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Breed Notes

The Keeshond, also known as the Dutch Barge Dog, is a member of the Spitz family. He became politically popular shortly after the French Revolution as the mascot of the Patriot Party led by Cornelius de Gyselaer whose nickname was Kees. The name the breed goes by today comes from this relationship with Kees' party. When the party was defeated, the breed also lost favor amongst the urban and upper classes who did not want to be associated with the symbol of the defeated party. His popularity remained, however, amongst the farmers and river boatmen as a companion, good luck omen, guard dog, and ratter. Interest was revived in his homeland in the 1920s and from there he found his way to the United Kingdom and North America. Closely related to the German Grey Wolf Spitzhund, he is recognized as the same breed by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI), which determines the breeds that are eligible for International Championship in numerous countries, principally European. Thus, he cannot be shown as a separate breed at FCI shows. The American Kennel Club, the Canadian Kennel Club, the United Kennel Club in the United States and the Kennel Club of Great Britain recognize him as a separate breed.
The Keeshond is a bright, friendly character. He is a good guard dog and a good family dog.
The Keeshond head is wedge-shaped with a broad skull and medium length muzzle. It has a fox-like appearance. There is a definite drop off (stop) between the skull and muzzle, appearing to be even more prominent due to the darker coat on the muzzle than on the skull. The bite is scissors. The ears are small, set high, velvety and carried erect. His eyes are dark and surrounded with distinctive "spectacle" markings. The body is short, compact and powerful. The neck is moderately long and covered with a profuse mane. The chest is deep. The legs are straight with good bone. The feet are compact and catlike. The tail os of moderate length, set high and curled tightly over the back. The coat is double with a pale grey, dense, soft undercoat. The outercoat is long with hard grey hair tipped with black. Cream colored coat covers the legs, feet and mane. Average height is between seventeen and eighteen inches. Average weight is between twenty-five and thirty pounds. of U.S. writes:

Once you own one, you'll never want anything else.
We rescued our Keesie in November 2002. He was a stray, so we are not absolutely sure of anything ... breeding, age, etc. But he exhibits all the classic Kees traits so we think he's the product of at least OK breeding. Pros: Very intelligent, easily fits into your routine (in fact, he pays more attention to it than we do), lovable, follows you around like a little shadow (which can be a con sometimes), will happily do whatever you are doing. They love snow and you will never see a Kees shiver from the cold. These dogs are for people who have a lot of time to spend with them. They are not to be left in a backyard in a doghouse. The only drawbacks we've seen are that he tends to do things his own way, he is unreliable off-leash and he likes to bark if he sees cats, other dogs, birds, rabbits, you get the idea. The pitch of a Kees bark will ping your eardrums. He tends to keep barking until we actually touch him, then he stops. All in all we wouldn't trade him for the world! of U.S. writes:

Certainly more pros than cons.
I hadn't been a dog owner in years, but when I got married I became a stepdad to two dogs. A Briard and a Keeshond. The Keezy quickly became a "daddy's girl" and was quite fond of the other men she knew, but was happy to be with a just about anybody. She was quite the bedwarmer - I often called her our "little dutch oven" as she would lie on my feet and felt like a warm pair of slippers.
In temperament, she was epitome of most descriptions. An alert watchdog - sometimes a bit too alert - but never vicious. Amazingly tolerant with children. Very animated and talkative when we would engage with her in conversation, and seemed to know the difference between her "inside voice" and "outside voice." Whoever was feeding her was her best friend for the moment. She would try to be somewhat dominant with other dogs, but not to the point that we feared we would have to break up fights.
We lost our girl just recently. She lived to be a month short of fourteen years. My wife had acquired her not long before we met and she was part of our family for seven great years.

Name withheld by request of Canada writes:

A member of the family.
We acquired our Keeshond at eight weeks of age and I began regular grooming and training right away. Now at five months, he is fully housebroken (lasting eleven hours at night), knows basic obedience (sit, heel, stay, come, down, etc.) and has started learning some ground-work for agility. He comes running for his grooming sessions (which take place every other day) and lies down for most of it. He is highly motivated by food and is generally eager to please. He is EXTREMELY friendly with strangers once he sees them but will sound an alarm at any noise. He doesn't nuisance bark in the house but has been more vocal than I would like when out alone in his dog run. He is great with our five-year-old but definitely sees him as a sibling rather than one of his masters. They will play together for hours. He does put anything in his mouth when outside and loves to shred fabric softener sheets and Kleenex but has not destoyed anything of value. I hope this will improve when teething is over.
The only drawback I have found is his degree of attachment to his family. He wants to be with us ALL OF THE TIME. He will try to get through the baby gate we put up if we leave him alone in the rec room for two minutes. They truly bond with you and I doubt they would fair well in a household that had little time for them. If you plan on doing something with your dog and spending time training and grooming them then this is an ideal family pet. I have had many breeds in my life and so far, this one has proven to be the best all-around companion.

keepyr@rocketmailcom of Elizabethtown, KY writes:

Very flexible companion.
As a breeder/exhibitor/owner I would say: Kees are very flexible about their environment &shyp; they are happy on a couch or a trail &shyp; as long as they're next to you. Kees are an "everyman" dog ... they're happy with anyone and usually have no problem transitioning into a new home. I often say that their loyalty is as long as their last meal.
Kees don't belong in the backyard; they cannot be ignored. A Kees' coat is probably its biggest drawback; it must be groomed (and groomed correctly) BUT the hair basically comes off in small clumps of undercoat which is very easy to deal with in the house. THEY SHOULD NEVER BE SHAVED &shyp; among other things, they're ugly as sin when they are shaved; if you don't like the hair don't get one. Kees need a FIRM hand when they are young. they are great at training you ... so be careful. There is IMMENSE breed loyalty among people who have had Kees. About 75 percent of the people who contact me, have had Keeshonds before and don't want anything else. Kees are usually high energy, especially when they are young. Be careful around small children, they can accidently hurt them by jumping up, etc. of South Wales writes:

A great dog with some drawbacks.
I have owned two Keeshond. Both were loyal, friendly dogs, great family dogs and wonderful companions with a tendency to be a one-man dog and have its favourite in the family.
They were aloof with strangers and were wonderful guard dogs which brings up one of their drawbacks. They would bark and bark and bark. One of them was almost impossible in the car - barking everytime the car slowed or stopped. It would also "answer" the telephone and bark into it - we had to tie the handset down with a bungee to stop it knocking the phone off the hook if there was a call when we were out.
Their coat is incredibly beautiful and people and children loved the teddy bear looks and the cute spectacled face. But the coat needed much grooming and would still coat clothes and carpets with handfuls of hair.
Check on the history of any breeder - one of our Keeshond developed an incurable skin disease which made it almost totally bald and which may have been a genetic predisposition. If you can live with that, it is a loyal, lovable, beautiful, fun companion dog. of Rhode Island writes:

Alert, friendly, family companion.
I had never heard of a Keeshond before I started researching online what breed would be a good fit for our family, two kids ages seven and five. Luckily, I came across the Keeshond and I very much liked their looks. After reading various descriptions, they sounded too good to be true. Well, my guy is now one year old and is a true member of our family. All the descriptions are 100 percent accurate ... Lively, loyal, intelligent, alert, good watchdog, friendly to all, friendly to other pets, great with children ... overall a great family companion. This is not a typical dog, and is hard to explain. They are easily trainable but do get bored with repetition. Their thinking is something like, "Yes, I can do that trick and I just did it for you, why should I do it again?" They are meant to be part of the family and do have their own minds, not a dog that will blindly obey your every command. They are very motivated by food and are very easy to train with treats on hand. Overall, I am very satisfied with the Keeshond breed &shyp; a beautiful looking dog with a great personality. of Colorado writes:

Wonderful temperament for a family dog, but will eat things it shouldn't.
We owned a male Keeshond for four years. He was always great with our kids (my youngest was three when we got him), but he was not really trustworthy with other young toddlers. He never bit anyone, but would nip at the air near any small children's fingers that tried to pull his tail. He also was quite a strong puller on his leash, especially if he wanted to investigate another dog. He could reach counters on his hind legs and once ate quite a bit of ham before anyone noticed him. He would also eat tissues, etc., out of bathroom trash; also ate whole canteloupe's worth of rinds. He was a very well-behaved housedog and always friendly to invited guests; he was also a good watchdog with a very big bark for a 40-pound dog (but he knew he only got a couple of good barks, then he had to be quiet). If we get another Keeshond, I know that I will work with it more since they are so intelligent it's a shame to "waste" it. The coat can be quite a chore and our dog never enjoyed grooming sessions &shyp; you can brush out armloads of undercoat at shedding time and it just keeps coming! I would definitely spend more time getting the puppy used to grooming and never fall behind in grooming the adult &shyp; the dog pays for it in "yipes" and you pay for it in extra grooming time in the long run.
Yes, I would get another Keeshond, but would definitely not be as laid-back in training, grooming, etc. Also need to be careful in warm weather areas &shyp; it's easy for them to overheat. Ours got his own fan and he still panted like crazy when it was over 85 degrees. He got to love the tile floor because it felt cooler. Despite the few drawbacks, I do remember him as the best dog I've ever owned.

Name withheld by request of New York writes on 8/31/01:

Intelligent all-around family dog.
The Keeshonden that we have had in the past and own now are an incredibly intelligent breed. They are very alert to any unknown smells or sounds and will sound the "alarm" should something be wrong. Our first Keeshond not only woke me up with a fit of barking and running in circles to tell me that I had left a pot on the stove but also was brave enough to take a wild cat off of a child that was being attacked without a moments delay. The Keeshond is never shy, yet not aggressive in the least. A true family dog. Take note; That while this breed will need a good grooming at least once is not twice a week, the amount of hairs shed are far less than a shepherd, dobie, Dalmation or many of the short haired breeds. When the hair does shed it is usually in clumps of white undercoat fuzz. Pick it up, throw it away and that's it. However once a year, the Keeshond will have a "blow out" and lose lots of hair seemingly at once. A good bath and extra grooming will take care of this. The Keeshond is truly the perfect house dog and family companion. of Fowler, IN writes on 3/7/01:

Recently verified as ancient, this dog knows man best.
I am famiiar with many breeds, and except for the agressive and harmful ones, I love them all... But I have never seen a dog like the Keeshond. In fact, the Keeshond has many attributes that do not even
fit the definition of "dog". I lived with a female Keeshond for 14.5 years. During that time, I enjoyed her company as a devoted member of the household. Stoic and powerful with a quiet wisdom, she guarded us from harm. She was always there for us, always giving. She asked for very little. She aged with majesty and never complained. She set me an example that I will probably be unable to fulfill.
The impact of this dog was so great, that it changed my life. I could never do without a Keeshond, after being with one all that time. After her death, I picked up a rescue Keeshond and then a newborn product of champions. I have made a non-profit website to honor what is so special about the Keeshond. At, I hope to just barely begin the description of this breed. I can recommend the Keeshond to just about any family that wants love and can give it back. I never want any Keeshond to be abandoned. It would be like letting an angel fall to the earth. of Pennsylvania writes on 2/4/01:

Wonderful with children.
My Keeshond was a very affectionate, loving and loyal dog. We got him when he was a puppy and he did have a tendancy to chew on things he shouldn't have, but what dog doesn't? He grew into a dog that you could trust around children. Everytime my kids went outside, he would go with them. Many times he has warned us about other animals that were in the yard. He let us know about snakes, rabbits, raccoons and even a bear, in which he stood his ground too. He loved to go for walks with me and the kids up in the mountain and would always watch over them. His only problem was the shedding. But considering all his good qualities, that is only a minor problem. You would be hard pressed to find a better dog for your family then a Keeshond. of Ontario, Canada writes on 11/15/00:

Great pets.
Keeshonden are loveable, cuddly pets, who love human attention, and are sometimes thought that they were made for kids! They are a great family pet, and aren't too hard to care for. The grooming is the hardest part, but it isn't too bad, just a frequent brushing will make your Keeshond look beautiful! So if your interested in adopting a Keeshond, I would highly recommend it! They are one of the best dogs, and they're oh so cute! of Oregon writes on 4/22/0:

Perfect family pet.
You will never find a better, more loving creature. Our Keeshond was very loving and affectionate. Terrific watch dog, she couldn't have had a better temperment.

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