Introducing The Keeshond Dog Breed: Dutch Dogs 101

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keeshound by the waterKeeshond, pronounced “kayz-hawnd” or Keeshonden in the plural, is the most unpretentious people-loving-pooch you could ever hope to find. A member of the Spitz family of dogs, the Keeshond is known affectionately by many names.

It owes its name as a “fox dog” to a wedge-shaped head and foxy expression. Maybe its lion-like mane around the neck led to the name “Overweight Pomeranian”.

A Brief History of the Patriotic Keeshond Dog Breed

These energetic dogs have a most interesting political past. Historically, there is little agreement as to the origin of the name Keeshond. Popular belief differs as to whether it was in reference to the Patriotic Mascot dog named Kees, or two Patriot leaders who shared the name, Kees.

These nimble-footed, hardy barge dogs earned their keep as companions and guards on the Dutch vessels that floated the artificial waterways of the Low Countries. The Keeshond became a symbol of the 18th-century Dutch Patriots Party’s prolonged dissent with the royal House of Orange at a time when Holland was divided into two factions: the “patriotten”, or “patriots” and the “prinsgezinden”, or “followers of the Prince of Orange”.

The patriot leader,  Cornelius de Gyselaer, was constantly accompanied by his spitz-type dog, Kees. The Keeshond symbolized the rebels after the prinsgezinden began referring to the patriotten as Keezen. When the Prince of Orange overthrew the rebel party, many of these dogs were destroyed.

How Did the Breed Survive?

Keeshond survivors took up life on the barges about Amsterdam and on Dutch farms. After a period of disregard, the soon-to-be Mrs. Wingfield-Digby rediscovered the breed in 1905 and relocated two puppies to England. The English breed club formed in 1926 based on these two pups and an aroused interest in the breed.

Meanwhile back in Holland Baroness van Hardenbroek took an interest in the Dutch Barge Dog in 1920. She heralded the breed throughout Europe through their interesting stories.

Within 10 years of her breeding those specimens she found among the working people, Dutch farmers, and riverboat captains, the Dutch Keeshond Club was formed.

Carl Hinderer was responsible for the first litter of these Dutch pups in America in 1929. A year later, the first Keeshond was registered with the American Kennel Club. 1935 saw the establishment of both the Non-Sporting Group and the Keeshond Club of America.

keeshond dogs in a field

The Appearance of this Spitz Breed 

Known for their bespectacled faces, there really is no breed quite like the Dutch Keeshond in the looks department. Unmistably decked out in their typical coats with plumed tails arching over the back, their trouser-like hindquarters feature long hair reaching the hocks.

Males have more of a mane than do females. The Keeshond is a handsome dog of a distinct color, well-balanced, with a short-coupled body and intelligent expression. They have small pointed ears and a very thick coat around the neck, fore-shoulders, and chest.

Average Weight and Size of Keeshonds 

Keeshond males are around 18 inches tall and weigh approximately 45 pounds, while females stand 17 inches tall and weigh in considerably less at around 35 pounds.

Temperament and Personality: What to Expect!

With the Keeshond, one should expect man’s best friend. These are companion dogs through and through, and a person-centered existence is Keeshond heaven!

The Keeshond is a lively, outgoing and friendly dog who is ultimately affectionate with its family and will welcome strangers, following the lead of their owner. They are amazing watchdogs have an alert nature, are keen to learn and are very intelligent.

These ‘fox dogs’ are obedient, very smart and quick to learn. They are unfortunately also big barkers. You can, of course, train your Kees when it is, and is not, acceptable to bark. Boredom is often a major trigger for this tendency, and these are companion dogs do not like to staying home alone for long periods.

Unlike Terriers, Finnish Spitz and the Flat-Coated Retriever, the Kees does not belong on the list of the most difficult dogs to raise.

keeshond puppy on log

These Smart Doggos Make Great ESAs! 

The Keeshond is almost a stereotypical Emotional Support Animal! Gentle, friendly, obedient, an excellent breed for apartment life and ever the solid companion and watchdog.

The Dutch barge dog’s friendly temperament makes it an ideal candidate to emotionally support its human through life’s tough moments.

Keeshond Coat and Colors Explained! 

The trademark long guard coat over a thick, double top coat and woolly undercoat are unmistakable in a Keeshond.

Color-wise, the Keeshond presents in a combination of cream, black, and gray. The facial markings look like spectacles with a dark line from the outer corner of each eye toward the ear.

What Are Their Grooming Requirements? 

With their full coats and long hair, the Keeshond is actually surprisingly easy to maintain in the grooming department. A good brushing twice a week will see to any matting problems before they happen, although they do shed twice a year, which calls for a stepping up of grooming for about three weeks a year.

They only need a bath once every three months, and they are not smelly dogs. Brush, don’t shave! Do not be tempted to shave your Keeshond during hot summers. This is not an act of kindness. The breed’s heavy coat actually insulates it to keep the Keeshond cool and protect against sunburn.

Do trim around the pads, feet, and hocks and trim their nails once a month. Check ears weekly for smelliness,  dirt or redness that may indicate infection or irritation.  Wipe ears out using a cotton ball saturated with a pH-balanced ear cleaner.  Their teeth should be brushed regularly, even as often as daily, to prevent bad breath and gum disease.

How Long do These Doggos Live?

Your Keeshond will typically live to the age of twelve or fifteen.

Potential Health Issues to Be Aware of!

Although generally healthy, the Dutch dog may be prone to breed-specific health conditions and common ailments, such as:

  • Von Willebrand’s Disease: A blood disorder that affects the clotting process.
  • Addison’s Disease: A serious condition caused by an insufficient production of adrenal hormones.
  • Hip Dysplasia: An inherited condition where the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint.
  • Cataracts: Cause opacity in the lens of the eye, resulting in deteriorated vision.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): an eye disease that causes gradual deterioration of the retina.
  • Patellar Luxation: Common in small dogs, the knee joint slides in and out of place, causing pain.
  • Diabetes Mellitus: A disorder involving an inability to regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Hypothyroidism: A disorder of the thyroid gland.
  • Epilepsy: A neurological condition, often inherited, that causes mild or severe seizures.
  • Allergies: Specific foods cause food allergies; contact allergies are a reaction to a topical substance; and inhalant allergies from airborne allergens such as pollen or dust.

keeshond puppies for sale

5 Facts You Didn’t Know About This Breed

  1. Their origin goes back to crossbreeding the Pomeranian, Chow Chow, Norwegian Elkhound, and Finnish Spitz breeds.
  2. It was originally known as the German WolfSpitz.
  3. The “Smiling Dutchman” is a name it has earned through its tendency to curl its lip and bare its teeth. This is a happy and submissive grin rather than a snarl or a show of aggression.
  4. The Keeshond, like the Cocker Spaniel, is prone to separation anxiety and may bark excessively if left alone too long.
  5. The breed also shares personality traits with the Entlebucher Mountain Dog.

Keeshond Puppies for Sale! 

To find your perfect pup, a quality breeder is the best alternative because a good breeder will match you with the right puppy. You will find that a quality breeder has seen to health certifications and has the pup’s best interest at heart rather than financial gain.

Pups born and raised in a home situation (with access to a garden) rather than in an outside kennel are your best bet since they are socialized and know how to behave in your home.

For a puppy, try the website of the Keeshond Club of America (KCA) or ask your vet for suggestions. A Keeshond mix is also well worth considering.

How Much Does a Keeshond Puppy Cost? 

Prices for a Keeshond puppy depend on the gender, the breeder, the puppy’s lineage, and whether they are show dogs or pets.

Adopt, Don’t Shop! Find a Local Keeshond Rescue Group! 

We all know that puppies are just adorable and irresistible. They are also hard work. If you can home a rescue Keeshond who has already been house trained and who will not chew your expensive trainers, you should an adult dog a second chance.

Websites and Social media sites can match you with a rescue Keeshond in your area, or you can scan your local newspapers for pets looking for homes. Your local animal shelter will also direct you to a rescue group if they don’t have what you are looking for.

Common Questions

Would the Keeshond be a suitable breed for me as a student living in a university residence who requires an ESA? 

Does the Keeshond require professional, regular grooming? 

Is the Keeshond an aggressive breed? 

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