The medium-sized, thick-coated Keeshond has an interesting history. It was the symbol of the Dutch Patriot political party. Kees de Gyselaer was party leader; he owned a dog named Kees, from which this breed gets its name.
The Keeshond’s ancestry is the same as other arctic breeds, including the Samoyed, Norwegian Elkhound, Finnish Spitz and Pomeranian. This breed possesses qualities similar to its northern relatives, including a fox-like expression, heavy coat and plumed tail that’s tightly curled and carried over the back.
In addition to serving as a political party symbol, Keeshonds served as watchdogs on riverboats, barges and farms. The breed was once known as the Dutch Barge Dog and the German Spitz. It’s also been called the Wolfspitz. The breed’s name was officially changed to Keeshond in 1926 in England.
These dogs were once quite popular in Holland, especially during the late 1700s. The breed’s popularity fell for many years but was restored after it began also appearing in England and America. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed in 1930 as part of the Non-sporting Group.
The Keeshond is a dramatically marked dog. Coat color is a mixture of gray, black and cream; some vary from light to dark. The undercoat is usually pale gray or cream-colored. The tip of the tail is usually black. The long, harsh coat, which includes a ruff around the neck, requires regular brushing, a minimum of twice a week. Bathe or dry shampoo as needed. A Keeshond’s coat sheds heavily twice a year.
Even the rump and back legs are thickly coated; this part of the dog is called its ‘trousers’. The Keeshond’s high-set ears are triangular and erect. Additionally, the dog has “spectacles”, which are facial markings and shadings near the eye that includes a soft yet dark line that slants from the eye to the ear.
This dog carries an alert carriage and possesses an intelligent expression. Known as a very good-natured dog, the Keeshond is outgoing and affectionate toward both people and other dogs. This is an eager-to-please, quick-learning breed that excels in agility and obedience events. These dogs can also be trained to perform tricks. They make excellent family pets as they are known to be very good with children. Although usually friendly towards most people, Keeshonds make good watchdogs because they like to bark so they give a warning when strangers approach.
Keeshonds are sturdy and square in appearance. Generally, they stand 16 to 19 inches (41 to 48 cm) tall and weigh 35 to 45 pounds (15 to 20 kg). These dogs are very energetic and require daily exercise. They do tend to gain weight so proper feeding and exercise are very important to their health. The breed is prone to hip dysplasia and heart disease. Keeshonds usually live 12 to 15 years.
Because of its thick coat, a Keeshond doesn’t do well in heat; it should live in a cooler climate. Due to its size, this breed can live well in an apartment as long as the dog receives the exercise necessary for a healthy life, both mentally and physically.