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  • Temperament: Friendly, Lively, Outgoing
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 92 of 194
  • Height: 18 inches (male), 17 inches (female)
  • Weight: 35-45 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
  • Group: Non-Sporting Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Keeshond standing sideways facing left
Keeshond head facing left
Keeshond sitting facing forward
Keeshond coat detail

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Keeshond (pronounced kayz-hawnd) is a natural, handsome dog of well-balanced, short-coupled body, attracting attention not only by his coloration, alert carriage, and intelligent expression, but also by his stand-off coat, his richly plumed tail well curled over his back, his foxlike expression, and his small pointed ears. His coat is very thick around the neck, fore part of the shoulders and chest, forming a lion-like ruff-more profuse in the male. His rump and hind legs, down to the hocks, are also thickly coated, forming the characteristic “trousers.” His head, ears, and lower legs are covered with thick, short hair.

HEAD

The head should be well-proportioned to the body and wedge-shaped when viewed from above – not only the muzzle, but the whole head should give this impression when the ears are drawn back by covering the nape of the neck and the ears with one hand. Head in profile should exhibit a definite stop.

BODY

The body should be compact with a short, straight back sloping slightly downward toward the hindquarters: well ribbed, barrel well rounded, short in loin, belly moderately tucked up, deep and strong of chest.

FOREQUARTERS

Forelegs should be straight seen from any angle. Pasterns are strong with a slight slope. Legs must be of good bone in proportion to the overall dog. Shoulder to upper arm angulation is between slight to moderate.

COAT

The body should be abundantly covered with long, straight, harsh hair standing well out from a thick, downy undercoat. Head, including muzzle, skull and ears, should be covered with smooth, soft, short hair-velvety in texture on the ears. The neck is covered with a mane-more profuse in the male-sweeping from under the jaw and covering the whole of the front part of the shoulders and chest, as well as the top part of the shoulders. The hair on the legs should be smooth and short, except for feathering on the front legs and “trousers” on the hind legs. Hind legs should be profusely feathered down to the hocks-not below. The hair on the tail should form a rich plume. Coat must not part down the back. The Keeshond is to be shown in a natural state with trimming permissible only on feet, pasterns, hocks and – if desired – whiskers.

HINDQUARTERS

Angulation in rear should be between slight to moderate to complement the forequarters, creating balance and typical gait. Hindquarters are well muscled with hocks perpendicular to the ground.

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About the Keeshond

These square, sturdy companions descend from the same ancient stock as other spitz types, such as Pomeranians and Samoyeds. Typically “spitzy,” Keeshonden have a foxy face, pointed ears, an abundant coat, and a plumed tail carried high over the back. A unique breed characteristic—and one of the most charming hallmarks in all dogdom—is the “spectacles.” These shadings and markings around the eyes give the impression that a Kees is wearing designer eyewear. The specs draw attention to an alert, intelligent expression.

Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Keeshond

Find a Puppy: Keeshond

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Care

NUTRITION

Keeshonden should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Like most Northern breeds, they also do well on a fish-based diet that is low in carbs. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

Keeshonden do require regular grooming, but going through their coats once a week with a pin brush usually does the job. This will keep the undercoat brushed out, and keeps shedding to a minimum. The only trimming needed is tidying around the feet, pads, and hocks. Pet owners can brush weekly and take their dogs to the groomer for a bath and blow-dry every four to six weeks, or they do it themselves. Show dogs are bathed a few days before the show weekend.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
2-3 Times a Week Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

Keeshonden will adapt to many environments. Historically they have had homes ranging from farms with lots of space to run to barges having little room to move around. They do need regular exercise and like being with their families. A free run or a nice walk daily will benefit them physically and mentally, and then they will be glad to climb up on the sofa with you while you read or watch TV. An essential thing to know about Kees is that they are happy dogs and will smile every day if you just spend time with them.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

A well-kept secret is that Kees are very smart and highly trainable. They excel at obedience, where some of them are nationally ranked, as well as agility, where the first multiple MACH was a Keeshond named Molly. Many Kees have also distinguished themselves in therapy work. Kees learn things quickly and are motivated to please their trainers. However, the trainer has to keep up with them, as they can become bored. It is important to start with your Kees as a puppy between 10 and 14 weeks. They will learn fast and move to the next level. Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended. Without training they will learn things, but not necessarily what you had in mind!

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Easy Training

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Friendly

HEALTH

Keeshonden in general are a healthy, active breed that can live a happy life from 12 to 15 years of age. The Keeshond Club of America recommends certain health tests for every Keeshond before it is bred to help breeders identify any health concerns. These tests include X-rays to screen for hip and elbow dysplasia, an exam for patellar luxation, a CERF eye exam, and genetic screening for primary hyperparathyroidism. Because the breed has been screened for these diseases by reputable breeders, the conditions have been reduced in the breed, and most Kees are free of them. When purchasing a puppy, it is the buyer’s responsibility to ask for the test results of the pup’s parents and discuss them with the breeder.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Patella Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Keeshond
Keeshond
Keeshond
Keeshond
Keeshond

History

The Keeshond (“kayz-hawnd”; Keeshonden, plural) was a hardy, nimble-footed barge dog long kept as a guard and companion on Dutch vessels that sailed the manmade waterways of the Low Countries. An unpretentious “people’s dog,” the Keeshond was a symbol of the 18th-century Dutch Patriots Party in its long opposition to the royal House of Orange. There’s historical disagreement over why the breed is called Keeshond: The name might refer to a Patriot mascot dog called Kees, or to two different Patriot leaders nicknamed “Kees.”

Did You Know?

The plural of Keeshond is Keeshonden.
The Keeshond, due to its political affiliations, was featured in countless pictures and cartoons that were attached to Dutch political strife.
The origin of the Keeshond is Arctic or possibly sub-Arctic.
It took a national political turnover in Holland to bring the Keeshond to wide attention in the latter part of the 18th century. Holland was split between the partisans of the Prince of Orange and the Patriots, and the Patriots (principally the bourgeoisie) were led by Kees de Gyselaer, who owned a dog named Kees. Kees gave the Keeshond breed its name and became the symbol of the Patriots.
Before its political ties, the Keeshond was mainly a barge dog, serving on numerous vessels on the Rhine.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Keeshond (pronounced kayz-hawnd) is a natural, handsome dog of well-balanced, short-coupled body, attracting attention not only by his coloration, alert carriage, and intelligent expression, but also by his stand-off coat, his richly plumed tail well curled over his back, his foxlike expression, and his small pointed ears. His coat is very thick around the neck, fore part of the shoulders and chest, forming a lion-like ruff-more profuse in the male. His rump and hind legs, down to the hocks, are also thickly coated, forming the characteristic “trousers.” His head, ears, and lower legs are covered with thick, short hair.

HEAD

The head should be well-proportioned to the body and wedge-shaped when viewed from above – not only the muzzle, but the whole head should give this impression when the ears are drawn back by covering the nape of the neck and the ears with one hand. Head in profile should exhibit a definite stop.

BODY

The body should be compact with a short, straight back sloping slightly downward toward the hindquarters: well ribbed, barrel well rounded, short in loin, belly moderately tucked up, deep and strong of chest.

FOREQUARTERS

Forelegs should be straight seen from any angle. Pasterns are strong with a slight slope. Legs must be of good bone in proportion to the overall dog. Shoulder to upper arm angulation is between slight to moderate.

COAT

The body should be abundantly covered with long, straight, harsh hair standing well out from a thick, downy undercoat. Head, including muzzle, skull and ears, should be covered with smooth, soft, short hair-velvety in texture on the ears. The neck is covered with a mane-more profuse in the male-sweeping from under the jaw and covering the whole of the front part of the shoulders and chest, as well as the top part of the shoulders. The hair on the legs should be smooth and short, except for feathering on the front legs and “trousers” on the hind legs. Hind legs should be profusely feathered down to the hocks-not below. The hair on the tail should form a rich plume. Coat must not part down the back. The Keeshond is to be shown in a natural state with trimming permissible only on feet, pasterns, hocks and – if desired – whiskers.

HINDQUARTERS

Angulation in rear should be between slight to moderate to complement the forequarters, creating balance and typical gait. Hindquarters are well muscled with hocks perpendicular to the ground.

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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BLACK & SILVER Check Mark For Standard Color 016
GRAY & BLACK Check Mark For Standard Color 101
GRAY CREAM & BLACK Check Mark For Standard Color 321
GRAY SILVER & BLACK Check Mark For Standard Color 108
SILVER & BLACK Check Mark For Standard Color 177
WOLFGRAY & BLACK Check Mark For Standard Color 228
BLACK 007
GRAY 100
SILVER 176
TAWNY 198
WHITE 199
WOLFGRAY 227

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