named Cornelius de Gyselaer, the leader of Dutch patriots against the monarch. His nickname was Kees (pronounced "kays"), and his dog soon represented the Dutch middle class Patriot Party, of which he was affiliated. His party went south, however, and popularity declined greatly for the breed because of its reputation with Kees. Upper class people did not want to be affiliated with it, therefore disregarding the breed. But soon, Great Britain did the most for the breed with imports from Holland, starting with Mrs. Wingfield-Digby, who imported some puppies to England in 1905. This continued to foster favor among the Keeshond. In 1923 in England, Mrs. Wingfield-Digby showed two of her Keeshonds in the show ring, and a club for the breed was formed in 1925, originally called the Dutch Barge Dog Club. In 1920 the Baroness van Hardenbroek set out to find the Keeshond breed in Holland and stir more interest in it. In her search she found that many of the fishermen and Dutchmen kept avid studbooks and records of their dogs, which were still quietly popular. In doing this, Holland began to become more aware of the breed once again. Today the breed is recognized by a number of kennels, but was not recognized by the FCI for quite some time due to its striking similarity to the German Wolfspitz.
First Registered by the AKC: 1930
AKC Group: Non-Sporting
Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 5), KC (GB), UKC